You can’t judge yourself 

Joe Boswell writes: Re. “Twiggy takes journos on an undisclosed China junket” (yesterday). I laughed out loud when I read in your report that a spokesperson for News Limited said: “Fortescue did assist Scott in attending the conference. His reporting was not influenced in any way, and so there was no conflict of interest and, we believe, no need for disclosure.”

The claim that not being influenced (if true) means no conflict of interest is an obvious non sequitur. If News Limited believes this it is ignorant of basic ethical concepts. Just as unsurprising, News Limited assumes, contrary to the otherwise universally accepted and ancient principle “nemo iudex in causa sua”, that it can indeed be judge in its own cause, decide for itself whether it was influenced and so clear itself of any conflict of interest.

Online is not extralegal 

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Cyberhysteria: Obama criminalises research project (and Crikey?)” (yesterday). What is about cyberspace that makes self-appointed guardians go into hyperdrive?  Does Bernard Keane really believe that Obama is launching “one of the greatest attacks on press freedom since the Alien and Sedition Acts of the late 18th century”? If so, he has a rose-tinted view of the 19th and 20th centuries.  Bradley Manning was always going to be prosecuted for leaking diplomatic cables, just as Daniel Ellsberg was over the Pentagon Papers.  The difference is the release of the Pentagon Papers was clearly in the national interest, whereas Manning’s cache is largely random.  An regardless of this, hacking and breaching copyright are not issues of press freedom. What is online is not above the law.

ABC could trump regional TV debate

Dave Lennon writes: Re. “Regional news a pawn as networks war over reform” (yesterday). The current machinations around regional networks possible re-alignments and the effect that could have on TV news in the regional Australia is fascinating. Am I being too simplistic to suggest that most of WIN’s news bargaining chips would disappear if there were a properly funded ABC capable of producing regional bulletins? Many things exist on sufferance in regional areas purely because there is no alternative; I believe WIN news is one of those, certainly in Victoria, where I am.

US the sticking point on North Korea

John Richardson writes: Re. “We’re on the Security Council: use it on North Korea” (yesterday). So, Bruce Haigh thinks that Australia should use its membership of the UN Security Council to initiate a direct dialogue with North Korea, so as to induce a “more positive engagement towards the rest of the world” by the rogue state.

Quite apart from the obvious silliness in thinking that Australia would consider doing anything that wasn’t first sanctioned by the powers on the Potomac, Haigh appears to display a rather convenient naivety by implying that North Korea is disinterested in improving relations with its protagonists, including neighbour, South Korea. The fact is that North Korea has persistently attempted to build a dialogue with the US and South Korea over many decades, in particular by attempting to negotiate a formal armistice to replace the flimsy ceasefire agreement between north and south, but its efforts have been emphatically and repeatedly rejected by the US.

Peter Fray

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