Matthew RicketsonStaff member
Matthew has spent most of his career moving back and forth between journalism and academia, though his first job after completing an Honours degree in English at Monash University in 1980 was as a trainee at the advertising agency D’Arcy MacManus and Masius. He didn’t enjoy this much, apart from co-writing an ad for Ovalteenies (which, thanks to the wonders of YouTube, can be seen here: Ovalteenies). Matthew began his journalism career at Standard News in Cheltenham and has worked on staff at The Age, The Australian, The Sunday Herald and Time Australia magazine covering politics, sport, consumer affairs, and the arts among other things. He joined RMIT to teach journalism, running the program there for 11 years before returning to The Age as Media and Communications editor. In 2009, Matthew was appointed inaugural professor of journalism at the University of Canberra. During his time there Matthew was seconded to work on the Independent Media Inquiry with retired Federal Court judge Ray Finkelstein. In 2017, Matthew was appointed professor of communication at Deakin where he also heads the academic group of Communication.
Matthew’s primary research interest is in journalism – its past, its practice, its future, the ethics of it, and especially what happens when journalists take a narrative approach to writing about actual people, events, and issues. Known variously as long-form journalism or narrative journalism or creative non-fiction, this field has clear points of overlap with contemporary history.
Matthew is a chief investigator on three Australian Research Council grants. Two of them, a Discovery and a Linkage, have been tracking what happened to the journalists following the largescale redundancy rounds at major media companies in Australia from 2012 on, and the implications of this for the future of journalism. A third ARC grant, a Linkage, is being led by Deakin colleague Associate Professor Kristy Hess, and is entitled ‘Media Innovation and the Civic Future of Australia’s Country Press’.
Matthew is leading, with another Deakin colleague Dr Jennifer Martin, a project to digitise the Walkley Awards archive for the Walkley Foundation. In consultation with the university’s library, a pilot of the project has been done and is now progressing further.
Matthew’s first book was a journalistic biography of Australian author Paul Jennings, which was published by Penguin in 2000.
Since then, his main publications include:
- Dec. 2017. Matthew Ricketson, ‘Taking Journalism and Trauma Seriously: The Importance of the A-Z Case’, Australian Journalism Review, 39 (2), 177-189.
- 2004. Matthew Ricketson, Writing Feature Stories, Allen & Unwin. An updated edition, co-authored with Caroline Graham, was published by Alen & Unwin in 2017.
- 2012. Matthew Ricketson (ed.), Australian Journalism Today, Palgrave Macmillan.
- 2004. Matthew Ricketson (ed.), The Best Australian Profiles, Black Inc.
On long-form journalism
- 2018. Matthew Ricketson, ‘The Ghost in the Memoir Machine: Exploring the Relationship between Ghostwritten Memoir and Biography’, in Bunty Avieson, Fiona Giles, and Sue Joseph (eds), Mediating Memory: Tracing the Limits of Memoir, Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature, Routledge, New York, 43-58.
- April 2017. Matthew Ricketson, ‘The Underappreciated Role of Creativity in Journalism’, Text, Special Issue 40, ‘Making It New: Finding Contemporary Meanings for Creativity’.
- 2016. Matthew Ricketson, ‘When Slow News is Good News: Book-length Journalism’s Role in Extending and Enlarging Daily News’, Journalism Practice, vol 10, issue 4, 507-520. Published online 1 December 2015.
- 2014. Matthew Ricketson, Telling True Stories: Navigating the Challenges of Writing Narrative Non-Fiction, Allen & Unwin.
On journalism and politics
- 2019. Matthew Ricketson, Katherine Murphy, and Patrick Mullins, ‘The Media’, in Mark Evans, Michelle Grattan, and Brendan McCaffrie (eds), From Turnbull to Morrison: Understanding the Trust Divide, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 109-126.
- 2016. Matthew Ricketson and Katherine Murphy, ‘The Abbott and Turnbull Governments and the Media’, in Chris Aulich (ed.), From Abbott to Turnbull: A New Direction? Australian Commonwealth Administration 2013-2016, Echo Books, West Geelong, 95-116.
- 2014. Matthew Ricketson and Sally Young, ‘The Gillard Government and the Media”, in Chris Aulich (ed.), The Gillard Governments: Australian Commonwealth Administration 2010-2013, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 287-308.
On media accountability
- Nov. 2015. Matthew Ricketson and Andrew Dodd, ‘The Australian’s Media Supplement: A Lapdog, a Watchdog, an Attack Dog or All of the Above?’, Media International Australia, vol 57, no 1, 68-78.
- 2014. Matthew Ricketson and Rodney Tiffen, ‘Regulating Journalism in Australia’, in Pierre Trudel and Daniel Giroux (eds), Perception and Consideration of Media Regulation issues in Represented Countries, Centre d’études sur les medias, University of Montreal Press, Montreal, Canada, 15-40.
- Dec. 2013. Matthew Ricketson, ‘Speaking Truth to Media Power’, Australian Journalism Review, vol 35, no 2, 149-156.
- 2012. Ray Finkelstein QC, assisted by Matthew Ricketson, Report of the Independent Inquiry into the Media and Media Regulation.
On newsroom redundancies and the future of journalism
- forthcoming 2021. Matthew Ricketson and Andrew Dodd (eds), Upheaval: Lives in Journalism before and during Digital Disruption, NewSouth.
- 2020. Matthew Ricketson, Andrew Dodd, Lawrie Zion, and Monika Winarnita, ‘”Like being Shot in the Face” or “I’m Glad I’m Out”: Journalists’ Experiences of Job Loss in the Australian Media Industry 2012–2014’, Journalism studies, vol. 21, no. 1, 54-71.
- Dec. 2014. Matthew Ricketson, Kristy Hess, and Lisa Waller, ‘Are there News Gaps in Rural/Regional Australia? Researching Media Plurality beyond Finkelstein’, Australian Journalism Review, vol 36, no 2, 171-182.
In more than two decades of teaching, Matthew has taught units in most areas of journalism, from news reporting to feature writing and from investigative reporting to narrative journalism. He also has taught units about ethics and the role of journalism in society. In 2000, while at RMIT, Matthew created one of the first units about narrative journalism in Australia and more recently for six years at the University of Canberra he created and taught a Literary Studies unit called True Stories.
Since 2016 he has taught units that contribute to the project showcasing the best student journalism in Australia, known first as UniPollWatch and now as The Junction.
Matthew has been a member of the supervision panels for the following students who completed their PhDs: Ben Stubbs (2015), Patrick Mullins (2015), Merrill Findlay (2016), Michelle Dunne Breen (2016) Scott Bridges (2017) and Melissa Sweet (2017).
Of these, the one whose work is most closely aligned to the Contemporary History Research Group is Patrick Mullins, whose 2018 book about Billy McMahon, Tiberius with a Telephone, won the National Biography prize in August 2020.
Matthew is on nine PhD supervision panels at Deakin, as either principal or co-supervisor or associate:
- Felicity Biggins: Journalist or Novelist – How do Readers receive Works of Literary Journalism?
- Scherry Bloul: Towards Media Freedom: The Post-2011 Media Climate in the Maghreb
- Kathleen Buchanan: Beyond the Star of Eternal Light – A Memoir About Being Sad
- Fotis Kapetopoulos: Ethnic Media, Conduits of Tradition and Change: Neos Kosmos a Casestudy of Australia’s leading Greek Australian Media Outlet
- Alison McAdam: Mixed Fortunes: Examining Local Newspaper Circulation Rise and Fall in Rural and Regional Australia
- Nicholas Payne: Crying wolf: The Waning Power of Investigative Journalism and Mediated Scandal
- Nicholas Polson: Telling True Stories in the Anthropocene
- Asty Rastiya: Citizen Journalism in the Digital Age of Television News in Indonesia
- Elly Varrenti: Spilling Ya Guts: The Art and Artifice of Telling the Truth
Awards, fellowships, and honours
2018. ‘John Clarke and the Power of Satire’ was chosen for inclusion in an anthology of essays marking the first ten years of Inside Story, edited by Peter Browne, Grattan Street Press.
2017. Winner, with Dr Glen Fuller and Dr Caroline Fisher, of a University of Canberra teaching excellence award for Programs that Enhance Learning.
2004. A story for Griffith Review about the role of science in Australia’s sporting success entitled ‘Born to Win, with a Little Help’ was selected for The Best Australian Sports Writing 2004 anthology edited by Garrie Hutchinson.
2001. ‘Helen Garner’s The First Stone: Hitchhiking on the Credibility of Other Writers’, in Bodyjamming, was chosen for inclusion in an anthology of Australian literary criticism, Authority and Influence, edited by Delys Bird, Robert Dixon, and Christopher Lee, University of Queensland Press.
1995. A story for The Age about the impact of the Jewish Holocaust Centre on those who visit it, headlined ‘Survivors of the Holocaust’, was short-listed for a United Nations Media Peace Prize.
1994. A profile for The Weekend Australian magazine of leading historian Geoffrey Blainey, headlined ‘Lone Wolf’, won the George Munster national award for freelance journalism.
1991. A co-authored cover story for Time Australia magazine about the Vietnamese community in Australia, headlined ‘On the Boat’, won a citation for the United Nations Media Peace Prizes.
Media and public events
Matthew has been a media commentator for many years, beginning in 1993 with a regular spot on ABC Radio National’s ‘The Media Report’, and continuing with regular spots on ABC Radio’s ‘Morning’ program with Jon Faine and ‘The Evening show’ with Peter Clarke on the ABC.
Since 2018, Matthew has been a member of a three-person team producing a podcast, Media Files, for The Conversation which has so far produced 17 episodes. Episodes run for around 30 minutes.