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When We Were Kings is a free bonus ebook of journalism and stories about journalism created to accompany
Griffith REVIEW 45: The Way We Work.

The ebook is dedicated to jailed Australian journalist, Peter Greste and his colleagues, who were given long prison
terms by an Egyptian court for doing their jobs.

Features Sonya Voumard, Kathryn Knight, Phil Brown, Frank Robson, Peter Mares, Craig McGregor,
Gijs Verbossen and Rachel Buchanan.

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About When We Were Kings

Researcher, Gijs Verbossen has been on the ground in Egypt and provides this ebook with an excellent background to how a revolution became a war on information and objective reporting can be threatening.


Few industries have suffered as rapid and tortured a change as journalism. Anyone left from ‘the old days’ has been forced into digital production, but also managed workplaces, fewer resources, less time, lower pay and greater demands. What this means in gritty practical terms is illustrated in Rachel Buchanan’s essay, which describes working offshore – in New Zealand – to produce content for Australian newspapers.

Phil Brown writes of how he spent the 1980s swapping gossip with gangsters, while reporting on Expo ’88 from his bedroom across the river – without ever visiting the site.

From the same end of the same town, Frank Robson writes about a crime that won’t let the city go. Nor will it let go of the relatives of some of the central characters. The Whiskey Au Go Go fire was, until Port Arthur, one the worst mass killings in contemporary Australia. Robson suggests that the flaws in the police investigation that followed made it worse. The impact of this incident in the life of the family of the man accused of the lighting the fire will stay with you long after reading.

Kathryn Knight writes about being on the receiving end of the news process and feeling her ‘story’ – the life of her family and disabled daughter – was ‘sullied’ by the agenda of the journalist. She illuminates the oft-quoted Joan Didion line about journalism being the art of seduction and betrayal from the perspective of the reluctantly seduced.

Sonya Voumard was born with ink in her veins and spread across her kitchen table. Born into the profession through a father reluctant to encourage her to follow his footsteps, she ‘grew balls’ and joined the Herald in Melbourne. It was the start of a halting career in the conservative corridors of ‘old-fashioned journalism’. But the uninspired daily grind led to falling out of love with a dying medium.

Peter Mares and Craig McGregor provide two excellent pieces of journalism from The Way We Work which were too perfect to leave out of this ebook.

On the eve of another Australian tour, journalist and music writer Craig McGregor recalls his up-down relationship with Bob Dylan since 1966.

Asylum seekers living in the community in Australia are denied the right to work. Peter Mares argues that to deny the right to work is to deny a fundamental source of human dignity with impacts on physical and mental health. The human and financial costs of such a policy could be very great indeed.