An Open Letter to Journalists at News Ltd

Victoria Rollison is a legend in her own lifetime in Australia’s (and undoubtedly beyond’s) Fifth Estate. We are most grateful to Ms Rollison for permission to republish her work.

Dear News Ltd Journalists,

I’m writing you this letter on behalf of all Australians. That includes everyone who can vote in the upcoming election, as well as those too young to have a say in their own future. I wanted to let you know that your behaviour throughout the election campaign has been appalling. I know you know as well as I do that it’s not the role of a journalist to campaign for a political party. Journalists often justify their bias by saying that opinion pieces can be whatever they want them to be – whether or not they’re biased, unbalanced, untrue, or part of a conspiracy on behalf of your boss to get rid of the NBN, which threatens his business interests. But you’re not just contributing opinion pieces and amateur PhotoShopped front page images, denigrating the target of your smear campaign. You’re also contributing news articles, designed to bring about a certain result, a result you’ve allegedly been instructed to manufacture to help your boss make money. Doesn’t this make you feel dirty? Doesn’t the 17 year old aspiring journalist in you feel even a little bit sad about finding their middle-aged-self behaving in this unethical way? Don’t you care about the impact your work has on the country you live in?

I’m sure many of you justify your blind obedience in the ‘get Rudd’ campaign to the fact that you need a job. You have to do what you’re told so you can keep working as a journalist. I know there’s not many jobs out there for journalists, but this doesn’t justify you doing the wrong thing. There are hundreds of examples throughout history of ‘employees’ doing the wrong thing on behalf of their bosses, and justifying this wrongness by saying they were instructed to do it. That doesn’t make it ok. If Murdoch told you to hit your wife, would you do that too? Where exactly is the line that you wouldn’t cross, no matter what your boss wanted? Is there a line? When you write puff pieces about Tony Abbott, when you do glamorous photo shoots of Tony Abbott’s daughters but don’t actually ask them a question, when you choose not to scrutinise Abbott, and omit news that is damaging to him, when you support Mal Brough’s campaign to destroy Slipper and then ignore the news that you were part of the Ashbygate conspiracy which a Federal Court Judge has revealed, when you cover your front page with blatant propaganda to help Abbott win government, but don’t tell your readers what his real plans are, when you give a candidate a free run and create the misleading impression that the Labor government is unsuccessful, you are failing Australia. Your job is not more important than your responsibility as a journalist. How are you ever going to get another job with this sort of behaviour in your background?

I actually think it’s an absolute outrage that not one of you has resigned in protest during this election campaign. Not one of you has stood up for journalistic integrity and said ‘enough’. Not one of you has said your pay cheque isn’t more important to you than your ethics. And what about all the jobs your readers will lose because of your campaign? You know Tony Abbott has proudly announced that he’ll sack 12,000 public servants. These are people doing important work in our communities. They help people. They support the disadvantaged in society. How is your job more important than their jobs?

No doubt many of you are Liberals yourself, having been hand-picked by your boss to make sure you’re on his side. But even if you think Tony Abbott deserves to win the election, and even if you like his policies and are completely in favour of his plans for this country (assuming you know what these are), don’t you think the Australian people have a right to hear both sides of the story before making up their own minds? Don’t you think it sounds a little bit like Fascism for your boss to decide that he wants an Abbott win, and then for you, his minions, to do his dirty work in the most blatantly dishonourable and immoral media campaign this country has ever seen?

Perhaps you read letters like this, and you are so hardened to the world that you let it roll over you, like water off a duck’s back. But I just hope that somewhere, deep down inside you, there’s a little voice reminding you that you’re doing the wrong thing. If you even have the ability to feel guilty, to feel ashamed, even if it’s just at 3:00am in the morning when you can’t sleep, I hope you feel awful.

It’s also important for you to know that we won’t forget what you’ve done. If your boss gets his way, and you do manage to deliver Australia the most conservative, austerity obsessed, downright mean and selfish government we’ve ever had, it’s very likely most of your readers, especially those in areas like western Sydney who’ve you’ve conned most successfully, will not be very impressed with you. They might ask why on earth Abbott is cutting spending on services they need, like health and education, when they didn’t hear about it before the election. They might be disappointed to hear their work rights are being undermined by the same front bench who came up with Work Choices. And they might be really pissed off when the surplus they’ve been promised is actually a gigantic $30 billion dollar black hole. No doubt you’ll do your best to blame all these woes on Labor, as this is your unthinking knee-jerk reaction to everything. But how long can this work? I know you like your readers dumb, but don’t underestimate how quickly people work out that they’ve been screwed over. I hope your precious job is worth it then. I would have thought your entire industry was in enough trouble without you putting another dozen nails in its coffin through your own arrogance and incompetence.

481 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Journalists at News Ltd

  1. Fiona

    like Refracting Debs

    So the students assignments are in, except for the extensions, now comes the marking – I hope you are happy with their standard

  2. Did I make it clear that I am disgusted at another example of the meme that Tony Abbott believes that women are there to serve him, even his daughters.

    My father vainly hoped his daughters would serve him but he knew damn well that he was just their servant. Like every other Aussie kid

  3. Leone & Billie,
    Several of them are promising (the anagrams, that is).

    I will be collecting the papers on Wednesday. I’ve had a quick look at a couple in their electronic form (the students submit a paper copy, which is the one that is marked, plus an electronic copy for security and also for plagiarism-checking) and they look quite reasonable. Although I was somewhat taken aback by some of the questions that were asked on the discussion board. The “best” one was:

    What does arithmetic attainment mean?

  4. What next? Will Clive ask the local Kindy Gym kids to work for him?

    “Be prepared … to lobby for Clive Palmer. A candidate for the Palmer United Party asked the Scouts to hand out how-to-vote cards on Saturday — and, it seems, almost got away with it. A little bird forwarded us this email:

    From: xxxxx
    Sent: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 3:27 PM
    To: xxxxx
    Subject: Clive Palmer Party

    Hi xxx and yyyy, We have been approached by the Clive Palmer Party asking for volunteers to assist with handing out leaflets on the 7 September for the Federal Election in Brisbane. They have offered to donate money to Scouts. I have spoken to Kirsty about this and she has no issues with members doing this as long as they do not wear their Scout uniform. Scouts should not been seen to support a political party. The person I spoke to was Veronica Ford and her contact details are xxxx. Could you please pass this on to any of your Groups who might be interested? Thank you.

    We rang Veronica Ford, running for the federal seat of Brisbane, who confirmed she had made the offer. She said the Scouts were not going to hand out the leaflets because they’ve “got an event on”. We’ve contacted the Scouts to clarify their policy on this, but surely Scouts shouldn’t be encouraged to lobby for a political party? They’ve got enough to do with lighting campfires and tying knots.”

  5. To clarify: the part of the course assessed by this assignment is on typical and atypical quantitative/numerical/arithmetic development in children.

  6. Here’s an incentive – Abbott’s will have to sell his house if he looses, Rudd won’t.

  7. Thanks gorgeousdunny, you must have an cast iron stomach to report on NPC. I really appreciate your efforts. BB has seems to have given up on the talkback radio mob, and I don’t blame him.

    Apparently Turnbull is setting the world alight with free email boxes or something…..wonder what they could be? Has anyone else heard of an email box?

  8. Gravel,
    I’ve heard some people have been lucky enough to find one in their packet of corn flakes.

  9. “What did he study at Oxford University on his Rhodes Scholarship?”
    Probably the women’s underware catalogue with a magnifying glass!

  10. Listening to Abbott speak is like pushing the automated-voice button on the railway station train arrival announcer.

  11. Listen!!…It aint over till the “fat Lady” sings….and I ain’t seen Amanda in a long time!

  12. Penny Wong getting quite angry with L Curtis. Frustration showed. But nothing manages to distract L Curtis from doing a good job for the Libs. What a colourless parrot!

  13. jaycee
    I don’t think Tony can look forward to a lucrative career as a public speaker should he lose the election. Who is going to pay to hear an hour or so of ‘arrrrgh’ and ‘errrrr’ interspersed with lots of lip-smacking and head nodding?

  14. Scoot looking VERY smug with Lyndal whose frantically pumping his ego. Let’s see if she can ask a difficult detailed question like does your fanatically religious zeal have anything to do with your obvious xenophobia?

  15. I have just had a “difference of opinion” with OH regarding senior citizens’ voting obligations in Australia. He claimed that when a person turns 70 they do not have to vote any more and can apply to be removed from the electoral roll.

    I asserted that he was wrong: optional voting after turning 70 only applies to local government elections (in Victoria, at least).

    He claimed that some time ago, when an elderly friend of his turned 70, he helped that elderly friend complete the paperwork to be removed from the electoral roll …

    To the best of my knowledge and belief (and I have downloaded and read the relevant part of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918), only non-citizens, people of unsound mind who cannot understand the nature and significance of voting, people convicted of treason or treachery, and prisoners currently serving a sentence of three or more years, are not entitled to vote. And yes, I am aware that it is possible to apply to become a General Postal Voter (my father was one for the last few years of his life).

    Does anyone know whether it has ever been the case that people over 70 can choose not to vote (after voting became compulsory in the 1920s)?

  16. I believe he studied theology, under the auspice of the Jesuits, I think. Getting prepared for priesthood.

    Suspect more time was spent in the boxing ring.

  17. Kaffeeklatscher,
    Thank you for the link. However, it doesn’t answer the question whether the situation (federally, at least) has ever been different.

  18. I believe Abbott said politics was a game in some recent interview. Looking at his now, in militarily machines, and the stupid grin on hos face, that he really believes that.

    Further more, I suspect he believes that is all it is.

    Sorry, I cannot take the man seriously,.

  19. Fed up

    Tony actually spent sfa time “pugilising”. Rugger songs and drinking beer took up far more time.He only took up boxing because his chance of winning a blue crashed and burned when he was dropped from the rugger team. Because there were so few people doing it boxing was his last and only chance to get a blue.

  20. He mentioned “carbon tax” 41 times in the first 15 minutes of that speech. I thought the number would be higher.

    Put search through the transcript on the Liberal site.

    Maybe he added a few more, when he gave the speech.

    That laugh of his is annoying. Gave the soldier, who ask him about selling out land to overseas buyers. that we live in a free country. That was not in the account I read.

  21. Fiona
    From what I can work out there has only ever been one variation in the age of voters – the change from 21 years of age to 18.
    The original legislation – Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902 – makes no mention of an upper age limit. It includes all the paperwork anyone would need – writs, enrolment forms, transfer forms etc but there is no form for removing your name from the roll at age 70

    i hope this helps.

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