The Free Press

Just considering some of the News Corp whinging this morning about the parliament – the representatives of the people – DARING to hold them to any sort of account. NO LAW SHOULD APPLY TO US! DEFAMATION RESTRICTIONS ARE ALREADY TOO MUCH! WE ARE ABOVE YOU ALL! Think of the freedom! The freedom of the press!

The thing that strikes me as most absurd about it is that we don’t have a free press now. Does anyone really believe that journalists working for News Ltd are free agents, able to hold anyone to account, regardless of their commercial links with their employer, or their employer’s political view on a subject? Or those at Fairfax? Newspapers are owned by billionaires – and corporate shareholders whose stake is built on, for example, the superannuation of ordinary Australians, but where the interests of the board who make the decisions are quite distinct from those of those whose money they control. Can anyone seriously deny that the newspapers with the biggest reach push the interests of the establishment?

It’d be lovely if we did have a genuinely free press to defend, but we don’t. They don’t call truth to power – they call power to truth.

I don’t like the idea of a press beholden to government – but I don’t like the idea of a government beholden to press barons, either. Of a country where the public relies on the accuracy and fairness of media organs that are neither. If the public discourse is so dependent on being honestly informed of the facts, then why shouldn’t there be some standards to which these powerful organs of news be held?

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26 responses to “The Free Press

  1. jordanrastrick

    The thing that strikes me as most absurd about it is that we don’t have a free press now. Does anyone really believe that News Ltd is some kind of objective free agent? Or Fairfax?

    This isn’t what “free press” means. You and I are not objective, but that doesn’t mean our speech is any less free.

  2. Free press means free to criticise without fear or favour. Clearly the journalists working at the bigger newspapers aren’t. Perhaps I might reword that paragraph to make my point clearer.

  3. jordanrastrick

    Depending on what you mean by “without fear or favour”, that characterisation can be so broad as to be useless.

    According to Reporters Without Borders, we have the equal most free press in the world:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Reporters_Without_Borders_2009_Press_Freedom_Rankings_Map.svg

  4. From my reading we’re 18th on the list, not tied for 1st:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Press_Freedom_Index

  5. Splatterbottom

    Jordan, that will never be enough for an aging Green leader with a bruised ego. The machinery of government must be focused on the miscreant who dares to criticise the Party.

    The problem is that the intelligentsia think they are smarter and more rational than the common swill who can be manipulated by evil press barons. This is just a watered down-version of the Marxist doctrine of false consciousness. Kinda like the Greens in general.

    I am very concerned about free speech in this country. The “shut up, the science is in and we are right” approach to AGW is now being applied to those who dare disagree with the Greens and the Government more generally. It is not enough that they have their ABC. They want to bully the private media into conformity as well.

  6. Splatterbottom

    Auchel: “From my reading we’re 18th on the list, not tied for 1st”

    Either way, government supervision will not improve freedom of the press. The very fact of the inquiry chills free speech. And the utter, utter c*nts are looking at including blogs in their remit as well.

  7. The “shut up, the science is in and we are right” approach to AGW is now being applied to those who dare disagree with the Greens and the Government more generally.

    That’s a strawman, as the two things re neither the same nor being treated the same. Also, the science is in on AGW.

    It is not enough that they have their ABC.

    Another strawman.

  8. Either way, government supervision will not improve freedom of the press.

    And yet you have recently proposed here that there be government supervision of the ABC, as well as withdrawal of funding for the ABC if it does not report in a way that the government likes.

  9. Pingback: And here’s where our freedoms are really being eroded | An Onymous Lefty

  10. Funny how the media get their knickers in a knot when there is a prospect of them actually being made accountable for the stuff they publish.

    Just because they are commercial beings should not give them carte blanche to publish whatever they think they can get away with. Including scurrilous muck raking and the peddling of inaccurate or misleading information.

    I see no valid reason why the commercial media shouldn’t be held to the same standards as those which apply to the ABC. The accurate presentation of views and the fair presentation of views is not too much to ask.

    Only recently we had a media propagandist found to have written articles that “…….contained errors of fact, distortions of the truth and inflammatory and provocative language”. One would have thought the propagandists colleagues would have condemned this sort of pseudo journalist. But no, they by and large defended it.

    The media well knows the number of people who have the wherewithal to pursue them through the courts for defamation is infinitesimal. So personal maligning and focused targeting has become the order of the day. Particularly in the dirty diggers’ enterprises.

    Bring on some accountability I say. The sooner the better!

  11. Splatterbottom

    Buns: “And yet you have recently proposed here that there be government supervision of the ABC”

    If the government funds it they should take some interest in whether it is being colonised by leftist poltroons.

    Autonomy: “Just because they are commercial beings should not give them carte blanche to publish whatever they think they can get away with. Including scurrilous muck raking and the peddling of inaccurate or misleading information.”

    No indeed. They need to be taught right from wrong by blessed Saint Bob!

    “I see no valid reason why the commercial media shouldn’t be held to the same standards as those which apply to the ABC.”

    What does this mean exactly? Why would you apply the same standards to government funded propaganda as to what anyone else chooses to say?

    Bring on some accountability I say. The sooner the better!
    Fine. You are accountable to me. Off with your head!

  12. “If the government funds it they should take some interest..”

    Unless they are a religious school, in which case the government should continue funding them, and allow them the right to hire and fire according to their religious doctrine, rather than obeying the laws of the land.

    “.. in whether it is being colonised by leftist poltroons.”

    Funny, but ive never heard you complaining about Howard’s stacking of the ABC board with right wing “poltroons” like Windschuttle and Albrechtsen. I wonder why that is?

    “No indeed. They need to be taught right from wrong by blessed Saint Bob!”

    So you think that private media corporations SHOULD be free to engage in scurrilous muck raking, phone hacking, racial vilification and the peddling of inaccurate or misleading information? That’s interesting.

    “What does this mean exactly? Why would you apply the same standards to government funded propaganda as to what anyone else chooses to say?”

    A multimillion dollar, foreign owned corporation with a transparent political agenda has stated an agenda to “destroy” a major political party.

    They have published outright lies and have even published (in moderated comment threads) threats against the PM’s life.

    These people are a danger to democracy, and the only reason you aren’t up in arms about the state of the Australian media is because you don’t like the people that News Ltd is attacking.

    You want the “leftsts” at the ABC “supervised”, but want private companies to have the right to lie, hack phones, slander entire ethnic groups and carry on an obviously politically motivated attack campaign against the elected government with impunity, because they are using their own money to do it?

  13. Ah Splatter! What a pity you don’t take the time to actually ascertain just what the ABC guidelines are on fair and balanced comment and how strictly they are applied. Far easier to just sing from the reactionary hymn book.

    Notice no reference to one of your heroes. You know, the propagandist who apparently thinks that questioning someone who publishes a piece that “contained errors of fact, distortions of the truth and inflammatory and provocative language” is in some odd way an infringement of free speech. Go figure.

    I can, however, appreciate what your reactionary fellow travellers like Bolt, Jones, Hadley et al have with the matter of accountability in terms of the accurate presentation of news and fair presentation of views. Nothing to fill column inches and/or broadcast time.

  14. “because they are using their own money to do it?”

    Actually, News Ltd are using taxpayer money also – a large chunk of money every week for government job ads goes straight to right-wing newspaper outfits. And a lot of the Australian content on Foxtel is funded by Screen Australia and similar government incentive outfits.

    Personally, I’d like to see jobs.gov.au be a government version of Seek (instead of a ministry home page), and the commercial recruitment parasites told to go jump. And any Australian TV content funded by Screen Australia is required to get its first run on ABC or SBS, not network commercial television or Pay TV.

  15. If the government funds it they should take some interest in whether it is being colonised by leftist poltroons.

    Look, you’re either for a free press or you’re not. The government of the day is in no position to judge whether or not the ABC is balanced. The idea that the government should be able to dictate news and editorial content at the ABC, as you’re suggesting, is patently outrageous and should greatly offend anyone who claims to support a free press.

    How would it work exactly, SB? Please be specific. I guess all political and news shows could be required by law to send their scripts to the government prior to broadcast so that the government could vet content and adjust it as necessary to ensure it was “balanced”. Is that what you had in mind? Brilliant. I can’t see how that could possibly go wrong.

  16. What does this mean exactly? Why would you apply the same standards to government funded propaganda as to what anyone else chooses to say?

    You’re the only one here advocating that the ABC should be government funded propaganda. Unless you’re arguing the government of the day is in a position to judge whether or not coverage of itself is balanced. You’re not seriously suggesting that, are you?

  17. Splatterbottom

    Duncan: “Funny, but ive never heard you complaining about Howard’s stacking of the ABC board with right wing “poltroons” like Windschuttle and Albrechtsen. I wonder why that is?”

    Maybe because the appointment of a couple of intelligent people outside of the doctrinaire intelligentsia adds some balance to the board. Got any evidence that they changed things for the worse?

    “So you think that private media corporations SHOULD be free to engage in scurrilous muck raking, phone hacking, racial vilification and the peddling of inaccurate or misleading information?”

    Did I say that? Does it even follow from the comment you quoted are or you just on drugs?

    The most fundamental democratic right is free speech. Without it there can be no democracy and with it the other aspects of democracy can be achieved.

    Totalitarians of all stripe, including of the leftist variety, abhor free speech, as it is used to mock their stupidities – witness Bob Brown’s idiot outrage brought on bu the fact that he couldn’t even remember what he wrote, much less that the Australian gave him a column to dribble out his drivel.

    Autonomy: “I can, however, appreciate what your reactionary fellow travellers like Bolt, Jones, Hadley et al have with the matter of accountability in terms of the accurate presentation of news and fair presentation of views.”

    The private media are accountable to their audiences. Any suggestion that they be accountable to the Ministry of Truth or any other regulator is insane. The most one-sided and bigoted broadcaster in the country is Alan Jones’ leftist doppelganger Philip Adams. His smug, snide, relentlessly left-wing style is perfect for the wanking classes who constitute his audience.

    Buns: “Look, you’re either for a free press or you’re not.”

    You are correct Buns. The government has no business publishing the news and it should leave political issues alone. The ABC has been a monumental failure when it comes to delivering unbiased news and politics. ABC journalists all too often corruptly steal public resources to push their own political barrows. The system is unworkable and should be abolished.

  18. “Does it even follow from the comment you quoted are or you just on drugs?”

    Pure class as usual SB.

    I may be stoned, sir, but in the morning I will be straight
    and you will still be a fuckwit.

  19. The ABC has been a monumental failure when it comes to delivering unbiased news and politics. ABC journalists all too often corruptly steal public resources to push their own political barrows.

    I disagree completely with this. Can you please prove it? Thanks.

    And when I say “prove it”, bear in mind that the subjective, anecdotal impression of the ABC held by small numbers of conservative crybabies is not actually proof of anything. That should go without saying, but apparently there are a few conservatives out there so full of themselves that they think we should just take their (biased) word for it that the ABC has a leftwing bias.

  20. Don’t ask the old Splatter to “prove” anything ‘buns’. That’s not his go. His go his sweeping comments liberally intermixed with argumentum ad hominem, Andrew Bolt style. Unfortunately his troll-like behaviour achieves its purpose way too often here – much to his reactionary delight no doubt.

  21. Splatterbottom

    Autonomy I have an opinion based on the fact that I listen to the ABC every day. You and Buns are free to have a different view. My view is evidenced by what I listen to regularly – whether it is Philip Admas billing and cooing with Noam Chomsky or Jonathon Homes smirking at some conservative media hit-piece while ignoring the foibles of leftist media, or Tony ‘renumeration’ Jones or Robyn Williams pushing their AGW agenda.

  22. ” Jonathon Homes smirking at some conservative media hit-piece while ignoring the foibles of leftist media,”

    You obviously didn’t watch Media watch on Monday. Maybe you did watch it but like everything else, it went straight over your head.

    Not that the ABC is leftist, it’s more balanced than the commercial media even though it leans toward the coalition. Just more evidence that you’re a blinkered Tea Party type.

  23. Splatterbottom

    Bobbyboy, I did watch MW. The criticism of the ABC’s Australian Story had nothing to do with politics.

    “Not that the ABC is leftist, it’s more balanced than the commercial media even though it leans toward the coalition.”

    Very funny!

  24. Well there’s research that says so and that trumps your anecdotes. Like I say, that you disagree with reality just goes to show that your claims of being a centrist are utterly false, the question now is do you realise that or are you utterly deluded?

  25. The criticism of the ABC’s Australian Story had nothing to do with politics.

    That’s OK. After all, it’s called MediaWatch, not PoliticsWatch.

  26. narcoticmusing

    We don’t have journalism here anymore, at least, it is a rare species. Instead we just have ‘news product’.

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