Stopping Social Media-Is This Evidence Of Its Impact?

March 20, 2014

By MARCUS BREEN, Professor of Communication and Media, editor of the International Journal of Technology Knowledge and Society, and member of the Institute for Law, Government and Policy.

Speaking at Dublin City University in February 2014, my presentation was titled: “Uprising: What happens next?”I addressed the political chaos in Egypt where reports of the influence of Social Media and the impact of the Internet have been strong. In my view Social Media has been generating hyper-fragmentation among interest groups in society, giving rise to “ideological grooming” which continues apace.Researchers are notoriously brave or reckless in theorizing technological determinism in the quest for democracy. Count me in that lot.Now there is evidence of real impacts as opposed to marketing claims from techo-boosters parading as researchers – I know the terrain is complex, but the point is worth making less researchers become corporate shills. (definition of shill: a person who publicizes or praises something or someone for reasons of self-interest, personal profit, or friendship or loyalty).Turkey Prime Minister quote:”We are determined on this subject. We will not leave this nation at the mercy of YouTube and Facebook,” Erdoğan said in an interview late on Thursday with the Turkish broadcaster ATV. “We will take the necessary steps in the strongest way.”

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Timor-Leste Journalists Decide On Ethics Code And Press Council As Tougher Laws Loom

November 7, 2013

By MARK PEARSON, Professor of Journalism and Social Media and member of the Institute for Law, Government and Policy.

AN historic congress of Timor-Leste journalists held in Dili over the weekend (October 25-27) voted for their first code of ethics and a seven-member press council.

But the next hurdle for media freedom in the small Asia-Pacific nation will be a press law currently before the national parliament which it is feared will feature a journalist licensing system and criminal penalties.

The media law proposed by a committee of journalists advising the government featured self-regulatory controls. However, the final version includes amendments proposed by the Secretary of State for Social Communication, Mr Nélio Isaac Sarmento, rumoured to include the licensing and criminal sanctions.

Opening the congress on Friday, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao scolded journalists for not having developed adequate self-regulation when he had warned them to do so in 2009.

But he congratulated the media associations on their latest efforts to unify for a code of ethics and press council; stating that press freedom was important to democracy, but that freedom should be exercised responsibly.

More than 150 journalists in attendance on Sunday – representing several journalism associations – voted for the 10 point code of ethics, featuring a preamble affirming the importance of free expression and media self-regulation and clauses on: accuracy and impartiality, opposition to censorship, defence of the public interest, anti-discrimination, separation of fact from opinion, confidentiality of sources, quick correction of inaccuracies, rejection of plagiarism, protection of identity of victims, and rejection of financial inducements.

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Narrow Escape For A Fragile Freedom #medialaws

April 15, 2013

By MARK PEARSON, Professor of Journalism and Social Media and member of the Institute for Law, Government and Policy.

[Here is a taste of my commentary in The Conversation on 28th March 2013.]

It is just two weeks since the Gillard government withdrew the four media reform bills for which it could not garner the necessary support from the crossbench MPs.

The proposal that concerned me most as a media law scholar and free expression advocate was the News Media (Self-regulation) Bill. This would have given an individual the power to deregister bodies, like the Australian Press Council, if they failed to police effectively the ethical standards of their newspaper and online members.

The big stick the so-called Public Interest Media Advocate would have wielded was the withdrawal of media companies’ journalism exemption from the Privacy Act – a penalty that stood to send newspapers broke through its demands of bureaucratic compliance. I detailed this problem in a blog republished on The Conversation last week, describing it as a defacto form of licensing. Many vested political and commercial interests were at stake in this debate.

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The Public Interest – A Crucial Discussion

April 12, 2013

By MARCUS BREEN, Professor of Communication and Media, editor of the International Journal of Technology Knowledge and Society, and member of the Institute for Law, Government and Policy.

The Public Interest is NOT what the public is interested in!

What is The Public Interest?

During the heated discussions about media regulation and a proposed Public interest Advocate in Australia over the weeks of March 12 – 21, 2013, the point has been made that there should not be a public interest test for Australian media, in part because no one knows what the public interest is.

The conservative Liberal Party shadow minister for communication Malcolm Turnbull made statements to that effect, while claiming to be a lawyer.

What is the public interest? (Minister) Conroy couldn’t even tell us what the criteria for public interest was. (ABC Radio Interview)
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Define The Public Interest – Australian Hysteric

April 10, 2013

By MARCUS BREEN, Professor of Communication and Media, editor of the International Journal of Technology Knowledge and Society, and member of the Institute for Law, Government and Policy.

Blandishments, blather and bombast emanates from conservative politicians in Australia and their megaphone media organisation News Corporation.

As noted in my blog 13 March 2013:  “The evidence is clear from this coverage why a Public Interest Test is needed in Australia. Surely the coverage by the News Corporation press proves how the public interest is rejected in favour of the status quo.”

The opposition to The Public Interest Test proves the need for the test. There is every reason to believe that News Corporation wants to kill off the concept of the public interest. Maybe their extreme opposition arises from the knowledge that in their heart of hearts they know they are manifestly wrong, that they do not serve the public and as such fail to meet some of the standards that journalism seeks to uphold.
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Australian Media Regulation – Public Interest Test

April 5, 2013

By MARCUS BREEN, Professor of Communication and Media, editor of the International Journal of Technology Knowledge and Society, and member of the Centre for Law, Governance and Public Policy.

On March 12, 2013 the Federal Government of Australia launched a new policy proposal for regulating the media. It is the official response to the two media inquiries covered previously on this blog: The Convergence Review and the Frankenstein Inquiry. (This mirrors some of the activities and debates now playing out in the UK, following the Levenson Inquiry).

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy put the proposals forward in a press conference, that to my mind at least, did not convey the level of intensity that is required for governments to launch major policy initiatives, especially ones centred around public interest theory.

Indeed, the biggest news in the policy proposal is the idea for a public interest media advocate. Here are some of the points highlighted in the Ministers Press Release:
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Why #Assange And Journalists Should Not Sue For #Defamation

November 6, 2012

By MARK PEARSON, Professor of Journalism and member of the Institute for Law, Government and Policy.

It is always sad to see journalists and free expression advocates threatening to sue over the reportage and commentary of others.

Of course, journalists and freedom fighters are citizens too – so they certainly have the right to resort to defamation action to achieve their ends and to help restore reputational damage they may have suffered.

But we have heard today that two Australians – Wikileaks’ Julian Assange and Sunday Telegraph reporter Jonathan Marshall – are threatening defamation action over commentary about their respective roles as public figures. That is a great shame.

Two years ago – soon after the editor of a national daily newspaper threatened to sue a journalism academic – I penned a piece for Crikey! outlining my reasons editors should refrain from resorting to litigation when they take umbrage at comments made in the cut and thrust of public debate. I’ve those comments here to adapt them to the circumstances of these latest threats.

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