Saturday 10 August 2013
Statement from all the WikiLeaks Party (WLP) Senate Candidates
The Daily Telegraph’s coverage of the Federal election undermines Australian Democracy, Wikileaks Party Senate Candidates said today.
In addition to its front-page headline last Monday “Finally you have a chance to kick this mob out”, on Thursday it portrayed the Prime Minister Mr Rudd and his Deputy Anthony Albanese as the incompetent Nazis from Hogan’s Heroes.
Every media outlet is entitled to nail its colours to the mast when it comes to editorialising for one political philosophy or one party over another, but will we see the whole? Clearly there can be no objection to a newspaper taking a political position – that is a part of democratic discourse – but when such blatant political positioning is combined with the pitiful facts of the extreme concentration of ownership in the Australian media, we have to be concerned for the health of Australian democracy.
Media moguls are the kingmakers of western democracies. We live in a media-ocracy, an almost feudal situation in which political leaders can never hope to gain office without the backing of strong-armed media barons. And aspirant politicians are cowed into submission by their power to sway the electorate. But democracy is about representing the will of the people, not the will of the spin-masters.
Australians are entitled to expect that their media outlets will report the news fairly, showing at least two sides. They have a responsibility to ensure that when they report pronouncements or policies, that they do so with balance and context.
These are fundamental attributes that we should expect from our media. But as has been illustrated during the course of this week, they are clearly missing in the reporting of the Daily Telegraph, which reflects only the agenda of its owner Rupert Murdoch. Australians deserve better from their major media outlets.
Australians also deserve greater media diversity. It should not be the case that one media outlet, in this case the Daily Telegraph, has a disproportionate influence over the democratic process.
When it comes to the concentration of media ownership, Australia is among the worst countries in the world, with 98% of print media controlled by just 3 corporations and 7 out of 10 national newspapers, including the Daily Telegraph, controlled by Murdoch’s News International. Such intense concentration of the ownership of print media in Australia creates a massive distortion in the information that Australians depend on to make their democratic choices as citizens.
The WikiLeaks Party is proposing measures, which will strengthen and diversify Australia’s media sector generally and its news media organizations in particular.
These include tax-deductibility for donations to media organizations. This was a measure that substantially helped to diversify the online news media sector in the US with the creation of new platforms like Democracy Now! and ProRepublica; the WikiLeaks Party (WLP) is also proposing the introduction of an Online Innovation Fund modelled on the Public Lending Rights Scheme, whereby Australian online content producers would be rewarded with dividends in proportion to their popularity. This measure would help to enliven the Australian media sector, and by encouraging online innovation and entrepreneurship, would also help to alleviate Australia’s youth unemployment.
Australian democracy should be strengthened by a media that is robust but fair, and big business in the media should not have the capacity to undermine our democratic values.