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Limited News

Posted on the 29 November 2011 by Tmd05 @tmd05

Limited NewsI realize that I stand to be accused of being some sort of conspiracy theorist, especially by the politically conservative, but I can’t help myself: The blindingly obvious influence of the media, and more specifically the influence wielded Excalibur style by the owners of such outlets, is a bugbear of mine that knows no bounds and, rightly or wrongly, I like to reserve my invective whilst participating in discussions on the topic for News Corpse Corporation & Rupert Murdoch.  I am a former employee of News Limited, however, that is in no way the influence behind my axe grinding; I spent nearly 7 years, firstly as an apprentice & then as a tradesman, in the press room of News Limited in Melbourne between February 1996 & October 2002 & often dream of the place.  I have some wonderful & not so wonderful memories of the place & believe whole heartedly that a lot of the things I heard & saw in my time there toughened me up in many ways.  To say it was an eye opener for a 17 year old kid straight out of high school would be an understatement, but overall, it was a good place to work with brilliant facilities, some good people with whom I’d drink excessively in the Velvet Bar of Crown Casino & it has provided me with some life long memories of the good, the bad & the plain bizarre.

A roll call of journalists & columnists on News Limited’s payroll reads like the who’s who of the Partisan Conservative Mafia; the rolled gold Boogie Woogie Bugle Boys of right wing commentary whose wailing against the politically progressive is read daily by many in Sydney & Melbourne particularly:  Andrew Bolt; Piers Akerman; Miranda Divine; Janet Albrechtsen & George Pell (on Sunday’s) to name just a few.  Akerman is by far my favorite to mock: his pompous, round voweled & non-sensical bleating against the “carbon dioxide tax” & gay marriage in particular make for humourous reading.  His comparison of marriage to the effortless union of nuts & bolts, thereby making marriage between homosexuals & lesbians pointless & immoral, is hysterical in & of itself simply because he’s so deadly serious.  Further, his grandstanding on any number of issues is delivered completely devoid of any sensical counter argument or suggestion.  Sadly, though, unlike the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, I’m certain Akerman could maintain the rage without his merry band of fellow conservative commentators.

Murdoch’s influence on the political landscapes of Britain & Australia is, in a word, frightening.  It goes beyond influence so as to border on sheer manipulation & it’s not always via the editorial of his rags; his dispute with the Fleet St printing & journalism unions in the mid 80′s (in which, with the backing of the Thatcher Government, he basically sacked his entire workforce after they voted to strike in protest against his move out of Fleet St & into new digs at Wapping) changed the IR landscape in that country forever.  Fast forward nearly 25 years & his influence on British politics, up until the recent phone hacking scandal, had continued unabated to the point that it was suggested only half-jokingly that he was the 24th member of Tony Blair’s Cabinet, such was his presence at Downing Street.  As much as it stings to praise a Conservative, British PM David Cameron has confronted the issue of politicians currying favour with the tabloids as opposed to tackling the issues at hand, and declared that he will release all details of his dealings with media proprietors on a quarterly basis, a position that has since raised the valid question as to why we  shouldn’t do this in Australia, especially given News Limited’s 70% share of media ownership in this country…that’s before you consider Lachlan Murdoch’s interests in Channel 10 & DMG.

The saccharine coverage given to Kevin Rudd by the Limited News tabloids earlier this year – including double page center spreads – initially reeked (to me) of yet another grotesque attempt by Murdoch & his editors to further undermine the prime ministership of Julia Gillard as it was around this time that the rags ramped up their coverage of our “floundering” PM.   That was until it was revealed that Sky News, a subsidiary of News Corpse Corporation, had entered into the tendering process for the Australia Network – Australia’s TV service in Asia currently in the hands of the ABC – which happened to fall into the portfolio of none other than Kevin Rudd.  It was only days prior to Rudd’s knifing as PM that a government review had all but declared publicly that the ABC was the best organisation to continue running the network, however, upon being handed the Foreign Affairs portfolio, Rudd put the contract out to tender & you can figure out the rest.

I could bang on all day about what I see as imbalances in the media’s commentary on our politics & politicians and, to be fair, it’s not restricted to News Corp; in Sydney alone we have the likes of Alan Jones & Ray Hadley drawing in massive audiences with (seemingly) no mandate to abide by the facts of the matters at hand, much less treat anyone from the Government with any respect.  Further, in relative terms Jones has hardly been called to account for his aggressive, almost misogynistic treatment of Julia Gillard when dealing with her in person or when referring to her during his on air commentary.

My old man & many others have always said, “Whoever Murdoch backs will win the election,” and I can’t recall a time that this train of thought has been off the mark.  It’s fair enough that a bloke who inherited a small Adelaide newspaper from his father & went on to use it as a stepping stone to build a powerful, global operation wants to exert his influence…but not at the expense of balanced & truthful reporting.  His newspapers are vehicles for the likes of Andrew Bolt to piss & moan about the death of freedom of speech.  This coming from a bloke who has a national newspaper article, a national Sunday morning TV program (aired on Channel 10) & has also made numerous appearances on programs such as ABC’s Insiders: It doesn’t sound to me as though Bolt is lacking for ways in which to express his opinions.

The phone hacking scandal in the UK raises many valid questions pertaining to the influence of one man & his organisation being off the leash for far too long.  Unfortunately, however, it seems there’s only one man brave enough to not just talk about reigning him in, but putting a transparent policy in place whereby he can prove to the voting public that he’s simply not governing to boost his numbers in the polls.  Until someone else is brave enough to follow suit, I fear the old man will continue to be right.

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