A discussion of contemporary issues in media ethics, with olives and a twist. Made with only the freshest ingredients, shaken, stirred and poured over ice. I should also mention that I do like the odd, occasional martini. Bombay Sapphire gin and Lillet, dry and plenty of salty olives. Welcome to this cocktail of journalism and alcohol. A fine combination!

Monday, 18 June 2007

Alan Johnston - 14 weeks in captivity

It's now 14 weeks since BBC correspondent Alan Johnston was kidnapped in Gaza. Given the events of the past week in which it seems Hamas has effectively destroyed the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah faction, it is a dangerous time for Johnston.

Hamas has apparently sent a message to the kidnappers demanding Johnston's release. You can keep up with the story by clicking on the picture of Alan on the right of the page.

QUT Acting Vice Chancellor defends actions in suspending academics

This is a response from Professor David Gardiner, acting V-C at QUT, posted at ABC Online. I've reposted it here in an effort to be "fair and balanced" about this debate.

First Posted: Saturday, June 16, 2007 . 2:38pm -->Last Update: Saturday, June 16, 2007. 2:38pm (AEST)
Facts missing
By Professor David Gardiner

There are some important facts missing from the current debate about a research project being undertaken by a PhD student in the Creative Industries Faculty at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
The research project is in its early stages. A further two years of work will be undertaken on this project before it is completed.
As is usual practice in doctoral research, the student made an initial presentation to his confirmation panel about his project.
The seminar was presented under the working title, "Laughing at the Disabled: Creating Comedy that Confronts, Offends and Entertains", which was subsequently formalised as "Laughing with the Disabled: Creating Comedy that Confronts, Offends and Entertains". This latter title was the title of the project approved by the QUT Ethics Committee in October/November 2006.
Either title can be construed as provocative. Unfortunately, current concerns have focused on an interpretation of this title and not on the content or aim of the project.
Below is an extract of the student's summary of the research work:
"Increasingly comedy writers and program makers are drawing on strategies which confront and shock an audience so that the humour arises from a mixture of audacious surprise, embarrassment and even outrage. Such humour drives the films such as Borat and TV series like The Chasers War on Everything, The Office and Extras.
"In our laughter we often laugh with those affected but at times a line is crossed and we can find ourselves laughing at the characters, their predicaments and the crass impacts they are having on others.
"This study is about that line, how it shifts and the difficulties that program makers have in negotiating it. It is an investigation of the principles of contemporary comedy on film and the way program makers balance confrontation with empathy, giving offence with the warm laughter of recognition, and entertainment with irony which exposes human complexity.
"My study does this by employing two remarkable men with disabilities and aims to create, through laughter, insight into their unique contribution to Australian society and the values we hold.
"The project was developed in consultation with the disability group, the Spectrum organisation, the parents and advocates of the two men, and the men themselves. It has also been overseen by an external disability consultant."
Disciplinary action
Following the presentation and subsequent actions, a student and staff made formal allegations that two QUT academics had breached the university's code of conduct.
The university convened a three-person committee comprising an external party and two senior academics to investigate the misconduct allegations.
The committee found that a breach of the code of conduct was proven in relation to each of the allegations made. The disciplinary action taken by the vice-chancellor is within the range of disciplinary measures available under the code for such breaches.
Research project ethics
Projects that involve humans require ethical clearance in accordance with the guidelines published by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
In response to complaints about the project, QUT instigated a review of the ethics approval process by the University's Human Research Ethics Committee, which applied the NHMRC guidelines.
QUT convened an audit committee to determine if, in the initiation, structure or conduct of the research to date, any breaches of the ethics code have occurred.
The five-person committee included an independent member who was part of the Commission of Inquiry into the actions of Dr Jayant Patel.
The committee also comprised three senior QUT academics who were in no way connected with the student or the research, including two members with expertise in psychology and in human services.
The panel found "no evidence of harm, discomfort, ridicule or exploitation to the participants, (names withheld), as indicated by the letter of complaint".
The panel noted "the positive enthusiasm of the participants involved, their treatment with dignity and sensitivity, and the warm way in which they were welcomed into the particular community where filming had occurred".
The panel found "no major grounds for objection in either the manner of application, review and approval; or in the conduct of the project to date".
Further, as part of this investigation, QUT asked an independent psychologist specialising in the disability field to comment on the cognitive abilities of the two disabled men.
On the basis of her opinion (derived from interactions with the two men), and the range of other evidence available, QUT is of the view that the men understand the project, are willing participants and are deriving benefit from their involvement.
It is also important to note that the individuals who are the key participants in the PhD study provided written consent to be involved in the project and had previously both appeared in a four-part documentary series called Unlikely Travellers which the PhD student directed and produced in 2005/2006.
The fact that the two individuals have wished to participate in the study and that informed consent has been obtained from them and their parents/guardians does not appear to have been widely publicised in any of the discussions regarding this issue.
QUT's role
In its approach to the research and the subsequent allegations made by a number of parties, QUT has conducted itself in accordance with the rules and regulations that govern such matters.
It has done so in an impartial way and using appropriately qualified and unbiased people. Where allegations have been proven action has been taken in accordance with documented measures.
QUT is at pains to ensure that the rights of all students, staff and other people involved, are protected. QUT does not support the exploitation of any person or party. This is evidenced by the way in which the university has gone about its investigations and hearings.
Universities are places where research can be conducted that may be sensitive or controversial. Any such research needs to be balanced with legal obligations and ethical considerations, while providing scope for academic freedom and the democratic principles of freedom of speech.
Achieving this balance requires all parties to conduct themselves in a responsible, respectful and scholarly manner.
Based on the ethics committee findings, QUT believes the research project has been publicly misrepresented, to the detriment of the university.
QUT takes its role seriously and remains firmly committed to the principles of ethical research and freedom of speech.
- Professor David Gardiner, acting Vice-Chancellor, Queensland University of Technology

Another QUT academic speaks out

This commentary was posted at ABC Online by Phil Castle, a colleague of Hookham and MacLennan. I've reposted it because several comments on my blog so far have criticised the stand I've taken in support of two people who I respect immensely. OK, so I'm in Auckland and not close to the action, but Phil Castle is right there. The comments on Phil's original post are also worth checking out from the link above.

Fear at QUT
By Philip Castle
Recently, I asked a Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Creative Industries colleague about the "Laughing at the Disabled …" debate. He said: "I can't say anything." I said: "Why?" "The MOPP doesn't allow me," he said. MOPP is the Manual for Policy and Procedures at QUT.
I said: "I don't recall ever relinquishing my rights to free speech when I began working at QUT." He said he couldn't comment, but the facts hadn't properly come out. I asked what facts? He was clearly reluctant to talk. The one he mentioned; he was wrong.
On June 8 two QUT senior TV and film academics Drs Gary Maclennan and John Hookham were found guilty of misconduct and given six months immediate suspension without pay.
Dr Maclennan has been at QUT (previously QIT) for 32 years. They criticised a PhD candidate's footage about two disabled men at his confirmation in March and then wrote a joint article in The Australian on April 11.
They also criticised the supervising academics and the ethical clearance process for not engaging the disability community first. Dr Maclennan has since unreservedly apologised to the PhD candidate.
My colleague said QUT and the PhD student had not told their side of the story. I said the student has had many opportunities. I had even given his telephone number (from on-line) to journalists, with his knowledge and he still declined.
The PhD candidate won't show his section of the film now either (I have asked) which he showed at his March confirmation and at two successive first year lectures to over 100 students in early May.
This was where the two men with mental impairment portrayed in the film were also present, unbeknown to the audience, until afterwards. He again showed the footage of an Aboriginal woman in an alleged amorous drunken state; three weeks after the critical article in The Australian.
International QUT Norwegian student Atle Nielsen was at the Foundations of Film and TV lecture in N Block on May 2. He said: "I didn't and couldn't laugh at the scenes and was very sorry for the two young men when they came down at the end. It wasn't right. I work with handicapped persons in Norway and it's wrong."
QUT has unwittingly created a climate of fear where academics feel they either can't or won't be able to express a view. Obviously two who did, whether rightly or wrongly, have now paid a hefty price.
The punishment is not proportionate to the alleged offences and almost unprecedented in Australian universities. The penalty is about a $50,000 fine and an almost enforced resignation. It gave the story "legs'" as journalists say. An unpleasant legal stoush is almost guaranteed.
If as Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Coaldrake says, it is not about freedom of speech, but misconduct towards a student and colleagues, then certainly that message hasn't reached my fearful colleague.
It is about free speech as The Australian's article obviously upset QUT. A senior QUT academic said to me early in the debate, "…and they have done it twice" ie they have written twice to the newspaper and by implication now they have to pay.
QUT is a great university of which I'm generally proud. Its successful PR slogan is "QUT: The University for the real world." I can't judge if the "Laughing at the disabled …" clips are reasonable because I'm not privileged to view them.
The ethical processes used appear superficial. I know QUT could solve part of the damage if it engaged the disability community experts to assess the project.
If QUT doesn't act soon, it will become internationally known as "QUT: the university which laughs at the disabled." How very sad for such a fine university.
- Philip Castle is a journalism lecturer at QUT, former print journalist and former head of The Australian Federal Police PR

Friday, 15 June 2007

Another case of American media self-censorship

Media Matters - ABC's World News only network news broadcast to report on subpoenas for former Bush aides

This is a disturbing story. Only one American news network reported that two former aides to Dubya had been subpoenaed to appear before the House and Senate judiciary committee over allegations of corruption in the appointment and firing of federal prosecutors. The Bush White House is being protected from public scrutiny by the media watchdogs.

This is a good example of how the force of the so-called 'Fourth Estate' in journalism has been fundamentally weakened over the past 10 years or so. The traditional media watchdog role was to bark and bite at those in power who abused the trust of the citizenry. That's the historic foundation of the Fourth Estate model.

Today the role of the Fourth Estate in most cases is to sit quietly at the master's feet, licking its own scabby ar*e.

Another American media boondoggle?

Media Matters - Savage on the "progressive movement": "the brownshirts of today ... the same rabble that brought Hitler to power"

American shock-jocks never cease to amaze and astound. They get paid fat salaries to p*ss from a great height on anyone and everyone. This particular savage, Michael Savage, is apparently famous for aligning Hillary Rodham Clinton with the Nazis and now he's labelled the "progressive" movement in America as the "new brownshirts". He claims to be a student of history, but it's not history as we know it.

This link - to the Media Matters for America website - documents the savage history of Mr Savage. Not suitable for impressionable young minds!

American Media Wars over Iraq coverage

Media Matters - O'Reilly: CNN, MSNBC "delight in showing Iraqi violence" and "are actually helping the terrorists"

The American Fox Network - "fair and balanced", yeah right - is well known for its patriotic support of Dubya and the American debacle in Iraq, but now the wonderful Bill O'Reilly has had a go at his colleagues on other networks over their Iraq coverage.

The fight was triggered by some research that Fox shows less footage of Iraq and covers less Iraq-related news than some of the other networks. This might come as a surprise to many, but the logic is quite simple: If your side's losing the war, bury the news in other stuff and boost other news that puts your guys in a better light.

O'Reilly's response was to blame the other networks for over-cooking the Iraq story and taking some delight in covering the war because it puts Bush in a bad light. When your light's that sh*tty, it's good to keep it out of sight under a big bushel barrel.

Here's a sample of Bungle-Oh Bill's reasoning:

Discussing the study during the June 12 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program, O'Reilly claimed: "The terrorists are going to set off a bomb every day, because they know CNN and MSNBC are gonna put it on the air. That's a strategy for the other side, the terrorist side. So I'm taking an argument that CNN and MSNBC are actually helping the terrorists by reporting useless explosions." O'Reilly later stated: "I'm not gonna cover every bomb that goes off in Tikrit, because it's meaningless."

Yeah, meaningless in the context of the Bush regime's total denial that it's responsible -- "now look at the mess you've gotten us into, George," -- for the daily horror of Baghdad and Tikrit. It's the old "oxygen of publicity" argument, which I've never been that fond of.
It goes something like, the media's responsible for terrorism because they give the terrorists what they want - the "oxygen" of publicity. This is based on the mistaken assumption that the terrorists don't have any kind of legitimate political agenda, which the anti-imperialists in Iraq certainly do.

I admit that Islamic fundamentalism is a problem, it's a politically-bankrupt ideology that cannot ultimately lead to the real liberation of Iraq, but I also work off the principle that a defeat for US imperialism -- by any means necessary to paraphrase Malcolm X -- is good for the planet as a whole.

We can deal with the Imams once Bush is out of the way.

Here's some more of Malcolm. For the record, he was murdered by members of the Nation of Islam, he was not a deeply religious Muslim, he was killed because he had broken politically with Elijiah Mohammed:

"If violence is wrong in America, violence is wrong abroad. If it is wrong to be violent defending black women and black children and black babies and black men, then it is wrong for America to draft us, and make us violent abroad in defense of her. And if it is right for America to draft us, and teach us how to be violent in defense of her, then it is right for you and me to do whatever is necessary to defend our own people right here in this country."
-- Speech, Nov. 1963, New York City.

Academics may face new charges | The Courier-Mail

Academics may face new charges | The Courier-Mail

Garry and John are now facing dismissal from QUT over the "laughing at the disabled" PhD row.
The university is apparently preparing "serious misconduct" charges against the pair.
I understand that both sides are consulting lawyers and one colleague at QUT says that the atmosphere is poisonous in the faculty.
My friend says that the "cultural studies" group, including the supervisors of Michael Noonan's controversial thesis, are "celebrating" the suspension of MacLennan and Hookham, while others are shocked and outraged. This in itself is an indictment of the whole sorry saga and their gleeful, some would say "playful" adoption of postmodern morals - anything goes, the sacred is profane and if you disagree - go f*ck yourself..

It really hasn't been well-handled by the university, whatever the merits of the original dispute. Both sides claim their position is backed by factions in the disabled community and the real issues have been buried in the disciplinary procedures.

In my experience no one escapes the vice of such actions when they're taken by powerful institutions. The whistleblowing legislation, such as it is in Queensland and Australia, does not have a proud history of protecting whistleblowers, rather it sets them up for the inglorious public hanging that Garry and John have now endured.

Study warns unis could be used for terror recruiting - National - smh.com.au

Study warns unis could be used for terror recruiting - National - smh.com.au

Hmmm, the author of the study reported here is a leading researcher at an "independent" think-tank, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, established by the Howard Government. Do you think that the results of any research it does will be "fair and balanced". The ASPI is headed by a retired Major General with 37 years in the armed forces.

The author, Dr Anthony Bergin, is a member of a group calling itself Research Network for a Secure Australia. He's also done work for the Australian Homeland Security Research Centre. Hardly disinterested observers, and certainly aligned with Howard government priorities.

So the study reported here is not new. In 2006 the AHSRC published a briefing note, here's a brief extract:

Since 2001, there has been a significant increase
in the attention given to university campuses by
intelligence and law enforcement agencies around the
world. Their interest in so-called ‘people of interest’
has led to warrants for information from universities,
covert surveillance operations and informal requests to
‘keep an eye on’ certain people.
This worldwide trend is due to the fact that universities
have been linked with terrorism in four ways.
Firstly, universities have facilitated visas for overseas
students which have provided cover for them to enter
the nation.
Secondly, universities have provided the education
of future terrorists, notably in engineering and other
technical disciplines.
Thirdly, universities have provided a source of material,
such as chemicals and electronics, for weapons.
Finally, universities have been a place where an
interest in radicalisation has been fostered and
terrorist members recruited. Few university students
and staff have undertaken terrorist acts while at
the universities but their university years have been
important in shaping their attitudes and belief in
This really is crazy talk and terror-frame scare-tactics. It's a renewal of Cold War ideologies - the threat from the young and the disaffected. The centre's research outputs include missives on the role of public servants in combating terrorism and privatising security. These are hard-nosed warriors, not some MoR and "independent" researchers. Funny thought that this is not picked up in the SMH story.

The idea that lecturers should monitor students for "extremist behaviour" is a broad call and certainly open to wide abuses.
Universities have long been recruiting grounds for both the Christian evangelicals and the broad left. In the current climate the evangelicals are winning.

Blair attacks 'feral' media. 13/06/2007. ABC News Online

Blair attacks 'feral' media. 13/06/2007. ABC News Online

this is a bit rich coming from a lying bastard who used the British military like a feral attack dog against the people of Afghanistan and Iraq on the basis of a sexed up report about WMD.
A "sour" relationship between politicians and the news media is actually a sign of a healthy democracy.

I "borrowed" this piece from The Guardian because most of you are probably not subscribers to its website. (When I say subscribers, it's a free service, so technically, you could access there for nothing, I've just eliminated the middle man, so to speak).

Feral beast? Badge of honour!

With his speech on the media this week, Tony Blair once again showed why he is one of the great comic talents of his generation, writes Bill Blanko

Thursday June 14, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

I hadn't even had my first livener of the day in the Press Bar. (But then the poster that greets you when you walk in there these days offering "Sicilian summer rosé" is enough to put you off alcohol. Well, almost.)

It was 11.10am when the Downing Street email dropped in my inbox. "Prime minister's lecture on public life at Reuters," it said.

Lecture? Now I know we didn't come into the lobby to listen to politicians make speeches, but I was curious. I flicked on the TV and there he was. "It's not a whinge about how unfair it all is," he pleaded.

Now why is it that when a politician says he's not whingeing you instinctively know that the next 20 minutes are going to be one long whinge?

Is it because after more than a quarter of a century in the lobby, four prime ministers (nearly) and seven Downing Street press secretaries (Ingham, O'Donnell, Meyer, Haslam, Campbell, Smith and Kelly) some of us are a tad cynical?

Ah yes, cynicism. It wasn't long before he was moaning about that. I counted at least three mentions of the word in the space of a couple of minutes mid-speech.

Then came the priceless gem, which reinforced why our dear, departing prime minister has been one of the great comic talents of his generation. The Blair definition of the modern media: "It's like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits."

You could hear the guffaws of laughter from every office along the Burma Road corridor in the press gallery.

I was on the floor, legs in air, like the Cadbury's Smash men in the TV advert. "Oh prime minister, you are a wag! Stop it, please! It's hurting!"

I was just about back on my chair when he ended his rant by saying: "I know it will be rubbished in certain quarters..." He set me off again. I almost fainted in agony, I was laughing so much.

I just about made it to the bar, breathlessly, before a family-sized heart-starter, followed by another one... and another, helped me regain my composure as I wiped away the tears of mirth.

Feral beasts? We all chortled as Clive topped up the pre-lunch stiffeners. Surely not? Tame pussy cats, more like. And, piped up one clever so-and-so, isn't "feral beasts" a tautology? Probably, we concurred.

Cynical? Us? So it was the media who got Peter Mandelson into bother over his mortgage and passports, was it? We told Jo Moore to write her "good day to bury bad news" memo, did we?

We encouraged David Blunkett to have a fling with that posh totty from the Spectator, did we? We tipped off Cherie that Peter Foster was just the sort of chap to get a good deal on some flats in Bristol? We called in the cops over cash-for-honours, did we?

Call me old fashioned. (All right, you're old fashioned.) But if most lobby correspondents had gone to their editor and said they had a great splash about how this evil dictator in the Middle East had these weapons of mass destruction that he could launch on Britain in 45 minutes we'd have been told to go and have a lie down, cut out the third bottle at lunch and go and find a proper story.

It was only because Mr Blair and the No 10 spin machine did the sexing up on that story that it got into the papers at all.

Down on the terrace - where the Pimm's and champagne from the pavilion bar helps to clear the head after lunch, I find - there has been much banter between Labour MPs and lobby hacks about he PM's speech.

"Feral beasts and proud of it!" we all declared. "Badge of honour!"

"Raw nerve?" countered one gloating Labour MP. "You can dish it out, but you can't take it," said another.

"Rubbish," I retorted. "We've been called la crème de la scum. And, don't forget, we put the 'as' in gravitas."

Labour MPs would never admit it, but their beloved Tony (beloved now he's quitting in under a fortnight) has had a much easier ride from the media than John Major or Neil Kinnock.

Norma Major once complained to a group of us on a foreign trip how beastly we all were to her husband. "Oh, no," we all said, innocently. (All right, perhaps not innocently.) "You should see what we do to Kinnock."

We didn't do a bad job on Major, though. Who can forget the lobby's spectacular turning over of both Major and his press spokesman, Gus O'Donnell, on his notorious Tokyo trip. (Not that his painful experiences as Major's press secretary have done his career any harm.)

We stitched the PM up magnificently over his off-the-record comments about Tory rebels (who can forget the "flapping of white coats" jibe) during a Saturday evening reception at the British embassy, as I recall.

Some of us (so they tell me!) took a full shorthand note of his sad bleating about his troubles when he came back from his first class seat to steerage to talk to us on the plane.

Every word went into the papers the next day. One lobby correspondent's tape recorder played a blinder too ("a few apples short of a picnic") as he lambasted his Tory tormentors once again as he prepared for a TV interview, with the great Michael Brunson, I think it was.

And, as for Kinnock, some of the lobby's finest hours came on his disastrous Washington trips, one to see Ronald Reagan and the second, George Bush Sr.

On one trip we were all filing from the phone booths behind the briefing room in the White House. (Facilities, incidentally, which in those days made the Press Gallery look palatial.)

The White House press corps, a vegetarian bunch of toadies who wouldn't last five minutes on the political staff of a Fleet Street newspaper, gasped open mouthed as they overheard the lobby's finest discussing how to report the Kinnock humiliation. For it was a humiliation, naturally, otherwise we wouldn't have been sent 3,000 miles to cover it.

"Gee, you guys play by different rules," said one naive White House correspondent. "Yeah," snarled one of our group. "There aren't any."

We "feral beasts" now lie in wait for our next prey, Gordon Brown. Blair's "more spinned against than spinning" plea was so ludicrous because he tried to take on the media and ultimately lost.

I hear Gordon and his No 10 press secretary, Mike Ellam, are planning big changes. One that will be welcomed is abandoning the pointless trek to the Foreign Press Association for the 11am lobby briefing.

You need a swift one in the Red Lion on the way back to the Press Bar after that hike. There's also talk of the Friday afternoon briefings for Sunday papers - axed by Alastair Campbell a few years ago - being revived.

Talking of Alastair (well, he does all the time, so why shouldn't the rest of us), I wouldn't mind betting he wrote the Blair speech, though Blair's spokesman, Tom Kelly, denied that. Well, he would, wouldn't he?

Here's the giveaway: "It's a triumph or a disaster. A problem is 'a crisis'. A setback is a policy 'in tatters'. A criticism 'a savage attack'." Now, does that sound like a politician, or a former tabloid political editor?

As one lobby hack put it after Kelly had endured a half-hour grilling on the speech at the afternoon lobby briefing: "Tony Blair was facing a crisis last night after a savage attack on the media left his policy in tatters."

Now that's what I call an intro.

Another large one please, Clive. I still can't stop laughing.

NZ journalist held at Fiji airport. 15/06/2007. ABC News Online

NZ journalist held at Fiji airport. 15/06/2007. ABC News Online

Auckland-based Fairfax journalist and Pacific expert, Michael Field was detained at Nadi airport and expects to be expelled. He was sent to Fiji to cover the diplomatic row over the expulsion of NZ High Commissioner, Michael Green.
It seems that the coup leaders are now stepping up their attacks on media freedom by banning international reporters too.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Does the Herald on Sunday have blood on its hands

Last week two events occurred that brought the media's coverage of the so-called "Police Historic Rape Case" back into sharp focus.
The first was the birth James Nicholas, a healthy 3.9kg baby boy. His mother, Louise Nicholas, was one of the brave women who came forward with claims that she had been serially raped by New Zealand police officers. She was not the only woman who claimed systematic sexual abuse over a period of nearly 30 years. She lost her case. The story of the birth was carried in the Herald on Sunday (10 June) in a brief news item on page 12. It was a good news story that was also carried on page 4 of the Sunday Star Times and other Fairfax papers.

On the same day the rather different story, the death earlier in the week of Debbie Gerbich. Gerbich had come forward to the media earlier in the year with copies of a home-made video in which discgraced police offer Brad Shipton appeared to be having various kinds of "congress" with several women. A rather disturbing image of Shipton's bare fat belly along with his sock-encased feet is permanently seared on my brain.

This story was on page 8 of the Sunday News and the Sunday Star Times editorialised that Gerbich was brave, but in the end succumbed to the depression created by her outing in the rival Herald on Sunday in March 2007. At the time I felt that Debbie's death might have been suicide, now that's been confirmed by her partner, Bill McNeilly.

The reporter who outed Debbie Gerbich for the Herald on Sunday sent her some nasty emails which appeared to be threatening; suggesting that her name would be revealed if she did not break her exclusivity with the Sunday Star Times and give an interview.

While a coronial inquest may not prove culpability, I hope that there are some tough questions being asked and remorse expressed over in the APN headquarters today.

Monday, 11 June 2007

QUT gutless over PhD furore

Academics stunned at ban | The Courier-Mail

My pals John Hookham and Garry MacLennan have been suspended without pay from the Queensland University of Technology for six months. This is an effective sacking for these courageous academics who have spoken out about a very poorly thought-out PhD thesis dealing with humour and disability.

The sacking is cowardly because it means that QUT does not have to deal with the substantial issues that Hookham and MacLennan raised (for the background, track down the blog).
If the two are suspended without pay they are effectively silenced and humiliated. As Garry said, the brutality of this action is astounding.

The university is defending itself against criticism of some of its ethics approval procedures and the intellectual rigour of some of the supervising academics who are managing the controversial thesis topic.
As Garry and John pointed out in their original article critiquing the Doctorate, the moral relativism of postmodern "theory" has won the day here.

This is a shameful day for QUT and signals very strongly that academic freedom in Australia is under the administrative hammer.

NZ Press Council ruling on racist article

TV3 > News > National News

The New Zealand Press Council has issued a ruling on an article in North & South magazine that it says is demeaning and breaches principles of accuracy and discrimination.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Press Freedom in the Pacific - a loose concept

all the news that's fit to broadcast in Samoa appears to be only the good news. Stories about political corruption don't fit the bill, it seems.

Wed, 6 Jun 2007
APIA, Samoa ------ The owner of Radio Polynesia in Samoa denies that he is suppressing media freedom, Radio New Zealand International reports

Maposua Rudolf Keil has defended his decision to stop two of his journalists from attending media conferences given by the leader of the Samoa Democratic United Party (SDUP) Asiata Sale’imoa Va’ai.

He has also banned on the station further stories with corruption allegations by the SDUP leader against the government.

The Journalists Association of Samoa has issued a statement condemning the ban and calling for journalists to be given the freedom to report as they see fit.
But Mr Maposua said he doesn’t want his station airing allegations like Mr Asiata’s which he said are unproven.

“Well he can use his freedom of the press anywhere else but my radio station because I don’t want to be a party to something that may be false. Let the other radio stations, TV and newspapers report on the bad things. Why don’t we report the nice things that these people are doing?"

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

In Murdoch's Career, A Hand on the News - WSJ.com

In Murdoch's Career, A Hand on the News - WSJ.com

If ever you needed convincing that Rupert Murdoch should not be allowed to buy the Wall Street Journal, read this piece.