The Judith Neilson Institute welcomed more than 150 guests to the official opening of its new headquarters in Chippendale this month.
JNI’s patron Judith Neilson, its Board and International Advisory Council members were joined by journalists, media executives and supporters, including former Primer Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Lucy Turnbull, and former NSW Premier and Foreign Minister Bob Carr.
JNI Chairman Jim Spigelman welcomed guests before Yvonne Weldon, Chairperson of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, gave the Welcome to Country.
The Minister for Communications, Paul Fletcher MP, praised the Institute for its achievements to date, noting its “practical nature” and “immediate and specific benefits” to Australia’s media landscape
“Diverse and vigorous journalism — probing journalism — is of great importance and value in a liberal democracy,” said Mr Fletcher.
“It’s something that politicians universally support in theory, and frequently support in practice.”
Chris Masters on reporting with courage and insight
Gold Walkley-winning journalist Chris Masters delivered the keynote address. He spoke fondly of the lessons imparted by his mother Olga, who was also a journalist, and her belief in the need to maintain faith in human decency.
“According to the code of Olga, if we report with fairness, courage, honesty and insight it should all work out,” said Masters.
“We apply all the skill and industry we can muster within an ever-narrow timeframe. We make mistakes — there is no such thing as mistake free journalism. But we learn — we are in partnership with the public. We don’t own the narrative, nor do we control the outcome.”
He offered high praise to Judith Neilson for this institute, for supporting “evidence-based journalism and the pursuit of truth”.
“I have argued for some time that the difficulty of identifying absolutes in truth is no excuse not to try,” said Masters.
Masters concluded by thanking the guests and the Institute’s patron.
“Your presence and Judith’s vision exemplifies mum’s time-honoured faith in public decency,” he said.
Guests were invited to explore the building and socialise. An exhibition showcasing projects from JNI’s grant recipients and education initiatives was spread throughout the building. Jazz ensemble The Pocket Trio provided entertainment.
Upon leaving, attendees received a souvenir JNI bag which contained a copy of The Changing Times, JNI’s newspaper, which features stories about the Institute, its mission and ambitions.