Pollie pedals online, Addy hate. Paul Holloway, a Labor pollie in the South Australian parliament, had a bone to pick with local rag The Advertiser last week. Which turned into a colourful rant against News Limited, journalism in the digital age and the health of democracy we thought was worth repeating. He rose in parliament last Wednesday to declare:

“What I believe has happened in recent times is that the internet and the rise of social networking has totally shifted this equation. In past eras, when journalists jealously guarded their integrity, newspapers purported to cover events accurately, and they were the main source of information for the public. Stories were checked for fact and, when errors did occur, they were corrected.”

Holloway was annoyed with The Addy ignoring the government’s complaints. As he tells it:

“As I discovered a few months ago, when a minister writes to the editor of The Advertiser to correct a gross error in a letter from a correspondent to the editor — indeed, it was an outright lie — the correction may not be printed. To add insult to injury, in that case The Advertiser then allowed the lie to be repeated in a further letter, with the comment that the original claim must have been true because it was not corrected by me.”

And then the ultimate insult — a ringing endorsement of a book by a disgruntled ex-News Limited editor: “I commend to members the recent book Man Bites Murdoch, which was written by a former editor of the Sunday Age and the Herald Sun, Bruce Guthrie, and to anyone who has in an interest in how the Murdoch press operates and what the perception of its proprietor is of ethics.

Newspapers will be “obsolete in as little as five years’ time”, he declared. And the online environment presents an “even greater challenge … to civility in politics”; magnifying “the capacity for disseminating false, misleading and inflammatory information”:

“Do‑it-yourself journalism, freed from the need to check facts, to obtain alternative views, to obey the laws of libel or to uphold even the most basic standards of fairness and decency, is now becoming the dominant means of disseminating information. Hatred and abuse are increasingly replacing argument in political debate.”

— Jason Whittaker

News journos reminded of communications policy. Rupert Murdoch’s news empire is in full damage control mode over the News of the World phone hacking scandal. But we’re sure this training for its Australian journalists is just a coincidence…

Dear Colleague,

News Corporation is committed to high ethical standards and lawful conduct around the globe. In support of those commitments, and as part of a larger effort to ensure that all of our employees know and comply with our policies, the Company is pleased to offer a new online Electronic Communications training course.

The Electronic Communications Policy is an important part of the proper operation of the Company and its business units, and we want to be sure that all the employees to whom the Policy applies are trained in the subject. It is very important that you read the Policy carefully as part of this training if you haven’t already done so. As an employee it is compulsory for you to comply with its provisions.

You will be receiving an email from News Corporation’s COMPASS system, with an invitation and instructions to take the course. When you receive the COMPASS email, it is your obligation as someone who works for the Company or one of its business units to complete this training in a timely manner.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your HR Department. Thank you for your cooperation in this important initiative.

Lon Jacobs
Senior EVP, Group General Counsel, News Corporation

Age gets excited about phone hacking. The News of the World phone hacking scandal (and grovelling apology) is big news in Britain and locally. But was Fairfax’s Sunday Age gloating a little yesterday? A front page pointer led to a lead World item on page 11 from London correspondent Paola Totaro and an accompanying opinion piece from The Guardian‘s Dan Sabbagh. As editor Gay Alcorn tweeted on Saturday…

News Corp to sell Myspace at big loss

“…[T]he nearly six-year-old marriage has become the latest example of what can happen when a traditional media company imposes its will — and business plan — on a start-up that has not yet reached its potential.” — Reuters

Trump lashes out at NY Times columnist

“Donald Trump lashed out at New York Times columnist Gail Collins in a letter to the paper published on Friday.” — Huffington Post

Investors set to back Stokes in West/Seven deal

“West Australian Newspapers’ $4.1 billion takeover of Seven Media Group will be settled today. But David Leckie, who will run the combined group will miss the meeting as he is to testify against departing Seven executive James Warburton.” — The Australian

Sandilands to follow Bolt?

“Kyle Sandilands is in talks with the Seven Network to take on the hosting role of a late night talk show later this year.” — Media Spy

Peter Fray

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