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

A circus, the Tank Man and a dead pop star

Five years ago, a circus, the late Michael Jackson and the unknown “Tank Man” collided in Beijing to demonstrate how state censorship leads to even censors not knowing what they don’t know. Now, at a time when calls of “fake news” undermine the confidence of citizens in their democracies, it is ironic that we can learn from censorship states like China just what can happen next. … Read More

Cheers or tears for SBS?

It has been so long since any substantial Government largesse for SBS that a belief had formed within the corporation they would never be able to drag themselves out of a spiralling descent into debt, budget cuts, falling audiences, disappearing advertising and more debt. So the champagne corks were popping at SBS for “the most significant funding boost SBS has ever received”. But will there be a hangover once the bubbles have burst? 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

Others in the schoolyard created this radio bully

Commercial radio throughout the world are often incubators of on-air bullies. Sydney radio shock jock Kyle Sandilands shows all the symptoms, but he is not entirely self-made. For although he’s bright enough to be a successful know-all – just bright enough to be dangerous, as the saying goes – he’s had outside help along the road to being a thoroughly unlikable loudmouth. They may start as bullies, but we then make them monsters. Read More

Suffer little children

On any day, it is hard for ethical journalists or people concerned for media freedom to remain optimistic. Not because of what we report on but because in the endless fight for free speech we are regularly undermined by some colleagues in tabloid media. They may make headlines and attract readers, but their methods harm us all. Only 17% of Australians trust journalists, so we should all be worried about the gutter press. Read More

Man overboard!

Less than a week after SBS managing director Shaun Brown officially left the corporation’s Artarmon headquarters, one of his closest underlings, the head of SBS television and online content, Matt Campbell, announced he was quitting – the first of Brown’s executives to leave since new broom Michael Ebeid officially took over at SBS. Could this be the start of the much-anticipated shake-up of Australia’s multicultural broadcaster? Read More

Media generals leading from the rear

Arrests of working journalists by Australian authorities remain a continuing threat to media freedom in the country. Even when those arrests are not followed through to prosecution, they still send a chill through working journalists, impeding their efforts on our behalf. And while social media comes ablaze with indignation whenever journalists are arrested, the media companies themselves are often noticeably mute. Read More