Category Archives: Society

Issues of civil society

Who else if not whistleblowers?

Barely a day goes by in western democracies without some new exploitation of public trust, major abuse of the law or plain old government corruption being exposed by the media’s sanitising light. But while journalists are beavering away on investigations, the initial spark is almost always lit by a whistleblower. As the latest scandal touching one of Australia’s biggest companies shows, whistleblowers get little thanks. Read More

American exceptionalism built wall with the world.

It is the fate of all empires to be despised by their vassals. But that was before the Information Age. Now all bets are off. Now empires have the media tools to mould their image overseas while their foreign subjects can see right into the heart of their overlord’s domain. So why are Americans making such a mess of being a superpower? And what role do the media play in building a wall between the US and the rest of the world? Read More

A right to be wrong?

At the height of Australia’s bushfire emergency, Michael Pengilly, the mayor of Kangaroo Island in Australia, attacked climate scientists and former US president Barack Obama, saying climate change was not connected with the island’s horrific fires. When criticised online, Pengilly said he had a right to air his opinions. He was not the first person in the democratic world to claim such a “right”. But does it exist? Read More

Whistleblowers – conscience of a shameless age

With the continuing persecution of Julian Assange, one of our country’s and this century’s most famous whistleblowers, it is timely that all nations – but especially democracies – remind themselves that a whistleblower is not a traitor, just someone who sees something wrong, consults their conscience and exposes the wrongdoing contrary to the wishes of those with power to conceal it from their fellow citizens. Read More

Distrust is the greatest threat to peace

We live in dangerous times, in a world of crumbling trust. The fear and confusion this engenders has spread across almost all societies around the world – free and oppressive, democratic and authoritarian, east and west, north and south, rich and poor. Increasingly, no-one is immune and if we are unaware of the crisis that is because either we are the victims of our government’s duplicity or we are wilfully blinkered. Read More

Kicking the can of liberty along the road

Issues of freedom of speech come in all shapes and sizes, from those central to democracy to those that are just cover for personal obsessions. Two current cases in Australia are just the most recent in a seemingly endless cycle of outrage then nothing getting fixed … kicking the can. One involves government oppression of whistle-blowers and the media. The other a millionaire sportsman asked to choose between the pitch and the pulpit. Read More

Honesty still best policy for global broadcasters

Two events showed honesty is the best policy in the complex world of international broadcasting. The first was an analyses of plans to cut off funding to Australia’s overseas television service, Australia Network. The second was a Russian Government decision not to renew the contract for the US international broadcaster Voice of America to beam programs from transmitters within the former Soviet republic. Read More

Clouds of war gather over the Internet

The Internet is approaching a crisis. Authoritarian regimes censor and manipulate it to suppress dissent, western governments pursue online whistleblowers and Wikileakers, big business wants to track consumers’ every move. Supposedly liberal governments from the United States to Australia have proved as eager as their conservative predecessors to constrain it. And the mainstream media? They have largely been silent. Read More

Trust me, I’m the Minister

As SBS made its final preparations to absorb the National Indigenous TV channel NITV, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians had to take it on trust they would actually get a place on the SBS Board. Though the Gillard Labor Government had their fingers crossed that good Indigenous candidates would apply, there was no guarantee one would be selected. Why the mistrust and what happened next? Read More

Endless war between newsroom and classroom

Despite most young journalists now coming from universities, there still lingers among many editors, chiefs of staff and other hard news managers the view that real journalism skills can only be learned “on the job”. And they blame the dilettante intellectuals of academia for making their task harder by filling the heads of young journalism graduates with fancy ideas. How much of this is true and what can be done about it? Read More