Over the last 12 weeks I have tried to introduce you all to the issue of Media Ownership in Australia. To be honest, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it could have been. Since the start of the semester we have covered various techniques and sources that have looked at the numerous ways in which the hot button issue of Media ownership is represented in the media. Throughout the semester both traditional media and citizen journalism have been a ‘buzz’ with articles in relation to the introduction of Australia’s first News Media Council. A brand new or rebadged regulatory body proposed to set journalistic standards for print, television, film and online news content. This review also sparked another enquiry (The Convergence Report) looking at the framework that is applied to converged media and the ever-growing popularity of citizen journalism.
It has to be said that this issue of monitoring journalistic standards would possibly never have come into discussion in the mediated public sphere without the scandal of Rupert Murdoch’s now defunct, News of the World newspaper. After the washout and scandal had subsided, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard believed that current traditional media in Australia had “questions to answer” The Australian (17th March 2012). Since the collapse, the Australian government has been proactive in discussing the future of media in Australia and the impact that the technological age has had across all mediums.
With the advent of digital technology into the media spectrum the ownership of media becomes even murkier. Companies buy out companies and merge their media whilst other companies diverge into new areas. So how can we possibly control all of this? As we all continue to shift into a participatory culture do we all need a regulatory body to keep us accountable for our actions? The answer remains unclear.
It is no secret that the role of convergence has dramatically changed the game of journalism. We now have an abundance of user generated content that continues to promote the vacancy in opinion that traditional media has simply forgotten. When researching and collecting articles based on the issue, it was extremely challenging to decide which information was a valued opinion piece, or a slab of text ‘towing the company line’. The question we are left facing is. Does a high concentration of media ownership limit our ability to formulate our own ideologies? Given that the two battling gatekeepers in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation & John Fairfax’s Fairfax Holdings lay claim to owning 11 of the 12 newspapers in Australia’s capital cities, how can the news we read remain objective when each corporation continues to push their own ideologies upon us? The report also outlined a proposal to implement a ‘minimum number of owners’ rule, which would ensure that monopolies of media ownership could not be formed to prevent news from being falsely balanced and remain objective.
Throughout the twelve weeks articles from both media giants have been formulating a sense of moral panic, highlighting the cost of censorship and the intrusive impact and threat to free speech that will emerge if the proposed legislation is to be introduced. It is clear that neither party wants these recommendations instituted and have been voicing their opinions strongly, advising the government that an Industry controlled body would be far more beneficial in regulating news content rather than a government controlled association such as ACMA (Australian Communication & Media Authority).
In my last blog, I proposed the question “do we really care” about media ownership and the possibility of an industry lead media council? At first I wasn’t convinced that the issue was a prominent fixture in the public sphere, however I have since been assured. Just do a quick search for ‘convergence review’ in any civic media or social networking platform and you will be pleasingly surprised. The issue is being discussed and has provided me with a new level of insight surrounding the issue. What remains unclear about the role of citizen journalism is the level of censorship. The recommendations by the Convergence report disregard the regulation of bloggers, tweeters, etc. that receives a small amount of Internet traffic with the onus on the individual to self regulate their content and maintain acceptable journalistic standards.
Twelve weeks later and the issue and debate still drags on. What is clear though is how the media uses its power to promote their ideologies to the general public. We live in an exciting and empowering period in time. As prosumers we must continue to evaluate and remain objective when consuming or producing content. The dark clouds are lifting on the horizon of Australia’s media landscape; it is now time to put away the umbrellas and embrace convergence and the role of new media.
Couldn’t finish the post without adding my favourite clip from all the BCM110 lectures.
Three Little Pigs – The Guardian