Did the attack by Rowan Dean, Ross Cameron and David Leyonhjelm on Sarah Hanson-Young serve “the promotion of journalistic standards”? How about the punishment of a young (female) producer for what they did, instead of the hosts and guest? How about the regular stream of bile and abuse directed by Sky News’ stable of far-right commentators, unleashed every night to pander to 50,000 (if they’re lucky) angry old white men? How about the hiring of Mark Latham despite his history of being dumped by other outlets for his offensive views?
The man ultimately responsible for this is Angelo Frangopoulos, head of News Corp-owned Sky News. Frangopoulos received an unusual honour for a media executive on Australia Day this year — a gong from the government. He was made a member of the Order of Australia “for significant service to the broadcast media sector, to higher education and the promotion of journalistic standards, and to the community.”
Frangopoulos, it’s true, has a strong CV of extra-curricular activity — chairman of the Australia Day Council of NSW, an Australian Indigenous Education Foundation ambassador and he’s on the board of the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. He also has some academic gigs. All worthy stuff and good on him — it’s a pity a few other media execs aren’t as community-spirited as he is. His is also a great Aussie story of a migrant made good.
But let’s not pretend the gong isn’t about Sky News, which gets beamed into every federal politician’s office in the country for free.
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The always conservative Sky News’s sharp turn to the far right under News Corp, and its deliberate cultivation of a small minority of angry white men in its night-time programming, has done nothing but undermine both “journalistic standards” and the quality of debate in Australia. The fetid misogyny of David Leyonhjelm, which has been dominating debate for several days now, is a vivid demonstration of what happens to civil debate when you open the floodgates at a sewage farm, as Sky has done. How much of this is Frangopoulos’ idea and how much is News Corp’s isn’t clear — Sky News is poor at corporate accountability. Frangopoulos hasn’t said a word in recent days. He was happy enough to hail the departing Samantha Maiden as “a great news breaker and I would like to thank her for her contribution to journalism at Sky News”, but that was in contrast to the studied silence over Dean and Cameron and the scapegoat producer.
A more recent gongee was someone else with a Sky News connection. Business Council CEO Jennifer Westacott got a Queen’s Birthday honour “for distinguished service to private and public sector administration through executive roles, to policy development and reform, to cross sector collaboration, to equity, and to business.” Given the the BCA’s degrading of public debate through its incessant massaging of facts about company tax cuts and the urgent need for industrial relations reform, it’d be more accurate to say Westacott had received it for services to pabulum. Westacott has been given a regular platform on Sky News by Frangopoulos to spruik the Business Council’s agenda as part of a propaganda campaign called “Strong Australia” with a News Corp marketing arm, News Corp Events. News Corp (and Foxtel, the platform on which Sky News is carried) are both BCA members.
What a cosy little world.