A Nobel peace laureate and media mogul Rupert Murdoch may not have much in common, but this week a Filipino journalist Maria Ressa and the executive chairman of News Corporation spoke with one voice against what they both say is a threat to journalism: social media platforms.
Ressa told the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Sydney Dialogue that Facebook and Google are biased against the facts and create “a virus of lies” that threatens all democracies.
Murdoch told his shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting that “Big Techs” need reform because algorithms are “subjective” and silence conservative voices.
While Ressa worries about the effects on democracy, Murdoch, to be fair, focuses on the need to protect his business.
Their comments follow accusations by a Facebook whistleblower that social media is responsible for increasingly polarized politics around the world.
Ressa received the Nobel Prize along with Russian journalist Dmitri Muratov for their “courageous fight for freedom of expression, a prerequisite for democracy and lasting peace”.
While Murdoch may not have strong algorithms, he does have loyal lieutenants.
And nothing more than veteran business commentator Terry McCrann, who was the first to back the media mogul’s remarks.
âSocial media like Facebook, YouTube and others, search engines like Google, don’t need to be better regulated, they need to be destroyedâ he wrote in the Australian.
That he rushed to print in support of Murdoch is no surprise. Just a few weeks ago, McCrann wrote a notable article on Fox News’ 25th anniversary: Rupert Murdoch and his most incredible decade of all time. Notable for his glowing treatment of the boss, ie.
âExtraordinary and impressive as the history of Fox News in itself has been, is the fact even more extraordinary that this was the culmination of a decade of breathtaking entrepreneurial risk-taking on three continents by Murdoch . “
ABC on the way
Murdoch has an enemy closer to home than Facebook and Google of course, and it’s the ABC, which, like the digital giants, is an obstacle to its total dominance of the market.
A striking demonstration of what Murdoch faces in regards to ABC was a list of Australia’s top 20 news sites, released this week by data analyst Similarweb and Mediaweek industry bible.
The data, which is based on non-unique total traffic for October 2021, shows abc.net.au as Australia’s largest news publisher, with more than 100 million total visits for the month.
In second place is Murdoch’s news.com.au, the only Murdoch property not behind a paywall. The Daily Telegraph fails to make the list and the Australian is in 15th place, not a good result for the “heart of the nation”. After news.com.au, News Corp’s websites are no more than the 14th.
Morris’s farewell words
Outgoing ABC News boss Gaven Morris addressed the constant attacks on ABC by News Corp, in an outing interview with Inside Story.
Morris told reporter Margaret Simons he wanted ABC reporters to spend less time worrying about “noise” coming from the Australian and his News Corp comrades and more time trying to broaden their focus to âthe breadth of experience and views of the public – working – class people, people with disabilities, people most journalists never meet.â The Australian takes daily ABC photos, giving the unfair impression that the public broadcaster is in crisis and viewers are failing.
Morris wants ABC staff to ignore the criticism.
“He is concerned, for example, whether the organization has correctly reflected the views of the 30% of Australians who voted ‘no’ in the marriage equality referendum,” Simons wrote.
âI’m not talking about religious fanatics. I’m talking about genuine Australians who have a different 70% point of view. Are we at least making sure that this is reflected? I don’t necessarily think we hit the nail on the head.
Morris also revealed that he was not happy with the culture of press leaks and this prevented him from being “upfront and honest” with staff for fear that what he said would appear in the news. newspaper.
âIt’s one of the hardest parts of ABC culture,â he said. “I’ve always struggled with this.”
It’s not intimidated
Ita Buttrose showed just how tough and fearless she is this week when she accused the Morrison government of political interference.
ABC’s president said the government was trying to intimidate the public broadcaster after the Senate opened an investigation into ABC’s complaints process.
“Any such foray into CBA independence should be seen by Australians for what it is: an attempt to weaken the community’s trust in the public broadcaster,” said Buttrose, a “choice Captain âof Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
The 79-year-old spoke about her remarkable career and being the first woman to publish a major metropolitan newspaper in Australia in the 2021 Women for Media report: “Take the next steps”.
She says that when she left the Kerry Packer’s magazine empire to join Murdoch’s News Ltd in 1981, she was completely in shock because there were no women in the hierarchy.
“They weren’t sure what to think of me and clearly editing newspapers was still ‘a man’s job’,” said the former editor of Australian Women’s Weekly.
Buttrose clearly has no qualms when it comes to calling out powerful men. On Sunday she accused Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg of playing politics and in the report she made unflattering remarks about none other than the executive chairman of News Corporation.
Asked about his collaboration with Packer and Murdoch in the 1980s, Buttrose replied, “Kerry was the smarter of the two.”
For someone who has been dead for over 40 years, Robert Menzies had a particularly active day in The Australian on Friday. “Menzies is ‘appalled’ by the trends on campus” read the title of page three.
No, Ming had not returned from the dead, but his spirit had been summoned for the opening of the Robert Menzies Institute at the University of Melbourne, where Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge said that Australia’s longest-serving prime minister was reportedly outraged by âde-platformingâ and âhostility to opposing viewsâ.
This is a big claim considering that Menzies tried unsuccessfully to ban the Australian Communist Party and was not himself above a little censorship.
Smoke but no fire on BBQ man
The press regulator backed the Australian Financial Review’s right to name the mystery shopper who broke the 110-day Covid-free race in Sydney in May as a ‘BBQ man’.
The AFR article revealed his name, job and face on the front page of the newspaper, arousing indignation that identifying Covid-19 patients would discourage people from getting tested and from cooperating with contact tracers.
“The board considers that there is a public interest in reporting on Apollo Global Management’s business activities in Australia, and notes that the appointee is somewhat of a public figure given his or her position within the organization. “, said the Australian Press Council in its arbitration which authorized the End.
Gender gap highlighted
The statistics from the Women for Media 2021 report, by Dr Jenna Price and Dr Blair Williams, are depressing to read. The academics took a snapshot of the Australian media landscape by analyzing articles published each day of May 2021.
Men still dominate the media industry despite the pioneering work of women like Buttrose. The gender disparity is apparent in the journalists who write the stories, the subjects of the stories and the subjects of the stories.
For example, women journalists wrote 43% of the highly visible and popular articles, and women were in 50% of the sample. But when men write, women only appear in 37% of the stories.
Among the major print publications, the Australian Financial Review, the Herald Sun and the Australian published many more stories written by men.
Of all opinion pieces published in all media in May, 65% were written by men. And women’s voices are still not heard as frequently in the media: only 31% of quotes are attributed to women.