Simons shares wisdom with journalism students

Associate Professor Margaret Simons.

Award-winning journalist, author and academic Margaret Simons recently joined the journalism department in Monash University’s School of Media, Film and Journalism.

Associate Professor Simons previously worked as director of the Centre of Advancing Journalism at The University of Melbourne.

Assoc Prof Simons, who has taught journalism for about 25 years while working as a freelance journalist, said academia, through teaching, research, industry practice and engagement, gave her the ability to make a difference to the future of our profession.

“It is a privilege to be involved with young people and to have the opportunity to study why and how journalism matters,” she said. 

Assoc Prof Simons, with photojournalist Dave Tacon, won the 2015 Walkley Award for Social Equity Journalism for her essay Fallen Angels, published in The Monthly.  She will teach practice-based subjects in Monash’s journalism curriculum.

“I hope to advance my research and industry practice, while making a difference to the careers of those who will take our profession forward and, doubtless, reinvent it,” she said.

Assoc Prof Simons said the modern journalist needed to find things out, write well, communicate clearly and verify facts, adding these tools were “constants”.

“Also important are learning to engage with the audience, including through social media, and being able to adapt to new platforms and written forms and constant change,” she said.

“All journalists should have at least a basic level of competence in text, audio, video and social media, and an understanding of ethics and law as they apply to journalism.”

Assoc Prof Simons says increasingly important for students is to understand journalism practice as an act of good citizenship.

“The practice of journalism increasingly involves lots of people, including other citizens who might not see themselves as journalists but who nevertheless publish news and views,” she said.

“We need to embrace this, while also understanding what it is that makes journalism special.”

Assoc Prof Simons is a prolific author. Her recent books include Six Square Metres (Scribe), Self-Made Man: The Kerry Stokes Story (Penquin), What’s Next in Journalism?, Journalism at the Crossroads (both Scribe) and the book Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs co-written with former Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Fraser (The Miegunyah Press).

The latter won both the Book of the Year and the Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-Fiction at the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards 2011.

In addition to her academic work, Assoc Prof Simons writes for various publications, including The Saturday Paper, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Griffith Review, The Monthly.