Australia rates 30th on this year’s table of global press freedom rankings, compiled annually by Freedom House. And one person who isn’t happy about that ranking is Donald McDonald, chairman of the ABC.
Last night, McDonald chaired an Alfred Deakin Debate at Melbourne Town Hall, where visiting US media academic Jay Rosen presented the figures. The ABC chairman told the audience he was “wounded” by Australia’s 30th position on the rankings, and couldn’t understand how a table of press freedom in 194 countries could possibly have produced such a result.
Rosen explained that the survey covered several factors, including the legal environment for the media, political pressures that influence reporting, and economic factors that affect access to information.
But later in the evening, at a dinner for Deakin participants, Rosen confessed that he hadn’t been game to tell McDonald that there was another reason for Australia’s 30th ranking – the extent of political appointments on the ABC board. Ouch.
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