November 24, 2013

ABC Radio National

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Scott Stevens:
Pokemon Go is the harbinger of the end of the world as we know it.
(Pokémon Go: Revolution, Fad or Omen?, The Minefield, 7 July 2016)

Scott Stephens:
Dead Poet's Society demonstrates why Aristotle did not believe that you should teach children to think for themselves.
Because the first thing they need to be taught is obedience.
In other words, respect for a master; someone who knows more than they do.
The next thing they need to be taught is the proper place of the moral emotions.
They need to be able to feel what is good, [to] feel what is beautiful, before they should be empowered to think for themselves — much less [to] think critically.
Dead Poet's Society is this orgy of free thinking and the wilful casting off of tradition.
That is the least moral approach [to] how these sorts of things ought to be taught in schools. …
If we're thinking about ethics as critical thinking … or even [of] empowering kids to think for themselves and simply not adopt tradition, or whatever their parents said, especially at an early age …
This is nihilistic.
This is a recipe for disaster.
And, in fact, it's a counter-ethical or anti-ethical position to take.
(Does ethics belong in schools?, The Minefield, 13 October, 2016)

Alvin Toffler (1928 – 2016):
Herbert Spencer maintained that 'Education has for its object the formation of character', which, freely translated, means the seduction or terrorization of the young into the value systems of the old.
(Future Shock, Pan, 1970, p 377)

I Am Special

Lynne Malcolm:
[A] study of 15,000 college students in the US [by Jean Twenge and Kevin Campbell] showed that those from today's generation scored significantly higher on narcissistic personality traits than those from the two generations before.

Jean Twenge (1971) [Assistant Professor of Psychology, San Diego State University]:
[The] key difference between self-esteem and narcissism [is that somebody] high in self-esteem values individual achievement but they also value their relationships and caring for others.
Narcissists are missing that piece about valuing, caring and their relationships, so they tend to lack empathy, they have poor relationship skills.
[Those] communal and caring traits tend to be high in most people with self-esteem but not among those who are high in narcissism. …

[There] is a book called Good to Great that looks at the CEOs of companies …
[It turns out] that the most successful CEOs were not the narcissistic ones, it was those who were humble and hard-working and gave their teams credit.
They were team players, they got along well with others. …

So in a stock market simulation … when the stock market is going up, people who score high in narcissism, they do well, but the minute it goes down they crash harder than everyone else. …

[There is evidence of a] generational shift toward more narcissism … across many age groups …
  • there is more materialism,
  • that plastic surgery rates have gone up so much,
  • that people are buying bigger houses so each person can have more space,
  • that there is troubles in relationships. …

[People who are narcissistic … are actually less successful [in the long run] because they take too many risks, they are overconfident instead of just confident.
[And they] tend to alienate other people because they don't care about others.

[The] key to success, sure, having some self-efficacy, which is different from self-esteem, thinking — yes, I know I can do this — that's beneficial.
Self-control and hard work, that's beneficial.
And perspective-taking, something that narcissists don't do very well, to take someone else's perspective, to think about what it's like to walk around in their shoes.
That is so useful for getting along with people, whether that's at work or in your relationships.
[So it is] those qualities — self-efficacy, self-control, perspective-taking [— that] are actually more likely to lead to success than self-esteem or narcissism. …

[There] is some indication that is a little more interest in social problems and … caring for others than there was five or six years ago.
So the recession … may put the brakes on some aspects of narcissism.
[The] interesting question is what's going to happen when the economy comes back?
Will the caring and concern for others and interest in social problems and equality fade again as the economy improves?

(The Narcissism Epidemic, All In The Mind, 21 December 2014)

Would you like to know more?

Dissociative Identity Disorder

Kaplan & Sadock:
[The] modern discovery of hundreds of new cases of the [multiple personality] disorder is forcing a reappraisal of its rarity, although there are not as yet sufficient data to permit a reliable determination of its incidence.
(p 1029)

The recent revival of interest in multiple personality disorder has led a renewed enthusiasm for treatment of such patients with prolonged psychotherapy. …
[However,] experience in treating dissociative disorders is Iimited, and the value and effectiveness of prolonged psychotherapy cannot be dogmatically asserted.
(Dissociative Disorders — Hysterical Neuroses, Dissociative Type, Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, 5th Ed, Williams & Wilkins, 1989, p 1038)

Kendell & Zealley:
[Multiple personality] is extremely rare and some doubt its existence outside literature and psychoanalysis. …
The most dramatic cases have been described during the course of psychoanalytic treatment.
The well-published case of Kenneth Bianchi, the Californian 'Hillside Strangler' who faked multiple personality and hypnosis to avoid the death penalty and completely fooled many 'expert' psychiatrists and psychologists was a salutary lesson to supporters of this concept.
(Neurotic Disorders, Companion to Psychiatric Studies, 5th Ed, Churchill Livingstone, 1993, p 511)

DID is one of the most controversial psychiatric disorders, with no clear consensus on diagnostic criteria or treatment. …
No systematic, empirically supported definition of "dissociation" exists.
[Neither] epidemiological surveys nor longitudinal studies have been conducted …
DID is diagnosed more frequently in North America than in the rest of the world …
The prevalence of DID diagnoses increased greatly in the latter half of the 20th century, along with the number of identities (often referred to as "alters") claimed by patients (increasing from an average of two or three to approximately 16). …
DID became a popular diagnosis in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, but it is unclear
  • if the actual rate of the disorder increased,
  • if it was more recognized by health care providers, or
  • if sociocultural factors caused an increase in therapy-induced (iatrogenic) presentations.
The unusual number of diagnoses after 1980, clustered around a small number of clinicians and the suggestibility characteristic of those with DID, support the hypothesis that DID is therapist-induced.
(9 March 2017)

Charles Rycroft (1914 – 98) [Psychoanalyst]:
Dissociation of the personality is … extremely rare — so rare, indeed, that one has to take seriously the possibility that it may be a social and psychiatric artefact [that] can only occur if:
  1. prevailing views on the nature of personality make it conceivable that two personalities can occupy the same bodily frame, and
  2. the [person] encounters a psychiatrist who believes in, or is already interested in, dissociation of the personality.
In fact, the great majority of reported cases … date from between 1840 and 1910 — that is, from after demoniacal possession had ceased to be a plausible … explanation of sudden, extraordinary changes in personality, until the time at which psychoanalytic ideas began to have an impact. …
The great majority of the physicians reporting cases … have been men [treating] women younger than themselves. …
Hysterical dissociation states, including dissociation of the personality, seem … to have more to do with the psychology of deception and self-deception than with any innate or acquired incapacity for integration.
(Dissociation of Personality, Oxford Companion to the Mind, Richard Gregory, Editor, Oxford University Press, 1987, pp 197-8)

Hidden Agenda

Bernard Keane [Canberra Correspondent,]:
Kim Williams [CEO, News Limited] is smart enough to know that there's no threat whatsoever from the self-regulatory proposals put forward by [Stephen] Conroy about journalistic standards [ie free speech].
The real problem for News Limited, and other media companies, is in the Public Interest Test …
[This introduces] a new hurdle which media companies have to get over in addition to … competition policy [and the] media ownership laws we already have.

[No one knows how a] Public Interest Media Advocate [would] come out on particular media mergers. …
News Limited would ultimately like to take out Telstra's share of Foxtel and have that highly profitable asset unto itself. …
There's nothing in the current media rules that say News Limited couldn't wholly own Foxtel.
But, under the public interest test … we don't know how the public interest in such a transaction would be interpreted.
Would it be a substantial lessening of diversity?
Would there be a public benefit to it to outweigh the reduction in diversity? …
Media company lawyers [and media diversity advocates] don't know. …
[There's uncertainty] how this test would play out.

(Reporting on yourself — media coverage of its own reform and regulation, Media Report, 14 March 2013)



All In The Mind
Background Briefing

Between The Lines

Big Ideas

Body Sphere

Boyer Lectures



Future Tense

Health Report
Late Night Live

Life Matters

Media Report
The Minefield
The Money

Mongrel Nation

National Interest

Ockham's Razor

Philosopher's Zone

Rear Vision

Religion and Ethics Report
RN Breakfast

RN Drive
Saturday Extra

Science Friction
Science Show

Spirit of Things

Sunday Conversation

Sunday Extra

Sunday Profile

ABC Radio National


Kirsti Melville

All In The Mind

Lynne Malcolm

The Body Sphere

Amanda Smith


Kirsti Melville


David Rutledge

  • Reluctant Rescuers, 25 February 2013.
    Tony Kevin.
  • The Tax Man Cometh, 26 May 2012.
  • The Secular Dharma, 24 August 2010.
    Stephen Batchelor (1953).

    [The] Four Noble Truths are [traditionally presented] as a set of four [metaphysical] propositions that you are expected to believe. …
    • that life is suffering. …
    • that the origin of suffering is craving. …
    • that there is the possibility of the cessation of suffering. …
    • that the eightfold noble path will lead you to the cessation of suffering. …
    Yet when you look at the first sermon in which the Buddha introduces these four truths for the first time, it is quite clear that the emphasis he gives lies in the fact that each of these truths is actually a task to be recognized, performed, and accomplished.
    It is a very different view of truth.

    [The Buddha was, perhaps,] the first Pragmatist (in the sense of William James …).
    That what is true, is not what corresponds to some state in the world, [but what] actually works, and helps, and leads to concrete benefits in human life.
    The Four Noble Truths looked at in this way are not a description of reality.
    [They] are a prescription, an instruction or encouragement to do something, not to believe something.

    [Religions are] in the business of belief.
    [That] is what gives them there certitudes, it is what gives them their authority.
    Because these are doctrines or orthodoxies that [provide] access to The Truth.
    It is striking … how the Buddha never uses the word 'truth' in that way.
    He never talks about The Truth. …
    [What he is concerned with is] doing something that makes a palpable and discernible difference in the quality of human life, both individually and communally.
    [Not with] advancing a theory that one then has to somehow persuade others [is] The Truth.

    [If] we are to arrive at a secular Dharma, at a practice and understanding of what the Buddha taught, that speaks to the condition of our times, I think we have … question some of the prevailing orthodoxies that have been inherited from traditional schools of Buddhism in Asia …
    One way to do this is to try to go back as close as we can to what the Buddha himself might have said and might have done. …

    [A] teaching, or an idea, or a practice, is only … of value if it it works.
    If it … makes a difference in your life.
    If it [provides] a vision of what a human being could be. …

    [The] Buddha was the first process philosopher.
    He is interested in how things work.
    By performing certain actions, you generate certain effects. …
    {He describes a way of being in the world.}
    We need to think of Buddhism as a process [—] in terms of the unfolding of our life from moment to moment and day to day.
    This is why I say, you cannot define Buddhism: there is no essence to it.
    It is like a wave, a modulation.
    And when it impacts with other systems, other wave systems, like Chinese culture say, the interaction of the two generates what we call Chinese Buddhism.
    This, of course, is utterly in tune with the primary ideas of the Buddha himself.
    Everything is changing.
    Everything is conditional.
    Everything is contingent.
    Everything is imperfect.
    Nothing has any essence.
    Buddhism too.
    The very word 'Buddhism' suggests … something fixed.
    There is no equivalent in any Asian language to the world 'Buddhism'.
    It is a Western invention. …

    [When the Buddha speaks about the cessation of suffering he is not talking] about achieving a particular goal.
    He is talking about how we can live in this world in a way in which our lives flourish in all aspects.
    And that starts, not with getting rid of suffering, but embracing suffering.
    By opening our minds and our hearts to the reality of suffering.
    That is the basic emphasis … in Buddhist meditation.
    The importance of suffering lies in the fact that it is the starting point for a deep personal transformation in how we relate to ourselves and the world. …

    I do not think happiness is the goal [of Buddhism].
    I think the starting point for the Buddha is opening your mind and your heart to dukka, to pain.
    And not shying away from it.
    And becoming more and more conscious of how you relate to it.
    How much of your behavior is basically a reactive denial of suffering.
    It is a movement away from, rather than a movement towards.
    And if we do not start there, I think our practice will largely become rather self-indulgent.

    Would you like to know more?

  • Two Parts of the Soul, 6 June 2010.
    Gary Bryson.

Health Report

Norman Swan

  • Wind turbine syndrome: a communicated disease, 5 February 2018.
    Simon Chapman: Emeritus Professor, Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney.
  • The cholesterol and statin debate, 4 November 2013.
    Peter Clifton: Professor of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, Sansom Institute, University of South Australia.
  • Gun control in the United States, 22 April 2013.
    David Hemenway (1945): Professor of Health Policy, Harvard School of Public Health.

    Norman Swan:
    Is it about gun ownership?
    [There] are a lot of other countries in the world with high gun ownership, like Sweden, for example. …

    David Hemenway:
    It's partly gun ownership because we have so many handguns, but it's also our very weak gun laws.
    We have by far the weakest gun laws of any developed country.
    We make it incredibly easy for anybody to get a gun, people without training, people who have criminal backgrounds.
    There is no background checks on a lot of gun purchases … in the United States.

    Norman Swan:
    You talk about taking what's called a public health approach to guns. …

    David Hemenway:
    The area I would like to have an analogy with is cars …
    [In] the United States we're always going to have lots of cars and I think in the United States we'll always have lots of guns …

    [In the 1950's] car manufacturers [said] what the gun lobby says now …
    [It's] the driver's fault, cars don't cause death, drivers cause death.
    [However, research] found that people were being killed when their chests went right through steering columns which were not collapsible, their faces were lacerated when their heads went through glass which was not safety glass, they were thrown from the car.
    [So] public health physicians began [asking:]
    • [Why] can't we have airbags in cars[?]
    • [Why] can't we have seat belts[?]
    • [Why] can't we have collapsible steering columns[?]
    • [Why] can't we have safety glass in windshields[? …]
    • [Why] can't we have better roads [— ones without] trees and lamp posts right along the sides …
    … 60 years later nobody thinks drivers are any better [yet] fatalities per mile driven have fallen [by] over 90% …

    [Currently,] guns in the United States do not have unique serial numbers. …
    The serial numbers are easily defaced …
    California right now requires ballistic fingerprinting on guns …

    [Introducing smart guns, like those] made in Europe now [—] so that when someone steals your gun they can't use it. …
    [It's estimated that] 400,000 or 500,000 guns a year are stolen and [fall] into criminal hands …

    One of the things we learned from motor vehicles [is that] changing social norms really [matters].
    [We] have the designated driver program [— it's become] socially unacceptable to drive drunk in the United States. …

    We store our guns terribly in the United States …
    The people who do these mass shootings look much more like our suicides than they do like our homicide perpetrators. …
    [If] you have a teenager … who's going through a really bad period … you just get rid of the guns for a while, just take them out of the house.
    [That might have prevented the Newtown massacre. …]
    [The central issue is the] easy accessibility of all kinds of guns to virtually anybody. …

    [You] want everybody to set good examples. …
    [40-50 years ago] everybody … in Hollywood [smoked —] compared to then, very, very few people [now] smoke.
    [It's no longer seen as glamorous.]
    [The] social norm in the United States about smoking has … changed precipitously. …
    [What we need to do now is change the] social norm that … if you're disrespected you have to shoot somebody. …

    [The] National Rifle Association is not as strong as people think.
    Thirty years ago … the strongest lobby in the world … was the tobacco lobby.
    And the tobacco lobby [have] had huge, huge defeats in Congress over and over … by the American public …
    I think the same thing can happen about guns …

  • Health care reform in the US, 18 March 2013.
    John McDonough: Professor of the Practice of Public Health, Director of the Center for Public Health Leadership, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston.

    John McDonough:
    [The] Affordable Care Act, ACA, is the first major law ever in the history of the United States that [that seeks to achieve] comprehensive health reform. …
    [On] January 1, 2014 … Americans who don't have health insurance will be able … to apply and get enrolled in coverage …
    For the first time in the history of health insurance in the United States an insurance company will not be able to refuse to write you a policy because you have diabetes, because you had a cancer episode, because you had a mental illness problem.
    Or if they write you coverage, they can't charge you more. …

    Norman Swan:
    At the moment … it costs about $15,000 a year to insure a family in the United States. …

    John McDonough:
    In many parts of the country it is over $20,000 …

    Norman Swan:
    The United States of America has the most expensive health care system in the world per capita …

    John McDonough:
    The second most expensive system pays about 65c in the dollar for every dollar we spend. …
    Whatever the service is, we pay half to a third more than consumers or governments in any other system …
    [That] is because the United States, since President Ronald Reagan in the '80s, has really been affected by this ethic that the way to fix the problems of healthcare in America is through unbridled market competition. …

    [The ACA sets] up a new national clinical comparative effectiveness institute that's called … the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute …
    [However, PCORI is explicitly prohibited from considering] cost effectiveness because that was not politically sustainable.
    People started saying that this was going to be the organisation that would bring [about] death panels.
    So we had to eliminate any reference to its ability to consider cost when it compares clinical treatments [— which is] insane …

    [Come 2014 we] should see a significant increase in the proportion of Americans who have health insurance …
    [It] will not be perfect.
    At best it will be about 95%.

  • Mindfulness meditation, 20 August 2012.
    Craig Hassed, Department of General Practice, Monash University, Melbourne.
  • How exercise can change your life, 20 August 2012.
    Stephen Blair: Professor of Public Health, University of South Carolina.
  • Increased Suicide Rates Under Conservative Governments, 30 September 2002.
    Richard Taylor: Professor, School of Public Health, University of Sydney.
  • Oral cancer related to oral sex, 7 March 2011.


Lorena Allam

  • Growing up: Children in history's page, 9 February 2014.
    Nadia Wheatley (1949): Australians All: A History of Growing Up from the Ice Age to the Apology, Allen & Unwin, June 2013.
  • Tracing Wallace, 19 January 2014.
    Penny van Oosterzee: Researcher, Earth and Environmental Science, James Cook University.
    Where Worlds Collide — The Wallace Line, Reed, Victoria, 1997.
    Ros Bluett: Producer.
    Alfred Russel Wallace:
    It occurred to me to ask the question:
    Why do some die?
    And some live?
    The answer was clearly that, on the whole, the best fitted live.
    Then it suddenly flashed upon me!
    That this self acting process would necessarily improve the race.
    Because in every generation the inferior would inevitably be killed off and the superior would remain.
    That is: the fittest would survive. …
    The more I thought over it, the more I became convinced that I had at length found the long-sought-for law of nature that solved the problem of the origin of species. …

    I wrote a letter to [Darwin] in which I said that I hoped the idea would be as new to him as it was to me.
    And that it would supply the missing factor to explain the origin of species.
    I asked him if it was sufficiently important to show it to … Charles Lyle …
    (February, 1858)

    Penny van Oosterzee:
    You can just imagine Darwin standing there with this thin [sheet of rice] paper that had come across the world with the theory of evolution that he had been working on for 20 years.
    That he'd known about all this time but had been too terrified to [publish] because of all the things that it represented. …
    He must have shaken with that sheet of paper in his hand, and looked at the little scribbly writing.
    Because, Wallace did it in a fever — he came out of a malarial fever, saw it, immediately wrote it down before he went back into a malarial fever — and sent it off. …

    [It was Charles Lyle, the geologist] and Huxley who [then said to Darwin:]
    Let's publish the theory together.
    So it was Darwin, and Wallace's, theory of evolution. …

    Ros Bluett:
    Alfred Russel Wallace was knee deep in the New Guinea wet season when his paper, along with notes from Charles Darwin was presented at the Linnean Society in London [on the 1st of July, 1858.]
    Prominent scientists at the time were astonished and embarrassed at the apparent simplicity of the solution, while church people were outraged.
    Wallace seemed to care little about the excitement that was taking place in London …
    He'd been acknowledged by the great Charles Darwin and welcomed into the select fraternity of naturalists whose interests took them beyond the mere description of species.
    He continued what he loved doing.
    And where he felt most comfortable. …

    The tale of Darwin and Wallace, and how one became synonymous with evolution, while the other a [historical] footnote, is one of the great ironies in the history of science.
    Yet Wallace never begrudged his fate.
    He remained extraordinarily free from concern about who got credit for what.
    His stock of trade was ideas.
    He was forever captivated and enthralled by what the world around him revealed.

    Penny van Oosterzee:
    He was made for it.
    Wallace was the man made to understand the planet.

  • 'The soul of Darwin': the centenary of the Kahlin Compound, 29 September 2013.
  • Radical economics: The Political Economy dispute at Sydney University, 1 September 2013.
  • Great Australian political speeches, 25 August 2013.
    Menzies and Keating.
  • Bennelong Sings, 25 August 2013.
  • An Honourable Citizen, 4 August 2013.
    Raoul Wallenberg (1912 – ?).
  • A Convict's Tour to Hell, 5 August 2012.
    Francis McNamara (c1810 – c1861).
  • Emperor for Life: Killoran's Queensland, 10 June 2012.
  • The Struggle of Memory Against Forgetting, 22 January 2012.
    Sharon Davis.

Media Report

Richard Aedy

  • ABC wages revealed, 21 November 2013.
    Nic Christensen: Deputy Editor, Mumbrella.
  • Cold case journalism and the US civil rights movement, 29 August 2013.
    Hank Klibanoff (1949): Professor of Journalism, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, United States.
    Project Managing Editor, Civil Rights Cold Case Project.
  • Nothing's free: News Corp and the 2013 election, 29 August 2013.
    Neil Chenoweth: Murdoch’s Pirates, Allen & Unwin, 2012.
  • Media in India, 15 August 2013.
    Shoma Chaudhury: Managing Editor, Tehelka, New Delhi, India.
  • Col Allan returns to Australia, 1 August 2013.
    David McKnight: Rupert Murdoch: An Investigation of Political Power, Allen & Unwin, 2012.
  • Rupert Murdoch and those tapes, 18 July 2013.
    Paul Barry: Breaking News: Sex, lies and the Murdoch succession.
  • Objectivity: a concept worth defending? 11 July 2013.
    Steven Maras: Associate Professor, Department of Media and Communications, University of Sydney.
  • Wendy Bacon (sort of) retires, 17 August 2012.
    Wendy Bacon (1946): Professor of Journalism, Australian Centre for Independent Journalism.

    Richard Aedy:
    [Freedom] of speech and opposition to censorship have been recurring concerns throughout your adult life. …
    So it must have been interesting to have been caught up in News Limited's robust … response to the Finkelstein Inquiry and [being] accused of supporting government censorship? …

    Wendy Bacon:
    [News Limited and Tony Abbott fail to] recognize that media power itself is a factor [— as] is the accountability of journalism.
    [I'm] just as opposed to censorship as [I have ever] been. …
    [But, you] can't just take account, in free speech, of government power.
    You [also] have to take account of private power.
    If you want freedom of communication in a society, if you want a democratic media framework — you can't allow one big company to dominate a whole society in terms of communication.
    So you've got some people who say: 'yes, we can have a framework which will facilitate freedom of communication'.
    And then you've got [others, like the IPA,] who say: 'anything like that is an outrageous intrusion on free speech'. …
    [They attacked Finkelstein, saying he] wanted to set up this draconian media regulator.
    But if you actually read [the report, he went to] endless lengths to … explain how this could be set up as an independent organization — much like we have many other independent regulators …
    What he was [proposing] would have been been more independent than the [Australian] Press Council can ever be.
    [That is because] the Press Council is [largely] funded by the big media owners … essentially it's not independent.

    [It is not true to say that] you can have no independent accountability mechanism that is publically funded …
    In fact, it is more likely to be independent if it is publically funded. …

    Journalism is not the same a free speech. …
    The key thing about journalism is to seek the truth.
    We only have the rights we have, such as the right to protect our confidential sources, because we have an obligation to the public [— to the public's] right to know.
    That is what is special about journalism.
    And that's why you can't just equate journalism with free speech.

The Money

Richard Aedy

National Interest

Peter Mares


Mark Colvin

  • Wealth linked to lying, cheating and crime, 28 February 2012.
    Paul Piff: Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology and Social Behaviour, University of California, Irvine.
  • Chinese dissident speaks out, 21 November 2011.
    Yi Wu Liao.

    Since the '89 Tiananmen massacre China has become the biggest rubbish dump in the world.
    And the consequence to that is before the massacre people were very nationalistic.
    They love China.
    But after the massacre they no longer love China.
    They begin to love renminbi, the Chinese currency, renminbi.

    And since that we can see the downfall of people's nature, the downfall of the environment and the corruption of the morality. …
    The Communists has totally disintegrated our moral structure.
    They are now using profit and benefit to rule.


Religion and Ethics Report

Andrew West

RN Drive

Patricia Karvelas

  • Australians want action on climate change: Vote Compass, 26 August 2013.
    John Connor: CEO, The Climate Institute.
  • Are Coalition-supporting editors skewing the news?, 21 March 2013.
    Wendy Bacon: Contributing editor, New Matilda; Professor, Australian Centre for Independent Journalism.
  • Media reforms threaten journalism, say media bosses, 13 March 2013.
    Folker Hanusch: Senior Lecturer in Journalism, University of the Sunshine Coast.

    [Apart] from the Diversity Test [The Public Interest Advocate's only other purpose is to approve] a self-regulatory body. …

    The Australian Press Council has been gradually trying to strengthen it's role.
    [The head of the Press Council, Julian Disney] has gone about putting in place … quite a few of the things that are mentioned in the legislation.
    For example, [that] there should be independence from the people who are funding the organisation, he's been trying to strengthen that.
    He's been trying to open up the membership of it.
    He's been trying to strengthen up the power to actually publish adjudications.
    All of that is what the Public Interest Advocate would be looking for in an organisation.
    So it's … clear that the purpose is to approve the Australian Press Council to go on and do what its currently doing.

    [I] can see why Seven West Media are so upset about it …
    They are a very big powerful media organisation which has huge sway in Western Australia because they not only control the newspapers but a lot of television — they're also in regional radio.
    They walked out of the Press Council and have set up a sort of press council of their own which may not qualify under this test.
    For example, for an organisation to quality as a self-regulatory body, it must have some independence from the media organisations themselves … especially in relation to being able to control through funding. …

    It there is no reform at all, this time round …
    It could be a very long time before there is any similar opportunity.
    [The] Diversity Test will never be applied and we'll probably end up [with an even] more concentrated media.

  • News Corp split approved by board, 28 June 2012.
    David McKnight.

    I've looked at Murdoch intensively for the last five years …
    Quite a few of [the News Corporation newspapers] don't make any money at all.
    The Times in London, the New York Post, and The Australian, which loses $25m dollars a year.
    They've been propped up for reasons of politics and influence.

    {It looks like that original cross subsidy between the entertainment division and newspapers is going to end.}
    [So] what happens?
    Is there [going to be] further cross subsidization within the new publishing wing? …
    Does Rupert put some of his personal fortune into keeping these newspapers afloat?

    It's hard to imagine that [The Australian], which is iconic and [an] agenda setter (from Murdoch's point of view) would go under.
    But it is … the most vulnerable. …
    [A number of the tabloids] have monopoly positions,
    • the Courier Mail in Brisbane,
    • the Mercury in Tasmania, [and]
    • the Advertiser in Adelaide …
    They are still getting quite a bit of advertising and they are still profitable …

    It has always been an anomaly that [The Australian] has this subsidy because it advocates strict commercial criteria for everyone else.
    But … not for itself.

    Would you like to know more?

  • Drug Law Reform, 3 April 2012.
  • Social benefit bonds, 20 March 2012.

Sunday Conversation

Peter Mares

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