December 11, 2021
A prodigious bunfight over media concentration broke out in Australia this week. A Labor-Green alliance in the Australian Senate, which has legislative powers closer to the American upper chamber than its Canadian counterpart, recommended a judicial inquiry into the influence of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp media empire on Australian politics. The Senate recommendation is the outcome of a wildly successful online petition launched a year ago by two former Australian Prime Ministers, Labor’s Kevin Rudd and the Liberals’ Malcolm Turnbull. However both the governing Liberal government of Scott Morrison and the Opposition Labor leadership immediately rejected it.
Fascinating political intrigue, to say the least.
Speaking of things Australian, its Media Bargaining Code has inspired news outlets in New Zealand to ask their equivalent of the Competition Bureau to confer a restraint of trade waiver on them so they can combine to negotiate pay-for-content deals with Google and Facebook.
Speaking of persons Australian, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been ordered extradited to the US by the British High Court, discounting his mental health defence. The US wants to put Assange on trial for an alleged conspiracy with US Army Intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to hack military secrets published by Wikileaks, a charge Assange denies. Unless the High Court order is reversed, a trial promises to be a David v. Goliath collision between press freedom and military secrecy and security.
The US philanthropic local journalism initiative Report for America announced a major expansion of its internship program to 325 posts in 270 newsrooms in 50 states. The non-profit group is underwritten by private funders, including the Knight Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation (Walmart), Google and Facebook.