Front Page Report surveys Australia’s front pages and national radio headlines.
“Our headlines and front pages tell us a lot about our ourselves,” said Michael Smith, publisher of FPR.
Michael is a journalist and media adviser who has worked on some of the biggest stories and issues in the world over the past 30 years.
From 2010 to 2015, he was media adviser with International Federation of Red Cross, which is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. He was IFRC media adviser and spokesman in Sierra Leone, West Africa, during the 2014 Ebola crisis, the biggest outbreak of Ebola in history. He was the IFRC media adviser and spokesman in Japan after the magnitude 9.1 earthquake and tsunami in 2011, the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan.
Michael was the Australian Red Cross media adviser and spokesman during the 2011 Queensland floods, Victorian floods and Cyclone Yasi disasters. He was the New Zealand Red Cross media adviser and spokesman during the 2011 Christchurch earthquake disaster, which killed 185 people.
For 10 years from 2007, Michael was media adviser to London and Washington-based international lawyer Robert Amsterdam, generating global coverage of a number of cases. These included Amsterdam’s successful defence of humanitarian disaster planning expert and UN whistleblower Dr Georges Tadonki at a United Nations tribunal in Africa. The case examined the UN’s relationship with the Mugabe regime during Zimbabwe’s 2009 cholera crisis, which killed more than 4000 people. Tadonki and Amsterdam’s victory won American Lawyer magazine’s Pro Bono Case of the Year at the 2013 Global Legal Awards.
Other cases included Amsterdam’s representation of former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and the Thai National Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship during 2010 pro-democracy demonstrations in Bangkok’s Ratchaprasong’s district. The military shot dead 80 civilians during the protest.
Michael also represented Amsterdam and his client Mikhail Khodorkovsky at the 2007 APEC summit in Sydney. Russian president Vladimir Putin jailed Khodorkovsky, the former Yukos oil boss and pro-democracy supporter, in 2005. Michael led a campaign which exposed the Howard Government’s secret deal to export Australian uranium to Russia and associated risks. The publicity led to street protests in Sydney. The new Rudd Government halted the deal. Khodorkovsky was freed in 2013. He now lives in Switzerland.
Michael started his own consultancy in 2000. For three years he was media consultant to the head of the Australian Research Council, Professor Vicki Sara. During this time, he publicised the world’s first successful teleportation experiment, carried out by Dr Ping Koy Lam and his team of physicists at ANU (Australian National University). The project was funded by the ARC. The story went around the world and was raised in the US Congress, the Americans questioning why they hadn’t been the first. Michael co-wrote and edited the ARC’s three-year strategic plan, Investing In Our Future, which the Howard Government funded with an additional $762 million a year.
In 2009, he launched the draft national curriculums for English, history, maths and science for the Rudd/Gillard government.
He managed a press conference for Australia’s chief medical officer, Professor Richard Smallwood, during the 2003 SARS crisis.
Michael has been the media consultant for three world congresses, including the World Congress on Disaster and Emergency Medicine after the September 11 and Bali terrorist attacks.
He was media and government affairs adviser to White House bioterrorism expert Dr Eric Noji during his Australian visit at the time of the Iraq War/weapons of mass destruction controversy.
Michael lived and worked in the Middle East for a year in his early 20s. He has returned twice, including as an adviser with the Victorian Government. He has been to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, West Bank and Gaza, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the Emirates, Jordan, Egypt and Israel. He lived on kibbutz Bar’am in Upper Galilee for three months. He has visited Jerusalem many times.
Michael’s nephew is autistic and for the past 18 years Michael has been a media consultant to Australia’s autism community. He was the media consultant for the First World Autism Congress, in Melbourne, and two further Asia Pacific Autism Conferences.
Prior to 2000, Michael was media adviser to the Howard Government’s Education and Employment Minister, David Kemp, and the Victorian Kennett Government’s Education Minister, Don Hayward. This followed 10 years as a journalist in Melbourne and London. In London, he was a senior reporter at the Old Bailey Criminal Court. He was in court for the release of the Guildford Four, their wrongful jailing for 16 years described as one of the greatest injustices in British legal history.
In 2016 and 2017, Michael wrote for The Australian and Herald Sun newspapers. He has written for the ABC, The Bulletin/Newsweek and papers in London.
Michael has spoken at a number of conferences, including the Walkley Foundation Annual Public Affairs Convention, the Australian Defence Force Academy’s Information Warfare conference, held in conjunction with Monash University, and the Australian Government Relations Summit at the National Press Club. He has also spoken at the Crisis Intervention and Management Australasia conference, on the media’s coverage of disasters, and the Asia Pacific Autism Conference in Adelaide.
Michael is also an opera singer, a former student of the Victorian College of the Arts Opera Studio in Melbourne and Royal Academy of Music in London. He has sung in operas in England, Israel and Australia. In 2006, he featured in Chamber Made’s world premiere of The Hive, by Sam Sejavka and Nicholas Vines, which won Helpmann and Green Room Awards for Best Opera and Direction.
Michael is based in Canberra, Australia.