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

The corruption of the Canberra media « Previous | |Next »
September 21, 2005

Mungo McCullum has an op. ed. on the coporate media establishment in The Age that is a response to the arrows fired by Mark Latham. It makes for interesting reading. McCullum acknowledges the arrows: journalists are targeted by Latham with just as much loathing as his Labor colleagues, that Latham had to suffer an inordinate amount of muck-raking from sections of the media, and that Latham is talking about the media establishment not just individual journalists.


McCullum understands that his job to defend the fourth estate from the Latham arrows, and that he needs to do more than the standard Canberra Club response of ranting and raving about how much Latham has damaged his own credibility; or being so caught up in vitriol, that they fail to address many of the key issues raised. McCullum's key move is to distinquish between the hack pack and the senior journalists in the Canberra Press Gallery. He then says this:

What they [the senior Canberra Press Gallery] can perhaps be accused of is lack of leadership; along with other gallery veterans such as Michelle Grattan, they have let the Government get away with far too much over the years. It is true that Howard exercises a more totalitarian control over government information than any of his predecessors and that he has instituted something of a reign of terror in the public service, but that is no excuse for meekly accepting ridiculous strictures in the name of commercial-in-confidence, or privacy considerations, or the all-purpose national security. Kelly, Oakes and Grattan never would have copped it in the old days.

Age has wearied them is the argument. So they perform their watchdog duties too lightly. Maybe so. However, that defence does not engage with the corruption of the fourth estate by power, media frenzies, or the role of the journalist as an attack dog.

To his credit McCullum understands this, and he addresses it. He says:

There is nothing wrong with taking sides, as long as it is done openly and honestly. The crime of Akerman, Bolt, Jones et al is not that they are partisan, but that they pretend to be objective. Latham, of all people, should understand that there is nothing wrong with being passionate about your job. It's the cold and devious ones you have to look out for.

The pretence of the attack dogs about them being objective is a good point. But McCullum does miss Latham's key point----that the journalists are players in the game of power. It is no longer just a question about being passionate. about the job.

Notice that McCullum says nothing about the relationship between the media and democracy. That has dropped tight off his radar. It is no longer even a consideration. What that devaluation of the highest values of the fourth estate discloses is the corruption of the Canberra media. Thsi corruption has the appearance of peddling rumor, innuendo off-the-record briefings and presenting the personality without the policy attached.

The corruption of the media is an issue that was not touched by the recent Media Watch on the saga of the Latham diaries. Media Watch was more concerned with the competitive role of the media in selling the Latham diaries and constructing a narrative of who did what. It did not address the issues raised by Latham. Even the watcdog has failed to see the bigger picture.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 09:46 AM | | Comments (4)


Excuse me - journalists?- in Canberra or anywhere else in Australia,we just do not have them. We have reporters that work for murdoch and report what murdoch allows, that being only liberal views or "news".
This seems to be the same for most journalists -so called- today for whomsoever they work for. The last bit of "investigative" journalism was oakes outing Cheryl Kernot. A 'fine' piece of news and a credit? both to Canberra journalism and oakes.
Democracy needs honest, fearless,fair and impartial decent journalism. Not just reporters who are working for just their wages and building brownie points with their bosses. numbat

Despite my ongoing legal battles, that the 10 November 2001 federal election was unconstitutional and so John Howard was never elected either, and my battle to seek to obtain orders from the High Court of Australia for mandamus/prohibition for Australian troops to go to war (which was railroaded on 19 March 2003, the very day the war commenced, by the spin doctor judges) the media has all but been silent about it. One journalist claimed that he never had received my faxed documents. When then I pointed out that my computer records proved otherwise, the excuse what that the Federal Government had placed pressure on the media not to publish anything about me. Where are the real journalist who dare to publish an article about what is going on?
Seems that they are controlled by the owners of the newspapers, and so no longer report issues without bias.

How many journalist raised the issue about Section 24AA of the Crimes Act (Cth) possibly being used against David Hicks? Not likely, as then the same could be used against John Howard & Co!
What we seem to have is a general appeasement of the Federal Government, reporting mainly what is acceptable to the Government! So, I am left to publish matters myself in my INSPECTOR-RIKATIĀ® books, some shown on my website, well aware that real journalism seems to be death!

"Mass hysteria is a phenomenon not confined to human beings; it may be seen in any gregarious species. I once saw a photograph of a large herd of wild elephants in Central Africa seeing an aeroplane for the first time, and all in a state of wild collective terror. The elephant, at most times, is a calm and sagacious beast, but this unprecedented phenomenon of a noisy, unknown animal in the sky had thrown the whole herd completely off its balance. Each separate animal was terrified, and its terror communicated itself to the others, causing a vast multiplication of panic. As, however, there were no journalists among them, the terror died down when the aeroplane was out of sight."
~ Bertrand Russell, 1951

Indeed, we need need more journalists and less reporters... as Rubin Frank (former President of NBC News) observed 'News is what someone wants to suppress. Everything else is advertising.' PSNZ example

You could add Margo Kingston to the list of journalists who pretend to be objective but are not. Again, it is about being honest as a journalist and not hiding behind feigned objectivity to defend partisan personal viewpoints.