In 2003, The Australian Press Council agreed to abide by a document called the Charter for a Free Press in Australia. It emphasises the importance of freedom of speech and opinion in a democratic society such as Australia.
Sounds good doesn’t it? It means that no Australian government can prevent the media from publishing information that the Australian voters needs to know. So all Australian will be fully informed … or will they?
Let’s suppose that the press itself does not respect its own principles? What if the press itself intentionally does not “make available to the people a wide diversity of views and opinions”? (4th Principle of The Charter for a Free Press in Australia)
Now the 5th Principle of The Charter for a Free Press in Australia states: “It is the responsibility of the press to protect the people’s right to know and to contest encroachments upon that right by governments, groups or individuals.” What if it is the press itself that encroaches upon that right?
For example, on the day before the Federal election, Rupert Murdoch’s Herald Sun published on its front page: “Labor has lost its way as well as its heart. … We urge Australians to vote for Mr Abbott and elect him as our 28th prime minister.”
I thought that the Herald Sun’s job was to simply inform the Australian people, in an unbiased way, about each of the political parties’ policies. People rely upon the media to inform them. How else can we get the information we need to make the best decision we possibly can?
Mr Murdoch (who is an American by the way) clearly had an opinion on who should be Australia’s next Prime Minister. Whether we agree with his view or not, in publishing such blatantly biased news items, is Mr Murdoch undermining the very principles of democracy? What do you think? Does Australia really have “freedom of the press”? Does it matter?