3 Jan 2020

What we're reading this week — January 3, 2020

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This week we are taking a look at some of the stories that have emerged from the bushfires burning across Australia.

The fires have burned through millions of hectares, destroying homes and leaving thousands stranded. The Guardian reports at least 19 people have died and dozens are still missing.

Journalists, including photographers and videographers, from a range of media organisations, have done an excellent job providing timely and compelling coverage from the fire grounds.

A number of regional media organisations have provided outstanding coverage, despite shrinking resources. Some have faced challenges just getting their papers out because of the fires. The Bay Post – Moruya Examiner’s made its digital edition available for free after fires on the South Coast disrupted newspaper deliveries.

These are some of the stories that caught our eye this week.

Photographer Matthew Abbott's image of a kangaroo rushing past a burning property on the NSW South Coast.

This striking image from photographer Matthew Abbott for The New York Times featured on the front pages of newspapers around the world.

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Bushfires in Mallacoota didn’t stop Brendan tweeting Victorian town’s tragic story to the world

ABC News / Alan Weedon

The Tweets of a Mallacoota resident — who asked to be called simply Brendan — provided an hour-by-hour summary of the fire’s destructive path. Brendan’s photos and Tweets were picked up by media around the world, including the BBC.

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Mallacoota fires: Rachel Mounsey photos tell story of her town’s bushfire disaster

The Canberra Times / James Joyce

Photojournalist Rachel Mounsey captured the damage in her hometown.

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Heart-wrenching moment firefighter’s posthumous medal presented to his son

The Sydney Morning Herald / Jacqueline Maley

One of the sad stories to emerge from the fires in NSW. It also presents the image of stoic firefighters leaving their friend’s funeral and returning to work.

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New Zealand glaciers turn brown from Australian bushfires’ smoke, ash and dust

The Guardian / Eleanor Ainge Roy

The band of smoke produced by the fires moved across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand, turning the country’s snow-capped peaks brown.

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Australia’s bush fires are unprecedented — what’s the link to climate change?

The South China Morning Post / John Power

The severity of the Australian fires and the effect of climate change has been explored by media in the UK, the US and Asia.

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Why the fires in Australia are so bad

New York Times / Andy Parsons and Russell Goldman

Another story that delves into some of the questions about what has caused such severe bushfires, including the influence of climate change and weather. Matthew Abbott’s incredible photographs are a stand-out and featured on the front pages of newspapers around the world.

The story also attracted a lot of interest in the US. Richard Haass, an American diplomat and president of the Council of Foreign Relations, tweeted the story with the following commentary: “Australian fires need to change the way many think about climate change. It is not just a problem down the road but it has arrived. And it is much worse than often understood. Climate change has the potential to define this century.”

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Australia’s angry summer: This is what climate change looks like

Scientific American / Nerilie Abram

In this opinion piece, Abrams argues climate change is making Australian fires larger and more frequent and says, “our leaders are literally fiddling while the country burns.”

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Are hazard reduction burns effective in managing bushfires? The answer is complicated

RMIT ABC Fact Check

Along with the climate change, the effectiveness of hazard reduction burns has been one of the main points of debate to emerge from the bushfire disaster. RMIT ABC Fact Check has put together a considered analysis of the policies and planning around controlled burns.