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The Daily Telegraph’s Front Page and Bezos Buying The Washington Post

August 7, 2013

daily_telegraphWith the 2013 Australian Federal Election campaign kicking off on Monday, the Daily Telegraph’s front page that morning  was a shock.

While most of the Australian community believe that News publications ‘lean’ to the right politically, just as Fairfax papers leans to the left (“The Spencer Street Soviet” used to be the nickname for The Age), we just don’t expect our major newspapers to take such a blatant political stance.

As a society, Australians like to see our mainstream print, broadcast and online media behave in a fair and balanced way when it comes to reporting the news – but at the same time for journalists and columnists to be free to express their opinions. Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said as much in response to the Tele’s front page:

“We have a free press in this country so Mr Murdoch’s media is free to say what it will and of course we disagree with the proposition they put.”

(‘Daily Telegraph front page no news to Rudd’, The Australian, 5 August 2013)

While on a whole Australians are happy for people to express their opinions (it’s one of the aspects of Australian society that is celebrated by politicians on all sides), what we don’t like is when that published opinion is based on what is perceived to be ulterior motives – which is something critics immediately levelled at the Daily Telegraph (for example, ‘Knives out for Rudd, but what’s in it for Rupert?’, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 August 2013 and ‘Any NBN is a threat to Foxtel’, ZDNet, 5 August 2013).

These perceived ulterior motives, which largely seem to come down to commercial interests, is the main reason for the Fairfax board’s resistance to mining tycoon Gina Rinehart’s investment (see for example ‘Would you buy a newspaper from this billionaire?’, BRW, 13 March 2013).

In the context of the Daily Telegraph’s front page and the role that the media will play in the upcoming election, the news that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has quietly purchased The Washington Post has been widely reported in Australia. Business Spectator had a great perspective on the trends in media publishing and the future implications for Australia:

Jeff Bezos says he will continue the tradition of crusading journalism that made the Post a national icon. Liberal Americans, and Australians too, will be glad to hear that.

Once, newspapers made so much money that journalists were free to go about their business of muckraking without too much influence from owners, advertisers or shareholders. Now, with so many papers in dire straits, and one single source of support – the deep pocketed billionaire – they have to make one person happy. That is not good for democracy.

(‘Ailing print’s Washington postscript’, Business Spectator, 6 August 2013)

Finally, a couple of links to leave you with. Over here in Australia, we often have a laugh about some of the footage we see on Fox News. Here’s one of the best: ‘If You Think Only Women Get Hysterical Over Nothing, You Haven’t Seen These 4 Dudes On Fox News Yet’. The other is a lot more serious: ‘Monckton’s push for an Australia Fox News’, ABC’s The Drum, 2 February 2012. Interestingly, the two YouTube clips that the ABC article links to have both been removed.

(Pictured above: Daily Telegraph front page, 5 August 2013. Source: DailyTelegraph)

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