Sonya Voumard’s The Media and the Massacre is a chilling portrayal of journalism, betrayal, and storytelling surrounding the 1996 Port Arthur massacre. Inspired, in part, by renowned American author Janet Malcolm’s famously controversial work The Journalist and the Murderer, Voumard’s elegant new work of literary non-fiction examines the fascinating theme of ‘the writer’s treachery.’ The author brings to bear her own journalistic experiences, ideas and practices in a riveting inquiry into her profession that is part-memoir and part ethical investigation.
One of her case studies is the 2009 book Born or Bred? by two prominent journalists—Robert Wainwright and Paola Totaro—about the perpetrator of the Port Arthur massacre, Martin Bryant, and his mother Carleen Bryant. Carleen sued, and received an undisclosed settlement, over the best-selling book’s use of her personal manuscript.
In the lead-up to the 20th anniversary of the Port Arthur massacre, The Media and the Massacre explores the nature of journalistic intent and many of the wider moral and social issues of the storytelling surrounding the events and their place in our cultural memory.
Skin in the Game
Stella Prize long-listed author Sonya Voumard’s Skin in the Game is original, incisive and hugely entertaining.
The daughter of a European refugee mother and a journalist father, Voumard recounts with aplomb her passionate but questioning relationship with journalism and the nature of the interview. The daughter of a European refugee mother and a journalist father, Voumard recounts with aplomb her passionate but questioning relationship with journalism and the nature of the interview. There’s a disastrous 1980 university encounter with Helen Garner which forms the seed for her fascination with the dynamics of the interview and culminates in her connecting again with Garner more than three decades later to work out what went so wrong. There are the insights of a career played out against the changing nature of journalism including the author’s time as a Canberra correspondent. And there are revealing and tender portraits of Kings Cross, of growing up in suburban Melbourne, her father’s love of journalism, and a family journey to the Bonegilla Migrant Reception Centre where her mother’s Australian life began.
Throughout it all Voumard is a sharpshooter, never afraid to hold a mirror up to her own life and practices as a journalist, to dig deep into the ethics of journalism and the use of power, and to sensitively explore the intertwined nature of life and work and personal relationships. The writing is at turns sharp, funny, direct, strong and affectionate.