News exercises its freedom with abandon

News exercises its freedom with abandon

The Federal Government may well be trying to curb the freedom of the press, but News Limited has taken full advantage of its current latitude dedicating the first five pages of its Daily Telegraph to a brazened attack on the proposed media reforms.

While the front page of the paper was blunt enough, with a single word headline of FREEDOM, pages four and five were the most breathtaking, containing a double-page spread of satirical pro-government news.

With headlines including “Vision backed by anyone who matters,” Good news as Gillard the Great does well,” and “Conroy’s a world beater,” the content included such assertions as describing Senator Stephen Conroy as “one of the most successful and handsome members of cabinet”.

The spread was labelled with a blue strip across the top containing the taunt to government in all caps, “is this the sort of coverage more to Senator Conroy and his colleagues’ liking?”. There was also a special box having a dig at the ABC urging its staffnot to take the content seriously.

The unprecedented attack on the government’s proposed laws would come as no surprise to anyone who saw the exchange at yesterday’s Senate hearing between News Limited’s Australia boss Kim Williams and Labor left head-kicker Senator Doug Cameron.

Williams described the new laws as a modern day star chamber, the symbol of Colonial Britain’s misuse of political power. For his part Senator Cameron said he found it “breathtaking” to be “lectured by News Limited” on privacy following the 2011 British phone hacking scandal.

The exchange was as robust as any seen not featuring the late Kerry Packer and showed the open antagonism between Labor and News Limited.

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