In The Media and the Massacre, Sonya Voumard questions her role and that of journalists more broadly in reporting on trauma. In this instance, she specifically explores the stories surrounding the 1996 Port Arthur massacre. She uses Born or Bred? Martin Bryant – The Making of a Mass Murderer (2009) written by well-regarded journalists Robert Wainwright and Paola Totaro to delve into difficult questions of morality, ethics and responsibility in her profession.
In The Media and the Massacre, Voumard reveals how Wainwright and Totaro used the personal memoirs of Martin Bryant’s mother to write a best-selling book. The information they obtained from Carleen Bryant was shared with them on the premise they would tell her side of the story, but the relationship between the subject and the authors broke down and, effectively, permission to use the material provided was withdrawn. However, Wainwright and Totaro published their book anyway, despite the risk of potentially re-traumatising those who were affected by the tragic events of that day. In this compelling read, Voumard effectively traverses the complex issues facing journalists – the relationship between the subject and the author and the instinctive pursuit of ‘the story’. She compiles interviews, public records and draws on her own experiences as she revisits Port Arthur and reflects on the trauma of the massacre that still exists.
Sonya Voumard is a journalist and author and a former lecturer in creative non-fiction and journalism at UTS. In 2015, Voumard graduated from UTS with a Doctorate of Creative Arts.