If you have been paying any sort of attention to the media or pub talk over the past week or so, you could easily be forgiven for think that we have a free and independent press in this country, and that a shareholder wanting to have a seat on the board is one of the greatest threats to democracy this country has ever seen.
Though is it really?
First of all, it shouldn’t be too strange to see that most of this is coming from the media itself, mimicked by boffins in government who like the things the way that they are. After all it is only the media themselves who believe that they are the Fourth Estate, boasting that the media’s function is to act as a guardian of the public interest and as a watchdog on the activities of government.
Putting aside any personal opinion that you may have of Gina Rinehart and her desire to get a seat or seats on the Fairfax board, lets look at this objectively and from another angle.
With the exception of the taxpayer funded ABC and SBS, and privately owned 9 Network, the other media outlets in this country are publicly listed companies. 11 out of 12 of Australia’s capital city daily newspapers are owned by either News Limited or Fairfax.
Why should we treated these media companies any differently than those other companies that are listed on the Australian Stock Exchange?
Remember people buy shares because they are seen as a good investment, and one that will increase in value as time goes by. This is done by selling a product or products that themselves increase in ‘value’ or developing new products that people consume. The ‘value’ of newspapers is based on it’s circulation numbers, whilst TV stations use the A.C. Neilsen rating system. The more ‘value’ that they are perceived to have, the more that they are able to charge for advertising within that paper or TV show.
Sadly people only want to read about those things things have been sensationalised by the media. Items like the separation and impending divorce of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise; The 13yo winner of Dolly magazine’s Model Search has other talents if her modelling career doesn’t work out, and a story about Ian Thorpe. Television is no better with the rise in alleged Reality TV with shows ranging from cooking to home improvement and the soon to be relaunched Big Brother series.
It seems that either readers/viewers aren’t interested in taking responsibility for things, or even being informed of what our democracy is.
Remember it was the media that:
* Kept quiet when former Qld Premier announced a Commission of Inquiry, NOT Royal Commission into the devastating floods of 2011, believing her line that it was a Commission of Inquiry with all the powers of a Royal Commission
* It was also the Qld media that was silent on the whole Commission of Inquiry, leaving it up to a national newspaper to uncover matters that caused to Commission’s report deadline to be extended and further hearings held.
* It was the Queensland media that allowed the former Premier to announce to publicly announce the date of the election, then wait almost a month before going to see the Qld Governor to have parliament dissolved.
* The Qld media also allowed the same former Premier the opportunity to publicly slander a Queensland citizen, who was running against her as leader of the LNP and consequently for Premier, under the protection of parliamentary privilege.
* Has the media told the Australian public that if they don’t want the Carbon Tax to become law, Section 59 of The Australian Constitution allows for Her Majesty, The Queen of Australia to disallow any law within 12 months of it receiving Royal Assent on behalf of the Governor-General?
* It is also the media that continues to mislead the Australian voting public into thinking that they need to vote for a political party at election time.
These are all things that the public should be told and made aware of, and would have, IF we did have a free and impartial press in Australia, and not media companies whose sole purpose is to return a profit for their share holders.
I would like to leave you with the following quote, and ask you the question that is the title of this post.
“Real journalism is publishing something someone else does not want published – the rest is just public relations.” George Orwell
Democracy. Is The Media Or The Miner A Greater Threat?