Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes.
Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes (AAP/Mick Tsikas)

Nothing gets the media going like issues affecting itself.

Back in October, media companies across Australia united to argue for your #RightToKnow, a concerted and organised campaign to push back on the many (and worsening) encroachments on freedom of the press in this country.

For weeks, all the major publishers in Australia ran several stories about the many ways in which journalists are stymied and intimidated our of doing their jobs.

In congratulating the media on its belated acknowledgement of Australia’s increasing police-state mentality, Crikey’s Bernard Keane offered a word of advice: if you want to push back against this trend, you should stop co-operating with it.

He was specifically referring to the tendencies of the big papers to print, without question, leaks from friendly government ministers, but today gave us another example of conduct a media company might want to avoid if they are serious about press freedom.

Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith is currently suing the Nine papers for defamation, over allegations they reported concerning his time as a soldier.

The parties are currently fighting over whether journos Nick McKenzie and Chris Masters should be forced to produce, among other things, the names of sources they relied upon in preparing their stories.

Roberts-Smith is also general manager of Seven West Media Queensland. Seven West Media joined the Right to Know campaign, with The West Australian running the same blacked-out front page as everyone else.

We wonder how this brave press freedom stance co-exists with an executive using the legal system to try to access journalists’ sources.

Peter Fray

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