Professor Peter Greste joined Macquarie this year as a professor of journalism. He brought with him 30 years of experience as a journalist, including 25 years as a foreign correspondent with the BBC, Al Jazeera and Reuters among other high-profile publications.
An advocate for media freedom after spending 400 days detained in Egypt on terrorism charges while reporting as a foreign correspondent, he is passionate about media freedom and journalist safety.
He has written extensively about media freedom, including a book, journal articles and newspaper op-eds and has won multiple awards for his advocacy, including the Australian Human Rights Commission Medal, the International Association of Press Clubs’ Freedom of Speech Award, the RSL’s ANZAC Peace Prize and more.
When he is not teaching future journalists or campaigning for journalists’ rights, he can be found taking advantage of a strong nor’-easter, kitesurfing on the Sunshine Coast.
1. Something you’d like staff to know about
One of my other hats is as chair of the Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom – an advocacy group that does what it says on the tin. Although we are a small organisation that runs on a shoestring, we’ve had a significant impact on the debates around media freedom and firmly embedded the idea of a Media Freedom Act. We are not there yet, but I’m confident we will get there.
2. Something you feel proud of
A few weeks ago, I delivered a public lecture on media freedom and national security titled ‘The Pen and The Sword’ that ABC Radio National broadcast on its program Big Ideas.
3. A person you admire at Macquarie, and why
The wonderful Professor Bridget Griffen-Foley, Director of Research and Innovation for MCCALL. I am much more of a journalist than an academic, and whenever I need advice or support about research, Bridget is my go-to person. I can’t think of too many others who are as sharp, organised, collegial and generous as she is!
4. Something you’ve read recently that has had an impact on you
‘You have not yet been defeated’, a collection of works by Alaa Abdel Fattah, who is easily the best-known political prisoner in Egypt today. His writing was collected and translated by a group of dedicated supporters trying to get him released after years in prison on utterly bogus terrorism charges. He is a rare original thinker with an extraordinary political brain, and his writing is at once profound, thoughtful, intensely personal and revolutionary. The book stands on its own, but it means so much more to me because I was imprisoned in a cell next to Alaa for a few months in 2014, and we got to know each other well. I credit him for helping me understand what we were going through and he gave me the psychological tools to survive it.
5. A favourite photo from your camera roll
Cockatoos are the juvenile delinquents of the avian world. A posse regularly visits the deck of our house overlooking a nature reserve and bullies us into giving them seed. What to do…
6. Your definition of success
Creating genuine meaningful reform of Australia’s media industry.
7. The first person you go to for advice
My partner, Christine Jackman. She’s also a former journalist and correspondent, but she is also an incredibly astute observer of people and politics. She’s one of the most insightful, honest people I know.
8. A website or app you can’t live without
The Windy app. To stay sane, I go kitesurfing whenever the wind is right and work allows it. I compulsively check the app for the latest conditions several times a day.
9. Where you live and what you like about living there
I live in a truly wonderful home in Brisbane, on a steep slope overlooking an extraordinarily beautiful nature reserve. Our place sits at tree-top level, so we have both a fantastic view of the city and the forest – and a great relationship with the local birdlife.
10. A personal quality you value in others
Courage. And by that, I don’t just mean bravery in a dangerous physical environment. I also mean the courage to speak up when you feel as though you’re on your own, to be honest when that means being vulnerable. It’s easy to be brave when the threat is external, but so much harder when it is inside your own head.