The Australian Center for Independent Journalism studied news reporting on the News of the World phone hacking scandal in Australia, according to a report summary published on Equentia.
As iMediaEthics has previously written, News Corp’s Australian news properties make up 70% of Australian print media.
According to the Equentia report, the center looked at the reporting on the scandal from July 8 to July 15 and “reviewed coverage of the hacking allegations between January 2009 until June 2011.”
Specifically, the center focused on eight newspapers. Five of the newspapers are owned by News Limited: the Australian, the Herald Sun, the Adelaide Advertiser, the Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Telegraph. Non-News Ltd. newspapers studied included the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age, and the Sun Herald.
During the July 8 to July 15 period, the center found that “No News Limited tabloid carried the phone hacking story on the first two pages, with most stories not to be found in the first ten pages of the paper.” Also, all eight newspapers published a phone hacking editorial (the Sydney Morning Herald and the Herald Sun published two).
None of the editorials “supported the idea that there should be an inquiry into Australia’s media,” according to the center’s study.
The Sydney Morning Herald devoted the most stories to the scandal with 50 reports, followed by the Australian’s 44 and the Age’s 33 stories.
But News Limited’s the Australian’s reports were almost 50% commentary reports, whereas one of every four stories in the Sydney Morning Herald was commentary. “Much of the commentary in The Australian was critical of responses to the News scandal,” according to the center’s study.
The study noted that none of the News Limited newspapers “acknowledged any problems for News Corporation’s power or practices other than phone hacking,” from July 8 to July 15.
“And phone hacking was only denounced in editorials once a statement was issued by News CEO John Hartigan describing phone hacking as “a terrible slur on our craft,'” according to the study.
StinkyJournalism has written to the center for comment and will update with any response.
The Australian reported July 21 that privacy minister Brendan O’Connor commented that “there is a ‘public expectation’ that privacy laws be re-examined in Australia” given the UK phone hacking scandal.
“We’re not suggesting that the gross invasions of privacy that have occurred in the United Kingdom in this recent scandal are happening here.”
Meanwhile, Australian prime minister Julia Gillard hasbeen criticized for her remarks on media in Australia.
According to the Australian, “the government has announced it will consider introducing new privacy laws, citing the Law Reform Commission’s 2008 report into privacy.”
But, Senator George Brandis argued that Gillard is “misrepresenting” the report as it doesn’t much deal with “the abuse of press freedom.” Brandis claimed that “hardly any” privacy issues in the report “relate to the conduct of the media.”
“Far from concluding that the Australian media has ‘hard questions’ to answer when it comes to their respect for privacy, the ALRC . . . concluded that the journalism exemption should not just remain but be extended by widening the definition of the conduct which is captured by the term,” Brandis argued.
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