That was the year that wasn’t

Had it not been for WikiLeaks, 2010 might have gone down as another forgettable year for the media in Australia and around the world. There were few outstanding examples of great journalism,[i] no breathtaking, game-changing technical innovations, not even any great “end-of-an-era” events at which we could pause and take stock. Admittedly, the human inclination to see the… Read More

The War of News Corp – Hold the front page!

If the first casualty in war is truth – even a war involving News Corporation – then the second casualty is Vince Cable. Ironically, they were both hit by the same bombshell. The British Government’s Business Secretary is yet another victim of a current outbreak of honesty. Perhaps it’s just his small ‘l’ liberal-democratic naivety or perhaps collateral… Read More

Don’t try this at home, children

The release by WikiLeaks of tens of thousands of confidential US government emails has turned the spotlight on some serious and long-submerged issues about honesty in public life. The US Government and many others mentioned in these supposedly secret emails are genuinely embarrassed and understandably angry that they have been made public. They and their supporters outside government… Read More

Cuts in news send strange signals from SBS

Cuts in SBS Television’s news staff could, ironically, signal Australia’s multicultural broadcaster is trying to get back on track. SBS TV News has been the darling of Managing Directors for many years, so to see it under the axe suggests something strange is happening at SBS. And on the general assumption that things cannot get any worse for the embattled broadcaster, anything – however strange – might herald hope. … Read More

The many voices of one Australia – just not inside the building please!

SBS was once renowned as “the many voices of one Australia”, but now it’s decided it doesn’t need as many in the actual building. It’s decision to outsource large parts of it’s world-famous Subtitling Unit is not just a sign of how far it has strayed from its multicultural charter but is also a clever way of chanelling taxpayer funding to the private sector. … Read More

Too little too late for SBS?

After years of neglecting the multicultural demands of its charter in a bid for ratings and revenues, there are signs SBS is trying to repair the rift with the movers and shakers in multicultural Australia. But is it all hot air and spin? And does the expertise still exist inside their Artarmon headquarters to achieve anything meaningful? Time will tell, but to-date it’s not looking good. … Read More

The bad news SBS was never going to report – about itself.

When a news organisation discovers bad news about itself, the temptation is to junk its commitment to free and fearless reporting and bury the story. When the bad news is about how unhappy staff are with their bosses, the temptation is overwhelming. That’s what happened to SBS when it unwisely asked its staff what they thought about their managers – and the staff told them in no uncertain terms. … Read More

SBS’s lost decade – an accident or vandalism?

As SBS attempts to chart a new course after the 10-year reign of fashion designer Carla Zampatti as Chairman, we look back at what many critics say was not so much a series of bungles and missed opportunities but more a lost decade in the multicultural broadcaster’s once-illustrious history. How much was the wrong person in the wrong job and how much the result of a conscious policy of the Howard Government? … Read More

When humour is no laughing matter

Humour is a funny thing … and sometimes it’s not. Frequent high-profile blunders and controversial cases of misfired humour in the media have failed to remind us time-and-again how tricky humour – especially satire – can be. Now, ten years on from Channel Nine’s infamous “blackface incident”, have Australian broadcasters actually learned anything? … Read More

Who let the racist cats out of the bag?

Reactions to attacks on Indian students in Australia show how far our discussion on race has deteriorated, with ethnic lobby groups themselves among the guilty. Critics have long argued that while Australia is not a racist country there is a vein of racism running through society that must be constantly worked on. Has neglect let the racist cats out of the bag? … Read More