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Leading media commentator, journalist and author Dr Margaret Simons has been appointed as the Director of the Centre for Advanced Journalism and coordinator of the new Master of Journalism at The University of Melbourne. She will commence her post in December.

Leading media commentator, journalist and author Dr Margaret Simons has been appointed as the Director of the Centre for Advanced Journalism and coordinator of the new Master of Journalism at The University of Melbourne. She will commence her post in December.

Dr Simons is a journalist and author with 30 years experience in the media industry. She has worked for The Age and the Australian, as well as spending many years as a freelance journalist and author. She currently writes media commentary for Crikey and a number of other publications.

Also an acclaimed author, Dr Simon’s most recent book is Malcolm Fraser – The Political Memoirs, (MUP 2010) which won Book of the Year in the 2010 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. Other works include The Meeting of the Waters, (Hodder, 2003) and The Content Makers – Understanding the Australian Media (Penguin 2009).

Dr Simons said she looked forward to building on the Centre’s existing achievements, particularly in addressing issues to do with the future of Australia’s news media and the practice of journalism. She said she would look to further enhance the Centre’s reputation as a leading journalism research and teaching institution.

“I would like to pay tribute to the work of my predecessor, Michael Gawenda, in establishing the Centre and leading its work so far. It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to build on his achievements.”

Dean of the Faculty of Arts Professor Mark Considine said the appointment of Dr Simons was a big boost for Faculty of Arts and the University. “Her extensive knowledge and experience in journalism and her leadership in the teaching of journalism will directly benefit research at the Centre and the students who will become the next generation of journalists,” he said.

Dr Simons will commence in the position of Director, Centre for Advanced Journalism from December 1, 2011, taking over from inaugural CAJ Director, Michael Gawenda.

“I welcome the appointment of Margaret as the new Director,” he said. “She is an outstanding journalist and academic who I am sure will build on what has already been achieved. At this crucial time for journalism, I am confident Margaret will ensure that the Centre plays a vital role in journalism education and in improving and supporting the practice of good journalism.”

Mr Gawenda will remain with the Centre as Senior Fellow.

Current research projects at the Centre include the recent investigation of the media’s coverage of the Victoria bushfire disasters, and providing media training to Melbourne’s Sudanese community. In partnership with the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, it recently developed a new Master of Journalism, which will welcome its first intake in 2012.