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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Why a journalist's lot is not a happy one- and why it matters.

John Hartigan chairman and CEO of News Ltd in "Suffocating in Secrecy" in yesterday's Weekend Australian outlined why our freedoms are not as robust as they should be, and spells out particular concerns about the state of Freedom of Information and whistleblowers protection laws.

While acknowledging that the media is imperfect and journalism sometimes flawed, Hartigan makes the case for the important role the media plays in holding government to account. And why it's not a happy story:
"As a journalist, my perspective on democratic freedom is largely through the prism of the media. Briefly, here's what I see: increasing intimidation, including a police raid last year on one of our newsrooms; journalists - approximately a dozen last year alone - being interrogated in the star chambers of state crime commissions to force them to reveal their confidential sources, or face jail; journalists' phone and bank records being intercepted to find the sources of their stories; courts being difficult - and sometimes obstructive - when it comes to releasing information and documents that should be freely available; unprecedented levels of spin from government, a pervading culture of secrecy and a deep resistance to, and fear of, allowing people to know how they are governed. In my 45 years in journalism it has never been more difficult for a journalist to get and verify a news story than it is today."

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