Senate to hold media diversity inquiry

Petition over media diversity leads to an inquiry, but not everybody is convinced it will uncover anything new.

A Senate inquiry into media diversity will examine the dominance of News Corp and its impact on democracy, following a petition by former prime minister Kevin Rudd.

Guardian Australia reports Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young won support for the inquiry yesterday following the popularity of Rudd’s petition for a royal commission into the Murdoch media.

Former PMs Kevin Rudd, Malcolm Turnbull, News Corp Australia’s editors and commercial executives, independent and regional and rural editors, will all be called to give evidence.

On Monday’s Q&A Turnbull unleashed on The Australian’s editor-at-large Paul Kelly over bushfire news coverage but a News Corp spokesperson has since defended media reportage and described his accusation as “blatantly untrue“.

Nine chairman Peter Costello today said, “If we’re called upon to give any evidence of course we will. The chances of anything new coming out of it I would rate as very low. We also think the move by former prime ministers to inquire ….. says as much about them as it does about the medium.”

He added, “The media is scrutinised every single day, there are multiple every day (from) multiple outlets who scrutinise each other.

“I rate the probability very low.”

The Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance however welcomed the inquiry as an opportunity to address many of the issues confronting public interest journalism, including the role of digital platforms, the changing circumstances forced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the dramatic decline in media revenues, and the impact of social media platforms.

“There is great disquiet in the community about the state of our media which has been heightened by the reliance on accurate and independent public interest journalism during the bushfires and COVID-19,” said MEAA Media Federal President Marcus Strom.

“This inquiry is timely and we hope it will be the start of rebuilding trust around public interest journalism.

“At present we are suffering a narrow ownership base, a crisis of integrity with the public and a weak regulatory environment.

“The financial crisis – accelerated by COVID – has further reduced diversity in media ownership. And it has further reduced the resources available to adequately fund a robust, independent media landscape.

“This has produced immense workplace stress on our members who are dedicated to reporting news in the public interest. Alongside this is a heightened hyperpartisanship that is undermining public confidence in journalism.

“The Senate must consider these matters in its review and we look forward to contributing.”

3 Responses

  1. What we need here is truth in media laws. Other countries like Canada have them. Some media outlets have gotten away with printing/saying outright lies for far too long, especially around election time. It needs to stop. We need to trust our media to report facts.

    1. … bit difficult in practice doncha think? … if a politician (or anyone else for that matter) says something that appears to be relevant to a story, particularly when that is live to air, it’s not really appropriate to have a law that holds the media outlet to blame for what is said … it’s the old “shoot the messenger” gag … on the other hand, if someone who calls themselves a journalist deliberately misquotes what is said, just gets it wrong or makes something up, then there is already a solution – fire the journalist … unfortunately that doesn’t happen as often as it should, hence the problem …

  2. This looks like more attempted media censorship because they don’t like what is being reported. There is a lot of unnecessary censorship in the media lately and it’s concerning. But it’s also creating an exodus and market for media that is more open and unbiased. An exception for things that should be censored would be anything discriminatory.

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