By Barry Tucker 18 March, 2013
News Limited continues to make a good case for a beefier Australian Press Council. The Sunday Telegraph made its contribution at the weekend: an argument AGAINST the proposed news media laws that featured the FALSE and MISLEADING use of a photo shoot with The Men of TV.
I suppose the paper will use the same excuse as its daily sibling: “Oh, that’s just typical tabloid journalism,” a comment made in relation to a Daily Telegraph front page likening Communications Minister Stephen Conroy to seven despots.
The men of TV vent free speech outrage
One of those who got caught up in this sorry mess is the ABC’s News24 Breakfast presenter Michael Rowland. You can read his story on The Drum.
UPDATE: Michael Rowland’s version of what happened is contradicted in today’s (19 March) OPINION page in The Daily Telegraph. The story says an email was sent to each TV network last Thursday, saying the paper needed an additional quote from each participant on their stance on “freedom of speech” in light of the media laws being proposed by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy. The comments would be used “in a news story at the front of the paper, pointing to the feature story in Insider”.
The reporter who wrote the column “THEY SAID IT claimed Mr Rowland’s editing of the first paragraph of The Sunday Telegraph story was a distortion.
Mr Rowland’s version: “Readers could easily be forgiven for thinking we had, as the paper put it, ‘united to share their concerns about the government’s controversial media reforms’.”
The Tele said The Sunday Telegraph’s first paragraph stated: “The country’s most trusted TV faces have united to share their passion for news and current affairs — and concerns about the government’s controversial media reforms.”
The Tele story said Channel 10’s Hamish Macdonald had claimed he had no comment to make on Press regulation, The Sunday Telegraph hadn’t asked for a quote and he never gave one.
The email sent to Ten’s publicity department asked for a response from Ten’s Hugh Riminton, Adam Hawse, Brad McEwan, Lachland Kennedy, Hamish Macdonald and Matt Doran, the Tele column said.
Commenting on the fiasco, Crikey.com reporter Jason Whittaker says journalists at government-funded media outlets did not want to be seen criticising the government, according to the Tele column.
According to his Tweets, Mr Riminton responded to The Sunday Telegraph’s request but his comments weren’t used. This is the comment he made:
“Minister Conroy’s moves are interesting. They deserve a proper debate, but the media’s own reaction has made that difficult. Some of the media reporting has been so over the top it becomes ridiculous and self-defeating.”
In another Twitter exchange between Mr Rowland and Sunday Tele editor Mick Carroll, Mr Carroll said: “Senator Conroy didn’t need to defend his media laws as he had the ABC to do that.”
This relates to Mr Rowland’s comments welcoming an updating of the ABC Charter to reflect the strength and popularity of online platforms. As such, it has nothing to do with the guts of News Limited’s objections, which go to a perceived threat to Freedom of the Press (and an unmentioned fear of growth being limited by the independent Public Interest Media Advocate).
It’s obvious from all of the above (including my first few pars) that the people most involved and concerned about the proposed new media regulations cannot report accurately and impartially on the matter.