Peter Fray, one of Australia’s most respected, innovative and experienced journalists and editors, has been appointed Professor of Journalism Practice and Head of Journalism at the University of Technology Sydney.
Fray, currently deputy editor of The Australian, is the founder of fact-checking website, PolitiFact Australia, the former publisher and editor-in-chief of The Sydney Morning Herald and the former editor of The Canberra Times and The Sunday Age.
As a reporter, Fray has covered politics, national affairs, religion and agriculture and been a foreign correspondent, features writer and gossip columnist. Aside from his masthead editorships, he has been an editor of news, features, sections, arts and opinion — and a contributor to Channel 7, the ABC, the BBC and Al-Jazeera.
He has also been a consultant to or founder of several digital media start-ups and is a regular commentator on TV and public speaker, most recently at the Sydney Opera House’s Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2015.
The dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at UTS, Professor Mary Spongberg, said the university was excited to have attracted such a widely respected journalist, editor, change manager and innovator.
“During his three decades in journalism, Peter has worked extensively in Australia and overseas, and has an enormous amount of practical, hands-on experience that will be extremely relevant to our students, teachers and researchers,” she said.
“But even more importantly, he has been a major change agent and participant in helping the media industry in this country come through a period of massive technological disruption. His vision for the future of journalism will build on our commitment to staying connected and engaged with the sector, and help provide the next generation of journalists with the skills and experiences to succeed in that new environment.”
Despite his on-hands on career, Fray is not a stranger to academia. He is a member of the faculty’s industry advisory board and has been an adjunct professor in media and politics at Sydney University and its media department’s First Decade Fellow.
Fray said he saw great potential with the role at UTS to shape the curriculum, particularly in regard to innovation and digital developments, and to be part of establishing UTS as one of the leading journalism schools nationally and internationally.
“I see this role as a rush to the future of journalism which is being made and remade across the industry and the academy, both here and overseas" he said.
“UTS already has an excellent reputation – I wouldn’t be joining it if it didn’t,” he said. “Its graduates are highly regarded and in demand. That’s a credit to all concerned. But as with many other industries, the winds of change are blowing hard in journalism and in the academy.
"All journalism schools are grappling with the question of how journalism should be taught given the fundamental shift in how it is being practiced and received.
“The implications for bespoke news and information, delivered to us on a mobile device via knowing machines and smart coding, are profound.
“So a school of journalism now has to not only feed students to established employers and known entities, but also equip graduates with the skills needed by newer media companies — and with a thirst to take risk and do it for themselves.
“The fundamental roles of journalism and journalists remain the same and are needed now as much as ever before. The academy has a particular and valuable role in this dynamic. They are preparing the next generation of journalists and they are tasked with asking the essential questions about how that journalism (or journalisms) will be practiced, received and mediated.
“I have jumped at this job because I want to make a contribution to the evolution of our industry. I want to help build new models of business, content and products, I want to work with the industry and above all else, I want to help make UTS a centre for excellence in journalism.”
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