‘What happened to you guys? You used to be so radical, so contrarian. Sometimes you were even funny. Now you’re just boring. All you ever talk about is bond yields and iron ore prices. All the edge is gone.’
Your editor likes to meet with his critics, especially when they’re buying the beer. But last night, the free beer was barely enough compensation for the flack we copped. Our long-time reader and friend is beyond disappointed. He’s bored!
‘Seriously. I used to read you guys because you made me laugh. And you made me think. Now you just make me want to jump off a bridge…or get stuck in traffic. You need to raise your game or I’m going to start reading The Age again. I’m serious.’
Duly noted. In the spirit of provocation and mischief, we encourage you to read a recent article by Mr Steve Gibbons, the Federal Member from Bendigo. Please avoid being in the immediate area of any hard vertical surfaces like walls, though. You’ll want to smash your head in frustration.
If you can’t be bothered reading Mr Gibbons’ article about media regulation, we’ll excerpt the key point for you. This looks suspiciously like a trial balloon by a government that wants to silence media critics by creating a new regulatory body. Here is the relevant non-sense:
‘As a society, we seem to have no difficulty legislating for socially acceptable standards and behaviour in most walks of life. In particular, our legislators, regulators and the legal system have no difficulty defining and regulating misleading advertising and I fail to see why it should not be possible to do the same for misleading news reporting…
‘I think penalties of a commercially significant nature do lead to improved behaviour and in recent days we have seen Apple fined $2¼ million for misleading consumers about its iPad and internet service provider TPG fined $2 million over its misleading advertisements.
‘Fines such as these, or temporary suspensions of the right to publish or broadcast, for false or misleading news reporting would lead to a major change in the accuracy and fairness of news reporting.’
You read that correctly. A politician is pushing for the power to punish and fine the media for what a group of regulators considers ‘misleading’ media coverage. To be fair, if anyone knows about how to mislead people, it’s probably a professional politician. As a general class, they make their living tell ‘untruths’.
But really, as hard as we try to see the lighter side of this, there’s nothing funny in the persistent effort by the political class to shackle speech it finds inconvenient. Current libel and defamation laws are quite sufficient to police unethical or illegal media behaviour. New media regulation is just a power grab in disguise by people who want to force everyone to think the same way.
And one last point on this. Look around the Internet and you’ll find plenty of diversity. There are many ‘voices’ out there giving their take on the news and what it means. Digital media is more democratic than ever before. That fact is probably what scares the political class. More people than ever are thinking for themselves and finding alternative sources of information outside the so-called mainstream.
Beware the people who call for consensus! In a free society, you’re free to say and think whatever you want, even if it offends someone else. People who want us all to ‘come together’ and reach a ‘consensus’ on big issues really just want everyone to share the same opinion. Tough luck you thin-skinned control freaks. Get over yourselves.
for Markets and Money
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