The Australian is entitled to be anti-Labor (as long as it doesn’t pretend it’s ‘balanced’)

There is a documentary about Justice Murphy which is titled: ‘Mr Neil is entitled to be an agitator‘  which takes its title from the judgement handed down by Justice Murphy in the High Court in favour of a Queensland Aboriginal activist. Mr Neal had been initially convicted and sentenced to two months hard labour for spitting at a white employee of the Department of Aboriginal and Islander Affairs. On appeal to the Queensland Supreme Court, the sentence was increased to six months with hard labour. Mr Neal then appealed to the High Court of Australia and Lionel Murphy was a Justice of that Court.

There has been plenty of arguments against the campaign waged by The Australian against the Labor Government.  During its first term, during the election, during the independents’ deliberations and most likely in the future as part and parcel of the Liberals’ campaign of destabilisation of the Labor minority government.

I referred in an earlier post about this by linking a ripper article by Bernard Keane.  Others in the blogosphere came in the fray.  There was a great piece of sarcasm from Tim Dunlop for instance.  But as long as the criticisms came from bloggers it could be ignored.  However when a reputable mainstream journalist like Laura Tingle stated the same thing (PDF file). Then the shyte really hit the fan.

I won’t go into the responses from ‘The Australian’, basically because Mr Denmore has already done so in one of his posts.

Rupert’s paid poodles are circling the wagons, proving once again that there is nothing more viciously tribal than a News Ltd newsroom.

In an obviously coordinated move, Murdoch’s scribblers sought to ridicule what they clearly had been told to say was a paranoid attack by Fairfax columnist Laura Tingle and the blogosphere over News Ltd’s partisan news coverage.

Geoff Elliott, Mark Day and Caroline Overington sang from the same songsheet, declaring in one way or another that News Ltd was being assailed for doing its job in applying the unflinching scrutiny to the government demanded by its membership of the Fourth Estate.

Personally I have no problems with The Australian being anti-Labor, and being biased towards the Liberals as long as they state clearly that is their editorial line.  There was a big brouhaha when an editorial from The Australian stated that it wanted to ‘destroy the Greens’.  Unlike many left bloggers I thought, great, at last we have a clear statement of what they want, rather than masquerading as impartial  commentators (and thus having their opinions regurgitated by other journalists at the ABC).

I wonder whether there is an Anglosphere tradition that the media has to be seen as ‘balanced and impartial’ even if it is anything of the sort.  News limited is an example.  Not only with ‘The Australian’ but of course with the vociferous right wing outlet in the USA Fox News.  Despite most intelligent viewer from both sides knowing that they are biased towards the conservatives they still have the slogan ‘Fair and balanced’ under their logo.  We are not yet at the “War is Peace,” “Freedom is Slavery,” “Ignorance is Strength.” level but almost there.

In Italy there seems to be less need to be ‘balanced’ in the way that there are lots of newspapers that state where they stand outright.  So the balance is achieved by maximising the  number of opinions in the printed media.  So we have newspapers from the parties themselves.  L’Unità was founded as official newspaper of the Italian Communist Party and today is linked to the Italian Democratic PartyIl Secolo d’Italia, is the paper of Alleanza Nazionale, which is a conservative Party which was in coalition with Berlusconi.  Then you have papers which while not strictly belonging to a party you know where they come from.  One example is Il Manifesto,  While it calls itself communist, it is not connected to any political party. It was founded as a monthly review in 1969 by a collective of left-wing journalists engaged in the wave of critical thought and activity on the Italian left in that period.  Then you have Il Foglio, a centre-right newspaper, founded in 1996 by the Italian journalist and politician Giuliano Ferrara.

There are other examples.  La Repubblica is centre left, Il Giornale is centre right.  Maybe only newspapers such as Il Corriere della Sera, or La Stampa have any claim to be impartial.

So, The Australian, don’t be afraid.  You are a pro-Liberal, anti-Labor and hate the Greens.  State it on your masthead.  It would be more honest.

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