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Editorial – July 2012

The integrity of news reporting can be compromised by financial and political interests of editors and journalists. That much would seem self-evident.

Of course, media companies have long been owned and managed by wealthy individuals, whether greedy moguls or philanthropists. It’s a question of how editorial independence is valued and maintained within an organisation, whether privately or publicly funded. It’s a question of accountable transparency if not pure objectivity. It’s a question of “discerning genuine public interest from sensationalism or gossip, and maintaining standards that profess strength of evidence over ferocity of opinion” (SSH Guidelines).

Long time foreign correspondent and sociologist, Dr Jonathan Bogais, who is a consultant with the SSH, raises concerns about long-term effects on the intellectual development of children when “true” freedom of information is stigmitised by media owners, seemingly to keep masses in a state of ignorance to serve a specific corporate or intellectual agenda.

We can learn something amid the ruckus. We can learn to value all effort towards accountable and fair reporting; all effort with respect to discerning journalism from infotainment. With respect to online news delivery, we can learn to value both speed and accuracy.

Academic Wendy Bacon has long argued in favour of media diversity. “Our failure to set up adequate rules has led to the most concentrated media in the developed world,” she said again recently, “with News Ltd and Fairfax Media controlling 86 per cent of circulation” (SMH, 22/6/12). Restructuring and downsizing at News and Fairfax might just herald a new era of diverse and local media.

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It’s true that Kristina Keneally faced formidable challenges in her time as a local member, Minister and Premier. Her political opponents were not always above grubby tactics and sexism. She led Labor to an election no one was willing to predict she would win. Public opinion had long turned against her Labor government.

It’s also true that Kristina Keneally was a conscientious and accessible local member, Minister and Premier. She was passionate about disability services and social inclusion (and issued a statement in support of same-sex marriage). She wasn’t intimidated by bullies. She led her party with competence, good humour, determination and grace under pressure. Her concession speech showed genuine respect for the community she served. In 2010 and 2011, Kristina was a supporter of ASCA (Adults Surviving Child Abuse), and took part in campaigns sponsored by the South Sydney Uniting Church and the SSH. We wish to record our gratitude for 10 years of public service, and wish Kristina every success in her new role with Basketball Australia.

 

 

 

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