Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Murdoch's Staff Are Directly Responsible For This Country's Xenophobia

The Prime Minister's suggestion that Australia needs to freely and openly debate the issue of asylum seekers got us wondering where she thinks this debate is going to take place?

Which of our lily livered commentators will dare point out how the xenophobia in this country has been cultivated by the Murdoch Press, and is being painted as a general national feeling rather than a minority point of view?

Reminds us of a couple of 'Spring Hill Voice' posts from three years ago:

Media Miss The Boat

Last week's Walkley Media Forum at the Regatta Hotel marked World Refugee Day by considering the topic, 'Missing the Boat? Reporting on asylum seekers and refugees'. The forum was moderated by Cathy Border from Channel Ten, and included presentations by Dr Angela Romano, Senior Lecturer In Journalism at QUT, David Costello, Foreign Editor of the 'Courier-Mail', Peter McCutcheon from the ABC's '7.30 Report' and John Murungi from the Refugee Claimants' Support Centre.

Dr Romano emphasised that the public is reliant on the media for information on this issue. Yet her studies on the media's reportage of asylum seekers revealed a disturbing use of biased and inflammatory language in news media stories. Examples included, 'Boatload of illegal refugees seized' (from the 'Courier-Mail'), and another in
'The Australian', about "refugees" in the New Orleans superbowl in the aftermath
of Hurricane Katrina, which was juxtaposed with a report about Jesse Jackson pointing out the inaccuracy of describing people in their own country as refugees.

As for who dominates the agenda, she found that in 2003, 61% of the 'Courier-Mail's' stories were based on government sources, while in 2007, this has dropped to 22%. Dr Romano said the negative stereotypes and common and simple concerns that people had about refugees and asylum seekers could be easily addressed by the media.

"Antipathy comes about because people don't know who they are," she said.

Dr Romano explained that the Federal Government are sophisticated in understanding people's prejudices, and that journalists are being left behind in
the wash.

"Journalists are missing the boat because governments have the resources
and journalists don't," she said.

Referring to the years between 1999 and 2001 as a "wild period" encompassing the riots at Woomera and Port Hedland, David Costello said that now is a good time to be talking about refugees, given we are experiencing a period of calm.

"We don't lock up kids anymore," he said.

Mr Costello defended the 'Courier-Mail's' coverage of refugee and asylum seeker stories. Singling out a particular "hard-working" 'Courier-Mail' journalist, he said, "If you're looking for demonization of asylum seekers, you won't find it in Margaret Wenham's stories, or in the rest of the 'Courier-Mail's' pages."

Mr Costello undertook "newstext" searches, which he said showed that the 'Courier-Mail' was "out of step" between 2001 and 2002. But he pointed out that a 1999 editorial stated that most refugees are genuinely seeking refuge. He later added that the coalition government have overreacted. "We are not faced with a full scale invasion," he said.

"The media should work to dispel myths about boat people."

Citing the "children overboard" example as a "moral lowpoint" for Australia, Peter McCutcheon expressed concern at the manner in which governments can affect and distort items of public interest.

"Why are journalists still talking about it?" he asked, later explaining that the "children overboard" affair highlights a "broader systemic problem" which has resulted in the diminished quality of public debate.

He said he has experienced "stonewalling and obfuscation" when attempting to obtain straightforward information about various operational matters. He made it clear that this is evident at all levels of government.

Reflecting on the past eleven years, and Australia's inhumane treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, John Murungi said, "I've come to realise it's not personal."

As for what it means to be a refugee, "We are talking about human lives," he said.

"And nobody ever chooses to leave their home."


Haneef - News Ltd disgraces itself, as usual!

The Sunday Murdoch papers would lead a fool to the conclusion that Dr Haneef was going to blow up the Q1 tower on the Gold Coast.

Today's [22/7/07] 'Sunday Mail' (and its inbred cousins) gives the impression that there could possibly be some kind of justification for the undemocratic and extra-judicial treatment of Dr Haneef. Their police reporter invokes innuendo as journalism without shame or remorse to vilify and demonise "them".

There has been a great deal of unexpected support for Dr Haneef from all quarters. This is possibly because of the blatantly political motivation behind the whole episode. When the AFP shamelessly becomes a tool of the Federal Executive, as has happened with the behaviour of Australia's (your) Federal Commissioner with Dr Haneef, it is time to wonder how the concentration of media power in the hands of Mr Rupert Murdoch could possibly benefit Australia, we Queenslanders, or our general security and well-being.

The Sunday Murdoch rags were at it again from dawn today (i.e. Saturdayafternoon's policy planning sessions) and it took until all the feathers had been spread to the four winds before the AFP called the lie at 4pm. The AFP only bothered to call that lie AFTER the doctor's Solicitor appeared at the very public Forum at Griffith University. You could assume the lie would have been left out there but for SBS and other non-mouthpiece outlets.

The Murdoch article was, as is their fashion, based on anonymous (but very senior!!) "sources" and conjecture. So, a "source" says the AFP is wondering whether there may have been a plan and if there was a plan whether people may be involved in that plan etc...... You know how it works. If this is the best the Feds can do, I want my money back!

If only Mr Murdoch's operatives had been so judgmental of the flaky evidence that ended up in the illegal invasion and failed occupation of Iraq, instead of concentrating
on religious differences within Australia.

Since Mr Murdoch is not even an Australian, why do all our politicians care so much about his opinions, you may ask.

Make a point of publicly rubbishing the Murdoch Press at least once a day, and don't allow anyone who refers to the Murdoch press as if it were credible source go unchallenged.

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