Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Investigative journalism greatly threatened by Nine-Fairfax merger

Nine-Fairfax merger rings warning bells for investigative journalism – and Australian democracy  https://theconversation.com/nine-fairfax-merger-rings-warning-bells-for-investigative-journalism-and-australian-democracy-100747?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20August%201%202018%20-%20107769581&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20August%201%202018%20-%20107769581+CID_13595e5e9a6e76046365f409b090bf10&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Nine-Fairfax%20merger%20rings%20warning%20bells%20for%20investigative%20journalism%20%20and%20Australian%20democracy 

Andrea Carson  Incoming Associate Professor at LaTrobe University. Former Lecturer, Political Science, School of Social and Political Sciences; Honorary Research Fellow, Centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne

If you value the media’s watchdog role in democracy, then the opening words in the deal enabling Channel Nine to acquire Fairfax Media, the biggest single shake-up of the Australian media in more than 30 years, ring alarm bells.

The opening gambit is an appeal to advertisers, not readers. It promises to enhance “brand” and “scale” and to deliver “data solutions” combined with “premium content”. Exciting stuff for a media business in the digital age. But for a news organisation what is missing are key words like “news”, “journalism” and “public interest”.

Those behind the deal, its political architects who scrapped the cross-media ownership laws last year, and its corporate men, Fairfax’s and Nine’s CEOs, proffer a commercial rather than public interest argument for the merger. They contend that for two legacy media companies to survive into the 21st century, this acquisition is vital.

Perhaps so. But Australia’s democratic health relies on more than a A$4 billion media merger that delivers video streaming services like Stan, a lucrative real estate advertising website like Domain, and a high-rating television program like Love Island.

The news media isn’t just any business. It does more than entertain us and sell us things. Through its journalism, it provides important public interest functions.

Ideally, news should accurately inform Australians. A healthy democracy is predicated on the widest possible participation of an informed citizenry. According to liberal democratic theorists, the news media facilitate informed participation by offering a diverse range of views so that we can make considered choices, especially during election campaigns when we decide who will govern us.

Journalists have other roles too, providing a check on the power of governments and the excesses of the market, to expose abuses that hurt ordinary Australians.

This watchdog role is why I am concerned about Nine merging with Fairfax. To be clear, until last week, I was cautiously optimistic about the future of investigative journalism in Australia.

Newspapers like The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the Newcastle Herald and the Financial Review have a strong record of using their commercial activities to subsidise expensive investigative journalism to strengthen democratic accountability by exposing wrongdoing. Channel Nine does not.

Since the formation of The Age’s Insight team in 1967, Fairfax investigations have had many important public outcomes after exposing transgressions including: judicial inquiries, criminal charges, high-profile political and bureaucratic sackings, and law reforms. Recent examples include the dogged work of Fairfax and ABC journalists to expose systemic child sex abuse in the Catholic Church and elsewhere, leading to a royal commission and National Redress Scheme for victims. Another was the exposure of dodgy lending practices that cost thousands of Australians their life savings and homes, which also triggered a royal commission.

The problem with Nine’s proposed takeover of Fairfax (if it goes ahead) is that it is unlikely to be “business as usual” for investigative journalism in the new Nine entity. First, there is a cultural misalignment and, with Nine in charge, theirs is likely to dominate.

With notable exceptions such as some 60 Minutes reporting, Nine is better known for its foot-in-the-door muckraking and chequebook journalism than its investigative journalism. In comparison, seven decades of award-winning investigative journalism data reveal Fairfax mastheads have produced more Walkley award-winning watchdog reporting than any other commercial outlet.

Second, even as the financial fortunes of Fairfax have waned in the digital age, it has maintained its award-winning investigative journalism through clever adaptations including cross-media collaborations, mainly with the ABC. This has worked well for both outlets, sharing costs and increasing a story’s reach and impact across print, radio, online and television.

How will this partnership be regarded when Fairfax is Nine’s newlywed? Will the ABC be able to go it alone with the same degree of investigative reporting in light of its successive federal government budget cuts?

Third, my latest research (see graph, on original) ) has shown that in Australia, as in Britain and the United States, investigative stories and their targets have changed this decade to accommodate newsroom cost-cutting.

Investigations are more likely to focus on stories that are cheaper and easier to pursue. This means some areas such as local politics and industrial relations have fallen off the investigative journalist’s radar. Here and abroad, this reflects cost-cutting and a loss of specialist reporters.

Echoing this, The Boston Globe’s Spotlight editor, Walter Robinson, warned:

There are so many important junctures in life where there is no journalistic surveillance going on. There are too many journalistic communities in the United States now where the newspaper doesn’t have the reporter to cover the city council, the school committee, the mayor’s office … we have about half the number of reporters that we had in the late 1990s. You can’t possibly contend that you are doing the same level or depth of reporting. Too much stuff is just slipping through too many cracks.

Of concern, Australian award-winning investigations already cover a smaller breadth of topics compared to larger international media markets. The merger of Fairfax mastheads with Channel Nine further consolidates Australia’s newsrooms. If investigative journalism continues, story targets are likely to be narrow.

Finally, investigative journalism is expensive. It requires time, resources and, because it challenges power, an institutional commitment to fight hefty lawsuits. Fairfax has a history of defending its investigative reporters in the courts, at great expense.

Will Nine show the same commitment to defending its newly adopted watchdog reporters using earnings from its focus on “brand”, “scale” and “data solutions”? For the sake of democratic accountability, I hope so.

 

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August 1, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Journalists’ rights in danger, if Julian Assange is prosecuted for Wikileaks

Judges Hear Warning on Prosecution of WikiLeaks https://www.courthousenews.com/judges-hear-warning-on-prosecution-of-wikileaks/  July 24, 2018MARIA DINZEO   NAHEIM, Calif. (CN) – Prosecuting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing leaked documents related to the 2016 presidential election would set a terrible precedent for journalists, the top lawyer for The New York Times said Tuesday.

Addressing a room full of federal and circuit judges at the Ninth Circuit’s annual judicial conference, David McCraw, the deputy general counsel for The New York Times, explained that regardless of how one feels about Assange and traditional news outlets receiving the same kind of deference over publishing leaked materials, his prosecution would be a gut punch to free speech.

“I think the prosecution of him would be a very, very bad precedent for publishers,” McCraw said. “From that incident, from everything I know, he’s sort of in a classic publisher’s position and I think the law would have a very hard time drawing a distinction between The New York Times and WikiLeaks.”

McCraw went on to clarify that while Assange employs certain methods that he finds discomfiting and irresponsible, such as dumping unredacted documents revealing the personal information of ordinary people, Assange should be afforded the same protections as a traditional journalist.

“Do I wish journalism was practiced in a certain way, like it is with The New York Times, The Washington Post, or The Wall Street Journal? Of course. But I also think new ways of publishing have their value. Our colleagues who are not only challenging us financially but journalistically have raised an awareness that there are different ways to report,” McCraw said.

“But if someone is in the business of publishing information, I think that whatever privilege happens to apply – whatever extension of the law that would apply – should be there. Because the question isn’t whether he’s a journalist. It’s in that instance was he committing an act of journalism.”

Assange has long considered himself a journalist operating no differently than other news outlets. This has complicated matters, because if Assange can be prosecuted for publishing leaked information, why not prosecute news organizations like The New York Times?

Earlier this month, a grand jury returned an indictment against twelve Russian military spies for hacking into the servers and emails of the Democratic National Committee and state election officials, stealing documents and staging the release of those documents to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. While the indictment did not name Assange and WikiLeaks specifically, it has been widely suggested that WikiLeaks received the materials and could very well be the group referred to in the indictment as “Organization Number 1.”

Barry Pollack, who represents Assange in an ongoing criminal investigation in the Eastern District of Virginia, weighed in on the indictment Tuesday.

“If you read the indictment that just came out on Russians and you look at what Organization Number 1, which is clearly WikiLeaks, is alleged to have done in that indictment, it is doing exactly what The New York Times and The Washington Post do every day of the week,” Pollack said. “He [Assange] is communicating with a source, the source provides him with information, he publishes that information.

“There are no questions about the truthfulness or accuracy or authenticity of that information. And then he encourages the source to give him more information. He says ‘don’t give it to my competitors, give it to me. This story will have more impact if I publish it.’”

Pollack and McCraw spoke as part of a panel titled “The Law of Leaks,” a session on how the United States has ramped up efforts to prosecute people who have leaked state secrets. Thirteen people have been prosecuted under the first law against leaking state secrets, the Espionage Act of 1917, most under the Obama administration.

President Donald Trump has waged an unprecedented war against the media, taking to Twitter last year to call the media “the enemy of the American people.”  Yet no publisher has ever been indicted over leaks, and both McCraw and Pollack expressed doubts about whether it will happen any time soon.

“Unlike firing off a tweet, bringing a prosecution requires a career professional prosecutor to sign off on the prosecution, so there also is a tremendous check there that doesn’t exist in some of the rhetoric we hear,” Pollack said.

“Prosecutions of journalists would be difficult,” McCraw said. “I think they’d be unpopular, I think they’d be wrong, and I think they’d be unsuccessful. I see this PR campaign against the press as almost an alternative to legal measures.”

 

July 28, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, media | Leave a comment

The death of Australia’s quality news media – Fairfax gobbled up by Nine

A modern tragedy: Nine-Fairfax merger a disaster for quality media, The Conversation,  Denis Muller, Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne, 

All deaths are sudden, even if long expected.

Appropriately enough, this is the opening sentence of a book called Journalism in a Culture of Grief.

And if ever there was a time of grief for journalism in Australia, it is today, with the announcement that Nine Entertainment is taking over Fairfax Media.

It means the death of Fairfax and is the most consequential change in Australian media ownership in 31 years.

It also means that three of Australia’s best and biggest newspapers – The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review – are now subsumed into a media conglomerate whose editorial culture is characterised by mediocre journalism.

Nine’s news bulletins consist largely of police stories with a tincture of politics, and highlights of colourful or violent events overseas.Its current affairs program, A Current Affair, is a formulaic procession of stories about consumer rorts and personal tragedies.

So there is a huge question mark over the future editorial quality of the newspapers.

A particularly pressing question is: what will happen to The Age’s investigative unit?

It is led by two of the best investigative reporters Australia has produced, Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker.

In addition to breaking an extraordinary range of major stories on subjects like organised crime and scandals in the banking industry, they have developed a highly successful collaboration with the ABC’s Four Corners team.

It seems very unlikely Nine would allow this collaboration to continue, since it involves a rival television channel.

There is also a question about editorial independence.

Fairfax has a charter of editorial independence, which all owners since 1990 have signed up to. Will Nine sign up to it? Will the charter have any meaning when the newspapers are owned by a company whose chairman, Peter Costello, was treasurer in the Liberal-National Coalition government of former Prime Minister John Howard?

The answers to these questions will not be known for some time. They will depend largely on who is given editorial control of the combined operation. Since the Nine CEO, Hugh Marks, is to be CEO of the combined operation, it seems more likely than not that it will be a Nine executive who calls the editorial shots, too.

The takeover also means a further loss of diversity in an already highly concentrated media-ownership landscape. The big players are now down to four: News Corp, Nine, Seven West Media and the ABC.

And it is almost certain to mean the loss of yet more journalists’ jobs.

Since 2012, more than 3,000 jobs have been lost across Australian journalism. Yet, if the takeover is really going to represent “compelling value” for shareholders, as Fairfax chairman Nick Falloon says, then newsroom “synergies” – to borrow the corporate jargon – are likely to be essential.

The Fairfax company’s death throes have been painful and prolonged……https://theconversation.com/a-modern-tragedy-nine-fairfax-merger-a-disaster-for-quality-media-100584?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20July%2027%202018%20-%20107389538&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20July%2027%202018%

 

July 26, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

The announced takeover of Fairfax by Channel Nine will change the news landscape of Australia altogether.

The cross-media rule gave Australia 30 years of media diversity. This merger was inevitable as soon as it was removed 

The kind of merger announced today between Channel Nine and Fairfax was bound to happen the moment the cross-media legislation introduced by the Hawke government 30 years ago was suspended.

The so-called cross-media rule gave Australia 30 years of media diversity, especially between Australia’s major television networks and its capital city print.

Those barriers in the wholesaling of news underwrote diversity of opinion, guaranteeing an altogether better informed and livelier public debate.

It is true that the technology has brought myriad voices to a public eager for diversity of information. But the atomisation of web-based content, much of it other than local, cannot in terms of impact, be compared with the big local media players, particularly in consolidations of the kind announced today.

The announced takeover of Fairfax by Channel Nine will change the news landscape of Australia altogether.

Notwithstanding the obvious disruption that international platforms like Google and Facebook have made to advertising and traditional media revenues, the answer for Australia is diversity of income streams for Australia’s majors and not a closedown in news and content with major print being taken over by major television.

This is an exceptionally bad development.

……… If in the announced arrangement Channel Nine has a majority of the stock, Channel Nine will run the editorial policy.

The problem with this is that, in terms of news management, Channel Nine, for over half a century, has never other than displayed the opportunism and ethics of an alley cat.

There has been no commanding ethical or moral basis for the conduct of its news and information policy.

Through various changes of ownership, no one has lanced the carbuncle at the centre of Nine’s approach to news management. And, as sure as night follows day, that pus will inevitably leak into Fairfax.

For the country, this is a great pity.

And, of course, if the government really had its way, Australia would face this much closed down and managed landscape without an ABC as it is today – an independent national broadcaster.

On competition grounds and those of the imperative of local diversity, the competition commissioner should put this proposal under high scrutiny.

Of course, the current managements of Nine and Fairfax will scream enhanced media diversity via the web – news and views everywhere. And some of this is true. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/jul/26/the-fairfax-takeover-is-exceptionally-bad-news-nine-has-the-journalistic-ethics-of-an-alley-cat

 

July 26, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Brett Stokes challenges the ABC to investigate the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility project. 

From: Brett Stokes <brett_stokes@yahoo.com>
To: investigations@abc.net.au <investigations@abc.net.au>
Sent: Friday, 29 June 2018,
Subject: ANSTO – Lucas Heights – covert poisoning of pregnant women – miscarriages
I have just read your story about a breakdown at the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor operated by ANSTO.

ANSTO, as part of normal operations, manufacture and release radioactive poisons into the air.
These radioactive poisons are known to cause miscarriages (and other problems).

ANSTO give no warnings of these “controlled emissions” and justify this by claiming that they are not a health hazard – this claim is based on dodgy seventy year old data from Japan plus a bunch of dodgy number crunching.

Australian women suffer many many thousands of “unexplained” miscarriages (and many Aussies get “unexplained” cancer dementia etc etc).

And this is not the only dodgy aspect of ANSTO’s operations – the reactor is not needed at all for medicine – as in Canada, cyclotrons can be used to produce the required isotopes safely and reliably and without creating problematic “radioactive waste”.

ANSTO are using the lie that “nuclear medicine requires a nuclear waste dump” as a central part of the taxpayer funded bribery and deception program called the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility project. 

The taxpayer funded National Radioactive Waste Management Facility project is illegal under South Australian law and is clearly a “foot in the door” for the (now decades old) nuclear industry campaign to make South Australia a nuclear waste repository as per the dodgy recommendations of the dodgy Scarce Royal Commission.

I encourage you to look in to this horror story of taxpayer money funding nuclear fanatic traitors.

June 29, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Liberal Coalition attacks on the ABC will rebound against them

James Cogan’s speech at Sydney rally to free Julian Assange

Constant attacks on the ABC will come back to haunt the Coalition government The Conversation    Denis Muller Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne, 

In January 1931, as the newly elected United Australia Party government of Joseph Lyons was contemplating the establishment of a national broadcasting service, the prime minister received a deputation of prominent Melburnians, including a barrister and member of the Victorian parliament, Robert Gordon Menzies.

They urged that the new broadcasting service “be organised on an independent basis and that cultural potentialities of the Broadcast Service be considered a matter of primary importance”. The broadcast service came to be named the Australian Broadcasting Commission and went to air for the first time on July 1 1932.

It is a measure of how far today’s Liberal Party has drifted away from the values and ideals of its founder, Menzies, that last Saturday its federal council should have resoundingly adopted a motion that the ABC should be privatised.

One of the proponents of the motion was Mitchell Collier, the federal vice-president of the Young Liberals. He said there was no economic case to keep the broadcaster in public hands.

No economic case. Where the ABC is concerned, that is a false premise on which to proceed. The ABC was explicitly not established for economic purposes or in pursuit of an economic ideology. It was established for social, educational and cultural purposes.

It was also established on an explicitly non-commercial basis: it takes no advertising. Why? Because it was believed advertising would weaken its independence. The policymakers of the 1930s had seen only too clearly how beholden the newspaper proprietors of the day had become to commercial imperatives: the demands of advertisers and the pressure to increase circulation, even at the cost of editorial quality and integrity.

The newspapers of the day had also become mouthpieces for sectional interests. In Melbourne, The Argus stood for the interests of the mercantile classes and conservative political causes; The Age for a kind of Protestant liberalism and social justice. It supported the miners at Eureka.

The bipartisan political vision for the ABC was that it should not be vulnerable to sectional interests or commercial pressures, but should exist to serve the public interest in the widest sense.

The first paragraph of its charter captures the essence of these expectations:………

A motion to privatise the ABC, no matter how vigorously repudiated by the government, is political poison, especially in regional, rural and remote Australia.

These voters have watched as the Abbott-Turnbull administrations have cut the ABC’s funding by $338 million since 2014. They have watched as the ABC has been used – in Guthrie’s words yesterday – as a punching bag by narrow political, commercial or ideological interests

Guthrie was too diplomatic to nail the government or the Murdoch press. But the overt hostility to the ABC shown by the government over the past four years may now reap a political harvest.

That hostility has been demonstrated not only by the funding cuts but by sustained carping criticisms, vexatious complaints and political stunts exemplified by the current competitive neutrality inquiry.

It would be more accurately called the editorial neutering inquiry. Its focus is clearly on the ABC news service, as its own issues paper makes clear. That is the part of the ABC most detested by the government and the politician for whom the government is a cat’s paw in this, Pauline Hanson.

Each Tuesday, I engage in a pro-bono 25-minute segment on media issues with the presenter of ABC Radio Statewide Drive, Nicole Chvastek. The program is broadcast across regional Victoria and southern New South Wales, covering the National seats of Riverina, Mallee, Murray and Gippsland, and the Liberal seats of Farrer, Wannon, McMillan, Corangamite and McEwen.

Yesterday the talkback calls ran hot on this one issue: privatisation of the ABC. Yes, the ABC needed scrutiny; yes, the ABC was a bunch of lefties. But: where would we be without it?

Just after 5pm, the Nationals served up their deputy leader, the Victorian senator Bridget McKenzie, to answer talkback calls on this issue. It was like something from the Colosseum. https://theconversation.com/constant-attacks-on-the-abc-will-come-back-to-haunt-the-coalition-government-98456?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20June%2021%202018%20-%20104619234&utm_content=Latest%

 

June 22, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, politics | Leave a comment

ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie explains economic benefit of the ABC to Australia

ABC contributes as much to the economy as it costs the taxpayer: Michelle Guthrie, https://theconversation.com/abc-contributes-as-much-to-the-economy-as-it-costs-the-taxpayer-michelle-guthrie-98553?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=facebookbutton    The Conversation,  Michelle GrattanProfessorial Fellow, University of Canberra  

ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie has hit back against critics with a Deloitte Access Economics assessment that the public broadcaster contributed more than A$1 billion to the Australian economy in the last financial year.

This was on a par with the public funding of the organisation, she told the Melbourne Press Club, in an address coming days after the Liberal Federal Council urged the ABC be privatised – a call rejected by the government.

Far from being a drain on the public purse, the audience, community and economic value stemming from ABC activity is a real and tangible benefit,“ she said. The Deloitte study was commissioned by the ABC; Guthrie said its report was still being compiled and would be released next month.

Of the $1 billion, “more than a third is economic support for the broader media ecosystem. Far from being Ultimo-centric, the ABC is boosting activity across the country,” she said, giving as examples the filming of Mystery Road in the Kimberley and the production of Rosehaven outside Hobart.

Deloitte calculated the ABC was helping sustain more than 6000 full-time equivalent jobs across the economy. “It means that for every three full-time equivalent jobs created by the ABC, there are another two supported in our supply chain – local artists, writers, technicians, transport workers and many more.

“In hard figures, the research shows that the ABC helps to sustain 2500 full-time equivalent jobs in addition to the 4000 women and men who are directly employed by the public broadcaster.

“When broken down this equates to more than 500 additional jobs in production companies, over 400 jobs elsewhere in the broadcast sector, and close to 300 full-time equivalent jobs in the professional services.

“Amidst the debate over the ABC’s purpose and its funding we should all remember that there are 2500 jobs outside public broadcasting at risk in any move to curtail our remit and activities”.

Addressing the critics’ argument that the ABC’s about $1 billion funding wasn’t well spent, Guthrie pointed out that the broadcaster’s per capita funding had halved in real terms in three decades while the demands on it had increased, and that this financial year 92% of its budget would be spent on making content, supporting content makers and distribution.

“Thirty years ago, the ABC had five platforms and 6000 people working around the country. Today, Your ABC has two-thirds the number of people operating six times the number of platforms and services with half the real per capita funding”.

Guthrie argued that the claim that the latest 1% efficiency dividend could easily be accommodated ignored the accumulation of efficiency takes over the past four years, and the fact these efficiencies robbed the organisation of its ability to finance new content and innovation.

She rejected what she described as two other “fallacies” – that the ABC should be stripped back to servicing gaps in the market, becoming a “media failure operator”, and that the ABC served only sectional interests.

Referring to the ABC charter, she said that “as the independent national public broadcaster, our purpose is to provide a balance between broadcasting programs of wide appeal as well as specialised interest”.

Public broadcasting was “about providing the distinctive programs that Australians young and old, left and right, rich and poor, in Bourke and in Brisbane, both want and need”.

She attacked those commentators and politicians who liked “to pigeonhole our audience as being of a particular political bent or social strata.

“In the two years since I’ve been in this role, I have been constantly reminded how wrong that is”, she said, citing the 12 million Australians who would watch ABC TV this week, the nearly five million who’d listen to ABC radio, and the 13 million ABC podcast downloads that occurred every month.

“If all those listeners and viewers were on the one side of politics, there wouldn’t be much politicking left to do.

“I note also the findings of the recent Reuters Digital News Report. Australia may have an increasingly polarised media sector, but ABC television attracts viewers from across the political spectrum for its news coverage”.

Guthrie said that Australians regarded the ABC “as one of the great national institutions” and “deeply resent it being used as a punching bag by narrow political, commercial or ideological interests”.

 

June 19, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Institute of Public Affairs aims for both nuclear power and privatising the ABC

Steve Dale shared a link. Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA, 18 June 18
If the ABC was privatised, I think the public would hear even less about our nuclear fight. The IPA supports nuke power and apparently the privatisation of the ABC. From the following article:

“In Mayo, the council motion has handed Ms Sharkie a small gift. There will be interest in what Ms Downer, who comes from the IPA, has to say about how she would like to see the future of the ABC.”  https://www.facebook.com/groups/344452605899556/

June 18, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Michelle Grattan: expect more government bullying to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

The threat to the ABC is not sale but more bullying http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-18/threat-to-the-abc-is-not-sale-but-more-bullying/9879420  The Conversation By Michelle Grattan 

June 18, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

Government and media silence on the bushfire danger to Lucas Heights nuclear reactor

Lucas Heights nuclear reactor: The untold threat of the Sydney bushfires.   https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/sydney-bushfires-raged-towards-lucas-heights-nuclear-reactor,11401 

Emergency warning issued as out-of-control bushfire rages across Sydney

As fires raged in Sydney, there has not been a peep out of the mainstream media about the fire hazard to Lucas Heights nuclear complex. Noel Wauchope reports. 

THE LATEST news on the bushfires raging in Sydney’s south-west is that the firefighters are “cautiously optimistic” and that emergency warning advice has been downgraded to “watch and act”.

However, the fire continues to burn in an easterly direction towards Barden Ridge and weather conditions are still dodgy, as Sydney’s record-breaking heatwave looks like coming to an end.

It’s been an anxious time — the fire has burned over 2,400 hectares. On Sunday (15 April), more than 500 firefighters in almost 100 fire trucks, along with 15 aircraft, battled the blaze throughout the day. Residents were told that it was too late to leave their homes. Heat from the bushfires was impacting the high voltage lines. There is very little rain forecast over the next few days.

So, it has all been a worry. But you wouldn’t know, would you, that the fire is so close to the Lucas Heights nuclear complex? The latest maps shown on The Guardian and NSW Rural Fire Service websites don’t really show how close this fire is getting to Lucas Heights. I have previously written about the safety hazards of Lucas Heights, with its reactor, cooling pond and accumulation of nuclear wastes — the amount of which is not publicly available.

The fires have reached about four kilometres from Lucas Heights. Embers carried by wind can form spot fires well ahead of the firefront — even up to 20 kilometres away. In the dense and rugged bushland, with predicted west to north-west winds up to 30 kilometres per hour – not forgetting that bushfires create their own weather systems – is not that hazardous to the nuclear complex?

But we don’t hear a word about this. What makes the silence easier, is that the residential area previously part of Lucas Heights was renamed Barden Ridge in 1996 to increase the real estate value of the area, as it would no longer be instantly associated with the High Flux Australian Reactor (HIFAR) — and now the Opal nuclear reactor.

Of course, now, because of the name change, there’s no public awareness that Australia’s nuclear reactor is anywhere near the fires. You can bet that the government wants to keep us all in blissful ignorance.

What we do know, is that fires are certainly a hazard to nuclear sites and there is the possibility of radiation release across a wide area, if fire invades a nuclear complex, with the fuel rods in cooling pools at great risk. When fires do happen near a nuclear site, there may be a security panic going on but that is not communicated to the public.

Whenever there have been wildfires threatening nuclear sites – in Russia, Europe or the U.S. – the pattern is to downplay, to not mention, the nuclear danger. The publicity pattern is always to ignore the radiation hazard.

For example during the recent Californian wildfires:

“It’s being fought by security site fire crews, with help from a helicopter able to detect any aerial release of radiation.”

As though any amount of monitoring is going to help or that any data would be publicly shared. Not a peep about the radiation numbers during the fires in and around Los Alamos, even though they were “monitoring” it.

And in the case of this fire in Russia, the emergency minister threatened to “deal with” those who spread radiation “rumours”:

For the current Sydney bushfires, it seems as though there will have been a lucky escape for the communities, despite the fact that two giant aircraft, the DC10 Nancybird and the C130 Hercules “Thor” — normally used for aerial water bombing — were not available to help fight the Sydney fire, having been sent back to the U.S., because by March, the fire risk is supposed to be over.

It will have been a much luckier escape that they realised if the nuclear complex remains unscathed — this time!  https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/sydney-bushfires-raged-towards-lucas-heights-nuclear-reactor,11401

April 16, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, safety | Leave a comment

The latest sally in the fight to further dumb down the ABC

Murdoch press hails the inquiry it demanded into ABC’s ‘privileged status’, Guardian, Amanda Meade  30 Mar 18, News Corp embraces competitive neutrality terms of reference. Plus: forget Bureaucracy Stop, meet Reveal Capture

 

The Coalition has handed Rupert Murdoch something his outlets have been lobbying for pretty hard recently: an inquiry into whether the public broadcasters are “using their privileged status to smother commercial operators”. That’s how the announcement of the terms of reference for a competitive neutrality inquiry was reported by the Australian this week.

Just nine months ago the Oz lined up Australia’s media giants to complain about the ABC cutting their grass by operating in the digital space or daring to buy award-winning programs like The Handmaid’s Tale – which, in hindsight, the commercial networks wished they had bothered to bid for.

“The ABC is crowding out and threatening the survival of commercial news organisations because it enjoys that privileged status and has become a state-funded player across every media channel in the digital age,” Oz media editor Darren Davidson wrote last year.

“That is the judgment not only of News Corp, publisher of the Australian, but of every other big commercial operator including Fairfax Media, Seven West Media and Nine Entertainment.”

 The inquiry, which will take six months to consult with national broadcasters, commercial media, advertisers and viewers, will include a call for public submissions.

For fans of The Handmaid’s Tale, season two returns to SBS TV on Thursday 26 April, and episodes will be available on SBS On Demand after they have aired.

Stop, it’s efficiency time

The ABC is of course no stranger to inquiries, either being subject to them or conducting them internally. We told you last week about Bureaucracy Stop, an initiative to cut red tape from the ABC’s chief technology officer, Helen Clifton.

Now from Michelle Guthrie’s right-hand woman, Louise Higgins, comes Efficiency Project and Reveal Capture.

“As you know, we are driving a number of key initiatives, including Bureaucracy Stop and the Efficiency Project,” Higgins, the chief financial officer, wrote to staff this week………https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/mar/30/murdoch-press-hails-the-inquiry-it-demanded-into-abcs-privileged-status?CMP=share_btn_tw

 

March 31, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | 1 Comment

Jacinda Ardern’s ‘sexist, creepy’ 60 Minutes interview angers New Zealand

Guardian,  Eleanor Ainge Roy in Dunedin 26 Feb 18 
Australian journalist Charles Wooley criticised for calling PM ‘attractive’ and discussing the conception of her baby. 

New Zealanders have criticised an interview with their prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, as “creepy” and “sexist”.

In the opening segment of the Australian current affairs show 60 Minutes , which aired on Sunday night, the veteran reporter Charles Wooley described the 37-year-old Ardern as “attractive”.–

“I’ve met a lot of prime ministers in my time,” says Wooley, filmed strolling the corridors of Parliament House with Ardern, the camera pulling in for a close-up on Ardern’s smiling face. “But none so young, not too many so smart, and never one so attractive.”

Wooley goes on to say that like the rest of New Zealand, he is “smitten” with their prime minister, with Channel Nine describing the interview in promos as a behind-the-scenes special with a world leader “like no other”, who is “young, honest and pregnant”.

“Admittedly, although somewhat smitten just like the rest of her country, I do know, that what’s really important in politics has to be what you leave behind,” Wooley says.

The interview was immediately met with derision from many New Zealanders on social media, who leapt to the defence of Ardern at having to endure the overly personal line of questioning, and dismissed Wooley as misogynistic and inappropriate. Other viewers said the interview was “repugnant”, “creepy” and “painful”.

“How did a nice person like you get into the sordid world of politics?” Wooley asked Ardern

“Nice people go into politics,” replied Ardern, smiling.

Wooley’s questions about her pregnancy appeared to make her and her partner, Clarke Gayford, rather uncomfortable.

“One really important political question that I want to ask you,” Wooley said. “And that is, what exactly is the date that the baby’s due?”

Ardern replied that her baby was due on 17 June, to which Wooley replied: “It’s interesting how many people have been counting back to the conception … as it were,” which made Gayford blush and laugh uncomfortably, responding: “Really?”

Wooley continued: “Having produced six children it doesn’t amaze me that people can have children; why shouldn’t a child be conceived during an election campaign?”

At this, Ardern appeared to roll her eyes, responding: “The election was done. Not that we need to get into those details.”

Wooley’s interviewing style obviously irked Gayford, who later alluded to the program when he tweeted about great places in New Zealand where you could “escape for 60 Minutes or longer”……..

In her weekly media standup Ardern said she did not find the interview offensive though she was initially taken aback by the question concerning the conception date of her child. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/26/sexist-creepy-jacinda-ardern-60-minutes-interview-angers-new-zealand

February 28, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Media silence on Julian Assange’s precarious situation

Wikileaks specifically noted Reuters’ coverage of these latest developments: “Depo Akande, an international law professor at Oxford University, said that Ecuador could argue that Britain had no right under international law to reject its declaration that Assange had diplomatic status.”

Additional press reports indicate that if the UK were ordered by the International Court to accept Ecuador’s decision to treat Assange as a diplomat, and were then to “declare him persona non grata, it would then ‘have to give him facilities to leave’ the country unhindered.” One hopes that the current Ecuadorian President, Lenín Moreno, will not bow to pressure from the United States to withdraw support from Assange. Ecuador’s former President, Rafael Correa, has indicated that this is a real possibility.

So far, legacy press has not taken the UK to task for attempting to “ignore” Assange’s new diplomatic role. Now more than ever, the media’s silence is important in informing or misinforming the public regarding Assange’s situation. The legal implications of Ecuador’s decision to confer Assange diplomatic status are potentially massive, but many outlets have been atrociously silent on the matter when they are not outright lying regarding Assange’s circumstances.

In light of the precariousness of recent events, human rights activist, journalist and Wikileaks supporter Randy Credico recently issued a call for Wikileaks supporters to ‘mobilize‘ in his support. This is a statement which should be taken seriously by the public and by independent media, which has increasingly been tasked with filling the void left by mainstream outlets that no longer function in the interest of honest reporting.

Telesur recently reported that former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa had warned: “It will only take pressure from the United States to withdraw protection for Assange.” He added: “Surely it’s already being done, and maybe they await the results of the Feb. 4 (referendum) to make a decision.” Correa also referred to Ecuador’s current president as a “traitor.”

Over the last twelve months, Disobedient Media has reported extensively on the hypocrisy of legacy press, including The Washington Post. The outlet’s recent coverage of Assange’s circumstances serves as an emblem of the overall problem of intelligence agency narratives being pushed by a corporate press with which they are entangled.

The Washington Post exemplified the issue when it published an article erroneously titled: “Ecuador’s president calls Julian Assange ‘more than a nuisance.” The article in question incorrectly referenced Assange in the following incorrect terms: “the WikiLeaks founder was wanted in Sweden on sexual assault charges. Those have since been dropped. ” Assange was never charged with sexual assault, and Sweden ended their investigation into the subject.

Although false narratives around Wikileaks are nothing new for establishment press, the latest smear attempts are particularly important due to the precarious nature of Assange’s current position.

The Washington Post’s allusion to non-existent sexual assault charges dishonestly paints Assange and the reasons for his exile in the Ecuadorian embassy in a light that not only is factually untrue, but conveniently distracts from the manifold ways in which Assange and Wikileaks employees have been directly targeted as a result of their journalistic endeavors. As this author previously reported, there have been a plethora of calls to assassinate Assange from media pundits, as well as individuals associated with the Democratic Party establishment.

In light of all this, it is absurd to discuss Assange’s predicament without also addressing the intelligence community and plutocratic establishment that has fundamentally driven the situation from the beginning.

UN rulings on the matter of Assange’s detention have stated: “Assange has been arbitrarily detained by Sweden and the United Kingdom since his arrest in London on 7 December 2010, as a result of the legal action against him by both Governments, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said today.” In essence, even the UN has recognized that Assange’s longstanding exile in the Ecuadorian embassy is due to governments who feel threatened by the content of Wikileaks publications.

At this juncture, it bears reminding that Jeff Bezos, the current owner of the Washington Post, has a $600 million contract with the CIA in relation to his monolithic company Amazon. The Nation wrote in 2013:

“Amazon, under the Post’s new owner, Jeff Bezos, recently secured a $600 million contract from the CIA. That’s at least twice what Bezos paid for the Post this year. Bezos recently disclosed that the company’s Web-services business is building a “private cloud” for the CIA to use for its data needs. Critics charge that, at a minimum, the Post needs to disclose its CIA link whenever it reports on the agency. Over 15,000 have signed the petition this week hosted by RootsAction.”

The Nation’s coverage of the CIA’s contract with Amazon has since been removed from their web page for unknown reasons, but is available through archive services.

When discussing The Washington Post’s exercise in gaslighting, it is important to keep the outlet’s well-documented financial connection with the CIA through Bezos in mind. In so doing, it is also pertinent to note that the CIA has made its hatred for Assange very clear, especially over the course of the last year. CIA Director Mike Pompeo put the agency’s hatred for Wikileaks were on full display as recently as yesterday, when the CIA Director lambasted the journalistic organization as a threat on par with Al Qaeda. Pompeo said of Al Qaeda and Wikileaks: “They don’t have a flag at the UN, but they represent real threats to the United States of America.”

That a group who publishes information that is inconvenient for the CIA would be likened to a terrorist network speaks to the threat which Wikileaks represents not to the safety of the American public, but to the plutocratic class and the American deep state.

Pompeo is well known for his previous reference to Wikileaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service.” The Hill wrote of the incident: “In his first major public appearance since taking the top intelligence post in the Trump administration, Pompeo took aim at WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden…” The Hill also cited Pompeo’s characterization of Assange as a: “fraud, a coward hiding behind a screen.”

Pompeo’s vitriolic characterization of Wikileaks is helpful, because it demonstrates that the CIA’s response to Wikileaks is on par with the force with which terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda are pursued. In that light, the magnitude of the threat faced by Assange and Wikileaks associates cannot be over-estimated. Pompeo’s words are not only absurd in light of Wikileaks being an extremely accurate journalistic organization, but also depict the real impetus behind Assange having been trapped in the Ecuadorian embassy for years.

The CIA Director’s statements, even taken at face value, completely undercut the manipulative coverage of Wikileaks and Assange by outlets like the Washington Post. That providing evidence of corruption is considered an existential threat by the establishment is indicative of the value of Wikileaks to the public. The publisher is only a threat to those whose lies are exposed by their publications. The same plutocracy that has aggressively targeted Assange and Wikileaks has progressively strangled free press and freedom of thought in the United States and the world for decades.

The anger of intelligence agencies towards Assange and Wikileaks may seem superficially unrelated to the disgracefully inaccurate treatment of the publisher in American press. However, it is necessary to view mainstream outlet’s coverage of Assange, including both their misinformation and their resounding silence on his having been targeted by the intelligence community, as an expression of aggression from the American ‘deep state.’ This is especially noteworthy given the close ties of the intelligence community to legacy media, as encapsulated by The Washington Post.

Disobedient Media previously reported on the unanimous echo chamber of establishment political think-tanks and apparently left-wing news organizations when it comes to issues pushed by the intelligence community, including the reauthorization of deeply flawed FISA legislation. In the case of Assange, the litany of lies and gaps in coverage over the years are too numerous to recount in full, but represent a concerted effort to silence truth through deflection and manipulation.

Alternative media must refuse to be silenced by the American deep state’s fanatical crusade against Wikileaks and its supporters. If it were not for Wikileaks, the growing niche of independent journalism would have virtually zero factual standing when attempting to counter disinformation by press outlets that have completely abandoned their role as a watchdog against government abuses.

If there was ever a time to support Wikileaks and its Editor in Chief, that time is now. To abandon Assange at this critical moment would be more profound than its deleterious effect on the life of an individual: it would represent a complete forfeiture of integrity across the entire spectrum of journalistic endeavors.

See link for associated tweets; https://disobedientmedia.com/2018/01/op-ed-washington-post-legacy-press-betray-assange-as-his-freedom-hangs-in-the-balance/

January 31, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

The decline of journalism in the mainstream media

Independent media: Our democracy depends on it, Independent Australia.  Cathy McQueen “………It is hard to open a newspaper of the mainstream media (MSM) or indeed watch a television “report” today without seeing content littered with the journalistic opinion of the person writing or reporting it — even if it purports to be “straight” news.

I hate to think of what Keating would think of the Australian MSM now. We have a good 70 per cent of it — the Murdoch press — that only publishes far-right propaganda most of the time and blatant lies the rest of the time.

The Honourable Paul Keating – The Privacy Imperative in the Information Age Free for All

The remainder of the MSM does its best to do their jobs – I am talking Fairfax and The Guardianand the ABC – but even they are not immune from serving the far-right agenda of the Liberal Party at times. The African gangs outrage in Victoria provides the perfect example in recent times. The ABC and Fairfax both fell into the trap of pushing Minister for Home Affairs Dutton and Prime Minister Turnbull’s divisive agenda with this, instead of calling power to account and debunking it as the myth it was.

The Guardian is another great example of a publication that is less than perfect on this front at times. While its content is usually truthful and could even be said to be somewhat left-leaning, its headlines make the whole idea of language intelligence pointless.

Every day The Guardian’s Australian edition serves us up a slew of headlines that not only reinforce the far-right by directly quoting the latest outrage from a Turnbull Government minister – as in, ‘Victorians are scared to go to restaurants because of African gang violence: Peter Dutton ‘ – but they almost seem to glory in it. Headline after headline does this. Are they just being lazy or are they deliberately trying to confuse?……….

My disgust with my former profession extends to the entirety of News Corp’s workforce.

How do they sleep at night, I often wonder? Apparently, a lot of News Corp journalists, vote Labor, which begs the question: How on earth do they get through a day at the office?………

What I wonder about these people is this: How can anyone who cares about journalism – a profession whose main role is to call power to account, to uncover corruption and act as society’s democracy watchdog as well as informing and educating – write far-right propaganda and lies every single day? Every single day. They obviously believe it but how can seemingly intelligent people believe this dangerous rubbish? Are they sociopathic? You have to wonder.

And it is not just the aforementioned [the Andrew Bolts, Miranda Devines and Niki Savvas ] who are the offenders. The ordinary, everyday journalists at Murdoch publications are frequently called on to rabble rouse about “dole bludgers”, or “Kooris”, or African “gangs” or you name it. They attack the very working class and middle-class people that read their publications and write stories that push the agendas of the one percenters and Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberal Party mates — the banksters and Big End of Town.

It must be either soul-destroying or they must be so desperate for money that they have no choice. I could not live with myself — which is why I am studying law now. I have two years to go and I am hoping the ethics of my future profession is not going to be besmirched like the ethics of my former one. It is safe to suggest that many Australian journalists have forgotten that ethics even exist.

So is there any hope left for journalism in this country? Will we ever see reporting that is free from opinion, like Keating encouraged, or that actually does the job a member of the Fourth Estate should do — call power to account, uncover corruption and act as a watchdog on our democracy?

I remain positive. Publications like Independent Australia are leading the charge against the right-wing propaganda that has crept into our MSM — and they are doing a great job. Every time I click on an IA story I am so grateful that journalists like David Donovan and Martin Hirst still exist and are brave enough to carry on a tradition that has kept democracies healthy all over the Western world.

By only writing right-wing propaganda thanks to the Murdoch Press and the rest of the MSM, we lost a decent ALP government under Rudd and Gillard. We have been left with the current travesty of far-right ideology that governs only for its mates and the one per cent — the banksters and big business. The rest of us, along with health, education and the social safety net and, indeed, the greater good of the country can go to hell. Throw in a little racism and lack of humanity in the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees for good measure. And don’t even start me on the egregious way the MSM have dealt with climate science and climate change.

Australians should think long and hard about their media and what it serves up to them. We have a lot of talented journalists in this country who I know would like to write the truth, be independent and not serve up right-wing propaganda, constantly. We need to encourage independent media like Ias much as possible by republishing its stories on social media like Twitter and Facebook, by telling our friends and family about it and generally supporting it with our clicks every single day. We need to thank people like David Donovan and Martin Hirst, personally, for what they do.

If we don’t, we risk the only decent journalism – The Guardian and Fairfax press sometimes excepted – left in the country. The ABC has moved so far to the right it is almost unrecognisable.

Next time you open an MSM paper read it and its headlines critically; remember most are serving the far-right agenda of Murdoch and his cronies, the IPA and the Liberal Party.

Tell your family and friends to be sceptical and read your independent media and press as much as possible.

Our democracy depends on it. https://independentaustralia.net/business/business-display/independent-media–our-democracy-depends-on-it,11112

January 17, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | 1 Comment

Australia’s independent media versus nuclear propaganda – theme for January 2018

Australians don’t need to worry about corporations controlling what we can see or hear on the Internet.  Well, not yet, anyway.

Overseas, governments in totalitarian countries, Russia, China, do control the media, even including the Internet to a large extent.

But now, in a democracy – the United States of America, comes the first move to control the Internet.   Donald Trump’s Republican-dominated Federal Communications Commission (the US equivalent to the Australian Communications and Media Authority)   has just voted to end the 2015 Open Internet Order which protects net neutrality.

Australia’s mainstream media is already largely controlled by the Murdochracy, anyway. From the point of view of nuclear information, there’s a strong government influence, as we see in the handouts from Australian Nuclear Science and Technology, religiously regurgitated by the South Australian media.

For nuclear information Australians do depend on independent media, and on a few brave investigative journalists, like the ABC’s Mark Willacy.

I think that, in 2018, all of us who care about our country, and especially about the nuclear threats, will need to foster, support, and follow, the independent media that we still do have, and the social media outlets that spread the information that the nuclear lobby does not want us to know.

 

December 27, 2017 Posted by | Christina themes, media | Leave a comment