Australian News Commentary
Media bias in Australia
Press Council Head Slams Media "Feeding Frenzy"
Even the head of the Australian Press Council was forced to criticise the media over their anti-Hanson attacks, according to the following remarks by him as reported in the West Australian on 27/10/97.
The media have gone into a "feeding frenzy" over Independent MP Pauline Hanson and were to blame for resulting damage to Australia's reputation, according to the head of the Australian Press Council.
Professor David Flint, addressing the ninth conference of the Samuel Griffith Society in Perth yesterday, said such damage could not be blamed on politicians.
"It was media indulging in its own fantasies, believing its own stories, which turned Ms Hanson into a spectre stalking the land," he said.
"Her message was presented in some quarters as if it were the voice of Satan. In fact, her more moderate than many right-wing parties in Western Europe," he said.
Media create the "race debate"
The media have done enormous damage to our reputation by portraying Australia as a racist country. They picked up on a few words of Pauline Hanson about being 'swamped by Asians' and turned them into the greatest beat up of the decade.
In his excellent book, "Among the Barbarians - the Dividing of Australia", author and journalist, Paul Sheehan puts the blame squarely on the media for the racist image of Australia. He quotes author, Helen Dodd:
Styled as the 'race debate', it was never a debate among average Australians. It was written, orchestrated and performed by the media. The media have peddled the idea that Australia is a racist country so widely that our Asian neighbours are beginning to accept this twisted reporting as fact and the media have now placed Australia in a precarious position.
Sheehan says (P165)
Trevor Watson, a former head of ABC radio, crystallised the problem at a conference on the Australian news media in 1996. 'Today the emphasis seems to be on conflict and sensation. The objective doesn't seem to be to inform the public any more, it seems to be to entertain the public through some sort of conflict.' He described Australia as a tolerant, non-racist country but a very different impression was given to Australia's Asian neighbours by the media's coverage of the Hanson debate. The Hanson public relations disaster for Australia in Asia was largely media-made.
The West Australian.
Most of the recently published letters to the editor are anti-Hanson. On Friday 19 June all of the published letters were anti-Hanson. Yet on the same day, radio 6PR commentator, Howard Sattler (one of the few commentators to Ms Hanson a fair go) interviewed an analyst who had tabulated over 700 radio talk-back calls throughout Australia in the past week and who reported that Hanson calls were running at around 70% in her favour.
The West Australian editorials are virulently anti-Hanson( they are also anti Richard Court and anti right wing in general). Andre Malan, chief head-kicker at the West, has written a series of scurrilous anti-Hanson articles. When I wrote a letter to the editor in response, it was naturally not published.
The Weekend Australian June 20-21, 1998 has gone quite crazy with anti-Hanson paranoia. While the editorial piously lectures John Howard on how to eradicate Pauline Hanson as if she were a type of virus, page after page of slanted articles set out to denigrate her.
Commentator Shelley Gare goes right over the top by suggesting Pauline Hanson is having it off with various unnamed persons. This exposes the incredible hypocrisy of the media. There has always been an unwritten media rule not to report on the after-hours activities of our esteemed representatives in Canberra. If it wasn't for this hypocritical censorship then perhaps at least one Prime Minister may not have made it to the Lodge. Yet Ms Gare is quite prepared to set tongues wagging with her nasty little piece.
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