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

Facts or fiction: Putting the writer inside the story

News reporting and journalists are under attacks not witnessed in a generation or more. How much is our fault and what can be done? Low public trust is partly driven by self-interested claims of “fake news” and partly because a race to the bottom. Perhaps also we have played too close to the fires of fiction and been scorched. If it is too late to firewall journalism, how can writers navigate the borderland between fact and fiction? Read More

The miracle of monochrome

Black & white photography has existed for almost 200 years and even today remains a preferred format for many photojournalists. While they may shoot in colour, their best or most important work is often reproduced in monochrome. This image of the famous Black Power salute at the 1968 Mexico Olympics was shot in both colour and black &… Read More

Fighting fake news with Trust Chains

Fake news has been around longer than news itself, but it took someone as influential and opinionated as US President Donald Trump to breathe new life into it. While critics say Trump’s “fake news” is simply news he dislikes, the issue has more profound ramifications for modern free-press democracies, making us question who and what we can trust. But all is not lost. Fake news can be conquered, especially if each and every one of us works on our Trust Chains. … Read More

Welcome to journalism-free journalism

Encouraged to embrace social media, are real journalists now paying too high a price for the convenience of “information everywhere all the time”? Serious professional journalists have long been urged to integrate social media into their work. It’s a great tool for digging into events and harvesting opinions that might otherwise be “mediated out” by gatekeepers who don’t want inconvenient truths exposed. But at what cost? 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

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