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ACM Home arrow Media and monarchy

Media and monarchy

Media and Monarchy


 
Comment is free, but facts are sacred


The  media play a crucial role in a modern democracy in informing the people. To do this they must be free. The media agree that there is an ethical requirement that  fact and comment should be distinguishable, and that the news should be as truthful as is reasonably possible.

As the editor of the Manchester Guardian famously declared in 1921, " Comment is free, but facts are sacred"

But while the private media are entitled to editorialise, this is not a luxury which the taxpayer funded public media, the ABC and SBS, can properly have.

In the 1999 referendum, the media were mainly and strongly in favour of change.  What became clear was that this seriously affected the presentation of the news.

As the international authority, and in his earlier career a highly respected editor, Lord  Deedes, wrote in the London Daily Telegraph :

"I have rarely attended elections in any country, certainly not a democratic one, in which the newspapers have displayed more shameless bias. One and all, they determined that Australians should have a republic and they used every device towards that end."

Dr Nancy Stone undertook a survey for The Samuel Griffith Society of two outlets at the time, The Age and The Australian.  Her research confirms Lord Deedes’ conclusion.



The media's role



"Our great misfortune, as we continue to consider the possibility of constitutional change,” observes Sir David Smith, an authority on the role and function of the Governor-General,” is that most Australians do not know enough about our present Constitution to be able to understand any proposals for change." 

To make matters worse, there are those who ought to know better yet would ignore or misrepresent its current provisions in order to advance their case for change.

“The media, who might have been expected to take a role in informing the electorate during the 1999 constitutional referendum campaign, behaved disgracefully, and no doubt would do so again in future. “Instead of reporting, the media were active partisans and conducted their own campaign for the republic.“

For example, when former Governor-General Sir Zelman Cowen and former Chief Justice Sir Anthony Mason signed an open letter for the republic, it was published on page 1 of The Australian.

“The open letter in reply, signed by, amongst others, former Governor-General Bill Hayden and former Chief Justice Sir Harry Gibbs, was published on page 10 of The Australian.

“Support for the present constitutional arrangements was equated with disloyalty to Australia, and there were some particularly nasty and offensive examples, such as The Daily Telegraph’s “Queen or Country” masthead; and The Australian’s “scales of justice” motif featuring a crown versus a slouch hat.

“Writing just after the referendum, Tony Abbott, himself a former journalist at The Australian, noted that ‘the reputation of the media can hardly be enhanced by so consistently misreading the public mood, so unrelentingly barracking for the losing side – and by subsequently insisting that voters got it wrong. ... But if the media’s job is to reflect (as well as to lead) a pluralist society, journalists as a class should be embarrassed at the way they have allowed ideological enthusiasm to get the better of professional detachment.’ "

Even the editor of The West Australian, himself a direct electionist republican, had this to say about The Australian’s coverage of the referendum debate:

“’I think it’s one of the lowest ebbs in Australian journalism because The Australian’s become totally partisan. It’s boosterism at its worst and it’s propaganda that goes beyond the rights of a newspaper to have a point of view. It was semi-hysterical most days and as it became apparent that the yes case was in trouble, it got more hysterical.”

“Even one year after the referendum, the ABC could not restrain itself. In a television news item about separate functions held in Sydney by Australians for Constitutional Monarchy and the Australian Republican Movement in November 2000 to mark the first anniversary of the referendum, the voice-over commentary by the ABC news reader told viewers that the republic would continue to be an issue 'because most Australians still wanted independence.'

Sir David adds "What was that about ABC bias?” 



The media in any future campaign
 

So how will the media behave in any future plebiscite or referendum? Will they behave ethically?

Sir David Smith doubts that they will lift their performance. If they do not, they will serioulsy risk the one valuable possession they have - their credibility.

There is a concern among journalists as to the future of quality journalism, and that is justified. The closing of The Bulletin and the running down of current affairs progammes on the Nine network  reminded journlists that these had existed only because of the indulgence of the late Kerry Packer.

The Australian only exists because its creator, Rupert Murdoch was - and perhaps still is - willing to subsidise it. The last thing journalist and editors should do is to jeopardise the standing of their outlets by indulging in shame faced bias in something as important as a proposal to change the bases of our constitutional system.

And journalists and editors must understand that the power of the mainline media has been diluted.Well before the mainline media were already losing their monopoly with the advent of talk back radio, which they had seriously underrated.

Since the 1999 campaign, the internet provides a way in which a voice minimised and suppressed by the mainline media can go behind the media filters and reach a large and increasing audience. 

Another factor will be the model presented in any future referendum.

If it involves a general election of the president, the united front among the mainstream media will fracture.  Most are opposed to this model. T

In 1999, a united mainstram  media were unable to ensure a victory for the politicians' republic in 1999.

But there can be no doubt that their long campaign for change had some effect, increasing to some extent  the "yes" vote.

Should they behave as badly as they did in 1999, they will only reinforce the lack of confidence people already show about the media in survey after survey.
 

The Age and the republican movement against the Australian Flag Print E-mail
Written by ACM   
Tuesday, 14 February 2012
       PrintE-mail
                  
        

The Age is at it again. The nation’s leading republican broadsheet has been campaigning for years for the shredding of our national flag. But this time The Age has been joined by the Australian Republican Movement, now edging back to its previous open support for getting rid of the exisitng flag and replacing it with...just about anything.

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The republican movement seems to be taking a similar position to better known republican celebrities such as Ray Martin and Peter FitzSimons, who are very open about flag change.

The republican movement unconvincingly suppressed any open support for flag change when they lost the 1999 referendum. But that changed on 5 February in a website controlled by a key national committee member David Donovan - until recently Deputy Chair and National Media Director.

He still speaks for the republican movement, for example, in his bitter personal attack on The Queen and Prince William on the ABC’s opinion site The Drum around the time The Queen was here. This has been promoted on the ARM site and through it, linked to his site.

And it’s now openly argued there that the best way for Australia to mark The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 would be to “get ourselves a new flag — one which is not ambiguous like our current one.” (And to change into some undefined politicians’ republic)



...negative...




But neither The Age nor the republican movement propose a specific republican model which they claim would improve the governance of the country. Nor do they have a new flag in mind.

It’s just that The Age detest the Crown and the national flag. It is very negative. They know what they want to destroy but don’t know what to replace the constitution and the flag with

So The Age, whose circulation continues to fall - see, has just commissioned a senior staff writer to produce a comment calling for a new flag, “Amid pride and prejudice, it's time for a new flag,” (4/2)

This relies on an unconvincing survey by a Perth-based academic, Farida Fozdar, who seems to be saying people who fly the Australian flag on their car are racists. The staff writer, Suzy Freeman-Greene, seems surprised that rank and file Australians were annoyed and upset by this exercise provocatively released for Australia Day.





...stunt...


The Age piece recalls another Australia Day republican stunt - this time in 2011- when certain former Australians of the Year joined a campaign for some unknown new flag. This only leads people to wonder whether a criterion for appointment for Australian of the Year these days is an ambition to shred the constitution and the flag, and abandon our heritage. Just what are our former Australians of the Year doing being so divisive on our national day? Haven't they got more sense of the occasion? Is it that the official Australia Day Councils have been captured by an out of touch elite?

Now that the republican movement is coming back to openly supporting flag change, will they be finally revealing which republican model they are proposing?

They have been hiding this for over twelve years.



...postscript...

According to The Sydney Morning Herald Business Section (10/2 republished with glee in The Australian on 11/2) "circulation of The Age’s Monday to Friday editions fell5.99% in the three months to December 31… while the Saturday Age fell 6.56%… and The Sunday age dropped 3.77%. At the Herald (also a hotbed of republicanism) circulation fell 11.94%… while the Sun Herald dropped 8.17%.



 
Royal Wedding and the Australian print media reviewed Print E-mail
Written by ACM   
Wednesday, 14 December 2011
In their annual review (12/12), The Australian’s media team sees 2011 as A year of disaster, death and diversion.

Image

On the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, they concentrate on the print media , not mentioning the record TV audience.


As royal wedding bells rang in London, cash registers hummed in newsagents throughout Australia, with readers snapping up souvenir editions of their favourite magazines in record numbers. Woman's Day, New Idea and The Australian Women's Weekly were among the magazines reporting sell-outs for their coverage of the nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton, now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

"It just goes to show that people love a good news story and especially a love story." said Australian Women's Weekly editor-in-chief Helen McCabe. News websites also saw a boom in traffic and print newspaper circulation leapt.”

 
Voice of the politicans republic Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Wednesday, 07 December 2011

The Age is probably Australia's most aggressively republican newspaper, but one still published under a royalist banner. The newspaper takes the view that as our Australian Flag is doomed under a politicians' republic, we might as well shred it now.

It was interesting then to see Neil Brown's comments about the newspaper in his column in Spectator Australia (26/11)on a speech given recently by Greg Hywood, the CEO of Fairfax.


Image


 “I suppose that when your company owns what it refers to as one of the world’s great newspapers and its circulation is down to 195,000, you have to find an excuse for this decline,” he writes.He says that Mr. Hywood’s explains that readership is many times higher than circulation and, hence, more important.

Image
[ A proud journal of record ]
In addition, Neil Brown says The Age has clearly adopted the tactic  that if the product is so bad that people will not pay for it, you should just give it away, thus boosting the phantom circulation and readership numbers at the same time. “This is why you can scarcely move in Melbourne these days without having a free copy of the Age thrust at you,” he adds.





...repelling readers...



Read more...
 
There will be no takeover Print E-mail
Written by ACM   
Monday, 21 November 2011

A story has appeared on a republican web site that ACM is plotting to take over another constitutional monarchist group.  

There is absolutely no truth in this story. The author is given to quite vicious comments about the Royal Family and to reporting what he claims to be their  private conversations.

He is sometimes described as a royal commentator; in a column on the Crikey website he was long described as a republican royal commentator, an oxymoron if ever there were one.

That site has an appalling record for bile and invention; it is the modern version of the yellow press. It is controlled by a leading republican who was until  recently a deputy chair of the ARM as well as being its director of media communications.


Image

...monarchists disagree among themselves – of course...


 
Read more...
 
Its time the Crown licensed the press Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Tuesday, 04 October 2011
In an extraordinary call for control of the press, the Greens leader and  prominent republican  Senator Bob Brown has declared "It's time the Crown licensed the press.”

According  to a report in The Australian (3/11) by Christian Kerr, ("Brown calls for state control of media and licences for journos") Senator Bob Brown had  already called for licensing of newspapers, a move Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has refused to rule out.

And in a recent issues paper released by the government's media enquiry, the option of a statutory press Council is put forward for discussion.

Image

Readers may be interested to see the reaction of President Bush when he was interrupted by a Greens Senator, Senator Nettle, when he was addressing the Australian Parliament.





....licence call...



The Greens leader repeated his call at an Intelligence Squared event in Sydney on Saturday, which debated the proposition "that the media have no morals".

Under questioning from the audience, Senator Brown appeared to back away from a scheme of licensing newspapers in favour of a state-sanctioned practising licence for individual journalists that could be withdrawn.

"It's time the crown licensed the press," Senator Brown said, before later calling for "some point of reference" to pull up both journalists and proprietors "who do the wrong thing in their tracks".

The motion, originally supported by an audience vote ahead of the debate, was defeated.

Although there is no express guarantee of freedom of speech and of the press in the Australian  constitution, the High Court has found that there is a freedom of political communication which is implied from the constitutionally entrenched system of representative democracy.

In the event that a government were to introduce the licensing of the press or of journalists, it would be expected that a case would be brought to the High Court to invalidate the relevant legislation.

 

 
 
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