Australian Greens leader criticises media ethics

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

File photo of Senator Bob Brown

Australian Green leader Bob Brown has criticized the country's media standards and ethics, calling for an enquiry regarding opinion in news. His criticism follows Transport and Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese claiming there is a problematic blurring of news and opinion in stories.

Albanese said recent newspaper reports have been a "real concern"; commenting, "[t]hey've got to call it for what it is, and they've got to stop this sort of nonsense that is being put out there as legitimate media". Wednesday saw Albanese tell reporters in Sydney that it is time for the press to act responsibly.

Senator Brown is calling for a media enquiry at the next parliamentary meeting; "[o]nce upon a time you expected that there would be opinion in editorial columns and there would be news in news columns, but that's gone out the window." Continuing his calls for an enquiry, he stated, "and they're very serious questions for the media itself to ask and I think many journalists want to see, and many people involved in news want to see a review and have a say and that's the job of parliament. That's why I've put the motion in to the Senate"'

Senator Brown has labelled national newspaper The Australian, a "viewspaper", claiming it mixes news with editorial opinion, "[i]t's very difficult for readers these days to be able to read news as news, as fact, as what's happening".

Meanwhile, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) managing director Mark Scott said there has been debate over whether a media inquiry is needed.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported Scott saying, "[a]s far as the ABC is concerned, we already have a very major inquiry under way". Adding that no journalist at the ABC could escape the broadcaster's editorial policies. "The same rules apply around independence, fairness, balance and impartiality across all programs [...] It is the same rules that exist around television, radio, around news".

At this time, the Australian government has not reached a decision on any possible inquiry around regulation and ownership of news media.