Crikey editor Misha Ketchell writes:


Queensland Premier
Peter Beattie says his speech in Melbourne on Wednesday criticising the
media’s level of accountability and calling for Fairfax to set up a
rival paper to the Courier-Mail in Brisbane was a “very risky” thing to do, and could do “irreparable damage” to his political career.

“Newspapers usually carry an editorial at election time indicating which way people should vote and I could find TheCourier-Mail campaigning against me at the next election,” he told Crikey this morning.

“I
do believe very strongly in a strong democracy and I do believe
everyone in public life should be accountable. It may well affect my
longevity. It was not the smart thing to do but it is the right thing.
Most politicians won’t do it and you can understand why when you see
this level of personal attack and distortion.”

As for proposed
federal government changes to cross-media ownership laws, Beattie said
he’d have more to say on the topic at a later date.

News Limited has twice hit back over Beattie’s attack on the editorial standards of its paper – in an editorial in TheCourier Mail before he delivered his lecture and again today in a hard-hitting editorial in the Herald SunMedia tart blunders on.

Beattie said today of the Herald Sun
editorial: “And News Ltd accuses me of spin! Nothing in my speech
involved shooting the messenger – only in making suggestions of how it
could become more accountable and responsible.”

“At the end of
my speech I specifically asked the industry to consider not why these
measures should be resisted but how they could be adopted in a positive
way by the Australian media. Why do they expect to be unaccountable and
to be able to do whatever they like? Why do they expect to be above it
all? If a paper like TheWashington Post can be examined by an ombudsman, why shouldn’t papers like the Herald Sun? What is so radical about employing an ombudsman? Why are newspapers like the Herald Sun terrified of being accountable?”

And
the Queensland premier said his government would be unlikely to
offer financial incentives for a new media player to enter the market –
but said he’d love to see Crikey set up a Brisbane operation.