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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Difficult to make predictions, especially about the future

Wikimedia Commons-Bastique
 Ah, someone (Dan Quayle?) somewhere said it, and I know what they mean.

While I'm beavering away on predictions on press freedom issues for 2012 for publication in the Walkley Magazine February edition, my 2011 lot weren't waaaay off the mark:
  • Prime Minister Gillard’s commitment to “let the sun shine in” notwithstanding, the hard yards lie ahead in implementing reforms associated with the Freedom of Information Act introduced in November. (We've seen improvements, but hey, this was low hanging fruit and I'll take it.)
  • The Baillieu government will move on FoI changes in Victoria, leaving South Australia and Western Australia still in need of prompting to join the FoI reform bandwagon. (In the ballpark. Extremely modest and limited reform legislation limped into the Victorian Parliament before year end, but is still to emerge. No movement at the station in SA or WA.)
  • Talk a few years ago about the need to look at private-sector disclosure obligations (and protection for private-sector whistleblowers) will remain just that. (See 1 above.)
  • Shield laws for journalists will be influenced by the emergence of WikiLeaks– who or what is a journalist and in what circumstances should the presumption of protection apply? (Yes. Three state attorneys general are wedded to the idea that bloggers can't be journalists.)
  • Leakers of information of a kind that doesn’t qualify as wrongdoing will continue to run risks to their careers and penalties at law. (See 1 above.)
  • The adequacy of media standards, ethics, responsibility and self-regulation may also come in for discussion.(Yes, and I'd never even heard of Judge Finkelstein at the time.)
  • Media interests may be relaxed that consideration of reform of privacy laws will continue at a snail’s pace. (Snail's pace yes, but some media interests were frenzied at the prospect.)
  • Then of course, there are myriad other issues, including access to court information, and getting the balance right in defamation law. (See 1 above.)
  • Even censorship will get a run in 2011, with the Australian Law Reform Commission given a reference in December “to conduct a review of classification in Australia in light of changes in technology, media convergence and the global availability of media content.” (Yes.)
  • The most confident prediction? A busy year ahead. (Shame to take the money.)
Any crystal ball gazers like to try their hand at the year ahead?

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