Melbourne Writers Festival

August 25, 2012

So I put my hand up to volunteer at the Melbourne Writers Festival this year, not because I have that much of an interest in books or writing, but because I wanted to go to one particular event and was too stingy to pay for it. I didn't really know that much about the Writers Festival coming into it and to me it sounded rather boring.

The first event I was working at was an evening with The New Yorker at the Melbourne Town Hall. I also had no idea who was speaking at this so I was hoping people didn't ask me (some volunteer I am haha). 
I got to sit in and watch some of the presentation (is that the right word for it? probably not) and really loved it. They had Roz Chast (cartoonist), Henry Finder (editor), Sacha Frere-Jones (music critic), David Grann (journo) and Peter Schjeldahl (art critic) recalling amusing anecdotes from working in journalism and general life experiences. We learnt that giant squid are incredibly hard to find and Jack White (The White Stripes) finds being called a genius insulting.

There are a whole range of The New Yorker events in the coming days and a lot of them are sold out, if you're interested in the full program... click here.

The event I mentioned in the intro which was the whole reason I volunteered at the Writers Festival was a conversation (current favourite buzz word in journalism) between bloggers and mainstream media, and what they can teach each other. The always inspiring Phoebe Montague of Lady Melbourne was on the panel as well as one of Australia's best bloggers Eden Riley and journalists from the ABC and The New Yorker.

Topics explored included the line between blogging and journalism, handing criticism and professional ethics. Phoebe Montague made a great point which was you wouldn't walk up to a stranger on the street and swear and insult them, so why do you do it to people on the internet? If you want more information about what was discusses, check out the lively Twitter feed #newnews (you might have to scroll back a bit though).

Volunteering at the Melbourne Writers Festival has really given me a new found respect for it and I'll be looking through the program a bit more closely now. It is on until the 2nd of September with a whole range of events for different demographics. I'm going to be volunteering at a couple more events so if I find them interesting, I'll write about it. Also sorry this is so wordy, but I am writing about the Writers Festival after all.

Melbourne Writers Festival
Various venues in and around the Melbourne CBD
Ticketed and free
23 August - 02 September

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