How we started

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By Life Member, Roger Patching.

JERAA history… and why join the Association?

Having joined Mitchell College of Advanced Education in Bathurst the day the first semester started back in 1979, I was strongly encouraged by colleague David Potts (who’d helped establish the course in Bathurst) to join the then-fledgling Australian Association for Tertiary Education in Journalism.  
When I circulated the news early in 2012 that David (who is also a life member of the Association) had been awarded on OAM in the Australia Day awards in part for ‘services to the media as an educator’, it reminded another of the foundation members of the AATEJ, Rod Kirkpatrick, to record how the Association came about.  Rod write at the time:
‘I started working at the Darling Downs Institute of Education on 2 October 1975 as a lecturer in journalism and I recall David Potts pushing and pushing for lecturers to attend the meeting in Bathurst at which he hoped an association would be formed. I drove from Toowoomba to Bathurst on Saturday and Sunday, 13-14 December 1975, after voting in the Federal election on the 13th at which Malcolm Fraser’s coalition government was elected resoundingly (one month and two days after The Dismissal). On Monday, 15 December 1975, the Australian Association for Tertiary Education in Journalism was formed. [Source: My 1975 diary.] I remember remarking that the title needed to be subbed—which, of course, it later was to become, at first, the Journalism Education Association and later the Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia’.

In those days there were a relatively-few vocation-based journalism courses in Australia.  They had started to emerge during the Whitlam era of the early Seventies, when the former Teachers’ Colleges around the country were broadened in scope to become Colleges of Advanced Education.  When I did my late Nineties MA (Hons) research comparing them all, there were 22 vocation-based courses (the largest number in southern Queensland) staffed by 80+ journalism educators.

Annual meetings in the early years were held during semester breaks in various University / College halls of residence.  I can even recall a conference in a holiday home at Freemantle.  It was only in the Nineties (when I had the privilege of leading the Association for a second time) that we decided to meet at least at a conference centre, if not a resort!  The first of the era was held at the resort at Yeppoon, near Rockhampton, hosted by Central Queensland University’s journalism school.

The AATEJ has grown in strength since those early days – as has the quality of its professional journal, the Australian Journalism Review, and its annual monograph – to the point where it stages an exciting annual conference bringing together members and non-members with an ever-increasing range of views.

If you are interested in the next generation of journalists and what they will bring to an ever-changing industry, become a full-time member of the Association and contribute to the online discussion group, present at the annual conference, and submit material for the journal.