Fenced In

old rusty barbed wire with hand on the dark background

“Our job is not to step in, our job is just to reflect, it’s just to report on what happens.”

That’s a quote from the ABC’s head of current affairs, Bruce Belsham, in the transcript published by New Matilda of his conversation in 2013 with the public broadcaster’s then technology editor Nick Ross about the National Broadband Network. Continue reading

Reframing Freedom

“Members of the Gillard government think the `top legislative priority’ should be to overhaul media laws, Attempts to control how news is reported and analysed will undermine freedom of speech by restricting the freedom of the media. This is a dangerous step to take as often it is the media that is the public’s advocate for the right to know and its guardian against abuses of power.” – The Australian, Feb 27, 2013

“The ABC has now reached the point where it is prepared to believe the word of asylum seekers, who have every motivation to exaggerate and manufacture claims of mistreatment in order to secure Australian relocation, over the word of our navy and government. Rather than being evidence of navy brutality, these latest claims are evidence that the ABC is out of control.” – The Daily Telegraph, Jan 23, 2014

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Springtime of the Peoples

For a group where lip-curling cynicism is the mask of choice, journalists sure seem to have gone all hand-on-heart, high-falutin’. It’s impossible to read an editorial these days without being slapped around the face with warnings of the coming police state.

“Freedom” is on the chopping block, we are told, all because a government-commissioned inquiry recommended the establishment of an independent regulator to improve the accountability of media organisations to the public and to ensure they follow the very standards they claim to uphold.

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Class Consciousness

The debate over media regulation has reached an impasse: In the one corner, the unrepresentative left-liberal academic elitist swill seeking to silence free media with their jackbooted authoritarianism; in the other, the free spirited and unshackled mavericks of the Murdoch media bravely speaking the people’s truth to power.

It’s a debate made for the professional underdogs of News Ltd – the nominally working class warriors who find their capitalist cultural identity at News Ltd. These tribal folk love nothing more than to scratch their class itch by throwing bombs at bourgeois academics who have “no idea how real people live” out in the fabled suburbs. Continue reading

Convergence or Submergence?

The history of media regulation in Australia is one of the communications bureaucracy playing a no-win game of catch-up with technology. Just as a regulatory regime is nailed down, another revolutionary distribution mechanism appears out of nowhere and rips up the floorboards again.

The final report of the government’s Convergence Review is an attempt to future-proof the rules for a digital age in which standalone notions of print vs broadcasting have been rendered obsolete by technology that allows media to deliver text, audio, and video over wired and wireless connections.

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The Gag Reflex

Journalists are a curious bunch. Priding themselves as professional sceptics and reflexively cynical about those who pursue grubby advantage under the borrowed banner of universal morality, they nevertheless are incurably romantic about their own craft.

Indeed, for those of us who have sat through the debate over the recent Bolt judgement, in which Australia’s most popular and most powerful tabloid columnist was found to have breached the Racial Discrimination Act, it has been impossible to follow proceedings for all the people in the front rows suddenly standing on principle.
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