Activist Carla McGrath has vowed to resist her removal from the Australian Press Council. A year ago the appointment of McGrath to the Council set off a major row. She is deputy chairman of the Left wing activist organisation Get Up. The Murdoch media organisation had repeatedly complained about her bias, and said it wouldn’t abide by APC decisions she was involved with.
Who guards the guards of media standards? Should political campaigners have a role overseeing the Press that is greater than the general public.
I’d argue that strongly held views must be considered by regulators considering complaints. But opinion must be free, and the opinions of a political activists do not reflect independence.
Some argue that as a Society have gone beyond that idea of independence and objectivity; that mainstream media are passing on bad messages about race, gender and culture and that they must be brought into line. I don’t think that is true.
Media is there to reflect Society as it is – not as some would like it to be. Yet there is growing pressure for speech to be regulated, in this country.
Australia is ahead of New Zealand with the notion that some views and some opinions are beyond the pail and speech should be controlled.
Some will see the APC dumping McGrath as oppressive – a sign that Big Media has had its way and shut down opposition.
It will be oppressive if the bias is reversed with a view that media can do no wrong,
McGrath should not replaced by a voice that is conservative and restrictive – a rubber stamp that allows serious transgressions against media standards
But a free (ish) media should not gets caught up in activist politics and ideology. There are signs that the Human Rights Commission wants more controls on media. New Zealand politicians would be smart to not follow this road. f