Reading between the (not so subtle) lines

While Rupert Murdoch and John Howard engage in some mutually satisfactory back-slapping in Washington this week, letter writers to the Sydney Morning Herald explain the agenda better than any journalist from the Fairfax stable.

Peter Friend of Heathcote writes:

“Rupert Murdoch is a man who has never had any difficulty confusing his version of the world with reality. He was a supporter of the Keating Government until it wouldn’t bend to his desires. His view of the relationship with the United States then was quite different to the way he sucked up to John Howard in Washington this week. He has joined Alexander Downer as a historian of political convenience.

“This latest analysis will rank with his confident prediction that the invasion of Iraq would be a great thing for the world because it would deliver a $US20 a barrel oil price.

“Maybe it’s to do with the upcoming changes to cross-media ownership regulations.”

And speaking of cross media changes, the Australian’s lead Media article today goes a long way without saying very much. And how should readers interpret this line? “The federal Government is considering a way to ensure a minimum level of media diversity if cross-media restrictions are removed later this year.”

So there you have it. The government cares enough about the media that they’re determined to ensure “minimum levels” of diversity, though not necessarily ownership. Indeed, there’s a fine line between minimum and minimal. Journalist Jane Schultze writes as if this decision by Communications Minister Helen Coonan is a concession. Surely a functioning democracy should demand a great range of media ownership? But then, Australia has the one of the most tightly controlled media environments in the Western world. We’re an example to exactly nobody.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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