Honesty Files

Posted: May 16, 2013 in Media, Politics

I don’t think that the importance of being a member of the mainstream media can be overstated, it is a huge responsibility.

I should point out from the start that there are many in the mainstream press that I greatly admire, too many to name here but many of them would know who they are.

There are many things that I would see as being crucial as an editor of a main stream media outlet, balance is at the top of that list. Sadly in Australia we have seen that fall to the wayside as News Ltd seek to overthrow a government that is rolling out an NBN that threatens their current business model in several areas of their empire, such as print media and Pay TV.

Given that News Ltd control approximately 70% of media outlets in Australia, this has had a drastic impact on the quality and integrityof the news that the public base their opinions around.

We have heard a lot about China’s control of the press and what a terrible thing that is for a society who would like to believe they have some freedom. If you control the flow of information you control the populations minds, it’s a relatively simple concept that seems to also work well in North Korea.

I wonder is Australia so different?

Should we refer to Rupert as Chairman Kim Jong Murdoch perhaps?

News Ltd’s main rival Fairfax is now a place where Gina Rinehart has chosen to invest her money, setting the scene for even less balance in the mainstream.

Feeling smug...

Feeling smug…

I’m not suggesting that everything reported in the mainstream is false, however it is often skewed in a particular direction in the way it is reported. It is typical of the whole glass half empty/glass half full scenario.

When the Daily Telegraph for example are seeking a scientific opinion on global warming they may ask a climate change sceptic. Perhaps when choosing a story to publish, they may pick one on a Liberal backbencher saving a cat from a tree, rather than going with story of the Labor frontbencher saving three babies from a burning house.

Focusing on one side of a topic is another common method. We have all seen the mainstream media splash the skeletons in Peter Slippers closet all over the front page, but have had to go online to find out about his accusers James Ashby’s motives and skeletons, or the full depth of the involvement of Mal Brough and Christopher Pyne, despite it clearly being in the public interest.

It has been the same for Craig Thomson and the HSU saga. We have all heard the accusations thrown at Craig Thomson for years and yet still unproven, however we have not read about the involvement of the self-proclaimed whistleblower Kathy Jackson and the criminal investigations she is under. Nor have we heard anything in the mainstream about her fiancée Michael Lawler, the Tony Abbott appointed Vice President of the Fair Work Australia, the organisation that performed the investigation into the HSU, conveniently leaving out his fiancée’s branch from investigation during the period she was secretary. Once again for this information and this side of the story we have had to go online.

Craig is so condident in being cleared of wrongdoing he has now chosen to run as an Independent in the September Federal election.

Can't even order at the local Macca's drive-thru without being photographed...

Can’t even order a Big Mac at the local Macca’s drive-thru without being photographed…

Given that our mainstream news outlets have become, or are becoming mouthpieces for those with right-wing agenda’s, it is incredibly important we have other sources of news to provide balance.

One of these media sources, the increasingly popular and influential Independent Australia was recently denied a position in the press gallery when they approached its current President. This travesty was enough for veteran political reporter Mungo McAllum to send in a letter of support to Independent Australia.

The choice of who should be in or out of the press gallery should be handled by someone who is independent, both politically and professionally. Basically someone who doesn’t work for a major media outlet.

So who is the current President of the Canberra Press Gallery? You may well wonder.

It should come as little surprise that the current President is an employee of News Ltd, making him about as independent as Tony Abbott or Rupert Murdoch.

His name is David Speers and he is the political editor at Sky News.

David Speers, the other Mr No

David Speers, the other Mr No

Speers told Callum Davidson of Independent Australia that

“Your website appears to be opinion-based rather than a news site.”

Speers would know all about opinion based reporting I guess, coming from News Ltd and previously being an employee of the Macquarie Radio Network at 2GB home of Alan Jones and Ray Hadley.

I find it odd that a site like Independent Australia has seemingly been singled out as being opinion based, while publications like The Australian are still granted positions in the gallery. I guess some opinions are OK.

So a quick glance at the press gallery list shows us that journalists such as Steve Lewis, and Niki Savva are apparently not be opinion based. Really? I must be imagining things.

When it comes to main stream media journalists I think things like truth, balance, checking leads and using trustworthy sources are hugely important, but that’s just my humble opinion.

Unfortunately however not all of us appear to think that way.

Back on 6th May I published a piece on the Walkley Award winning article by Kate McClymont entitled “Thomson: new credit card claims”.

Kates article was almost as factual as the Harry Potter series

Kates article was almost as factual as the Harry Potter series

My post showed that the McClymont piece was completely false in its major allegations of secret commissions and also made other claims that were quite preposterous and both wrong and utterly ridiculous.

In fact an online petition has been started up recently in a bid to seek McClymont forfeiting her Walkley Award, below is a link for those who wish to sign it.

http://www.change.org/petitions/kate-mcclymont-give-back-the-walkley-award-kate-mcclymont

I have signed the petition as I think it does an already failing industry no good at all to reward journalism that is not only completely wrong, but also based on the word of a clearly jaded witness and a flawed investigation by someone who is clearly either below amateur ranking, or perhaps even has a vested interest.

Normally when I post an article, particularly one regarding a HSU matter I am inundated with correspondence full of criticism, abuse, and people telling me where I am supposedly wrong. Any corrections, and there has been a couple have been noted on the article and highlighted, not hidden on a back page in fine print.

However, not one person has been able to point out anything even remotely questionable regarding the McClymont piece. Not one. Not even McClymont herself has been able to fault it, or respond to my initial queries.

In fact the only negative comment I have seen came from James Massola, who in a fine display of forensically going through the details and disproving my allegations chose to write one word on a Tweet.

That word was “Ha”.

Perhaps it was as much as he thought he could spell without the backing of an editorial team checking over his work?

Maybe it is coincidence that Massola is also Secretary of the Canberra Press Gallery?

Massola, like McClymont, works for Fairfax, in fact he works for the Financial Review, which is the only publication that defied Federal Court wishes and chose to publish Kathy Jackson’s affidavit when she was in Federal Court in June last year, I don’t think they published it for comedic purposes either.

James Massola- knows how to spell "Ha"

James Massola- knows how to spell “Ha”

Massola however is best known for his outing of well known and respected “Grogs Gamut” by revealing him as Greg Jericho after a media convention. The outing of Grogs was in no way in the public interest, and served no purpose other than to deliberately set about hurting and risking the employment of an online blogger who wished to remain anonymous. No wonder he was slammed all over social media for this act of bastardry.

With integrity like that I’ll take Massola’s disapproval as a compliment.

I will watch with interest to see whether the Walkley Foundation decides to uphold its credibility or chooses to cover for what is either gross incompetence or straight out lies.

In the meantime if we are to expect having a balanced press in Australia it is vital that we support the Independent press and those who write blogs that we enjoy, whether left leaning or right.

Bias is ok if it is done in a transparent manner, people reading my posts expect them to be left leaning, people reading Michael Smiths would expect them to be right leaning, both of us are open about our leanings.

Unfortunately, it seems we are unable to expect the same from those in the mainstream.

It’s no wonder they lose a little more relevance each day.

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Comments
  1. captain51 says:

    Another great piece. Keep it going. I look forward to the day Joan of Arc is in the dock

  2. Nic says:

    Journalism use to be tough and honest and a good read*to a degree* jurnos battled it out for a story..now it’s all so staged and bullshit…it has become boring an non eventful!!! Jurnos should tell it like it is and at least attempt to have their facts correct. I gotta say even I now rely on Independent news sources for info.. because the MSM just don’t cut it anymore..and why..It is really just so obvious…. $$$$$ and right winged politics. I’ve been around long enough to see it and you hear more and more people switching to Independent News providers.

  3. Joy Cooper says:

    Wonderful post, wixxy. Says it all really. All the shenanigans of the MSM & the LNP leave me sick to the stomach.

    Even last night, on 7’s Sydney evening TV news, there was no mention of the LNP disgracefully, absenting themselves from parliament for the presentation of the bill to formally institute the 0.5% levy for the NDIS. There was only anti-government spin on everything.

    I despair at times.

  4. Dave says:

    Just a thought re petitions, I wonder how or if the press gallery would respond to a petition calling for (at least) fair and balanced reporting AND investigative reporting of ANY issues, not just publishing the press releases or embellishing the one liners put out by party hacks., Incidentally, I believe there may be a leadership challenge coming, and it’s not from the “usual suspects”, or the usual party!

  5. owen1967 says:

    fair and balanced reporting is a furphy in the mainstream media … it’s now an anachronism (if it ever existed).

    consider this:
    we live in a time when the (former) Attorney General (Roxon), Foreign Minister (Carr) and Prime Minister (Gillard) intentionally mislead the Australian public by making false statements regarding Wikileaks and Julian Assange … without having to offer an apology or make a correction … that is not only falling into line with the MSM, it’s using the exact same tactics.

    i will support your call for truth, transparency and accountability in the MSM when our “representatives” lead by example and start to adhere to the ideals of truth, transparency and accountability … until then, they are complicit to the game of lies and deceit … and should expect nothing less than their current treatment.

  6. Controversial Boots says:

    Nic has got it in one. The MSM has become a strange thing indeed, especially the clowns in Canberra. I find their faux earnestness, self importance and complete lack of actual facts or news absolutely hilarious. Here’s the thing they know deep down and it must be so uncomfortable for them – they’re getting done like a dinner by part-time outsiders who are better at their jobs than they are.

  7. kat says:

    It’s also about the words they use in their reporting. I have noticed one word in particular that they love to use when the Government and in particular Ms Gillard, announces a new policy. Ms Gillard “spruiks”. That word conjures up images of seedy salesman selling dodgy wares. Yet when it come to Mr Abbott you will never see the word “spruik”. It happens so often and is so completely one sided that it has to be deliberate.

    • Joy Cooper says:

      Yes, Kat, I too, have noticed this dreadful word being applied to any announcements that the PM makes. It seems to be a fairly recent innovation no doubt aimed at making the PM & the ALP appear to be more shonky. In the meantime, Abbott is treated as though his three word slogans are writ from up on high.

      It makes me sick..

  8. teddysea says:

    Eloquent and true. Thank you.

  9. Juz's dad says:

    As that astute television journalist Andrew Olley would say Wixxy, “Indeed!”

  10. Kel says:

    Does a list of the charges against Thomson and a dollar amount of the services he is charged with fraudulently obtaining exist anywhere for public scrutiny? It started at plenty and I believe is way below in yearly terms what your ‘normal’ pollie would claim. Is that true?

  11. Marilyn says:

    Did anyone here watch the SBS doco Shadows of Liberty last Sunday night late? I didn’t watch the latest story of Murdoch but I was sickened and riveted by that doco. that shows the bastardry and pollution that is now the US media which is all owned by 5 massive corporations.

    Truth is not required anywhere.

    The same here.

    Parliament passed the biggest and most expensive con in the senate today though when they believed they had the right to cut the country out of the migration zone just for a few hundred refugees.

    Of course all those lovely foreign students we bilk for billions a year, all the tourists we milk and gloat about, and all the workers and others who thought Australia existed will be in for a rude shock when they see we are but a ghost.

    Racist, ignorant clowns have not told the public that what they did today means precisely zero because the neighbours will not conveniently roll over and allow us to colonise them.

  12. oldfart says:

    Gina is reported as telling the government that mining companies are not ATM’s and that they should be left alone so that they can put in place massive investments.
    NEWS Flassh for the media owner Most infrastructure is paid for by us, The Australian Public are not ATM’s either We pay our taxes in full unlike the tax and profit minimisation schemes the miners have. If labor gets back in I hope they have an inquiry into the almost instant plummet in profits on which to base the mining tax. time to send the auditors in I think

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