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ANNA GARDEN 2023 FLATTENED by Martin Harris ORIGINAL.tiff

PHOTO: MARTIN HARRIS

ABOUT ANNA

My big loves in life are research, writing and music.

 

I particularly like telling stories about people who think differently from the mainstream, and exploring their contribution to vital debates. Over time, this has been in such contexts as science, technology and ethics; Indigenous perspectives on environmental sustainability; or social histories exploring the provocations of those who challenge dominant views. If I had to sum up my philosophy in one sentence it's: I believe we are more than the sum of our parts, that things are not always as they seem, nothing is black and white, and the juice of life is in the grey areas.


As far back as I can remember I have written down my thoughts and observations. And it was listening to The Science Show on Australian national radio as a teenager that sparked the idea of being a science journalist. This fate was sealed during my undergraduate science degree (at the Universisty of Sydney). when I proved to be more interested in the student newspaper and community radio than dissecting frogs. My mother Ariel Salleh’s sociology expertise also rubbed off and I developed an acute interest in the tensions between science and society.


After a Masters in Journalism (at UTS Sydney) I developed experience in print, radio and television and also worked as a consumer advocate and environmental educator. I spent a lot of time investigating scientific controversies. I loved delving into arguments about the ethics, risk and regulation of new technologies. And I was intrigued by contested notions of expertise in debates around environmental, health and agricultural futures. My PhD investigated the potent ways journalists shape the relationship between science, technology, and society - focusing on genetically modified foods. I also wrote books chapters, journal articles, designed and taught science journalism courses, as well as contributed to professional debates on the media’s role in reporting on science and technology.

For many years my bread-and-butter job has been as a journalist and editor for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) science unit. I count myself extremely lucky to have worked for so long with such an amazing institution as the ABC, producing online news and features, as well as audio documentaries on a range of topics.

My most recent project is curating the legacy of my late father, the Malaysian poet and public intellectual Salleh Ben Joned. I did a two-part podcast documentary about his life, relased in 2020, not long before he died and now have a new book out about his work.

 

My love of music is thanks to 'singing genes' from my mother, and being taken to see the cult film Black Orpheus (with it's gorgeous Brazilian soundtrack) by my father at the age of 9. After numerous musical incarnations, from folk troubadour to acappella singer, in 2010 I returned to the call of Brazilian music I first heard as a child. I packed up my guitar and headed to Rio de Janeiro on a quest to learn more about the roots of bossa nova. When I came back to Australia I focused on performing and recording this repertoire and spent the best part of the past decade appearing regularly at venues such as Foundry616 jazz club in Sydney. More recently I have been writing some of my own songs and discovering old Malay songs.

I have always tried to use my musical sensibility when writing and narrating, and I excel at longer-term projects involving intensive research, writing and editing. But my joy of shaping the written word also extends to smaller, shorter-term projects, which can include media and marketing. I also enjoy teaching people who want to learn these skills themselves ... anyone from musicians to scientists! So get in touch if you think I might be able to help you.

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