May 29, 2014

Horse 1683 - Cut And Paste (The Australian Does Some of That)

Whilst looking through some microfiche at the Mitchell Library in Sydney for something quite unrealted, I found this article in The Australian's "Cut and Paste" section.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/cutandpaste/calls-to-cut-funding-for-the-abc-didnt-begin-yesterday-it-was-more-like-1933/story-fn72xczz-1226781019223
Fairfax's Laura Tingle opens questions with a conspiracy theory, ABC, yesterday:
MY question was about the correlation between criticism of the commercial model with the fact it reflects the criticism of News Limited about public broadcasters including the ABC.
That's nothing new. Spigelman:
THE ABC has always impacted on the commercial interests of other media. In 1933, I think it was, when the ABC first announced it intended to introduce a news service in Australia, a campaign was launched to cut the funding. That campaign was run by the then CEO of the Herald and Weekly Times, Sir Keith Murdoch. Some things change very little.
A pat on the back for The Australian. Spigelman again:
NEWS runs an extraordinary suite of newspapers in Australia. The Australian, itself, we are lucky to have it in terms of depth and range. The Australian is a newspaper the survival of which is rare in the print landscape around the world; we are lucky to have The Australian. It runs campaigns from time to time. It's never comfortable to be the target of one of those campaigns.
There's always a "however":
HOWEVER, I would have thought the overwhelming majority of The Australian's readers are regular consumers of the ABC - radio and TV - probably both. Those readers must be quite bewildered that it (the ABC) doesn't do anything well.
- The Australian, 12th December 2013

I make mention of this for two reasons. Firstly that it made me question my own memory (having heard this National Press Club address live) and secondly, that having questioned my memory, I was then convinced that these were not the words actually said by the ABC Chairman James Spigelman.

The first problem I found was that being a National Press Club event from December last year, it was no longer available on ABC's iView to watch again. Consequently, I had to do a phrase by phrase search to find a transcript. Thankfully, one exists:

http://www.sciencemedia.com.au/downloads/2013-12-12-3.pdf
We are lucky to have The Australian. It runs campaigns from time to time. It's never comfortable being the target of one of those campaigns. However, they are entitled to do it. 
I would have thought that the overwhelming majority of The Australian's readership also are regular consumers of the ABC, either radio and television, probably both. Those readers must be quite bewildered that apparently the ABC doesn't do anything well. 
- iSentia, Sciencemedia.com.au Transcript (page 18), 11th Dec 2013

Did you notice the difference?
- Those readers must be quite bewildered that it (the ABC) doesn't do anything well. (the Oz)
- Those readers must be quite bewildered that apparently the ABC doesn't do anything well. (actual)

One thing that the text doesn't do justice to, was Mr Spigelman's tone here. If I recall correctly, he was not admitting a supposed shortcoming of the ABC but rather, speaking with a great deal of sarcasm in his voice; given that the Australian deliberately chose to misreport this, then I wonder about the validity of his previous statement that we are "lucky to have The Australian". I really question whether in 50 years of publication, whether the rag has contributed anything positive to the life of this nation and certainly it's owner can't even bothered to call himself by the nationality which his newspaper claims to be in name anyway.

I think that at this juncture given that News Ltd's savage campaign to have funding to the ABC cut and the axing of the Australia Network despite promises by the Prime Minister himself otherwise, that News Ltd has won.
Moreover, calls that it is somehow a "conspiracy theory" and therefore not trustworthy, should by evidence of history since then, be properly classified as a "conspiracy theorem".
And yes for the record, Sir Keith Murdoch was accused of trying to have funding cut to the ABC as early as 1932:

http://www.naa.gov.au/Images/Richardson_tcm16-35865.pdf
The Labor member for the Adelaide seat of Hindmarsh, Norman Makin, spelt it out to the House of Representatives on 3 May 1932 to anyone who had any doubts: 
A large newspaper combine at the head of which is the Melbourne Herald is making a determined effort to usurp the rights and powers of Parliament. Apparently it is the ambition of Mr Keith Murdoch to become Northcliffe or Beaverbrook of Australia and dictate public policy.
(CPD, 3 May 1932, p. 265)
- National Archive of Australia.

Presumably The Australia likes to consider itself as something of a "newspaper of record" though really, it can't very well live up to this title if it can not even be bothered to report actual truth as truth. The section's title "cut and paste" is presumably an ironic one?


When we do these things, we undermine our case for free markets by conveying the impression that the benefits are only for the already rich, well-connected and politically powerful - that is why we must have a press free from government intervention and why government attempts to regulate the press in Australia and Britain have been ill-conceived. The press must be held accountable, but so must our politicians - grievances and grudges should not fuel a fundamental shift in our social balance.
- Rupert Murdoch's speech to the IPA, 4th Apr 2013

Well? Where are the benefits in the press and to whom do they flow? People do begin to resent the rich only when they conclude that the system is rigged. Is it the ambition of Mr Rupert Murdoch to become Northcliffe or Beaverbrook of Australia and dictate public policy. I don't know. Maybe if his newspapers reported actual truth as truth, we might be a step closer to the answer.

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