As a second-year journalism student, I’ve had my share of media and society-related theories. However, no scholar or great mind could have taught me what really goes on in the newsrooms as successfully as what I’ve seen in Melbourne over the past few weeks. As we all know, the Liberal government has obvious ties with Rupert Murdoch. These were epitomised during the most recent election in the front pages of the various Fairfax newspapers around Australia. As the 2014 Budget is waiting to go to the senate, outright rage has been flowing from the masses of people who have been effected by the budget (which is…everyone?).
There have been three Australia-wide protests against the budget, focusing on particular areas such as the deregulation of university fees and the cuts to Medicare. These protests have been organised on social media by both organised groups, such as the Socialist Alternative, and by individuals. The public’s response has been huge. Elderly people, students, parents, workers, Aboriginal people, disabled people, and even pets (a pair of dogs wearing Fuck Tony Abbott shirts proudly) have attended the protests. HOWEVER, major newspapers like the Herald Sun, the Daily Telegraph, and the Sydney Morning Herald, have portrayed the protesters as a group of filthy, hippy students intent on fighting with the police, and doing themselves more bad than good. The number of people attending the protests has been dramatically reduced in all cases. It was not mentioned that a large portion of the people at the student rally were not students. Peaceful marches have been shown as aggressive. The list goes on.
This is worrying me. As a journalism student, I have been hammered with the MEAA Code of Ethics, and the fact that the role of the journalist is to portray the truth. Having the knowledge that the accused newspapers are all owned by the same corporation, the same person who enjoys dining with his good friend Tony Abbott, my worry deepens. It may be that the journalists reporting for the Sydney Morning Herald would prefer to write an article possessing true facts, but they are not allowed to. Each newspaper must stick to its agenda – be that conservative or leftist, or the will of Rupert Murdoch.
Newspapers are businesses, therefore the news is a commodity. The truth has a price, and if it’s the price of allowing the Australian public to know that it isn’t a bunch of ferals protesting the budget, but smart, civilised, working-class people – I think the price is set infinitely high.