World Views: The Case For Newspaper Diversity Two
I am becoming a fervent born-again believer in media diversity – and diversity applied to the venerable world of newspapers, most of them flailing. Take this measure, on the most important issue of our time: as a reader of newspapers, I’ve got my choice between the Sydney Morning Herald which sympathetically covers the Climate Commission’s report, The Critical Decade or The Australian which spits out the fury of climate change denial.
In today’s Herald, there is a piece by its economic commentator Ross Gittins arguing that the Climate Commission report “tells us nothing we didn’t already know, but everything we’ve lost sight of in our efforts to advance our personal interests at the expense of the nation’s.”
Gittins is a believer in liberal economics. I loved his reference in Monday’s business pages to the fact that the Australian economy sees 300,000 businesses created each year and a similar number failing. Two million workers start new jobs and a similar number leave. About 500,000 workers change industries each year. In other words – in contrast to the propaganda we get from the Metal Workers and other believers in autarky – the economy is a living organism not a steady state machine that should be frozen in place with “industry policies”.
Yet Gittins is educated enough to know there’s more to heaven and earth than the laws of supply and demand. There’s the atmosphere around the planet, for example.
Yet I’m very glad The Australian is there, even though I won’t read any of the climate denialism (the paper does nonetheless support a market-based mechanism for cutting Australia’s carbon pollution). What I would hate not having is The Australian’s feisty attacks on soft-headed political orthodoxy.
A case in point: Janet Albrechtsen’s argument today that “Too much of the mainstream media has let Brown glide effortlessly across the political landscape for years, able to proclaim his supposed moral superiority without question or critique.” This is based on reports of an online petition seeking to persuade the activist organisation Get Up to criticise the ABC. Get Up has reportedly rejected the call.
It can be assumed the petitioners are lambasting Aunty because of Chris Uhlmann’s interview with Bob Brown (see below). All Uhlmann did was to treat the Green Party as he would treat the Labor, Liberal or National Parties, with their spokespeople being held to account for their pervious comments. It’s the treatment any leader of a party should anticipate. It is routine. It should be easy to ward off.
Because this unexceptional standard is now being applied to Bob Brown some Green Party staffers (that’s my guess – the campaign is being driven from Brown’s office) are trying to pressure the ABC to stop treating the Green Party as, well, a political party. Like the others.
I want to see these debates played out in the columns of the Australian press. The best writing in Australia is being presented in its newspapers. I wish there were more. I fear there will be fewer. I fear a loss of quality then.