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Mayne On Industry Culture

10 Mar 2012.

 

Mayne On Industry Culture.

730reportland: We return to Melbourne as, retired judge Ray Finkelstein `hosts` the Australian Media Inquiry, with his `lovely assistant`, journalism academic, Matthew Ricketson.

Their `guest` today is Crikey Founder and a media mover and shaker. Welcome back to the `show`, Stephen Mayne.

MR FINKELSTEIN: There are ways of dealing with personality-driven consequences that don`t necessarily have to bring about structural changes,

or at least doesn`t have to bring about significant structural changes. Is that fair?

MR MAYNE: If I look at the Murdoch culture,

Rupert has a culture of loving people who will shake up the establishment and will shake up the town,

and he likes to gloat about the fact that he`s one of the few owners who is happy to go to the country club and cop the grief from people who are giving him stick.

I think he`s rewarded several of those types of characters who have had no respect whatsoever for the various ethical codes that run within the newspapers and with the MEAA and within the Press Council.

 

MR FINKELSTEIN: What is wrong with a proprietor of a newspaper or online news outlet, I don`t care which, taking a particular stand on a whole range of issues?

If I owned a media outlet, let`s say I owned an internet site,
and I decided that I was going to be
anti government no matter what the government was
that was in power, what`s wrong with me doing that?

730reportland: This part of the question is loaded.

Limited News spins everything Labor, Green or Independant as negative. Everything Liberal as good, or if too bad does damage control.
Limited News is just `Anti Government`? __ Pigs Arse.

Better questions here would be,

How much lobbying should a so-called news company do before it is classified as a political advertiser?

Are the rules for political advertising being met?

And, Why should a political advertiser or mere lobbying firm be entitled to any `Press Shield Laws` or `Secret Sources` or `Access` or other `Press` benefits?

MR MAYNE: There is nothing wrong with doing that, but if it`s apparent that your operation`s been involved in fairly wide-scale phone hacking, you wouldn`t make the woman involved chief executive of the company.

 

MR FINKELSTEIN: That might be just a one-off.

730reportland: Just a one-off? Bullcrap.

Florida 2000, UK phones and MET, Flannery, Posetti, Manne and `white` Aboriginals. From tram drivers to public servants and cities across at least 3 countries. The way Limited News treats people and distorts information, this can only be `their` corporate culture.

MR MAYNE: I`ve worked for the tabloids.

I`ve seen some very colourful characters being continually rewarded and promoted and celebrated. When I look back at their records and their approaches and the court findings and the defamation losses and the embarrassments, I`d say, "What does it take to actually be booted out of that company?" That is what I find quite amazing about the culture.

 

MR FINKELSTEIN: But would you accept this as a proposition, that unless there is a degree of widespread improper activity,

you can`t really think that you are going to make significant cultural behavioural changes in the proposed way to deal with the odd colourful character.

MR MAYNE: When you say the "odd colourful character"_

MR FINKELSTEIN: "Colourful character" are your words.

MR MAYNE: I don`t want to turn this into a long shopping list of "this editor is a cowboy" or that.

If you look at, for instance, News Limited, we had the whole James Hardie scandal, and one of the key executives involved was appointed general manager of public relations and is now the principal arguer for the company`s position in Australia, with a pretty big black cloud over the previous record.

If I were that proprietor, I would say, "I want someone with a pristine ethical corporate record being my spokesperson in the Australian market."

 

MR FINKELSTEIN: What I`m looking at is the whole industry and what I`m looking at is to see whether or not the whole industry ought to be forced to change in some particular respects.

I don`t know that I would be helped in looking at what should happen in the media for the next 10, 15 or 20 years by making assumptions or drawing general conclusions from what might be one-off episodes.

I`m more interested in seeing whether the press either works or doesn`t work, with the way that the press regulates itself works or doesn`t work- identify some systemic and real problem that needs change, but part of my remit is to work out whether newspapers are dead because of the internet and whether the government should be able to do anything about it and, if so, what.

It is probably a bit narrow, isn`t it, to approach it on the basis of what a particular editor did last year when I`m working out whether there is a problem that needs remedying?

MR MAYNE: This was started by phone hacking, which was company wide- it wasn`t just one particular editor.

I don`t want to get into a shopping list about it, but I think over a long period there`s been a lot of material that`s come out which has said sometimes there is a bit of a cultural issue there with abuse of power and poor practices and you do see a lot of bullying and people being done over, and you don`t see a lot of rights of reply and people getting their time to make a considered response.

You do get the treatment that Robert Manne received. You see a whole range of those practices- basically bullying behaviour against people who take a contrary view.

I`ve certainly experienced that directly for a number of years and I know many, many other people as well have, and I think that has been a bit of a problem for our democracy in terms of the independent umpire that`s meant to be informing the community in a democracy becoming the dominant power player in the community.

 

MR FINKELSTEIN: But you don`t expect a media outlet to play the role of an independent umpire, do you?

MR MAYNE: I think there is an element of that, particularly if you are a one-paper town. You need to strive to be quite neutral, given you have that extra responsibility of monopoly on newspaper sales.

I think absolutely in the press- all the codes of conduct talked about rights of reply and other people`s opinion. That`s very much embedded in many of the codes.

So whilst I have absolutely no problems with very strong partisan campaigns being run, it needs those checks and balances of alternative views and rights of reply and they are not just gratuitous campaigns being run.

In my view the Greens have suffered an incredible campaign, and you will have seen that submission from Bob Brown.

 

MR FINKELSTEIN: I have. What you seem to be raising, if I can put it this way, is you don`t mind partisan journalists or partisan ownership or partisan press, as long as there is some opportunity for the other side or the other view to be presented.

MR MAYNE: I am probably one of the most aggressive journalists around,

and I have a philosophy of taking on all comers. I just wish that the mainstream media outlets had the same approach, that they didn`t protect a particular interest or take a particular side; that they vigorously took on all comers and hold them to the basic principles of accountability, transparency, giving accurate information,

"if you stuff up, you`re out"- the role of the press to be fearless, to shake everybody up and take them all on, but that needs to be applied across the board and not just on particular targeted segments which is what seems to happen over time.

730reportland: I couldn`t agree more with Mayne and his philosophy. If this philosophy had been the standard practice, the current decaying news environment may not exist as it does today and, the distrusted status of Journalists and Media Companies may not have plummeted to the depths they have.

MR MAYNE: In the case of Fox News, it`s been a brilliant business decision. As a shareholder activist, I don`t criticise Fox News for a moment. It`s been an inspired business decision,

but don`t try and call it "fair and balanced". Just say it`s great propaganda and make a lot of money.

 

MR FINKELSTEIN: What`s the matter with having an outlet which is there as a propaganda piece_

MR MAYNE: That`s fine with me, as Fox News is, but it`s not 70 percent of the market. It`s not one voice; it`s a myriad of voices. In the US, there are dozens of newspaper proprietors, there are hundreds of channels, no issues with Fox News in my mind at all, except for the claim of
fair and balanced. I think it`s a blatant lie.

 

MR FINKELSTEIN: Is that to say that what you think is necessary by one method or another is that there is somewhere to be found the alternative view?

MR MAYNE: Yes.

 

MR FINKELSTEIN: So that people like me who don`t produce the news but consume it are at least exposed to the proposition that this particular news outlet has a particular bias, but it is a view, not the view, and I go to another news outlet and get the other view.

MR MAYNE: Yes. It does go a bit too far when most of the Republican presidential nominees are current or former employees of News Corp. It gets too far to the extreme when that happens. Strictly speaking, Fox should get Democrats on.

730reportland: Mayne is incorrect here. Democrats refuse to go on Fox. They treat Fox for what it is. A lobbying outfit. Obama has even made wisecracks along the lines of_ If Obama said the sky is blue, the folks at Fox would find ways to argue Obama is wrong.

MR FINKELSTEIN: Why should they?

MR MAYNE: They say they will. They say they are fair and balanced. Say you are the official propaganda vehicle of the Republican Party. Just say that and be honest about it. Be honest, tell the truth, be upfront about what you are doing,

but to do that would then question the social licence around many of the other journalistic operations around the world which are presented as being more neutral, fair and balanced- and many of them are.

Sky News in the UK is a magnificent quality, neutral, professional service. It`s been a tremendous addition to the British democracy. It is amazing that the same company produces it, but they are the facts of the situation.

730reportland: The corrosive corporate culture of the global monster is raised here by Mayne. The carnivorous capitalism peddled by Fox is regurgitated in text by the-Australian. The irony that the-Australian is a welfare case within its own profit making group seems to show that `their` corrosive culture meddles with `their` sound business decisions.

The fully FOXified the-Australian actually has a choice within the Limited News empire from where to source some of `their` off-shore content. Their own corrosive corporate culture may be why the Fox donkey data is regularly regurgitated and Sky stuff is not.

This also applies to_ blogs.very.limited.news/fully-foxified-too

MR FINKELSTEIN: But provided there is diversity so that different available views are aired, isn`t that sufficient for our democratic society_

MR MAYNE: It is, but where is the diversity in Adelaide?

MR FINKELSTEIN: I said "provided". I am not saying_

MR MAYNE: But it`s not the case.

MR FINKELSTEIN: No, but if there were that.

MR MAYNE: Hypothetically, it would be fantastic, but we`re the most concentrated market in the world.

 

MR FINKELSTEIN: So what you see as the underlying problem is lack of diversity of views.

MR MAYNE: I think there are two problems. One is the concentration of power. The other is the culture and the ethical record within that particular company. When you put those two things together, you get quite a toxic mix, which I think is quite damaging to a democracy like Australia.

730reportland: Mayne has really nicely identified the `toxic-mix` here. I hope this sinks in with our `host`. This toxic mix is not only damaging to democracy but to quite a range of people and other topics as well. The toxic culture shows itself in so-called reporting of `environmental` issues relayed by the Green Party or Tim Flannery.

MR MAYNE: The company has done a lot of great things. The Manningham Leader in Manningham has been a really good local paper and owned by News Ltd, and there are absolutely no issues with that. So this is not a company-wide thing, but I just say that at the moment, looking at the way it operates, I`m very concerned that there is a proposal for News Limited to go to majority control of a monopoly pay TV operation in Australia. They are trying to buy it. AUSTAR is seeking FIRB approval and ACCC approval.

This inquiry, when it hears from as many different parties as possible, should make representations to the ACCC and to FIRB about whether it is appropriate for the 70 percent newspaper company to move to management control of pay TV monopoly in Australia- unprecedented anywhere in the world, and a very important issue for our democracy.

As a small, small anecdote of that, when Sky News operated out of Channel Nine in Melbourne, I used to go on once a month. When Sky News moved into the Herald Sun building, I`m banned, because I`m a voice not allowed to be heard out of the Herald Sun building. So for me to fulfil my contract with Sky, I have to fly to Sydney to appear, and that is an abuse of power by the dominant 70 percent newspaper company, which in my mind is indefensible.

730reportland: Oh dear. Their own corporate slogan of `Fair-and-Balanced` has not made it to this side of the Pacific, even though the donkey data has. Their corrosive culture has produced an unfair abuse of power toward Mayne here. It has also shredded their own corporate slogan.

MR FINKELSTEIN: When you started up Crikey, and for the period of time that you owned Crikey, I assume you expressed rather strong views on a variety of issues.

MR MAYNE: I certainly did, and I have a plan or a goal of "the bigger they are, the harder you go ". So whether it is Kerry Packer, Alan Jones, the Prime Minister, the Premier, I had an approach, which basically is a club busting approach, which is a take-on-power approach.

 

MR FINKELSTEIN: Did you leave out Federal Court judges?

MR MAYNE: Yes. I`m married to a barrister, so I learned that one very early.

730reportland: I smell chicken.

MR FINKELSTEIN: Thank goodness.

MR MAYNE: The relationship with News Limited is quite interesting to track in relation to that. I left on good terms, despite what The Australian editorial today says about me being a disgruntled former employee_

730reportland: Outstanding! The Limited News fact free corrosive culture can`t even be set aside today. They don`t even have the brains to not try and intimidate a witness or bad mouth Mayne on the day he is speaking to the Inquiry.

MR FINKELSTEIN: Never read the newspapers!

When you were running Crikey, you, I think, no doubt with justification, are quite proud that you took on those people who you wanted to take on. Would it be fair to say that there was very little that was even-handed or balanced to an outside viewer, like if I were to read all that stuff?

MR MAYNE: No, I would disagree with that. I think we pioneered the right of reply and the corrections approach to journalism unlike any other outlet had done.

 

MR FINKELSTEIN: What did you do?

MR MAYNE: I basically ran into a little bit of trouble early on with some defamation, and_

 

MR FINKELSTEIN: Do you mean as a defendant?

MR MAYNE: As a defendant. We lost our family home. It was an action that was tacitly supported by News Limited, which was an interesting element to our relationship. I basically worked out that it was an ethical approach to journalism that, if you are going to go someone, you absolutely have to give them a right of reply.

With the email delivery mechanism you can hit every single person you hit with the first one, and then get the right of reply exactly the same. At one point I published a 5,000-word attack by Terry McCrann, which was an amazing attack.

 

DR RICKETSON: On you?

MR MAYNE: Yes, on me. I found that an amazing contrast where every time I put in a letter or tried to put comments in on Andrew Bolt`s blog or a letter to The Australian today, which I did, banned.

It shows total suppression of an alternative view.

 

DR RICKETSON: "Banned" meaning?

MR MAYNE: It was not mentioned, or not run. Herald Sun, banned for 12 years because I criticised them on jeffed.com in 1999. It is an amazing long-term grudge, but my approach always was that if anyone ever puts in a reply or had a whack back, absolutely give it a run because it is fair and mitigation of litigation. If you are given the right of reply, it`s much harder to prosecute a defamation case and it is also a reasonable thing to do and it is also good content.

I used to joke about: "we`ll host your fight". We`re Las Vegas. Come and have a fight. We`ll give everybody a say, and it is good viewing.

730reportland: Our `lovely-assistant` has just chipped in twice with perfect timing and lead-in query. Great job by Ricketson.

It is very interesting to compare the culture and ethics that Mayne tries to operate by and, the culture and non-ethics that seem to operate within the global dinosaur.

MR FINKELSTEIN: Although you personally, and maybe for a good business reason, think that encouraging debate in a single outlet is a good thing- and no doubt it is- would you go so far as to say that it ought to be compulsory?

MR MAYNE: No, it ought not be compulsory, but the internet opens up unlimited amounts of volume, so I think it is unreasonable that the Herald Sun has an operating guide for their moderators that says don`t publish criticisms of the Herald Sun, the Murdochs, or News Limited.

 

DR RICKETSON: Sorry, how do you know that?

730reportland: Ricketson kicks another goal. Excellent!

MR MAYNE: One of their moderators told me.

I was complaining about every time the Herald Sun does its predictable six-month attack on council CEO pay, I, as an elected councillor who respects management of councils, dutifully do my letter, which says that $300,000 doesn`t sound much,

but Rupert Murdoch earns more than all 89 council CEOs combined, and I think that the Herald Sun should point that out. Every time it doesn`t run.

So you get a front-page attack on fat cat bureaucrat council CEOs, a councillor tends to respond, no reply online, censored, no reply in the paper- a policy which says to do that,

I think that is unethical and inappropriate if you have launched an attack on certain people`s pay and you refuse to run a right of reply by a player in that space. As a councillor, I thought it might change. When I started writing in as a councillor, no change, still censored.

730reportland: Mayne has done a great service to the Aussie public, with his appearance at the Aussie Media Inquiry. It is excellent that Mayne, who has worked within the Limited News toxic culture, has spoken openly and frankly about his experience with the global monster and, the treatment he has received from them since they parted ways.

It is great to have this on the public record.

 

The Limited News corrosive culture has often been self-evident in the output produced on certain topics such as, pro-business, pro-Noalition, pro-Mr-Rabbit, anti-environment, anti-Labor and anti-Joolya. This list is much bigger and, Politicians and politics are fair game.

 

What I have suspected, and Mayne seems to confirm, is that local operations of the global monster maintain `hit-lists` of people, who are `selected` for special attention.

The Inquiry has previously heard that Robert Manne and Tim Flannery have been targeted by Limited News and, it seems spiteful. But if we zoom in on Mayne`s home town, Melbourne, we can find that Simon Overland seemed to be targeted, resulting in his resignation from the Police. Add in, the treatment of Christine Nixon, because she ate dinner. The hounding of Mayne and Manne, also of Melbourne, shows their local monster is highly toxic.

Much of this is not fair game.

 

I suspect the industry culture will get way more corrosive before it gets any better, if ever. Gina Rinehart has bought up a chunk of Fairfax. The chunk is large enough for Rinehart to demand a seat in the boardroom for herself, or her agent.

This will not result in Fairfaxtopia.

 

More likely, this will be the start of the foxification of Fairfax. As billionaires rarely disagree on many topics, the public will receive lobbying, dressed up as news items from both outlets, like,

Don`t tax Billionaires because [insert no valid reason here]

We can already see Limited News, Network Ten, Rinehart and Boltreportland as an established connection.

With similar donkey data and, via major share-holdings and boardroom seats, the adoption or transfer of industry culture flows.

Watch_ http//ginas.fairfax.news/foxification-coming-soon

The above is a word for word extract from Page 102 to Page 109 of this transcript, with my comments added in color. We will return to the `show` after these sponsor `messages`.

 

Mayne On Press Licensing

20 Feb 2012.

 

Mayne On Press Licensing.

730reportland: We return to Melbourne as, retired judge Ray Finkelstein `hosts` the Australian Media Inquiry, with his `lovely-assistant`, journalism academic, Matthew Ricketson.

Their next `guest` is Crikey Founder and a media mover and shaker. Welcome to the `show`, Stephen Mayne.

MR FINKELSTEIN: One of the issues that you`ve raised is under this heading, "A light-handed licensing regime for editors and proprietors".

There are probably not that many people who are going to assert- I`m not saying none- or suggest that there should be licensing of newspapers.

Presumably, one reason for that is that the king and the government in England licensed the press for several hundreds of years and it came to an end I think in the late 1700s or thereabouts. It was regarded as a universally good thing that it came to an end.

Therefore, it is at least unusual- I won`t say surprising- to see somebody propounding the idea that editors and proprietors ought be licensed.

730reportland: Our `host` actually high-lights another problem here. The Legal, Political and Government systems always look to the past to aid them with making decisions.

The downfall of looking so hard at the past, is it tends to make them ignore what is in front of their nose, the `present`. In the 1700s, computers, technology, management systems and Police did not exist. This is 300 years ago. Different environment.

Finkelstein is `not` comparing apples with apples here.

MR FINKELSTEIN: I want to ask you, first of all, why you propound that view. I don`t know whether you want to deal with them separately, proprietors and editors, or whether it is the same underlying issue,

but I assume that a licensing regime is to make sure that a particular class of person or a person with particular attributes or qualities,

or whatever it might be, are to be the persons who run or own news outlets. Can I start by asking you what do you regard as the essential criteria for owning or running as an editor a news outlet, and why?

MR MAYNE: Many countries have had nationality restrictions, which effectively is a licensing regime which says no foreign party will ever be licensed. We had that for many years. Keating said to Conrad Black, "I license you to 35 percent of Fairfax, you can go no more."

I think we shouldn`t be too surprised that there are regulatory regimes in place. I do think it goes to conflict of interest, vested interest.

I wouldn`t support Exxon Mobil receiving a licence to buy News Limited`s Australian operations. I wouldn`t give a licence to British American Tobacco to buy 70 percent of Australia`s newspapers.

730reportland: Yes. I agree with Mayne here.
This is `defacto` licensing.

MR MAYNE: I think you have to start from the basis that the press is the Fourth Estate and there needs to be some sort of regulation as to who can have that power and responsibility vested in them. So I think the corporate conflicts, maybe the foreign interests, may come in at that point.

730reportland: This `4th estate` stuff is Bull-Crap.

There is too much donkey data and lobbying going on to give any weight to these `type` of catch-cries. Large chunks of the embedded media, pushing propaganda, have become merely `lobbying-firms` with catch-cries.

Example_ blogs.very.limited.news/fact-free-donkey-data

MR MAYNE: I also think there is a basic ethical morality fit and proper test, so if Alan Bond were still in charge of The West Australian when he was convicted of fraud, he would have been in breach of his licence and he would have been required to dispose of The West Australian, because he committed the largest fraud in Australian history. I`m only thinking about it in those sorts of relatively extreme examples.

730reportland: Mayne is correct. The bleating by the embedded media against this point really shows how out of touch they are. All kinds of citizens under-go this `type` of examination every day.

Vetting of folks who join the Police, become teachers and, tradesmen needing long term access to `secure` work-sites, just to name a few. The sky is falling, cry the embedded media `chicken-littles`, when asked to join the rest of society.

MR MAYNE: I must admit I am reminded by I guess a personal experience that I`ve had working within News Limited, watching News Corp internationally, that there has been a little bit of a tendency for some rogue editors to emerge and prosper and be rewarded over the years, with some rather colourful approaches. I`ve worked under some of them.

I think that sometimes I look at the culture and think at some stage there ought to be something about you just can`t phone hack on an industrial scale, for instance. If an editor was caught up in something like that, there would be something which would kick in and say, "I don`t think you are fit and proper." I stress that it ought to be light-handed and you certainly can`t have big brother government flicking editors because of a political line or a partisan campaign. It needs to be a pretty grave situation where you intervene.

730reportland: At least Limited News `is` consistant.

MR FINKELSTEIN: What is the sort of criteria, though? The idea of licensing- I don`t want to put too fine a point on it, because a couple of submissions make points about this- but it is as close as going back to the Dark Ages as you could find if you are serious about it_

MR MAYNE: Well_

 

MR FINKELSTEIN:_ but the idea that a government should say who can publish the news, because if you are talking about licensing, you are talking about the government saying who can say publish the news, is probably about as extreme an encroachment on news dissemination as you could get.

730reportland: At this point in the `show` I have become fully aware our `host` is tackling the licensing topic from the wrong end.

MR MAYNE: But they do that with television and radio now.

MR FINKELSTEIN: I know that.

MR MAYNE: So it`s not the end of the world with that.

 

MR FINKELSTEIN: No, and there might be some arguments about whether or not television and radio is different or, as many people say, there is no difference and that kind of regulation ought to go. The fact that it exists in television and radio might tell you something about television and radio but might not tell you very much about the press.

730reportland: Unfortunately Finkelstein keeps questioning from the wrong end of the `licensing arguement`. Our `host` seems to ignore that the media is an `industry` and the press is a `segment` of the media industry.

Licensing in most other industries have raised `standards` of all kinds, quality of product or workmanship, safety, and inspection and compliance systems.

Newspapers, Radio Stations and Television Networks all post mixed content online, text, audio and video. Some better questions Finkelstein should have asked,

Excluding to write `crap`, What advantage will the newspaper segment lose if a licensing system is put in place?

Excluding spectrum, Why should/shouldn`t the newspaper segment not be licenced, when the radio segment and television segment are?

Why should/shouldn`t the Global Monster remain unlicenced, while the National Monster has to operate under `Charter` and local television and radio segments are licensed?

Why shouldn`t all segments and, all companies in the same industry operate, as near as possible, in the same licensing and penalty system?

MR MAYNE: You don`t like legal malpractice, you don`t like doctor malpractice, you won`t license snake catchers and you license brothels.

Licensing is such a common phenomenon right throughout society and professions that I cannot see why the press, in the internet era where the genie is impossible to put back in the bottle, where the idea of a totalitarian regime coming in and shutting down newspapers, it is just no longer remotely possible in a democracy like Australia.

That risk of government intervention I believe has been utterly mitigated by technology to the point now where we can have a sensible discussion in a democracy about some basic standards and ethics and fit and proper requirements that apply with most other professions and industries.

 

MR FINKELSTEIN: Doesn`t the same kind of argument lead you toward the conclusion that licensing might catch a couple of people and a couple of organisations, but because of the internet it`s really a practical impossibility?

In other words, you will never devise a scheme for jurisdictional or constitutional reasons, any host of reasons, just straight impracticability of trying to license everybody who puts newsprint into the airwaves, the press, the letterbox or wherever?

MR MAYNE: For start-ups and the small fry and local papers, I agree, but when you are talking about the substantial powerful, entrenched, well-known brands, I think where a licensing regime already effectively operates is if News Limited went to sell its 70 percent of the papers there would be regulatory intervention around foreign ownership, around ACCC, about who the regulators license to have responsibility for so many newspaper titles across the Australian market and democracy.

 

MR FINKELSTEIN: It is not quite licensing, though. You could call it licensing, but I spent a lot of my working life dealing with competition cases, and never thought of it before- and I fought against the regulator and as a judge- as a licensing scheme. It is a series of legislation that works on the theory that you abuse a monopoly position, that`s a bad thing, and there ought to be laws governing the abuse of monopoly positions or laws governing the creation of monopolies, but they are based on economic criteria and they are looking at producing economic efficiencies. I don`t care who the people are who are involved, it has nothing to do with personalities; it is to do with having efficient allocation of resources in a community or a nation state.

730reportland: Whack, as Laurie Oakes likes to say.
Finkelstein fought against the regulator. This explains why he is coming at licensing from the wrong direction.

MR FINKELSTEIN: So the fact that you might describe that as licensing, it`s true that you need permission to engage in certain types of activity, but you don`t have that in mind, I don`t think, because what you are looking at is the identity of the persons concerned, that is, who is it that`s going to apply for permission to run the press or edit a newspaper, whereas if you are looking at foreign ownership and particularly anti-trust, they don`t care who it is, they are just looking to see what is going to be the state of the market before and after. So they are market economic considerations, looking at what is best for the economic development of the nation, but this is of a different order.

MR MAYNE: I guess I`m talking about gross malpractice, and phone hacking is the context that we have here, but the discussion from this morning about a beefed-up Press Council, if you had an absolute recidivist editor who completely utterly continually refused to comply with the new regime, which might be publish corrections, et cetera, it would be a final piece of recourse to give the regulatory regime some teeth.

Of course, like all good regulatory regimes, you never want to have to utilise the full powers. It just sits there and gives some authority and gravitas to, at the moment, a thoroughly disrespected regulatory regime that is trampled all over and is a bit of a toothless tiger and personally I think that it needs to be beefed up. If you have that final recourse, authority in the back there, like it works with TV and radio, I think it would improve standards and culture within the press.

730reportland: Mayne misses the mark a little bit here. Good regulatory systems, hold to account each person at every level or rank, for their own actions and responsibilities, or lack of.

MR FINKELSTEIN: If you are looking, speaking generally, at an ideal set of cultures or cultural rules, ethical rules or standards, would it be reasonable to proceed on the basis- people say how do you put it into effect, but I regard that as a separate question- but if I were to look at a typical set of codes of conduct or standards, if I take it from broadcasting, or those that are published by the Press Council or by the union that acts on behalf of journalists, they have pretty much common themes running through them, do you see them as being, relatively speaking, a reasonable set of standards?

MR MAYNE: All the words are terrific, it`s just that they are_

MR FINKELSTEIN: Implementation.

MR MAYNE: Yes, they are often ignored. It is quite uneven in terms of the way it is disrespected. There will be certain editors at certain times. Within Fairfax or News Limited you have good and bad. It goes through periods of ups and downs.

730reportland: In the current decaying news scenario, we have our Limited News star, Andrew Bolt recently losing his `white` Aboriginal court case. This has not stopped Andrew from `Dulux Color Charting` Aboriginals though. Andrew just changed the `style` of doing the same type of crap.

Andrew has `ignored` the court ruling and now uses pictures of the `white-est` Aboriginals he can find and makes sure he includes phrases like `indigenous program` along with the picture. With the current `gummy` Press Council, that doesn`t work pro-actively, Andrew has nothing to fear or lose.

 

So let`s create a `Scenerio 2` in which there is a pro-active Press Council that bites. News people are licensed from top to bottom, and directors meet the `fit and proper` test.

Andrew Bolt goes to court, which attracts the attention of the `pro-active` Press Council, which immediately looks into the situation from its end. The judgement of the Press Council may be, that it too finds Bolt is pushing `racism` or `hate speech` and suspends Andrews license for 3 months.

Without his license Bolt now cannot work not just at `Limited News` chip wrappers, but no Mac-Radio, no BoltreportLand, no Ten-News, no Qanda or anything else for the 3 months. And Media companies are not permitted to pay those who get their license suspended.

Then 3 months later Bolt returns to work and willingly chooses not to `Dulux Color Chart` Aboriginals anymore. Andrew now has something that bites to fear, and misses the salary he lost.

 

The pre Inquiry bleating about the sacred `press freedom` doesn`t really add up, but comes across as Herd-Think and Mass-Panic.

The `News` is too important to license.

No wait, the `Press` is too important to license.

Hang on, we want to `Lobby` and pretend its news.

The reality check the embedded media need to come to is that the news is either,

Important and should be treated as important and has a serious system of rules and penalty in place for all.

Or they want to lobby, spin and bullcrap about everything in a fact free style. Then they might as well save the cash and scrap the Press Council. The other regulators should go too, along with the ABC Charter, Codes of Conduct, and let everybody take their side and lobby for all their worth.

The above is a word for word extract from Page 98 to Page 102 of this transcript, with my comments added in color. We will return to the `show` after these `messages`.

 

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