Citizen Journalism

Archive for the ‘Democracy’ Category

Media despots, tsars and henchmen bury media reform

In Democracy, Fairfax, Freedom of Speech, Journalism, MSM, News Limited, Noely Neate on March 13, 2013 at 11:52 AM
Daily Telegraph Front Page March 13 2013

Daily Telegraph Front Page March 13 2013

By Noely Nate
March 13, 2013
OMG! Australian Media Reform means the sky falling in, freedom of the press under attack, the Government trying to gag the media.  Growing anger at ‘Soviet’ media reforms, Gillard’s Henchman Attacks Our Freedom (great Mao photoshop on that one). My personal favourite is Press tsar to check standards from The Australian, our supposedly pre-eminent National paper.  Hell, even Blind Freddy can see the theme here.

I thought the hyperventilation on Sky News and ABC24 yesterday afternoon was bad enough, but no, the News Limited papers seriously out-did themselves this morning.  I have spent the last few hours toiling away reading all the opinions on the ‘Threat to our Democracy’ that media reform is and so far, to my great shame as an Australian citizen, I have only found one article that actually acknowledged that these changes are aimed at giving Australians the diversity of news & media that they deserve.

Commando Conroy’s roll of the dice – of course the main thrust of Ms Murphy’s opinion is the ‘desperation of the Labor Government’, though I did find this gem below which tosses the ignorant punter a crumb of respect:

‘Making sure Australia’s currently woeful level of media diversity doesn’t get worse, and journalists conform with their own avowed professional standards are, after all, worthy public policy objectives in this country – uncontentious to anyone outside the industry.’

I know if you read the papers you might have missed this very salient point, but these reforms are actually supposed to help us – the customer, voter, citizen, the distracted masses outside of the seats of power who actually rely on the media to inform us.

The vast majority of the public still get their information from the mainstream media, not social media as Malcolm Turnbull maintains.  He also maintains that the public can ‘discern where truth lies’. I suggest that they cannot. Given full information from the media yes they could, though when it is the media themselves deciding what they will or will not tell the Australian public, we poor punters have no idea what the truth is at all.

The sad state of the likes of Meet The Press is a perfect example. The re-vamped version is produced by News Limited using News Limited resources and staff. The title is perilously close to false advertising because you are not meeting the press, you are meeting the News Limited press. Anyone else see an issue with this?

The great unwashed are, in general, blissfully unaware of the fact we really do not have any diversity of media in this country.  Looking at Queensland alone, punters are amazed when they find out that ONE company owns or has an interest in The Australian (our major national paper), The Courier Mail (our only state-wide paper) and Foxtel (popular in regional Qld due to poor TV reception)./ Even the NRL does not escape the News Ltd clutches. How can any one person with even the smallest dose of common-sense think that ONE person owning that much power to influence the public is a good thing?
“There is a reason that the charming Mr John Birmingham refers to this company as “News Ltd Death Star”, the pop culture reference is extremely apt.”

Murdoch apology front page on #NOTW

Murdoch apology front page on News of the World

Would we think that having one company supplying 75% of food to the nation as a good thing? Basically News Ltd rules our media. There is also Fairfax. The average person on the street is already cranky about the Coles Woolworths duopoly, so why the hell do the media think that only having two main players in the print media sector is ok and not being abused? Read the rest of this entry »

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Democracy, ethics, tolerance and public civility

In Corruption, Democracy, Tony Fitzgerald on March 9, 2013 at 12:14 AM
Part of the Corruption board game, which appeared in The Cane Toad Times. Source: Supplied

Part of the Corruption board game, which appeared in The Cane Toad Times. Source: Supplied

By Tony Fitzgerald
December 08, 2012

Margo: Tony has kindly given me permission to publish a piece he wrote for the Oz late last year.

There are about 800 politicians in Australia’s parliaments. According to their assessments of each other, that quite small group includes role models for lying, cheating, deceiving, ‘rorting’, bullying, rumour-mongering, back-stabbing, slander, ‘leaking’, ‘dog-whistling’, nepotism and corruption.

A recent editorial valiantly suggested that ‘toxic debates test ideas, policy and character’, but a more orthodox view is that ethics, tolerance and civility are intrinsic elements of democratic society and that the politicians’ mutual contempt and aggressive, ‘end justifies the means’ amorality erodes respect for authority and public institutions and compromises social cohesion.

Even some insiders are worried by the standard of Australian public life: a former Minister, Senator John Faulkner, has said that this is ‘a dangerous moment for our democracy’, which ‘is drowning in distrust’.

However, insiders see problems with insiders’ eyes, recognise only some of the problems and few of the causes and suggest insiders’ solutions with voters as mere bystanders. The usual, and sometimes intended, outcome is a flurry of superficial activity, appointment of a suitable group of other insiders to report, lengthy discussion of their report, considerable navel-gazing, a feel-good pronouncement and business as usual.

Realistically, since politicians are unlikely to support any significant change which might reduce their power, genuine reform will be extremely difficult. However, it is not impossible if it is owned and driven by the community.

One modest, uncontroversial proposal which I favour as a starting point is a free, non-partisan website to provide voters with clear, accurate, impartial information to assist them to compare candidates for election, make better informed choices and avoid voting for unsuitable candidates merely because they have party preselection. As the United States Supreme Court observed about twenty years ago, ‘the ability of the citizenry to make informed choices among candidates for office is essential, for the identities of those who are elected will inevitably shape the course that we follow as a nation’.

‘Informed choices among candidates for office’ are especially important in Australia. The Constitution omits important checks and balances which commonly restrain the misuse of power. Australia’s version of democracy is founded on concepts of representative government and parliamentary supremacy which are in turn based on a premise that majority decisions by elected representatives constitute the collective wisdom of the community.

Those elected are not chosen to exemplify society’s flaws and vices but to act with integrity, make decisions for the public benefit and, as it was put by the late Professor Julius Stone, exercise power ‘subject to the restraints of shared socio-ethical conventions’. The cynicism and debased standards of modern party politics totally disregard those principles.

Political parties are effectively unregulated private organisations. The major parties, a coalition representing business and rural interests and an alliance between trade unions and socialist groups, include principled, well-motivated people but also attract professional politicians with little or no general life experience and unscrupulous opportunists, unburdened by ethics, who obsessively pursue power, money or both.

Little-known and often unimpressive factional leaders exert disproportionate influence. Under their guidance, the major parties have consolidated their grip on political finance, the political process and political power. As a result of their own parliamentary decisions, parties are publicly funded without a binding reciprocal obligation to act in the public interest. The power of these few, surprisingly small, unregulated groups is for now impregnable. For the foreseeable future, they will dominate public discussion and debate, effectively control Australia’s democracy and determine its destiny. Read the rest of this entry »

To perform our democratic function we need and are entitled to the truth: Tony Fitzgerald

In Corruption, Democracy, Margo Kingston on March 6, 2013 at 11:26 PM
Tony Fitzgerald

Tony Fitzgerald  Photo: Tamara Voninski Brisbane Times

By Margo Kingston
March 6, 2013

News of the accidental publication of secret documents from the Fitzgerald Royal Commission got me thinking about my hero in the context of recent examples of our corrupt and dishonest politics. Tony Fitzgerald exposed the corruption at the heart of the Bjelke-Petersen government and laid out a blueprint for ethical government.

Tony Fitzgerald and Mike Ahern

Tony Fitzgerald and Mike Ahern

Southerners were smug, but it’s since been shown that their governments were much more corrupt than ours.

In 2004 Tony launched my book Not Happy, John! Defending out democracy and made some harsh judgments about the state our democracy. It’s got worse, and last year he noted with dismay the cronyism in the Queensland LNP government

After awful news out of the NSW corruption inquiry, this week the Victorian Liberal National government was revealed to have sold access to ministers and the Premier to developers, an unethical practice now commonplace in Australian politics.

So, on the night the Victorian Premier resigned amid evidence of cover-up, ministerial perjury and the payment of hush money, I publish Tony’s 2004 speech and urge both big parties to develop and announce serious policies to return honesty and ethics to public life.


June 29, 2004
Source: Webdiary

Webdiary

Justice Tony Fitzgerald’s speech launching my Not happy John! Defending our democracy at Gleebooks in Sydney on June 22. Michelle Grattan reported on the speech at Fitzgerald berates both sides of politics

In a speech last year, the author Norman Mailer described democracy as ‘a state of grace that is attained only by those countries which have a host of individuals not only ready to enjoy freedom but to undergo the heavy labor of maintaining it’. Not Happy John! is Margo Kingston’s admirable contribution to the ‘heavy labor’ of maintaining democracy in Australia.

As the title hints, Margo has focused her analysis on the behaviour of the current Commonwealth government, especially the Prime Minister. In the words of the publisher: ‘Not Happy, John! is a gutsy, anecdotal book with a deadly serious purpose: to lay bare the insidious ways in which John Howard’s government has profoundly undermined our freedoms and our rights. She doesn’t care whether you vote Liberal or Labor, Greens or One Nation. She isn’t interested in the old, outworn left – right rhetoric. What she’s passionate about is the urgent need for us to reassert the core civic values of a humane, egalitarian, liberal democracy.’

You will observe the force of Margo’s argument when you read her book, as obviously you should. My brief remarks will be directed to the damage that mainstream politicians generally are doing to our democracy.

Australians generally accept that democracy is the best system of government, the market is the most efficient mechanism for economic activity and fair laws are the most powerful instrument for creating and maintaining a society that is free, rational and just. However, we are also collectively conscious that democracy is fragile, the market is amoral and law is an inadequate measure of responsibility.

As former Chief Justice Warren of the United States Supreme Court explained: ‘Law… presupposes the existence of a broad area of human conduct controlled only by ethical norms.’

Read the rest of this entry »