Rupert Rinehart: Australia’s new fair and balanced (free) news media

June 24, 2012

Let’s drop the pretence that there is freedom of the press in Australia.

Let’s also recognise that the Rupert Rinehart media future is anti-democratic and a threat to our collective rights as citizens to have freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

Make no mistake, the Rupert Rinehart media want it all for themselves. Their freedom of the press comes at the expense of our freedom of thought and our freedom of action.

It is a nonsense to pretend that a Gina Rinehart controlled Fairfax represents the exercise of free speech just as it is bullshit to argue that New Limited is a paradigm example of freedom of expression in action.

Tx: Road less travelled – click for link

Murdoch sets the tone at News Limited and it is he alone who has freedom of speech across his newspaper titles. His minions either carry out his wishes or find themselves another job.

If Rinehart gets her way – and she will – then it is she who will set the editorial tone across the Fairfax titles. Her interest in Fairfax is not commercial, its political. The idea that she is a white knight who will turn around the fortunes of the failing company is a fairy tale.

‘What’s the problem?’ the free speech fundamentalists will ask. They will answer for themselves. The owner of the business, or in Gina’s case, the major shareholder, has the right to set the editorial line.

‘After all, it is their paper to command.’ The fundamentalists will then cross their arms with a smug smile of the self-satisfying undergraduate mass debater plastered across their chops.

Unfortunately, this argument is jibber jabber of the worst order.

Read the rest of this entry »


Talking Points: The Australian’s cosy little club of groupthinkers

May 25, 2012

If you get to the bottom there is a topical easter egg surprise for loyal readers.

Over recent months many of my colleagues in the Journalism Education Association of Australia (JEAA) have attempted to get responses to The Australian’s attacks on us (over many months) published. We have had very little luck. One open letter that was sent from the association with more than 50 signatures was made available as a PDF from a deep recess of The Australian’s website,but not easily searchable and just last week I received this response from editor of Media Diary Nick Leys.

A right-of-reply @leysie style

Some of the attacks have centred on Dr Matthew Ricketson who was engaged to assist with the Independent Media Inquiry. The Australian‘s coverage of this issue has been appalling and one-sided, but when Matthew tried to defend himself he was not given space, instead Nick Leys cobbled together a piece from second-hand sources. It is what The Australian‘s editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell would call “four or five out of 10” journalism.

Editor in chief of The Australian Chris Mitchell questions the journalistic credentials of those passing judgment on the industry. “Ricketson, Simons and their mate Andrew Dodd (Crikey contributor and Swinburne University of Technology journalism course convener) all worked for The Australian and you would give them barely a pass mark as journalists,” he says.

“Seriously. People who I would score four or five out of 10 are trying to determine the future of media regulation in Australia. Everyone in the business knows it is a self-serving joke and these people are dupes for Conroy.”

Chris Mitchell quoted approvingly and at length in his own newspaper. A cosy club Chris – you’re the patron

As the national association representing journalism educators and academics, you might think that the JEAA would be given some space to respond to criticisms and abuse hurled at us. For some reason, we are not considered worthy of space in the paper’s letters pages, let alone to write a column.

We have been accused of being a “cosy club” prone to  “groupthink” even though there are many disagreements among us. It is a puzzling charge and one that The Australian rejects when it is levelled against them.

It is puzzling because the op-ed pages of The Australian display a remarkable and consistent commitment to groupthink. Its columnists all sing off the same conservative songsheet with the libertarian soloists taking center stage all too often.

However, it might come as a surprise to readers of our national broadsheet that this same groupthink is also displayed in the letters pages.

For example, Mr Brenton Minge, of suburban Bulimba in Brisbane, must be one of the luckiest writers of letters to the editor in Australia. A Google search shows up a Brenton Minge who it seems has a  bent for letter writing, particularly on topics of religion, science and the “Leftist” ABC.  Maybe this is why he so popular with The Australian‘s letters editor.

Mr Minge has had nine letters published in The Australian’s Talking Points column since May 2011, for a total of around 1400 words. He is not the only one.

Read the rest of this entry »


We don’t trust the news media – so where’s the news in that?

October 8, 2009

UMR Research has today [7 October]  released the results of a survey of New Zealanders that show, on the whole, that we don’t trust the news media.

As UMR Executive Editor Tim Grafton said in a company media release, the findings really come as “no surprise”.

What would have been newsworthy and surprising, would be a survey that says the news media’s doing well in terms of accuracy, balance and a willingness to admit mistakes.Nearly two-thirds of respondents  felt there was a problem with the media: only 35 per cent said the media was accurate, 30 per cent  that the news was balanced and only 27 per cent believed the media was willing to admit to mistakes.

Age and gender also appear to influence the results, which is also not surprising really. We might expect older men to be more inclined to read newspapers and therefore perhaps more inclined to complain and to notice potential problems.

The real issue is what, if anything, the news media – or more accurately perhaps, editors and senior journalists – are going to do about their poor standings.

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Boquet for HoS – attempting to come clean on Veitch

April 26, 2009

I would like to congratulate Shayne Currie and David Fisher for the piece in today’s Herald on Sunday [Inbside the Veitch media circus] and for getting Tim Pankhurst to at least put something on the record about the genesis of the whole caravan.

I was interviewed for David’s story and in the course of our long-ish chat I raised the idea that the Dom Post and the other media outlets, who bought into the story subsequently, actually owed the public a certain level of disclosure about sources.

I know this flies in the face of accepted ethical wisdom about protecting sources and so-called “shield laws”, but I argue that in this case the motivation of sources is actually a key element of the story.

This is particularly salient when everyone involved – editors, journos, PR managers and the central protagonist – all admit that scrambling for the media high ground (and a position of control) was a key objective of both sides.

Unfortunately, we – the readers and viewers – were not privy to who the sources were, though in David’s piece, the Team Veitch PR expert, Glenda Hughes, says that she was reactive to the media most of the time and only admitted to “selling” a story on one or two occasions.

I am still mulling over a more considered and lengthy post on this story. In my view it is a fantastic case study of media actions – in this case feeding on one of its own – almost an act of cannibalism. I’m sure none of us (media people) would like to be in Tony Veitch’s shoes and see our career shredded.

I actually have sympathy for everyone caught in the shockwaves of this story.

Kristin Dunne Powell has been unfairly and disgustingly labeled a “bunny boiler” [cultural reference to Sharon Stone’s character in Basic Instinct]. Her life will never be the same again.

Tony Veitch does not at the moment have a life – he is medically unfit for work, marriage and friendship – he may well be the “author” of his own misfortune, but he got plenty of help from the news media.

Zoe Veitch is also a victim, her performance during the whole saga was as “stoic wife”, but she too got dragged through the PR fence backwards from time to time.

The families of key figures are all scarred and substantially out-of-pocket. Therefore we have to ask, was it worth it? Was the public interest really served by the attention this story got?

I don’t think the media covered themselves in glory on this story. I will post something more substantial later.

I’m also considering doing an academic paper on this for a journalism studies conference in December. If anyone would like to talk to me about it, particularly any journos or editors, I’d love to hear from you.

ethicalmartiniATgmail.com is the best way to get in touch. Or you can leave a comment to this post. For the record, if you leave a comment I will assume that it is public and that you consent to me using it in any research publication that results (eg: conference paper and/or journal article).


Byers charges – more to come?

February 21, 2009

The Weekend Herald is reporting today that Blue Chip director, Mark Byers, is facing arouond 100 charges relating to the collapse of his company and fraudulent dealings with investors. The paper says more charges to come. I wonder if “brothel-creeping” will be among them?

Prostitutes, privacy and media harassment

Boquets, not brickbats


Gaza appeal creates row in UK media

January 27, 2009

The refusal of the BBC and Sky TV to broadcast a charity appeal for victims of  Israeli ground and air attacks in Gaza earlier this month (Jan 2009), is causing outrage in Britain.

Church leaders and MPs have joined in calls for the BBC and Sky TV to join Channels Four and Five in broadcasting the appeal video, produced by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).

The whole fracas raises some very interesting questions about the line between news and advertorial and the editorial independence of news organisations reporting on the controversial conflict between Israel and the Hamas organisation, which controls Gaza and has been firing Qassam rockets into Israeli settlements.

The video is available on the Guardian’s website.

The BBC’s Director-General, wearing his “editor-in-chief” hat, argues that broadcasting the appeal would compromise the organisation’s impartiality in the coverage of an ongoing news story. This seems, at face value to be a persuasive argument.

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Morning Report – echo chamber for the opposition?

August 14, 2008

I like Morning Report, it’s my daily fix of news and current affairs. Occasionally I get annoyed with the focus on local crime stories, traffic and weather, but that’s cool; it’s just a morning heart-starter.

But in the last few days I have become more than annoyed, I’m totally jacked-off with Sean Plunkett in particular. I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that Morning Report is just an echo-chamber and amplifier for every piss-ant little claim made by the Nationals and now also the ACT Party.

It was double-barrel this morning and Sean really got on my goat.

First an uncritical acceptance of National claims that DOC is going to spend $2 million on a re-branding campaign; then ACT Party defence spokesbot, Heather Roy, (are they even big enough to have spokesbots?) banging on about some 40 year-old clapped out jets that the Government wants to sell.

Then the claims are rewritten and bundled up into the next news bulletin, making them ‘fact’.

Have the Morning Report presenters and producers left their critical faculties at the door? Read the rest of this entry »


The great climate change swindle “swindle” swindle

June 2, 2008

On Sunday night Prime TV aired the controversial British documentary, The Great Climate Change Swindle and hosted an hour of discussion about the programme and the issues.

I watched it and now I feel like I was swindled. The film was as one-sided as it’s possible to be. Absolutely no voices arguing against the “science” that “disproves” any human responsibility for global warming. The debate was pretty lacklustre too.

The doco was first aired in March last year on Channel 4 in the UK. It sparked a number of complaints to OfCom, the broadcasting commission. Several scientists who’d been in the film claimed to have been misrepresented and tried to distance themselves from the views of the producer.   On the other hand, producer Martin Durkin claimed a conspiracy of vested interests was trying to prevent the truth about climate change from getting out.

So was Prime right to broadcast the doco, given it has been discredited, or are vested interests really out to kill the truth – that human-produced climate change is a hoax? Read the rest of this entry »


Don’t these right-wingers get enough air time?

April 23, 2007

Shock-jock Melanie Morgan: Media Matters like Virginia Tech gunman

I’m sick and tired of right-wing shock-jocks like KSFO’s (San Fancisco) Melanie Morgan complaining about attempts by ordinary people, activists and concerned journalists to add a little left-wing ballast to the rightward drifting daily media flagship the SS “Tub-o-lies”.
These highly-paid, emotionally-crippled, talking chimps get paid buckets of cash to rant and rave about their favourite topics, day after day. They are not the organ-grinders, but they have a nasty bite when irritated. Yet when one small organisation, in this case MediaMatters for America, takes them on and argues against their neo-con whining, they spit the dummy and call us names.
Get over it, you’re winning (for now).
The reason why people like me (and fellow bloggers) give up our precious spare time is because, unlike the mouthpiece machines, we don’t get paid to have our own soapbox. We do it for love (and political commitment).
Here’s a grab of what Ms Morgan thinks of democratic advocates of media change:

Like that mentally unbalanced and angry gunman at Virginia Tech, they’ll methodically march through the domiciles of the conservative movement, targeting the movement’s leaders for career elimination — until and unless we stand up and fight back against their campaign of mayhem against conservative leaders and causes.

If you can’t play nicely with the other kids Melanie: “GET OUT OF THE SANDBOX!” When you actually analyse (in a sober way) what caused Cho Seung-Hui to kill 32 fellow Americans, it was not the nice, soft left-liberal side of America, but the gun-totin’, Bush votin’ rednecks who dogwhistlers like Morgan appeal too with her well-supported conservative opinions. The stuff that’s now emerging is of a disturbed young man who was bullied and hounded. I’m not excusing what he did, but hey Melanie, take a cold shower in the reality stalls.
Oh, if only the tide would turn and the SS “Tub-o-lies” would founder on the reefs of sanity and sensibility.
And finally, speaking of “career elimination”, who exactly was Joseph McCarthy?