Data Science in the News

Our next webinar

Journalism Old and New

Date: 2 October 2020 Time: 12 noon to 1pm

Don’t forget to register here.

*** This will be an online event only. Zoom link will be emailed to registrants on the day of the event ***


  • Emeritus Professor Fred D’Agostino – Vice-President(People and Culture), Queensland Academy of Arts and Science


  • Professor Peter Greste – UNESCO Professor of Journalism, The University of Queensland
  • Associate Professor Margaret Simons – award-winning freelance journalist and Honorary Principal Fellow at the Centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne
  • Professor Axel Bruns – Professor, Digital Media Research Centre, Queensland University of Technology
  • Sam Koslowski – Founder of The Daily Aus

More about the Panel Session Topics:

Associate Professor Margaret Simons: “What is the future for the conventional media companies? Are they dinosaurs headed for extinction? Is there a role for traditional ‘journalism’ as we currently understand it? Or should we be radically re-thinking what we need and expect from journalists and the companies that hire them? “

In this session, Margaret will talk about what remains valuable in traditional journalistic practice, and what needs to evolve and change, and what are the significant features of the digital news environment for quality journalism.

Professor Axel Brun: “Journalism and the Pandemic”

In the context of the global and continuing COVID-19 pandemic, and of what the WHO has called the related infodemic of misinformation and disinformation that exploits the uncertainties associated with this worldwide crisis, quality journalism is more important than ever before. Yet it continues to struggle on a number of fronts: except for a handful of industry leaders, its financial situation remains precarious; in a multi-platform environment, quality news reporting is swamped by biased and sensationalist coverage; and traditional journalistic formats fail to cut through as a growing majority of users receive their news from online and social media. The pandemic has highlighted the limits of old models especially sharply: much of the time, policy responses are cast in party-political frames rather than with a focus on the science; conspiracy theories are reported (and amplified) as curiosities rather than debunked as threats to public health; other matters of societal importance all but disappeared from the news for the best part of 2020. The present crisis calls for both disinterested, objective coverage and partisan, advocacy journalism, but too often journalists have been partisan when they should have been objective (thus undermining lockdowns and other public health measures), and disinterested when they should have engaged in advocacy (thereby lending material support to the dissemination of damaging conspiracy theories). But of course these decisions are not the journalists’ alone: corporate imperatives and the need to maintain a symbiotic relationship with political and other sources also influence them.

Sam Koslowski: “Is social-first news the shift needed to keep young people informed?”

Sam is leading a journalistic experiment that provides a real-world example of the shape and character of a new brand of news. The Daily Aus was started in March 2017 by Sam, 25 and Zara, 23 in an attempt to get more of their friends to read the news. They knew that if they couldn’t get them to download a news app, they would have to put the news in their way while they scrolled through social media. Their philosophy to news is very simple: the news is like a soap opera, so it means nothing if you don’t understand the key players and events. TDA provides access to the objective, factual presentation of news – with the intention to arm millennials with the tools and information to begin their own deep dive into the news. Now read by over 37,000 millennials a day, TDA has tripled its audience in 2020.

More about the Moderator and Panelists:

Emeritus Professor Fred D’Agostino is Vice-President (People and Culture) of the Queensland Academy of Arts and Sciences and Emeritus Professor of Humanities at The University of Queensland, where he was President of the Academic Board, Executive Dean of Arts, and Senator. His work in philosophy is on disciplinarity in relation to scientific method and complexity in relation to political philosophy.

Professor Peter Greste is UNESCO Professor of Journalism at The University of Queensland. He is an Australian-born journalist, author, media freedom activist and academic. He is a founding member of the advocacy group, the Alliance for Journalists Freedom, and is also a regular contributor to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Conversation, and The Guardian. Before joining the university in January 2018, he spent 25 years as a foreign correspondent, starting with the civil war in Yugoslavia and elections in South Africa as a freelance reporter in the early 90’s, before joining the BBC as its Afghanistan correspondent in 1995. He went on to cover Latin America, the Middle East and Africa for the BBC. In 2011 he won a Peabody Award for a BBC documentary on Somalia before joining Al Jazeera as its East Africa correspondent later that year. In December 2013 he was covering Egypt on a short three-week assignment when he was arrested on terrorism charges. After a trial widely dismissed as a sham, he was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison. In February the following year, after 400 days behind bars, and intense international campaign, he was deported under a presidential decree. As a result of the letters he wrote from prison in the defense of freedom of the press, he won a Walkley Award in Australia in 2014, and Royal Television Society and Tribeca Disruptive Innovator’s Awards in 2015. He has also been awarded the International Association of Press Clubs’ Freedom of Speech Award; Liberty Victoria’s “Voltaire Award”, the Australian Human Rights Commission Medal (all in 2015), the RSL’s 2016 ANZAC Peace Prize, and the Australian Press Council’s 2018 Press Freedom award.

Associate Professor Margaret Simons is an award-winning freelance journalist and the author of many books and numerous articles and essays. She is also a journalism academic and Honorary Principal Fellow at the Centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne. She has won the Walkley Award for Social Equity Journalism, a Foreign Press Association Award and a number of Quill Awards, including for her reporting from the Philippines with photojournalist Dave Tacon. Her most recent work is a Quarterly Essay “Cry Me A River – the Tragedy of the Murray Darling Basin” which was published in March 2020.Until the end of 2019, Simons was an Associate Professor in the School of Media, Film and Journalism at Monash University. From 2012-2017 she was director of the Centre for Advancing Journalism and the coordinator of the innovative Master of Journalism degree at the University of Melbourne. Before joining the University of Melbourne, Simons was convenor of Journalism at Swinburne University of Technology.

Professor Axel Bruns is a Professor in the Digital Media Research Centre at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, and a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society. His books include Are Filter Bubbles Real? (2019) and Gatewatching and News Curation: Journalism, Social Media, and the Public Sphere (2018), and the edited collections Digitizing Democracy (2019), the Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics (2016), and Twitter and Society (2014). His current work focusses on the study of user participation in social media spaces such as Twitter, and its implications for our understanding of the contemporary public sphere, drawing especially on innovative new methods for analysing ‘big social data’. He served as President of the Association of Internet Researchers in 2017–19. His research blog is at, and he tweets at @snurb_dot_info.

Sam Koslowski is the co-founder of The Daily Aus, a social-first news start-up. The Daily Aus is read by over 37,000 Australians daily, 85% of whom are under 25. He is also a lawyer with a passion for journalism, especially innovative news technologies. Before becoming a lawyer, he worked in social media innovation at Fox Sports Australia, and worked as a refugee advocate at the Human Rights Clinic. He’s a Movember Community Ambassador.



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