Do you pay close attention to who owns the news you consume, and what their agenda is?
The Echo is locally owned and operated and has been since its inception in 1986. The Echo’s agenda has been constant throughout those years, and its motto is to ‘afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted’ (Finley Peter Dunne 1867–1936).
It appears a somewhat rare position to take for modern-day media, but The Echo can do so because it is a small independent entity.
In the past decade or more, diversity in the media landscape has been contracting, and at a rapid rate.
There is a real danger when concentrated corporate media aligns itself with an extreme political agenda. History is littered with such examples, which don’t end well.
A long essay that outlines this danger is the recently released federal Senate report into Media Diversity in Australia.
The 304 page document comprehensively examines how our media ended up where it is, and offers some useful suggestions to improve the sector through, (cough), diversity.
Notwithstanding the ABC and SBS public broadcasters, Australia has only three national-scale commercial media voices, according to the Centre for Advancing Journalism (page 81).
US-based News Corporation (Murdoch) controls ‘about two-thirds of metropolitan daily newspaper circulation, including monopolies in Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin; regional daily monopolies in a range of cities, including Cairns and Townsville; substantial chains of suburban and rural newspapers; [and] the only subscription television news service, Sky News – which also operates as a free-to-air channel in regional areas’.
Nine Entertainment owns the Nine television network, and the previous Fairfax mastheads The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Financial Review. In Western Australia, Kerry Stokes seems to have a fairly strong hold on the state’s news (print and TV) with Seven West Media Ltd.
According to IBISWorld, Newspaper publishing in Australia (August 2021, page 8), the percentage share of industry revenue puts Newscorp way ahead of the pack at 52.5 per cent, then Nine Entertainment (17.6 per cent), Australian Community Media, owned equally by Antony Catalano and Alex Waislitz (10.3 per cent), Seven West Media (6.5 per cent) and then other (13.1).
In short, Murdoch’s News Corp has been allowed to expand its already considerable influence in Australia under Liberal-National governments. It’s no secret they share similar ideologies and promote the same worldview: Punish the vulnerable, stifle public debate and exploit whatever you can for personal gain.
The Senate report admits that reform ‘will be no easy task’, and suggests a ‘dedicated judicial inquiry with the powers of a royal commission’.
It continues, ‘This kind of inquiry would have the power to compel witnesses to give evidence, and would have the capacity, resourcing and expertise to undertake a more thorough investigation than a Parliamentary committee is able to do’.
In a world where justice actually existed, and Julian Assange wasn’t locked up for reporting government crimes, this would be a good place to start.
Hans Lovejoy, editor