Credit where it’s due — the Right To Know Coalition, which is made up of representatives of virtually every mainstream media organisation in the country, would not have got off the ground without the energy and commitment and financial support of News Limited and its boss, John Hartigan. Without Hartigan’s commitment there would have been no report by former Human Rights Commissioner Irene Moss into the impediments and roadblocks to a free press in Australia. Her report is well worth reading. It should be sobering for journalists and those in the wider community who might think journalists in Australia are properly able to hold to account those who have the power to make life-changing decisions that affect all of us.
That said — and yes, pompously so, for we journalists tend to get pompous when we talk about our role as the guardians of liberal democracy — the fact is that, as far as I can tell, the Right to Know Coalition has produced no groundswell of community outrage at the fact that journalists are severely hampered in all sorts of ways in properly carrying out their vital to democracy duties. The Moss report sank without a trace. Indeed, it received little coverage by many of the media organisations that commissioned it.