Citizen Journalism

Posts Tagged ‘Press Council’

Absolute freedoms destroy freedom: Disney

In Journalism, Margo Kingston, Media Reform, MSM on March 20, 2013 at 5:09 PM
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Julian Disney – Australian Press Council

Extract of evidence from Professor Julian Disney on freedom of expression and Australian newspapers  to the Senate hearing on media reform, March 19

There are substantial problems with media standards in Australia. A number of them we have in common with other countries…

We also gather (information) from journalists as well.

Journalists tend to speak more freely, of course, one to one than they do in broader discussions about what they see as problems within the media. The problems include distortion and suppression of key facts and opinions; confusion of fact and opinion; errors of fact, especially online due to excessive haste in posting material and inadequate corrections of those errors; invasion of privacy, particularly through the use of photographs taken from a distance. Some problems, of course, in any profession or industry, are inevitable. I do not think it should be a surprise that there are some. The level is higher than it should be and I think it is a significant problem that needs to be addressed.

On the other hand, we need to bear in mind that it is true that the media, and journalists in particular, many of them, if they are to be effective and if they are to serve the broader public interest in access to information and free expression of opinion, do need to be from time to time somewhat aggressive, somewhat unruly. One should not seek perfection in this area. Indeed, if one did seek perfection, it would be at a very high price.

Having said that, there is a substantial problem that needs to be addressed.

I might say that it has an adverse impact, amongst other things, on freedom of expression. If people are to have freedom of expression, they need access to reliable information. If they are fed false information, then the views that they form and they might want to express will not be the views that they would form and express if they were well informed. Access to unreliable, distorted information is an attack on freedom of expression.
Similarly, if they are unable to get their voice heard reasonably, because particular outlets have perhaps a general tendency to be more willing to publish views from one part of a perspective on a particular issue rather than another, that infringes on the freedom of expression of those people who do not come from the part that is going to be more generously covered.

If they are given an occasional example to express their views but that is overwhelmed by a very extensive coverage of the other view, then again their freedom of expression suffers.

Freedom of expression needs to be for all people, not just for those who are wealthy or for those who have special access to the most widely read media. Of course, it is a huge infringement on freedom of expression if people are intimidated by vitriol or by other forms of excessive abuse. That, again, even if it comes from active proponents of freedom of speech, it is in fact an attack on freedom of expression.

So media standards, good media standards, are an essential element, for a number of reasons. One of them is, in fact, genuine, wide-ranging freedom of expression. The Press Council has a very important role in this, a very demanding role. We can never do it to my satisfaction, and there are many issues which one should not look to the Press Council to solve anyway. There are other aspects of society in a democracy which must address them. We must always have realistic expectations of a press council. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dear elected representatives, give the public a seat at the media reform table

In Media Reform, Noely Neate on March 19, 2013 at 4:12 PM
Alan Moir - Sydney Morning Herald

Alan Moir – Sydney Morning Herald

By Noely Neate
March 19, 2013

Open Letter to OUR Elected Federal Government Representatives from punter Noely Neate

Hi.Have you seen this excellent & thorough explanation of exactly what the reforms are and how they will affect the media? Explainer: Conroy’s proposed new media laws is by Martin Hirst, Associate Professor Journalism and Media at Deakin UniversityDear .

I appreciate that you are most likely receiving an awful lot of correspondence in regard to this proposed legislation.  I also understand that not a lot of time has been allowed for it.  Please, seriously consider negotiating to allow the legislation to go through as it is in the best interests of the PUBLIC, us Australian Voters.

It is not perfect, obviously, and in my opinion does not go far enough. As someone who has tried to make complaints to the Press Council, I can assure you, that as a member of the public they are impossible to deal with and we are not treated with respect and are given the run around in regard to the basis of the complaint.  Yet it seems that other media companies and politicians can get satisfaction from the Press Council?  They are not supposed to be just an umpire for internal media spats, they should also be listening to the public, and they are not.  In fact, it is easier to deal with a Telco than the Press Council if you are a member of the Public, so what does that tell you?

We have independent umpires in many facets of business – Ombudsmen, ACMA and the RBA – and none of those industries have fallen over.  The television stations have not fallen over.

The hysterical nature of the News Ltd papers in the past few days are the strongest indicator that you need to vote for this legislation.

I would also suggest you review the Senate Enquiry held yesterday afternoon.  Mr Williams of News Ltd did not answer any question that had anything to do with the public at all. it was all about his business and his nose out of joint as he was not consulted. Nor should he have been, Government should not be going hat in hand to big business for legislation changes. MPs and Senators work for us, the public, and as far as we are concerned Mr Williams is only ONE voter.

I also ask that you be very aware of the opposition’s claim with regard to diversity in media and their claim that ‘the internet’ gives diversity.  This is very very cute, as any IT expert will tell you that the number of people getting their news from the internet is negligible as yet. Saying that TV has diversity in news is also dodgy. Every morning news show will repeat more than once, ‘What is on the front page of the newspapers’, the message from print press is spread further.

These two companies, Fairfax and News Ltd, have the power to bring down Governments and change public policy with campaigns to favour their own business interests.  They need to be reined in.  We need more diversity in this country (it is a joke if you look overseas) and we need the Press Council to do its job and we need an Independent adjudicator above them to make them do it!

Please, seriously, in this debate played out in the media there has been little attention paid to the actual PUBLIC!

If you care about you’re electorate and the voters in this country, support Media Reform.

Yours sincerely,
Noely
www.YaThink.com.au
email: seriously@yathink.com.au
Twitter: @YaThinkN
Twitter: http://www.facebook.com/yathinkn

NOTE: If you would like to do similar to me and contact people you think would support this reform please read the list of MPs and Senators to contact here. I also suggest you contact your own Federal MP to give him or her feedback as well 🙂 Read the rest of this entry »

Just so you know, the government’s media reform case in Parliament today

In Media Reform on March 19, 2013 at 1:32 AM

House Of Representatives

19 Marc 2013

QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

Media Reform

Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth) (14:30): My question is to the Prime Minister. If this week she is unable to persuade the parliament to establish a public interest media advocate to regulate the content of newspapers for the first time in our peacetime history, will she have the courage of her convictions and commit today to take that policy to the next election and pledge to legislate it if she were to win government again?

The SPEAKER: The difficulty with the question is that it is slightly hypothetical.

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER: And I am not referring to the last part of the question. It also presumes the outcome of a vote in this parliament, and that is a very dangerous precedent to set.

Ms GILLARD (Lalor—Prime Minister) (14:30): In answer to the question from the member for Wentworth, the government does not have before this parliament and does not have as its policy a proposal to have a public interest media advocate that regulates newspaper coverage. That is not the case. That is a distortion of the reform proposition. I said it last week and I will say it again: I understand why the
member for Wentworth is seeking to curry a bit of favour with those who run media outlets in the hope of some good publicity—presumably for himself; maybe for the opposition—in the future. I understand that craven attempt at political advantage. But on more than one occasion—

Mrs Mirabella: That is the pot calling the kettle black.

The SPEAKER: The member for Indi will leave the chamber under 94(a). She was warned just moments ago.

The member for Indi then left the chamber.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The imputation from the Prime Minister concerning the member for Wentworth was unparliamentary and I ask that she withdraw it. It was absolutely outrageous.

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister has the call and will refer to the question before the chair.

Ms GILLARD: I was referring to the question before the chair and the distortion that appeared in the question of what the government’s intentions are. There is legislation before the parliament this week. The government will continue—

Mr Pyne: Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Madam Speaker, I am wondering whether you heard exactly what the Prime Minister said. She accused the member for Wentworth of improper motives for the position that the coalition has taken on the media reforms. We have asked her to withdraw that accusation.

The SPEAKER: I probably did not hear, actually, given the level of noise that continues to flow around the chamber. I did not think that the issue warranted a withdrawal. But I ask the Prime Minister to withdraw in order to assist the parliament.

Ms GILLARD: I withdraw. In answer to the question from the member for Wentworth, firstly, his question misconstrues the proposition that is before the parliament. Secondly, the parliament is yet to have a debate on these various pieces of legislation and the government obviously in that debate will be putting forward what is in the public interest in our nation. I am not going to speculate on the outcome in this parliament. We will work, as we always do, in good faith with those parliamentary members who are prepared to deal with reform propositions on their merits and on their facts.

When it comes to reform propositions on their merits and on their facts, the member for Wentworth has characterised this reform proposition one way in his question. I would refer him to the following: According to the international and well-respected organisation Reporters Without Borders, Australia currently sits 26th in the world when it comes to a free press. The country in first place, Finland, has specific laws that dictate to media organisations that they must provide a right of reply and correct factual errors. We are not proposing to do that. In Finland, the press council gets 30 per cent of its funding from the government. We are not proposing to do that. Denmark, which is sixth on the list, has a press council that was established by legislation in 1991. We are not proposing to do that. What the government has put forward are some propositions clearly in the public interest. They are propositions about freedom of the press, about diversity of voices and about self-regulation by our media. We believe that they are propositions of merit to be pursued this week in parliament. We will join in that debate well and truly.

* Read the rest of this entry »

Why can’t Kim Williams describe the public interest?

In Journalism, Margo Kingston, Media Reform, MSM on March 18, 2013 at 9:33 PM
Created by Martin Davies

Created by Martin Davies

By Margo Kingston
March 18, 2013

Kim Williams is Murdoch’s chief executive in Australia. Williams cannot define, or even explore, what ‘the public interest’ might be in relation to newspapers, because it is completely relative: ‘The public interest is as long as a piece of string… it is in the eye of the beholder.’

And his beholder is Murdoch, whose view of public interest is his commercial and political interests.

Here’s my attempt:

‘Freedom of the press is not a property right of owners. It is a right of the people. It is part of their right to free expression, inseparable from their right to inform themselves.’ (Kent Royal Commission into media ownership in Canada).

And here is my opinion of the role a journalist plays in upholding that public interest:

‘The duty of the journalist is the same as that of the historian –to seek out the truth, above all things, and to present to his readers not such things as statecraft would wish them to know but the truth as near as he can attain it.’ (London Times editor John Thadeus Delane,1852)

Big media owners are motivated by profit and power. Greens Senator Scott Ludlum asked Kerry Stokes, owner the the West Australian newspaper: ‘Are you saying you have no public interest obligations apart from just to make money for your shareholders?’

Stokes: ‘They are one and the same.’

This explains in full why Stokes censored and punished journalists in the Jill Singer scandal.

Journalists, as professionals, must comply with a professional ethics code. It is up to us to uphold the public interest. But we have no power without the support of our colleagues acting collectively and an effective accountability mechanism. These days, employed journos have no power due to ongoing staff cuts.

At Fairfax, we managed for a long time to uphold the public interest by having a code of editorial independence and strong collegiate support with the support of the Fairfax family. Now there is Gina.

The media reforms, as weak as they are, give ethical journalism a chance, both by making self-regulation meaningful and potentially preventing yet further domination by Murdoch’s media. They also give citizens the chance for protection against abuse of power by newspapers.

Our job is to restore trust in journalists. As @murphyroo wrote today in her last piece for Fairfax before joining The Guardian, The media must embrace reform to survive:

‘…the principles guiding the proposed changes? Let’s look through the static and consider them.

‘There are two: that concentration of media ownership in Australia will not get any worse than it is now. Not any better, mind you – just no worse. And that self-regulation – a principle that newspapers have rightly fought for and defended – should be made to actually work; that people who are the victims of intended or unintended abuses by media companies have their complaints properly heard.

‘The principles in this package are, in fact, the challenges the mainstream media must meet in order to survive the transition currently upon us. We in the media must renew our mandate with audiences by innovating and moving beyond the strictures of the old masthead and network models, and by being accurate and reliable.

‘We can pretend the only player here with an existential trust problem is the Gillard government, and wilfully ignore our own parallel universe: the evidence that audiences don’t trust us either.

‘We can comfort ourselves in self-delusion, and strut and fret. Or we can spend less time swaggering and railing against our enemies and more time renewing the mission of contemporary journalism. We are tellers of truths, news breakers, curators and contextualisers; and at our best and bravest, we are people who write things that someone, somewhere, does not want written.

‘The only people who can save or destroy journalism are journalists. And we will save it only if we exhibit courage and humility, not manufactured conflict.’ Read the rest of this entry »

Media reform laws address abuses of long-fought for freedoms

In Democracy, Journalism, Media Reform, MSM, News Limited on March 15, 2013 at 5:59 PM

Aivev1L

By Matt da Silva (@mattdasilva)
March 15th, 2013
Source:Happy Antipodean

In a useful run-down on his blog, journalism law academic Mark Pearson outlines some objections to the government’s proposed media reform legislation. It is a little brief and although it starts out promisingly, political concerns quickly rush to the fore. Here’s his first objection, near the top:

Here we have a piece of legislation proposing a statutory mechanism for the supervision of industry-based self-regulation of print and online news media.

That, dear readers, is ‘regulation’.

Fair enough, and we’ll get to my reaction to this point later.

But for people interested in understanding the implications of the proposed laws in terms of the Privacy Act, Pearson’s blog post is very useful. There has been no explanation like his from the ABC, Fairfax or News Ltd. Kim Williams, the News Ltd CEO, appeared on Sky News, but he simply echoed the uninformative tropes that were spun on the media reform issue by the Daily Terror and the Australian. These kinds of rants merely use the public’s ignorance as a bludgeon with which to punish the government.

Pearson, on the other hand, goes through the detail of what could happen if the laws got through Parliament, and how they could materially affect publishers of news. He informs us, which is one of the things that journalists who go to school to study the profession are told is a key component of their craft. Please read his blog post if you have time – you will not regret it.

Pearson then looks back to what he says is the ‘politics that has cruelled this whole media regulation review over the past 18 months’.

What he’s referring to are reactions from politicians to the hacking scandal that engulfed the media in the UK, the repercussions of which continue to play out. As part of the debacle, News Corp’sNews of the World newspaper was shut down in July 2011.There was also Bob Brown’s famous “hate media” spray in May 2011 that took place in front of a group of reporters at Parliament House.

In essence, Pearson is saying that dissatisfaction among politicians on the Left combined with universal horror at what had happened in the UK motivated them to launch the Finkelstein Inquiry, which began in mid-September 2011 and reported to the government in February 2012. Between February 2012 and March 2013 the communications minister, Stephen Conroy, was also looking at the Convergence Review, which was about media ownership rules.

Or he wasn’t, I don’t know. It seems like a long time to make us wait. Waiting ensures that the original emotions associated with the issues drift away from popular consciousness and it dulls the debate, opening it up to exploitation by interested parties.

What a lot of people have completely forgotten about is Robert Manne’s Quarterly Essay on News Ltd’s Australian, which came out in September 2011. Titled Bad News, it made points that are extremely germane to how the current debate is panning out. But it’s old history, you might say. No, it’s not. Just listen to what Manne says, keeping in mind Bob Brown’s expressions of unhappiness.

It is an unusually ideological paper, committed to advancing the causes of neoliberalism in economics and neoconservatism in the sphere of foreign policy. Its style and tone are unlike that of any other newspaper in the nation’s history. The Australian is ruthless in pursuit of those who oppose its worldview – market fundamentalism, minimal action on climate change, the federal Intervention in indigenous affairs, uncritical support for the American alliance and for Israel, opposition to what it calls political correctness and moral relativism.

Note that Manne was still working on the essay when Brown made his position plain in May 2011, but it’s no coincidence that they both sing from the same score. I wrote about Manne’s essay when it came out.  And I also wrote about the reaction from News Ltd a week later. That reaction mirrors in its tone and general character the reaction we’ve seen in the past few days of News Ltd newspapers to Conroy’s proposed media reform laws. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »