News Corporation founder Rupert Murdoch may have given up his right to vote in Australia's election, but he hasn't given up using his power to influence yours.
News Corp employs some of the best journalists in the country and until recently most of their newspapers have been reasonably balanced. But during this election campaign, News Corp Australia have consistently used the front pages of major publications like The Courier Mail and The Daily Telegraph to launch aggressive political campaigns against one side of politics*, while failing to scrutinise the other.
The Murdoch-owned News Corp publications account for 65% of national and metropolitan daily newspaper circulation.** In Brisbane, home to more marginal seats than anywhere in the country, The Courier Mail is the only state-wide daily newspaper available. What's more, News Corp have been turning their front pages into huge political ads, installing them as bus-shelter and outdoor advertisements in key electorates. It seems Murdoch has finally brought the kind of biased tabloid journalism seen in other News Corp media (eg. Fox News in the US and The Sun in the UK) back to his birthplace. Here's a recent front page from The Daily Telegraph:
People around the country have been adopting the slogan "Thanks Rupert, but we'll choose our own Government." They're supported by the Australian Press Council who issued a warning to newspapers this week, saying "a paper's editorial viewpoints and its advocacy of them must be kept separate from its news columns."** We expect news from our newspapers. We expect to hear from journalists reporting the facts fearlessly, not from editors who have been flown in to run an attack-dog political campaign.
GetUp (getup.org.au) is an independent, non-party-affiliated community organisation that aims to get everyday Australians involved in politics. They do great work and created the TV ad above with the help of public donations (they don't accept donations from political parties). Two of the three largest Australian TV networks told GetUp they wouldn't run the ad because it criticised Rupert Murdoch. One approved the ad and accepted payment, only to withdraw it from broadcast shortly after.
They're giving Murdoch a free pass while censoring free speech. We won't let that stop us though. Can you help make sure as many Australians see this ad as possible? Please like & SHARE this to keep it growing. Let's send a message loud and clear: Australian voters decide this election, not Rupert Murdoch.
* Murdoch's election coverage 'insult to Australians', SMH. 26th August 2013.
** FactCheck: does Murdoch own 70% of newspapers in Australia? 8th August 2013.
*** Australian press watchdog chides Murdoch media, Reuters. 27th August 2013.