Thursday, April 30, 2009

Who gives a f*ck about World Press Freedom Day (3 May)?

"The World Association of Newspapers annually organises a World Press Freedom Day initiative to draw attention to the role of independent news and information in society, and how it is under attack. "

Why don't Brisbane's journalism academics EVER discuss how the concentration of media ownership impacts on news?

What's the point of banging on about press freedom in the Pacific when in Australia, an American owns most of our media?

It might be more useful if they considered why it is the majority of our so-called journalists fail to comply with the Journalist's code of ethics:

(1) They shall report and interpret the news with scrupulous honesty by striving to disclose all essential facts and by not suppressing relevant, available facts or distorting by wrong or improper emphasis.

(2) They shall not place unnecessary emphasis on gender, race, sexual preference, religious belief, marital status or physical or mental disability.

(3) In all circumstances they shall respect all confidences received in the course of their calling.

(4) They shall not allow personal interests to influence them in their professional duties.

(5) They shall not allow their professional duties to be influenced by any consideration, gift or advantage offered and, where appropriate, shall disclose any such offer.

(6) They shall not allow advertising or commercial considerations to influence them in their professional duties.

(7) They shall use fair and honest means to obtain news, pictures, films, tapes and documents.

(8) They shall identify themselves and their employers before obtaining any interview for publication or broadcast.

(9) They shall respect private grief and personal privacy and shall have the right to resist compulsion to intrude on them.

(10) They shall do their utmost to correct any published or broadcast information found to be harmfully inaccurate.

'mX' Is Not Cool

Uncle Rupe has his tentacles everywhere - even into people who don't realise it.

We like Brisbane radio station 4ZzZ, and Thursday evening's 'Movie Show' is great, but while discussing the Modern Love fundraiser, the announcers mentioned that one of the band members from Mass Migration was in today's 'mX'. Much gushing ensued about "fame" and jokes about getting an autographed copy.

While there's nothing wrong with mentioning that - and perhaps it was tongue in cheek - the problem is the subconscious acceptance that in order to "make it" you need to get into the monopoly Murdoch "press" (Murdoch's press is apparently the pinnacle!).

The band have appeared in other street press, but it was clear that they thought this was THE BIG TIME!!


Get out there and de-face those 'mX's'. Ridicule them to help these poor deluded kids realise that what they think is "cool" is actually the daggiest and meanest spoilt brat in the class.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Advertise Wisely and Get Results

While we applaud 'Get Up's' decision to place their newspaper ad warning investors off the Gunn's pulp mill in the 'Financial Times' and 'Asian Financial Times', we are disappointed they are also planning on placing an ad in the 'Australian'.

Here's the email they sent to supporters today:
Our newspaper ad warning investors off Gunns' pulp mill is making shock waves around the international finance community - appearing on page 3 of today's Financial Times. You may have heard it being discussed this morning on ABC
radio's AM program.

The overwhelming response means we can now run this ad in the Asian Financial Times - the other area we know Gunns is seeking backers. This is great news for our ongoing campaign.

Even better, we've been so encouraged by the amount of pressure this ad has generated - and the obvious energy in the community - that we now want to run the ad here at home in The Australian. Macquarie Bank, headquartered in Australia, is one potential investor still not ruled out - imagine the impact this ad will have on their decision.

With Europe and Asia already covered by the amazing response so far, your contribution now could be enough to get us over the line in running the ad here in
Australia - simply click the link below to be part of this amazing success story:

Already this ad has led to several major banks ruling themselves out - showing that together we can match the might and muscle of big corporations like Gunns. Today's a great time to be a part of it.

The GetUp team

PS - We ran similar ads in the Australian Financial Review last year - and now none of the 'Big Four' Australian banks will touch the pulp mill. Help repeat that success by running this ad in The Australian - a paper guaranteed to get Macquarie Bank's attention.

We've already highlighted why Get Up shouldn't advertise in News Ltd. publications, and would add that they are not going to change anyone's mind at Macquarie Bank by doing so.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Boycott corporate football

Elizabeth Broderick

On a day when Australia's Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick gave the National Press Club address calling for paid parental leave, and the Prime Minister announced a
$41.5 million strategy to tackle domestic violence, the online 'Courier-Mail' reported on how a Logan City Councillor - Hajnal Ban - underwent macabre cosmetic surgery to lengthen her legs, how a mum fed her baby at McDonalds, Sarah Jessica-Parker's surrogate pregnancy, and featured a "picture special" of the secret world of the Bronco's cheerleaders.

Murdoch profits from his interests in rugby league, so it's no co-incidence that these attitudes prevail.

It's all very well to announce initiatives and programs addressing equitable workplace participation and domestic violence, but the community will fail to comprehend why these things are important while misogynistic attitudes are continually reinforced by the corporate media and advertising agencies.

Until this monster is confronted and destroyed, women will remain second class citizens in Australia.

Don't buy it. If you like your footy, go and watch your local competition.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Attention Journalism Students

Don't do it.

"News Ltd is set to launch The Punch, its biggest digital venture since it created, within the next few weeks, Mumbrella can reveal...

The scale of News Ltd’s ambitions for The Punch are large, with plans for a roster of high profile politicians and sports stars writing regular blogs, with a total team of up to 250 contributors.

One of the potentially controversial aspects of The Punch is that many of those writing for it are said to potentially be student journalists, being asked to write for free, and edited by a small team of more senior executives. Mumbrella understands that journalism schools have already been sounded out. Again, a News Digital source today denied this...

UPDATE: News has now conceded that “a few” journalism students will be invited to write. But it insists that this will be “most definitely not a lot or anything like a significant percentage of the posts”."

Do you really want to work for people like this?:

From "The Prince", 'Weekend Australian Financial Review' [25-6 April, 2009]:

"It's a wonderful feeling to wake up each morning knowing your job is about shedding light, dispelling confusion and ushering in the golden age of information.

This is the happy lot of the public relations professional. The Prince understands Australia has about 30 million of them each richly deserving a salary about 10 times the pittance paid to lowly newspaper hacks.

Thursday morning's glow would have been even more splendid than usual, with Justice Ian Gzell's revelation that it doesn't really matter what they say in their endless labours to spread truth. When understandable errors creep in, there is no comback for a professional PR. Actually, they can say anything at all without regrets. It's company directors who need to worry.

Even when a press release issued under the PR chief's name turns out in hindsight to be "simply false in every important particular" - as in James Hardie's former chief spinner, Greg Baxter [now News Ltd.'s Director of Corporate Affairs], put it - it's not the flak's problem.

Baxter and his offsider at Hardie, Stephen Ashe, worked with outside PR firm Gavin Anderson & Co, chiefly with Jane Rotsey and Brian Tyson. They did their job commendably - Baxter won an award as corporate spinner of the year - but it seems they were all duped, either by the directors or Hardie executives - or maybe they didn't grasp the finer actuarial points of transferring Hardie's asbestos liabilities and the claim that the new foundation was "fully funded"...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Some ideas from our Yankee buddies

From 'Stop Big Media':

"In order to support journalism and journalists as a public good, we need to re-imagine how we think of journalism enterprises and consider subsidy models sustained by grants, tax incentives, or public investments in education and infrastructure.

And we need to fully face the digital divide between America’s Internet haves and have-nots, which keeps more than one-third of the population from getting their news online."

Forget profit maximising foreign owned corporations as some kind of model. If you care about honest journalism you will have to accept that it is not going to make you rich, or very famous, or special. It may even hurt you financially or physically.

In Australia, especially South East Queensland, there is no will to form a lobby group against the entrenched media players. Therefore, it is up to you to set up your own community forums of information and/or indulge in active sabotage.

(Do you care enough to grab as many 'mX' as you can carry and put them in the recycling bin? Do you care enough to ACT?)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Government says media foxes best protect democracy hen house

The Government's response to the 2020 Summit has finally materialised. The Summit came up with some very good ideas, but evidently the government didn't like many of them - especially sensible and urgently needed intiatives relating to the media:

Ideas others may progress:

Media - Reform of the Press Council

·1428 Improve accountability of the media (Press Council). The media should be accountable to the public, including radio, television and media on the internet.
·1429 Improve media diversity and accountability.
·1430 Expand the role of the Press Council to:
·1431 Strengthen and reinvigorate the professionalism of journalists
·1432 Improved accountability
·1433 Review roles of Press Council in light of new media.

Government Response:

The Press Council is independent of government and reform should be driven by the industry.

Ideas with no further action at this time:

·1472 Strengthen accountability through a national investigative journalism fund. This could be co-funded by industry and government and would be a way to keep healthy high quality journalism alive in Australia.
·1473 More informed and empowered citizenry predicated on more accountable media.
·1474 Improved media diversity and accountability, a trust established for community media and national broadcasters to secure their long term funding. a removal of restrictions on multi-channelling and other economic restrictions.
·1475 Secure independent public broadcaster.

Government Response:

The Government indirectly funds investigative journalism through its funding of the national broadcasters, the ABC and SBS, both of which have independent boards.

So that's all OK then! The Ideas: "We need to fix the 'Murdochcracy' strangling our country!" The Government: "No we don't. Shut up, we quite like things as they are."

As we have suggested below, YOU must stop Murdoch with your own actions, nobody is going to do it for us.

Any ideas, anyone?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Fancy a game of golf?

It's important for our politicians and well padded corporate scribes to foster a cosy relationship:


Fancy a game of Golf?

The IBM/National Press Club corporate golf day is being held at Royal Canberra Golf Club on Thursday April 30, 2009 (from 11.30 am).

Gala Dinner in Westbourne Room at 6.30 pm.

Patron Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy.

Limited places are available for National Press Club members at $195per person. This includes lunch, golf and the gala dinner at Royal Canberra Golf Club.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Choose What You Read

We stumbled upon this fantastic initiative in the 'Financial Times' weekend magazine [4/5 April, 2009]:

"It all started during a night out with my friend Alfie. We got into a passionate conversation about how much we hate the free newspapers - the way they sort of chuck them at you and you don't really want them, but you end up taking them anyway. And then instead of reading a book, every day you're reading about celebrities you never cared about in the first place. You end up on a conveyor belt of information on these people's lives...

For a month we asked everyone we knew to donate books, and at the beginning of February we launched our first hand-out for Choose What You Read. We stick a purple logo on the books' jackets, and a sticker inside where the donor and everyone who reads it can write their name. We ask people to return the books after they have finished with them, either at a hand-out or to a drop-box at the Curzon cinema in Soho. We want this to be circulation, not just consumption. Every first Monday of the month we carry our book crates to tube stations at Westminster, Liverpool Street, Euston, Paddington and Waterloo. We set up next to the London Lite people and shout. "Free Books!" That gets heads turning...

I used to read the free papers myself until I got completely sick of them. They're just designed to depress, scare and sedate you. Page after page, there's nothing but paedophiles, stabbings, murders, and drunk celebrities. People end up believing that every 16-year-old in a hoodie is going to stab them After a while you begin to feel that the world is a terrible place and the best thing to do is buy a ready meal, stay at home with a bottle of wine and live vicariously through celebrities.

These papers aren't simply annoying, they're quite harmful. This isn't about being high brow. We're not saying we want everyone to read Kafka on the train. If you want to read a tabloid, go for it - but choose one and buy it. Don't just take whatever is pushed at you.

It's quite sad to get on the tube and see the whole carraige reading the same paper. I remember when the novel 'White Teeth' by Zadie Smith came out - everyone was reading that. You could pretty much read the whole book over a few weeks just by looking over somebody's shoulder. That hasn't happened for a long time. You never see everyone reading the new Booker winner, because they're all reading Metro. We're missing out on so much."

(Claire Wilson as told to Meredith Haaf)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Close your MySpace and boycott Homer Simpson for a better world!

'The Simpsons' play the role of court jester and MySpace is a tool for control!

From 'How To Kill A Country: Australia's Devastating Trade Deal With The United States' by Linda Weiss, Elizabeth Thurbon and John Mathews:

(Bear in mind this book was published in 2004.)

What can be done?

Can we do anything about this deal or must it play out before our eyes like some Greek tragedy (in the manner that Canada has been witnessing since its bilateral deal)? What options are available to a people abandoned by their government? What recourse does one have when our elected representatives start representing the interests of other countries? Do we, in the words of the Australian business leader [Oliver Yates] cited above, ‘need laws to prevent a government making agreements it knows are economically disadvantageous to Australians’?

The answer is yes. Of course we do. In fact, such a law already exists. The Crimes Act of 1941 explicitly outlaws treachery – the knowing betrayal of the interests of one’s country.

But there is a much simpler and less controversial weapon for dispensing with those who would trade our future so cheaply – the ballot box. The risk here, however, is that supporters of the government and the deal have a degree of breathing space before the impacts of the changes work their way through the system. By the time drug prices start going up, for example, the 2004 election will be long gone – and with it the possibility that the deal’s current supporters will see the light and make
their protest heard.

Australians must therefore stay alert for the signs, and raise the alarm when they emerge, whether it is the rising tide of disease-prone produce from the United States (apples, pears, chicken, pork even Californian table grapes and cherries, fumigated with heavy doses of the toxic methyl bromide to reduce risk of exotic pests and diseases entering the country); or an incremental increase in prescription costs, or a spike in US mergers and acquisitions of Australian resources, farms, fisheries, finance houses and manufacturing firms, or the disappearance of high-tech Australian companies, the loss of jobs in ICT, or a post-FTA drop in Australian productivity, or any other of the many warning signs discussed in this book. When these things start to happen, do not let the government forget the reason why. Take the advice of one of the government officials we had the chance to speak with who was working on the deal. While he, like a number of his well-intentioned colleagues, felt too intimidated to speak out directly against the deal in a public forum, his advice to those gathered was clear and compelling: Get out on the street. Bombard your federal MPs with letters. Call your elected representatives to account. And, we would add: draw their attention to Article 23.4 of Chapter 23 (Final Provisions). Under this provision, either Party may terminate the Agreement by giving the other Party six months’ notice in writing.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

ABC responds to our query

An email from ABC Corporate Affairs [7/4/09] responding to our query of 1 April (see below):

Thank you for your email. I am sorry that you are disappointed with the amount of News Limited staff who appear on ABC services. The ABC aims to provide programming which is relevant to the wide range of tastes, views and preferences of our audience but does not favour any one view in particular. Please be assured that the ABC does pay careful attention to what you tell us, whether supportive or critical. Your comments have been noted and passed on to the News and Current Affairs division, so that they are aware of your concerns.

In regard to the appointment of a Staff elected representative on the ABC Board, Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband,Communications and the Digital Economy announced in October 2008 that "...the Government will ... reinstate the position of staff-elected director on the ABC Board". A link to the media release follows for your information:

I hope this helps. Thank you for taking the time to write and provide your feedback, it is appreciated.

Kind regards,

Audience & Consumer Affairs

Unfortunately they didn't provide us with the statistics of the number of complaints they've received about the issue.

Ask the Brisbane Square Library for SBS to be screened in the Newspaper Room

Dear Brisbane Square Library,

Re: the Newspaper Room at the Brisbane Square Library

Would it be possible to screen the SBS World News Channel rather than SKY television in the Newspaper Room? Given Murdoch's dominance of Australia's print media, we believe it is inappropriate for the BCC to further endorse his world view.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Save money, cancel your Foxtel subscription

Foxtel is poison for your brain! Remember when pay TV was first introduced and the big selling point was "no advertisements"? If you've ever seen pay TV, and the statistics suggest that you would only have done so at a hotel rather than in your own home, you would have noticed how pointless and ad-riddled it is. No wonder people have avoided it like the plague.

You can smell the desperation in their latest advertisements (pure neocon: "you must spend to save").

First Murdoch tried to take over your sport, then he tried to force you to pay him to watch it.

If you are lucky enough to have cash to spare, far better to spend it on a subscription to a community radio or television station, because at least you'll get something for your money.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Look deeper for the real story

"Why is that after each shooting, some cover story is concocted to explain away the fact that random individuals are opening fire on other random individuals? Let us confront the truth: these violent acts are the result of a culture in decline, a culture that worships only Mammon and does not care for the ones left behind."

Adbusters Contributing Editor Micah White reflects on the recent shootings near his home in Binghamton, New York.

What about the environment?

One million mutton birds dead:

There are reports more than one million mutton bird chicks have died on Babel Island off north-east Tasmania.

The Aborginal Land Council has closed mutton bird harvesting on the island after reports the bird population has been decimated.

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre's Michael Mansell is operating a mutton bird shed on nearby Big Dog Island and is calling for an investigation into why the birds have died.

Mr Mansell says it is likely overfishing is to blame.

Did you get that? One million mutton bird chicks, DEAD.

At least ABC online reported it.

If you're interested in environmental news, the Australian Greens website is a good reference point. Here's one of the many news items that never made it into the mainstream:

G20 fails planet’s environment – Brown

Media Release | Spokesperson Bob Brown
Friday 3rd April 2009, 1:30pm

While the G20 meeting ended up in raptures about the future of growth economics, it turned its back on the plight of planet Earth's environment, Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown said today.

"The G20 found more than a trillion dollars to address the economic crisis but no money to address the environmental crisis," Senator Brown said.

"One paragraph leaving the onrush of climate change to Copenhagen in December was tacked onto the end of the communiqué as an afterthought. Yet the planetary environment and its biodiversity are in a downwards spiral."

"There can be no economic reassurance or certainty without environmental sustainability. Big business does not have the brains to understand that the planet's ecosystem is finite and needs urgent support. The world's 6 billion people should have a right to expect greater wisdom from their political leaders."

"There is not even a hint of social equity in the proposed plan to regulate CEO remuneration, nor any requirement for environmental responsibility."

"Kevin Rudd will not take real action on ‘obscene' CEO salaries, but the Greens will continue to pursue him."

"The Greens will pursue a G20 meeting devoted to climate change and biodiversity," Senator Brown said.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Read a book and change the world

Here's a small selection of books we've "enjoyed" lately:

'The Family: The Secret fundamentalism at the heart of American Power' Jeff Sharlet
'Media Mayhem: Playing with the Big Boys' John D'Arcy
'The Media We Deserve: Underachievement in the Fourth Estate' David Salter
'Boned' Anonymous
'The Shock Doctrine: The rise of disaster capitalism' Naomi Klein
'Princesses & Pornstars' Emily Maguire
'1984' George Orwell
'Gone for a Song: A death in custody on Palm Island' Jeff Waters
'The Murdoch Archipelago' Bruce Page
'The Man who owns the News: Inside the secret world of Rupert Murdoch' Michael Wolff
'Bad Money: Reckless finance, failed politics, and the global crisis of American capitalism' Kevin Philips
'The Long Emergency: Surviving the end of oil, climate change, and other converging catastrophes of the twenty-first century' James Kunstler
'Your call is important to us: The truth about bullshit' Laura Penny
'Working for Rupert' Hugh Lunn
'Imperial Ambitions: Conversations with Noam Chomsky on the Post- 9/11 World' Interviews with David Barsamian
'The Orange Trees of Baghdad: In search of a vanishing life' Leilah Nadir
'The Quiet American' Graham Greene
'My Story: The tale of a terrorist who wasn't' Mamdouh Habib
'Human Rights Overboard: Seeking Asylum in Australia' Linda Briskman, Susie Latham, Chris Goddard
'In Government We Trust: Market Failure and the Delusions of Privatisation' Warwick Funnell, Robert Jupe and Jane Andrew
'The Statute of Liberty: How Australians can take back their rights' Geoffrey Robertson
'Scorcher: The dirty politics of climate change' Clive Hamilton
'Fugitive Days: Memoirs of an antiwar activist' Bill Ayers
'Tell me no lies: Investigative journalism and its triumphs' John Pilger
'The Big Fix: Radical solutions for Australia's environmental crisis' Ian Lowe
'Silent Spring' Rachel Carson
'Blind Faith' Ben Elton

Let us know if you recommend any others!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tell the ABC you switch off everytime a News Limited employee appears on their current affairs programs

Dear ABC,

Just letting you know that every time a News Limited employee appears on ABC television or radio, we switch off or change the channel.

Why is it that 'News Ltd.' staff are so often (or at all) on the ABC, and what is the justification for giving them an even greater platform for their views and opinions than they already have within their own company's outlets?

Doesn't Murdoch own enough of the means of discourse in this world already without getting his properties a run on the only place where we might hear other views?

Can you please supply statistics of the number of complaints you've received about this issue?


PS We also think the staff elected board member should be reinstated immediately.


Rupert Murdoch's Australian operatives do not want us to have a Bill of Rights

Engaging with any of his publications on this, or any other issue for that matter, is a waste of your energy.

By engaging, we mean:

giving them your hard earned cash to read their putrid propaganda, or to advertise in their pages;

using your intellect and time to write an opinion piece which lends them the credibility they don't deserve;

firing off letters to the editor, or;

participating in their on-line forums.

As Geoffrey Robertson in his latest book 'The Statute of Liberty: How Australians can take back their rights' pointed out:

"It may be that the editors of The Australian have become confused by reading their own newspaper. In its comment pages, hardly a week goes by without Janet Albrechtsen or James Allan attacking bills of rights and those who support them. Albrechtsen sees them as a left-wing plot - 'a leftoid [sic] symbol of disdain for the people's choices'. Her articles alternate abuse with apoplectic predictions drawn from Cold War hyperbole: 'A new war on democracy is taking hold across the west. It's been launched by activist judges trying to overturn the will of the people. These
'hoons' have 'plotted out a stealth strategy aimed at duping us into believing a charter is harmless'. The judges in her Spielberg horror scenario 'armed with a charter to hijack government policy' are 'high octane law-makers', a 'galloping imperial judiciary' who dismount to write 'judicial graffiti'. Ms Albrechtsen's prose is so purple it's practically puce, but when she recovers from her own mixed metaphors - one moment it's high octane judicial tanks on her lawn, the next it's hoon judges besieging her mind, the next she's being attacked by the galloping judicial cavalry - her message is simplistic: 'You may disagree with some government policies, but at least you can boot out politicans when they get things wrong.' No, you can't - not for three or four years, and then for reasons that relate to the economy, not to human rights. You can't boot them out because the public service has denied your child a place at school, or has sent your private details to commercial marketers, or has refused your partner a benefit he or she deserves. Who cares, when MPs don't? A charter gives the courts adequate power to protect individuals from government and public service abuses. That is their role in democracy."

If you are concerned about matters of public interest and are worried about what's going on around you and you feel compelled to let others know, consider starting your own community newsletter. Local and independent is the future as the neocon project comes unspun.

"Another urgent challenge is to expose the corporate media for the boardroom bulletin that it really is. We need to create a universe of alternative information. We need to support independent media like Democracy Now!, Alternative Radio, and South End Press."

Arundhati Roy (From her 2003 speech: 'Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy (Buy One, Get One Free)')