The Chair of the Australian Press Council, Julian Disney, will outline future directions, followed by a panel discussion with ABC Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes, Senator Scott Ludlam (Greens) and Moderated by Director of the Centre for Advancing Journalism, Margaret Simons.
University of Melbourne
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 – 18:30
MS: #goodjourno hash tag
Who wants to talk about media reform after collapse of govt legislation? Convergence review and Finkelstein inquiry left in cold.
JD: Tragedy that process went astray and opportunity lost. Bill not as fierce as presented. There are major concerns about standards eg opinion v fact. Freedom of expression should provide opportunity for all to express their views for as many as possible not just a few. Chilling effect of intimidation of those wanting to present alternative ideas. Press Council has been distracted and may get back to its reform agenda but less pressure on publishers to embrace reform. How do we deal with increasingly convergent media.
Press Council: Need clear code of conduct and monitoring of standards. Adjudication of complaints not only task. Broader responses to complaints needed. Continue third party complaints and improve. Need power to initiate own inquiries. Improve reporting/accountability of Council.
Diversity in mainstream still major issue. Only hope is online. Develop stronger consumer voice separate from regulator. Encourage convergent media regulator with all platforms together, not just print.
SL: The Greens don’t support govt controlled media regulator. How to deal with enormously powerful corporate media owners? Public interest advocate was the real issue for them not freedom of press. Further legislative reforms dead. Nothing from coalition and progressive govt bullied.
JH: Media concentration problem. Online and ABC no answer to this. Cannot wind back clock. Media regulation won’t help. Anyway who could/would buy newspapers? Single daily couldn’t survive on their own. Issue of bad treatment of individuals not that big, not justification for Finkelstein proposals. JD’s reforms way to go, with some kind of external check on Press Council.
JD: West Australian breakaway for Press Council is unique. Over time privileges that journalists get should be subject to being within some kind of framework. Need to cover online journalism as well.
JH: Is there much disagreement about standards?
JD: there is amongst some editors eg photoshopping images, invasion of privacy, trespassing. Need for realistic, practical standards.
SL: Difference betw journalists and online ameteurs – scale as applied to tweets and blogs versus MSM.
JH: Bias by media conglomerates obsesses online comment but extremely difficult to regulate fairness. Hard for Mediawatch then would be harder for a regulator.
SL: bias only problematic with one one or two players. Need more points of view.
JD: bias should not stop practices such as checking with people before publication. Factual accuracy is a different Q – should be tenable basis for what is written.
JH: Shouldn’t be writing rubbish. Should get more diversity in news online in future.
MS: Consumer activism?
JD: PC holding community roundtables. Community advisory group at national level good idea. People to research and present complaints in considered, effective way.
JH: Social media holding old media to account eg Destroy the Joint with Alan Jones. Facebook campaigns have some effect on how press go about their business. Tap into people’s fury and they join in.
Q to MS: Should university become involved with complaints?
MS: No but have educational role.
JD: One-off social media campaigns do little to change standards permanently.
Q: How can laws protect journalist and sources.
SL: Federal law better than patchy State ones.
JH: Five of best journalists facing gaol is a ridiculous situation.
JD: Q of what is a professional journalist – who gets the privileges? Need for some definition of who protections should apply to. Other people should not be able to claim to be “from the media”.
Q of future of the ABC.
JH: Nationals support but Libs may impose restrictions such as pay wall for online content. Budget cut possible.
SL: Charter amendment passed to embed ABC online.
Q of effect of 24 hour news cycle.
JH: Much tougher for journalists to check facts, get other side etc.
SL: Climate change off media agenda. What can we do?
JD: Rigour of complaint terribly important.
JH: Science not being reported at all bigger problem than getting facts wrong. Tough to regulate.
MS: Thanks to panelists and audience.
Vodcast will be placed on Centre for Advanced Journalism website.
Update: The video of the session is now online: