The author has been described by News Ltd as an "iconoclast", "Svengali", a pollie's "economist muse", and "pungently accurate". Fairfax says he is a "Renaissance man" and "one of Australia’s most respected analysts." Stephen Koukoulas concludes that he is "85% right", and "would make a great Opposition leader." Terry McCrann claims the author thinks "‘nuance’ is a trendy village in the south of France", but can be "scintillating" when he thinks "clearly". The ACTU reckons he’s "an enigma wrapped in a Bloomberg terminal, wrapped in some apparently well-honed abs."

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Australian gives no quarter in battle to maintain media freedom

Many impressive arguments in this editorial:

WHETHER it is the Green Left Weekly, The Monthly or The Australian Financial Review, we don't believe media should be subject to increased government regulation.

As a paper unashamedly devoted to market economics and an open-minded contest of ideas, The Australian is happy to see a wide range of rational and, shall we say, less rational publications on offer in this country. May it ever be thus. But we would never acquiesce as politicians seek to have editorial content controlled by government -- certainly any more than already occurs under the laws of defamation, vilification and contempt.

Television and radio are subject to more regulation, understandably, because they rely on the government-controlled bandwidth that is a public asset. Yet aside from existing legal constraints, they too should not be subject to additional regulation of content. It is public taste that will dictate what is successful and what is not, what is acceptable and what prompts complaint, and what enhances a media organisation's reputation and what detracts from it.

Printed media does not rely on public assets. Anyone is free to establish a newspaper or magazine, print it and sell it. On one hand, economies of scale and costs of distribution make this prohibitive for most. Yet some of the publications mentioned above prove that this can be done to promulgate any particular viewpoint, at least to a niche market. On the other hand, in this digital age it has never been easier to disperse content to every corner of the globe. Online publications, with very low start-up costs, already have had an impact on traditional media. It has never been easier to access or publish an almost infinite variety of information, analysis and opinion.