Yesterday morning Australian Attorney-General George Brandis was on television trying to explain that his new metadata legislation designed to stop “criminals, terrorists and pedophiles” and stressed, “media organisations are not the target of this law”. He slammed the journalists’ union as ‘outrageous hyperbole’ and said the legislation would instead introduce new privacy protections and safeguards.
But MEAA chief executive officer Paul Murphy begs to differ, and in a statement said, “Accessing metadata to hunt down journalists’ sources, regardless of the procedures used, threatens press freedom and democracy.”
I would however suggest that journalists are not Brandis’s problem. Most of Australia’s journalists work for Rupert Murdoch (News Corp), and others for Fairfax and organisations like the ABC. I would guess most of these journalists report only what is “allowed” by the powers of the status quo. They will not step across that line, and those at the ABC are on a tight leash (even if Andrew Bolt says otherwise).
I wrote some time ago on the Walkey Awards, “Gold Walkley Awards – Excellent Journalism Avoiding the Real Crimes” which proves the point that only “safe” stories are rewarded with the Golden Walkey Award (or to reference Ned: The Golden Wankley Awards). In my recent stand-up performance in Adelaide Fringe, I explain that for some time the golden gong has only gone to stories about corruption in 3rd World governments, not so important individuals (and their aberrant behaviours), natural disasters, sports, unions and animals.
Where are the big stories? E.g. exposing Port Arthur; an interview with former Prime Minister John Howard challenging him for potential war crimes in Iraq, or a transparent analysis of what happened on 11th September 2001.
As described on the Walkey Foundations’s website, their core mission “is to foster excellence in journalism and support a robust and independent media, which deepens and enriches democracy and lies at the heart of a free society.”
Unfortunately, our media is neither independent or robust. It is sites like this one and a few others that attempt to present the news without fear or favour. But as Senator Brandis says “these laws are not targeted at journalists“, but they could be targeted at bloggers, as the Senator does not consider “bloggers as journalists.”
Thus, here at Gumshoenews, can we be reassured that we are not the target? We are just gathering news as defined by:
“Journalism is gathering, processing, and dissemination of news and information related to the news to an audience.” (wikipedia)
Thus I read with interest a recent post by Paul Craig Roberts, “Truth Is Our Country”, when he received the International Award For Excellence In Journalism at the Club De Periodistas De Mexico last week.
In his speech he emphasized that Truth is the country of real journalists. Unlike presstitutes, the loyalty of real journalists is to Truth, not to a government or corporate advertiser. Once a journalist sacrifices Truth to loyalty to a government, he ceases to be a journalist and becomes a propagandist.
These are some extracts (article here):
- In the United States journalists receive awards for lying for the government and for the corporations. Anyone who tells the truth, whether journalist or whistleblower, is fired or prosecuted or has to hide out in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, like Julian Assange, or in Moscow, like Edward Snowden, or is tortured and imprisoned, like Bradley Manning.
- We know what these lies are: Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. Assad of Syria’s use of chemical weapons. Iranian nukes. Pakistani and Yemeni terrorists. Terrorists in Somalia. The endless lies about Gaddafi in Libya, about the Taliban in Afghanistan. And now the alleged Russian invasion and annexation of Ukraine.
- All of these transparent lies are repeated endlessly, and no one is held accountable. But one journalist mis-remembers one insignificant detail about a helicopter ride and his career is destroyed (referencing NBC’s suspension of Brian Williams).
- The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which attempts to defend our digital rights, reports that so-called “free trade agreements,” such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (and the Trans Atlantic Partnership) impose prison sentences, massive fines, and property seizures on Internet users who innocently violate vague language in the so-called trade agreements.
- Recently, a young American, Barrett Brown, was sentenced to 5 years in prison and a fine of $890,000 for linking to allegedly hacked documents posted on the Internet. Barrett Brown did not hack the documents. He merely linked to an Internet posting, and he has no prospect of earning $890,000 over the course of his life.
- The purpose of the US government’s prosecution, indeed, persecution, of this young person is to establish the precedent that anyone who uses Internet information in ways that Washington disapproves, or for purposes that Washington disapproves, is a criminal whose life will be ruined. The purpose of Barrett Brown’s show trial is to intimidate. It is Washington’s equivalent to the murder of Mexican journalists.
The mega-media companies in the US are GE, News Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, and CBS controlling over 90% of the media. There is the ILLUSION OF CHOICE.
In Australia it is News Corp, News Corp, News Corp and Fairfax. Somehow right wing commentators and institutions have brought the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) into their fold, and now the ABC (and SBS) publish news that is almost identical to the corporate media.
When I lived in South Africa – under an apartheid police state – I had subconsciously learned to self censor (I didn’t even realise I was doing it, and it was only years later that I learned to undo that process). I believe this is what has happened in the West to good and well meaning journalists.
As Roberts says, “The US media is no longer run by journalists”. And the Australian media seems no different.