When I was a young twenty-something library student, I learnt a new word – serendipity. It, means, essentially, finding things by accident, and was apparently coined by Horace Walpole back in 1754. It’s one of the best things about research I think – unless, of course, you are so focused you have no time for accidental discoveries.
However, this is not a post on serendipity, per se, but on a serendipitous find I made while doing some research for one of my posts for Bill’s AWW Gen 2 week. The post was on Louise Mack’s book Girls together, and in my searching I found an entry for her on a website that was new to me, the Australian Media Hall of Fame. So, I checked it out, and found it an interesting and rich site.
The Hall of Fame was created in 2011 by the Melbourne Press Club. Its About Us page says it
comprises reporters, editors, broadcasters, photographers, cartoonists and commentators that have made a significant contribution to the development of Australian media.
This is beautifully broad I think.
My rough count shows that it currently has around 240 inductees, of whom, I estimate, less than 15% are women. Not good, but probably reflective of the period it covers?
Anyhow, its aim is (and I’m paraphrasing) to
- highlight the work of these media legends,
- show the historical importance of strong and independent journalism, and
- ensure that such journalism continues.
I’m not sure how well publicised it’s been outside of the profession, but given it’s on the ‘net, I guess more and more people will discover it. Meanwhile, I’ll do my best to raise some awareness. It’s a nicely presented site – at least in terms of what I look for …
I like sites that tell you clearly who they are and what they are about. The About us page doesn’t really tell you who the Melbourne Press Club is, but it tells you what you need to know about this work it’s doing. It also tells us who the judging panel is, and who they want to honour:
people who have made an impact. Inductees must have helped shape the history of a significant news organisation, the craft of journalism, a town, city, State, nation or the world. Sustained excellence helps, but is not enough. The Hall of Fame identifies game-changers. The Hall is open to journalists, editors, publishers, broadcasters, producers, artists, photographers or others who have had a significant impact by working in the media. Individuals have been inducted for a truly memorable single piece of work or for six decades of outstanding journalism; at each extreme they have made a big impact.
Of course the main reason for coming to this page is to check out the Inductees, and I like this section of the site. The main Inductees page has an introduction, followed by an alphabetical portrait display of the inductees. If you are looking for a name you can find it easily.
However, it also has an excellent search (filter) function – by genre, era, and region – which enables you to refine your search to an area that specifically interests you and which also facilitates serendipitous finds!
The Genre filter is particularly interesting. It really means, in my words, the professional area the inductees have been honoured for, which are:
- Business journalists
- Sports journalists
- War correspondents
The Eras are: pre 1900; 1900-1918; 1918-1948; 1945-1980; post 1980. The era seems to draw from the date of birth of the inductee, not their era of main activity. Given some have very long careers, this makes some sense … but it has its limits.
The Regions reveal that this is, not surprisingly given its origin, primarily an eastern-states activity: NSW, Victoria, ACT, Other.
So, a pre-1900 search produces some names of interest to me, including suffragists Louisa Lawson and Catherine Spence – but, I didn’t stop there and had fun with all sorts of searches
However, while a decent searching capability is important, it’s only worth doing if the information provided is useful – and I’d say it is. The information can vary a little depending on the person but it usually includes a brief outline of the inductee’s career, a longer biography, still images, and recommended further reading, including links, such as to their Australian dictionary of biography entry if there is one. For some there is also a video of their induction (regardless of whether they were present, as some have long gone).
Take, for example, Catherine Spence. She is described as “a leading suffragist, a social and political reformer, novelist and journalist” and can be found under the Genre of “reporter”. Her page includes a biography by Women’s Studies academic, Susan Magarey, four lovely images, and a list of Further Reading.
Besides the actual information provided about the inductees, the value of sites like these also lies in who is included – in terms of quantity and quality. My sense is that the site – and people are added each year – includes many of the names I would expect to find there – and then some. I loved, for example, finding combat cameraman and cinematographer, Damien Parer, who filmed Australia’s first Oscar-winning film, Kokoda Frontline, listed. It really is a fun site – for Aussies anyhow – to potter around.
But look, my aim here is not to list all the treasures there are to find here (nor share all my trips down memory lane much as I’d like to), but to just tell you that the site exists. Do check it out if you are interested.