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Tag Archives: Crikey

The moral principles of independent publishers

The perilous future of the Australian Independent Media Network should be a wake up call to those of us hungry for an alternative to main stream media. But The AIMN’s travail — a funding shortfall — is a phenomenon besetting all media.

Advertisers are abandoning metropolitan daily and regional newspapers and ditching local radio and television, in favour of a slew of multinational online outlets.

So apart from contributing our intellectual endeavours and kicking in a few dollars to keep The AIMN and other outlets afloat, how can independent publishers survive?

It is worth examining the history of a singular aspect of journalism which for years, have kept readers coming back to their favourite medium.

The Walkley Awards is Australia’s equivalent of the U.S. Pulitzer Prize. Both are regarded as the gold standard for journalism and its affiliated efforts. Like it or not advertisers are attracted to media that employ award winners. This is because a coveted Walkley helps the financial bottom line. There is no harm in this as long as editorial and advertising keep their distance within the corporate media enterprise. At least this is how it used to be, but the old order is long gone. As long as revenue streams flow, people are employed, but in times of scarcity such as now, workers join dole queues.

Despite the best efforts of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, thousands of journalists and allied staff are heading for the scrap heap. And yet writers keep writing, and their work, thankfully, picked up by outlets such as the The AIMN.

Most scribes and photographers adhere to a code of ethics, but browse a tabloid – print or digital – and it is obvious those ethics have all but vanished.

So to paraphrase V.I. Lenin, ‘what is to be done?’

I would like to see some kind of loose alliance of independent publishers such as Michael and Carol Taylor, coalescing upon a new, independent award system which extols the output of journalists’ now writing for small, but significant new media outlets.

Dennis Atkins, Michael Pascoe, Paul Bongiorno, Elizabeth Farrelly, John Birmingham Samantha Maiden, and many others — some Walkley Award winners — have for whatever reason, abandoned the Murdoch/ Nine News cesspits.

Along with the AIM there are publishers with increasingly familiar mastheads such as the New Daily, The Guardian, The Conversation, The National Times, Crikey, Independent Australia, The Monthly and so on. Some are big, others small, but all appear committed to the ethos articulated in the MEAA’s Code of Ethics.

Journalists search, disclose, record, question, entertain, comment and remember. They inform citizens and animate democracy. They scrutinise power, but also exercise it, and should be responsible and accountable.

So chip-in to your independent publisher. Organise GoFundMe pages, or crowd fund them. Pay for their services. Read their journalists and organise boycotts of the Usual Suspects. Support the A.B.C. and S.B.S. And tell your local State and Federal Member to be more critical of mainstream media, and to avail themselves of writers and journalists who adhere to a set of moral principles that govern their behaviour as scribes.

When English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote in 1839, “the pen is mightier than the sword,” he meant that communication — particularly written language or advocacy of an independent press — is more effective than violence.

In this day and age I shudder to think of a future without independent publishers and fearless advocates such as The AIM Network.

Henry Johnston is a Sydney-based author. His latest book, The Last Voyage of Aratus is on sale here.

 

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I may not be consistent, but I’m Right!

Malcolm Turnbull (image from smh.com.au)

Malcolm Turnbull – far from consistent (image from smh.com.au)

“This is the problem, the NBN is just happening too slowly.”

Malcolm Turnbull February 19th, 2013 Link to Article

“Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull said the rollout had been “super-charged” beyond the normal pace of the industry and this had caused guidelines not to be followed, similar to the disastrous pink batts insulation scheme.”

June 6th, 2013 The Daily Telegraph Link to Article

This was posted on a discussion site by someone called Alain.

“Which of these economists have a knowledge of science? Most economists are preaching about the financial mechanisms than the science. Most economists have never been involved in business particularly their own where they CREATE wealth & prosperity for themselves & others. Most preach their left wing ideology hoping that people believe them because they have a degree on their wall & in some cases have appeared in the media. I think Australians need to ignore these economists most of whom want Australia to be part of some world wide carbon trading system so they & their banker mates, like Malcolm Turnbull, can get rich at the expense of the hard work masses. The carbon dioxide tax debate has shot down their credibility & shown what most economists are, socialists!”

Now I’ve heard some strange things from people on the Left side of politics too. But, generally, even where I’ve heard a Lefty ranting like some crazed loon, there’s been a consistency in their peculiar view of the world. At least their conspiracy theories involve people who might conceivably conspire together.

But “Alain” just about captured all that disturbs me about the Ridiculous Right (my term for the equivalent of the “Looney Left” – do you think it’ll catch on?). The fact that they’re impossible to argue against because they present a moving target. “Alain” complains that economists shouldn’t be commenting on climate change policy because they’re not scientists, yet seems to have no trouble commenting on it himself. And I suspect he has no problem with Andrew Bolt’s comments either even though Bolt lacks a science degree. (Or any degree, considering he was a university dropout). But economists commenting on carbon tax are outside their area of expertise.

They are just out to help their banker mates, like Turnbull, because, that’s right, they’re socialists! Economists and bankers, hiding their socialist colours by making huge profits, are actually plotting the overthrow of the capitalist system.

And we could all have a good laugh at “Alain” and the absurdity of his inconsistency. Except that this is the sort of strange logic we hear all the time from the Liberal Party. OK, perhaps not quite as bad as “Alain”, but Julie Bishop’s assertion that Indonesians were actually saying different things behind close doors seemed to show a similar disconnect from reality. Here are a few more examples:

When the budget surplus didn’t eventuate, we all know because revenue wasn’t as big as expected. The LNP jumped all over this, and said that Swan was dreaming to expect the revenues predicted. They, of course, have a plan to return the budget to surplus. It involves cutting revenue. They intend to cut that ENORMOUS tax on everything, the Carbon Tax, but continue to give us the compensation. (And I presume, the compensation for companies, too.) This REDUCTION in revenue is how they’ll return the Budget to surplus.

Cracking down on the misuse of 457 visas is attempting to demonise foreign workers – “disgusting and racist” according to Murdoch, but it was ok to suggest that asylum seekers are likely to throw their children into the sea. An honest mistake, we know, and I wish I could remember the apology.

Similarly, if one looks at the pink batts installation, Labor was criticised for their lack of oversight by the LNP, but that hasn’t stopped the Opposition calling for a reduction in government red tape and make demands that we should allow private operators to just get on with it in nearly every other area of business. Rather than a discussion about how much government regulation is desirable, it’s asserted that the government should have had more checks and balances in this instance because people died, but at other times, we’re told that self-regulation is just fine. When the wall collapsed in Melbourne, the unions were terrible people for linking this to workplace safety, because the people killed weren’t workers. Trying to make political capital out of an tragic accident is just wrong, unless it’s a Labor Government that’s being blamed. (An interesting perspective on the whole pink batt saga can be found at Crikey.)

So, I’m gobsmacked that somehow the NBN is being linked with the asbestos which Telstra is digging up. Somehow, it seems to be Gillard’s fault that there is asbestos there. As though it’s not something that would have been uncovered sooner or later; as though it’s the people installing the NBN that are the ones who’ve failed to take proper precautions.

Surely they can’t blame the presence of asbestos on Labor. Surely, everyone knows who’s really to blame: Turnbull, the bankers and their socialist mates!