Reviews of The News Manual

The following review by Professor Mark Pearson was published in the Australian Journalism Review, Vol. 13 Jan – Dec 1991.


The News Manual is a comprehensive introductory guide to journalism. Volume 1 covers basic news definitions, story structures, attribution and interviewing techniques. Volume 2 guides the reader through more ad­vanced techniques including rounds, specialist reporting, the breaking story, news pictures, radio and television, features and sport. Volume 3 is devoted to ethical and legal issues.

Henshall and Ingram aim their work at Pacific island journalists and students. Their examples and cartoons use Pacific illustrations and they use clear and concise language to make reading easier for those who use English as a second language.

However, these attributes are not limitations; nor do they deserve apologies. To the contrary, they are distinct advantages over many of the texts -Australian, American and British - that we have to choose from.

Two outstanding attributes of the work are its humor and its cultural sensitivity. The writing style is light though not flippant, with the occasional funny example or aside. The text is broken by Papua New Guinean cartoonist Bob Browne's reflections on the themes of each chapter. (These could be enlarged to make excellent overheads for lectures - with the authors' permission, of course.)

Being culturally sensitive can render a work bland or unopinionated. Henshall and Ingram do not make that mistake. They state their bias towards a Western democratic notion of a free press and frame their ethical advice in that light. However, they contemplate situations in which Pacific cultural practices might come into conflict with journalism ethics, as in this extract:

"In many societies, a person's first loyalty is to members of their ex­tended family, or clan, or tribe. This is expected to take priority over all other loyalties, including their loyalty to the ethical standards of their profession ... If you are told by your editor to cover a story which involves your own extended family ... you should point out to the editor this conflict of loyalty and ask that the story be assigned to another reporter." (It seems Pacific governors-general have to grapple with a similar kind of conundrum.)

For those who teach Australian journalism to foreign students, the authors' discussion of such dilemmas might provide the basis for useful tutorial discussions about the cultural and ethical consequences of many journalistic assignments.

Media law is approached from a Commonwealth perspective, providing a good introductory coverage for Australian students which would need to be supplemented with specifically Australian material, particularly in defamation law. Browne has drawn an excellent strip cartoon which follows the legal process through from the crime to the sentence or acquittal - an excellent teaching aid when explaining the notion of sub judice.

The price for these 700 pages is kept to just $24.50 by printing it in PNG under a personal publishing label in a low-quality format. Henshall promises to improve the printing quality for the next edition if there is enough demand. It would serve well as a first-semester text or as a back-up text to be used as a shelf reference throughout a course and in the first years of work as a journalist.


In a review of Assoc. Prof. David Robie's collection The Pacific Journalist in the AJR Vol. 23 July 2001 , Prof. Pearson wrote:

There is an appropriate acknowledgment of the excellent three-volume The News Manual (1991), co-authored by David Ingram and the late Peter Henshall when they were lecturing at the University of Papua New Guinea. That was an excellent introductory text with simple English and a wealth of information for the entry-level reporter. I have used it in my classes at Bond University and with cadet journalists from Australia's Rural Press Group.

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Reviews of The News Manual
  1. Pina Nius
  2. Australian Journalism Review
  3. Catholic Media Council
  4. Assoc. Professor David Robie
  5. Pacific Media Centre blogspot
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