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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

watching the media « Previous | |Next »
November 8, 2004

I have rephrased this question from one asked by Jay Rosen at PressThink on November 3 post entitled, 'Are We Headed for an Opposition Press'? I do so in the light of the forthcoming changes in media ownership that will soon pass through the Senate.

"Will we see the fuller emergence of an opposition press, given that John Howard and the conservative Coalition are to remain in office another three years? Will we find instead that an intimidation factor, already apparent before the election, will intensify as a result of Howard's victory?"

One scenario is that the cultural divide that is increasingly defining Australian politics will also begin to define Australia media. We can see this with the conservative Murdoch Press, the Packers and the liberal Fairfax Press.

I do not see the other alternative mentioned by Rosen---Big Media successfully holding itself back from politics with the major news sources remaining non-aligned, officially neutral--as a realistic possibility in Australia. The way politics is done today is to attack and defend the media, or to mount a claim that the media is the opposition.

You can see that with the Howard Government's attacks on the ABC. You can see that with the cultural right's struggle with the liberal media and a growing feels that the cultural right is now the ascendant party. You can see it in the way the division of the political universe between the good conservative guys and the bad liberals ----the political--- intrudes into the realm of "news" and commentary. You can see it in the way that the old media as the Fourth Estate, and the watchdog's for democracy is becoming increasingly irrelevant. You can see it in the way that the Canberra Press Gallery increasingly relies on access to the drip feed, rather than being an adversarial press.

There is little doubt that political discourse has moved dramatically rightward—visible in the TV networks, talk radio, the print media, even the Internet—to the point where “liberalism” has become something of a terrible stigma avoided by all but the most bold-spirited of politicians.

After the changes in media ownership laws we can expect the rise of a political media empire with television stations that is built to prosper in the conditions of the great political divide, is steeped in the culture war and has a self-conscious political identity.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:07 PM | | Comments (2)


I don't see an opposition press. The "liberal media" is a myth. Television news is entertainment, an advertising-delivery vehicle, albeit in the case of the ABC advertising for itself, and the newspapers are forced into the same game in order to compete. They pander to their demographic as a result, and progressively lose any pretence at objectivity. What's left? Not the internet: too unreliable, too extremist-partisan. So, Ginger Meggs, anyone? Or, let's just talk about the weather.

A bleak picture you pint.

With the decline of the watchdog of democracy style of journalism, the rise of a partisan media such as Murdoch and infotainment and spectacle on television I was awondering if the Fairfax press would become a media opposition to the conservatives in Canberra.

I do notice that you continue to read the New Yorker and the Atlantic Monthly.

My own reading habits are changing.I get soundbites of news from radio and television and my commentary online. I respond less as a consumer and more as a citizen. That is probably the effects of blogging.