Opinion: Trusting Australia’s media

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There is no denying that News Corp Australia’s newspapers are incredibly biased. Thanks to Rupert Murdoch, the 2013 election campaign was littered with right-wing propaganda. Murdoch controls 70% of the capital city newspaper circulation and his influence is obvious throughout Australia’s newspapers, televisions news stations, radio stations, and the Internet.

Rupert Murdoch’s political influence is actually terrifying. He owns The Australian, The Daily Telegraph (NSW), Herald Sun (VIC), The Courier-Mail (QLD), The Advertiser (TAS), The Sunday Times (WA), and Northern Territory News (NT).

In 2010, Murdoch’s company News Corp owned five out of eight of the largest circulated newspapers in Australia, notably holding the top three spots. In 2015, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age – both owned by rival Fairfax Media – took out the top two positions. News Corp newspapers followed in the next four most circulated newspapers in Australia. We can certainly see that the times are changing. Citizens are becoming more skeptical about what they are reading, and more aware to whom they are giving their money to.

Rupert Murdoch had a significant influence on the 2013 Australian federal election, and by the looks of it, he had a bit of practice. News Corp has in the past favoured Gough Whitlam, Malcolm Fraser and Kevin Rudd in federal elections. Murdoch has been using his media company’s leverage to influence political life in the United States and the United Kingdom as well as Australia.

In Britain, Murdoch had a close relationship with Margret Thatcher. His newspaper The Sun has been credited to influencing the unexpected election victory of her successor John Major in 1992. In the United States, Murdoch’s political contributions and donations largely favour Republican candidates. His television channel, Fox News, significantly boosted right wing values in the U.S. and the Republican Party’s public profile.

When asked by Ken Auletta – a journalist writing a profile on Murdoch for The New Yorker – what gives him the most pleasure in his professional life, Rupert Murdoch replied:

“Being involved with the editor of a paper in a day-to-day campaign… Trying to influence people.”

Rupert Murdoch, 1995

Murdoch and News Corp are certainly the stars of this story, controlling the majority of news publications in Australia. The question remains… Who can we turn to if we are looking for unbiased journalism?

There has been a lot of scrutiny recently from the right about whether the ABC displays bias in its reporting of the news. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is a state owned and funded national broadcaster. Although funded and owned by the government, the ABC remains editorially independent through the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983.

Whilst it is important to assess bias from both the left and the right (it would be biased not to), I believe the assertion that the ABC is actively bias to be false. It is tremendously difficult to not show bias to some level, as you can also not show bias towards the middle. The ABC is inherently left winged, but they conduct regular audits of bias in their news coverage and genuinely take the issue very seriously.

It is obvious that there are multiple large scaled right winged media outlets, but not many left winged ones. Perhaps if there were more left wing publications, the ABC wouldn’t have to worry about being perceived as biased.

Another important point is that the ABC should fundamentally and actively question the government – who ever is in power. Being an independently operated news source, The ABC should take pride in scrutinising both sides of government – which I believe, it does.

It seems to me, that the ABC has a strong reputation for reporting the facts. The Coalition government has decided to do some pretty bewildering things while in power, and the ABC has reported on it. If it is bad publicity for the Liberals and Nationals, then they can only blame themselves.

Ironically, it is quite difficult to write this opinion piece without letting my own political bias distort the message. I believe it is important for politically minded individuals to take much of the media’s messages with a grain of salt. It is imperative that we search for meaning and truth through multiple sources… Just make sure that the same person doesn’t own all those mediums.

Feature image credit: http://www.tasmaniantimes.com.au/index.php/article/how-rupert-murdoch-went-bad-
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