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Tag Archives: The Guardian

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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Why is the Australian Government so frightened of David Icke?

“Why is the Australian Government so frightened of David Icke?” asks Mandy Kane.

On Tuesday 15 December, UK based researcher David Icke posted a video to his YouTube channel relating to his Visa application for a 2016 Australian tour. He explained that despite being approved in both 2009 and 2011, his most recent application had been denied and that a significant amount of additional paperwork had been requested to delay the process.

After viewing Mr. Icke’s video, I started a petition on requesting that Peter Dutton MP and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection approve his Visa.
The petition can be viewed here.

The following day (16 December), I received a call from a reporter named Michael Safi, who writes for The Guardian. Following the conversation, he published this article which has since received over 700 shares and 600 comments.

On 19 December, Mr. Icke’s video was removed by YouTube, who cited a ‘copyright claim’. This was unusual, as Mr. Icke has hundreds of similar videos uploaded to his channel and this one appeared no different. As far as I am aware, no copyrighted content was included. Thankfully, another user uploaded a back up copy of the video to their account, so I was able to link this back in to the petition.

The petition has received more than 2,600 signatures to date, with many Australians and residents of other countries leaving comments to express their disapproval of what appears to be a flagrant disregard for freedom of speech and choice on behalf of the Australian Government. As far as I am aware, the Department has not responded to any enquiries as to the status of Mr. Icke’s Visa at this stage. The petition will be forwarded to Mr. Dutton once we are confident we have significant traction in support of Mr. Icke’s Visa approval.

I am informed that Mr. Icke’s Visa denial is among many high profile cases in the past year and until the Department can provide a reasonable explanation in this instance we are seeking to expose this trend before it becomes more prevalent.

Mandy Kane


Have you heard the news about Rupert Murdoch?

Your answer to the question in reference to what I have in mind would probably be ‘no’.

Rupert Murdoch does make the news in Australia now and again, such as with his recent IPA speech in Melbourne or his visit to Darwin but generally our local media don’t find him very newsworthy. For example, when the world had their collective eyes and ears positioned at any favourable vantage point to get the latest on the Leveson Inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal at Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid, the dearth of reporting on this heinous crime in the Australian media was breathtaking. Most of us relied on foreign news sites for what we lacked here: news. The dirty doings in the Murdoch world would be of no interest to the Australian public. Of course not. We don’t belong to the ‘need to know’ collective.

Even his Papal Knighthood, awarded in 1998 has been un-newsworthy in this country. It has been all over the news in America and England since the knighthood was publicly announced recently, and it is being widely and vociferously condemned, particular within the Catholic Church and the British Parliament. Given that Papal Knighthoods are only awarded to people of “unblemished character” it seems odd that our local arm of the Murdoch media empire aren’t front and centre defending the old man against the current wave of international condemnation. Maybe the local media don’t want to upset the Catholic Church here in Australia, after all, they support the same political party as Murdoch does. The international condemnation is something else we don’t need to know about.

Here again is something else that received little attention in Australia but was worthy enough of discussion in lands far away:

Several weeks ago, the Judiciary Report warned that News International/News Corp CEO, Rupert Murdoch, would attack, Julia Gillard, the prime minister of his homeland Australia, for publicly and correctly stating his company’s conduct in the phone hacking scandal is wrong.

On July 22, 2011, in the article Australian Prime Minister Slams Rupert Murdoch And News Corp the Judiciary Report wrote of Murdoch, “Of course, now Murdoch will lie about and smear Gillard in his papers, online and on television, with estimates placing his share of the newspaper market in Australia at 73 percent.

Well, this week Murdoch’s done just that – viciously and vindictively attacked Gillard in one of his newspapers, via a defamatory, baseless article, he could not prove, as it was fabricated to malign her out of revenge for denouncing his unlawful conduct.

As a result of the defamatory piece, Gillard, took the unprecedented step of threatening to sue Murdoch in court for making up a damaging story about her and publishing it in his newspaper. This scared Murdoch, which forced him to issue a public retraction and an apology to Gillard in the newspaper.

It’s amazing what you learn about Rupert Murdoch from overseas media. Don’t expect big news items like this to be splashed across the Australia media:

So the famous Australian-American protector of British sovereignty Rupert Murdoch not only tried to persuade Tony Blair to take a hard-line stance against Europe. He also pressed another United Kingdom prime minister, John Major, for “policy changes” relating to the country’s relationship with supranational institutions. This even went as far as calling for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union – alleges Major.

In his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, Major stated that just before the 1997 general election Murdoch “made it clear that he disliked my European policies, which he wished me to change”. Major added: “If not, his papers could not and would not support the Conservative government. So far as I recall he made no mention of editorial independence, but referred to all his papers as ‘we’.”

I’ve done a search for it. I can’t find anything. We humble Australians don’t need to know that Rupert Murdoch uses his political clout to agitate political change.

But the real big overseas news is that old Mr Murdoch is in deep shit, as Kristina Chew reports:

Will the scandal that has engulfed Rupert Murdoch’s British media holdings spread to the U.S. and, in particular, Fox News?

At the start of May, Senator Jay Rockefeller, the chairman of the Senate committee on commerce, science and transportation, wrote to Lord Justice Leveson, who has been heading a British judicial investigation into media ethics in the wake of the phone hacking scandal that broke out last summer following the revelation that reporters from News of the World had hacked into the voice mail of murdered the 13-year-old Milly Dowler, prior to her body being found. Rockefeller is inquiring if, in the course of his investigations, Lord Leveson has uncovered any evidence suggesting that “unethical and sometimes illegal business practices occurred in the United States or involved US citizens.” More from the senator’s letter:

“Evidence that is already in the public record clearly shows that for many years, News International had a widespread, institutional disregard for these laws.”

“I would be very concerned if evidence emerged suggesting that News Corporation officials in New York were also aware of these illegal payments and did not act to stop them.”

The catalyst for Rockefeller’s letter was the final report from British parliament’s culture, media and sport select committee, which stated that Murdoch was “not fit” to run a major international media company.

As the Guardian notes, Rockefeller’s letter marks the first time that a member of the U.S. Senate has taken a more focused interest in the hacking scandal. The Senate could hold public hearings about the hacking scandal and subpoena witnesses and documents from News Corp.

There is yet no discussion of such but much is at stake. The commerce committee oversees the Federal Communications Commission, which has the final say about issuing broadcast licenses including the 27 issued to what the Guardian calls the “jewel in Murdoch’s crown, Fox News.

News Corp. also faces a possible inquiry related to the charges of corruption levied at the company in the U.K. On the same day as Rockefeller’s letter was sent, New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg called for a “robust inquiry” about whether New York-based News Corp. could be charged under anti-bribery and corruption laws, in the wake of reports about voice-mail and email hacking and also of corruption, including bribes to police. News Corp. could be charged under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it illegal for American citizens and companies to pay bribes to government officials abroad.

Indeed, two weeks ago, lawyer Mark Lewis, who has represented a number of hacking victims in the U.K. including the family of Milly Dowler, started investigations into four allegations of phone hacking that had occurred in the U.S.

Lewis has said that there are “so many American aspects” to the hacking scandal, including potential American victims of hacking and the possibility that News Corp. executives have withheld “material information” from shareholders and potential investors.

Writing in the Associated Press, Raphael Satter describes how what he calls not the hacking scandal, but the Murdoch scandal, is following a “classic script” for the rise and fall of a media baron:

“Scrappy outsider turns modest newspaper business into international media conglomerate. Ambition turns to hubris. Mogul dramatically falls from grace.”

Murdoch’s star has surely been tarnished — blackened — in the U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, who made a special trip to Murdoch’s yacht in 2008 to “receive his blessing” said last week that “we all did too much cozying up to Rupert Murdoch.” Just on Tuesday, the Guardian reported that Cameron texted Rebekah Brooks to “keep her head up” in the week before she resigned as CEO of News International and prior to what has turned out to be the first of two arrests for her.

Murdoch still possesses the vast share of his media holdings, and is the head of a “fabulously successful media company.” News Corp.’s share price has remained high despite months of reports about the scandal and the company just reported a big gain in its quarterly profits on Wednesday: For the three months up to March, the company’s net profit rose to $1 billion, as compared to $682 million in the same period last year. In the U.S., the Fox News network, whose decidedly unfair and unbalanced version of the news is what New York Times columnist Bill Keller calls Murdoch’s ”most toxic legacy,” continues to attract legions of viewers while annoying and outraging many of us.

Increasingly isolated in Britain, and certainly despised in the U.S., Murdoch has, writes Satter, become like a figure in the closing scene of Citizen Kane, “successful, wealthy, but unloved.”

There’s still a lot to play out and we haven’t heard the last of it. Meanwhile, he owns over 70% of the Australian newspaper media which is why you’ll never hear that:

The fact of the matter is Murdoch uses Fox News in America and Sky News in Britain, in addition to his many newspapers, to illegally get richer and shape politics as he sees fit according to his will, not what is in the best interest of the public, which is completely unethical and disgraceful. He is one of the greediest, most vengeful and abusive people on the planet with absolutely no moral compass. Murdoch has been trying to rule the world and no one elected or appointed him king.

Is it reasonable to suggest that he runs his Australian media arm no different to that of the USA or the UK?

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

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