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. Privatisation gets a run. Abbott dodges. Will be “consultation” before anything happens. Says committed to privatising Medibank, but everything else is vague.

    UN Security Council. Abbott says we should do what we can but we shouldn’t overrate our influence. “Be realistic” about what we can achieve through humility. Asking whether Abbott will attend the next meeting. Abbott demurs.

    Now the carbon tax abolition. Still getting into Labor-bashing in his reply, which was what he’d do with a hostile Senate. Says his policies are better for ordinary workers – he’s switched to vaudeville! He’s confident Labor will come around.

  2. This little black duck

    To be fair to Tones imagine turning up to a place where everyone is saying to the person next to them “Hey look it’s the misogynist guy” or “Here comes the suppository of knowledge .snigger snigger”.

  3. I’ve got various theories. One is that Australia feel they’ve missed out on a GWB era, Howard was calcified like Reagan. Rudd was glossy like Clinton. Then it’s supposed to go idiot (Abbott), visionary non-white-male (Gillard). We got it around the wrong way.

  4. Now an education question about Abbott’s claim that the national curriculum has been politicised.Answers with a bit of nitpicking. Does pull back from interfering.

    Now Laura. Asks about “adult government” does that mean treating uds all like children by not releasing policy costings and details. Why not release? Abbott denies – says it’s a rolling release of policies on each day. Wait a little and everyone will know, and it will be better than Labor’s!

  5. Come to think of it, Abbott is more likely to be a Berlusconi figure.

    I was talking to an Italian friend who described what it was like under that man. He said the most frustrating thing about him was that he would just ignore people asking questions about his vast amount of scandals, and the media would just give him a free pass. That’s what I fear most about Abbott winning, that he will be protected from scrutiny and get away with way much more than he should, plus the matter of being an international embarrassment.

  6. Abbott now admitting that his fines for non-compliance with his carbon abatement program will never be collected “because everyone will comply”.

  7. He is unbelievable. Is he fair dinkum, or is there a great con going on, by those who are pulling the strings.

  8. Malcolm Farr on Direct Action. Penalties. Abbott looks puzzled about it. Now he’s more relaxed – saying it really applies from those with relatively clean energy going over to dirty energy. Now gets into a bit of bull about businesses reducing their emissions intensity over the last ten years. Says it is occurring but not because of the carbon tax – they’re just good citzens.

    Now one on Abbott’s daughters from Nine bimbo. Would he encourage them to go into politics. Apparently neither are interested. Tough business.

  9. Can one imagine, if the worse happens next week, what Albo will make of this man at question time each day.

    Would be worth seeing him win, to see the circus.

    Does not see the UN Security Council as important. It appearing we are reaching above our level of influence in the world.

  10. By the way, no drones now. Abbott said one cannot make those decisions from Opposition. Why then did he say, he was buying the drones and going to Indonesia in the first week then

    Said this morning, he will not be lobbing into the country, as one has to wait to be invited.

    Wonder what is really in the WA blow up and roads.

  11. Karen Middleton asking about Syria action, whether it would go to parliament. Abbott says yes in a roundabout way. She should have asked whether he’d tell the truth when putting it to parliament.

    Now on roads promises. Abbott mildly chides as a longish question. Pretends that this has all been held up by enquiries. Infrastructure Australia supported (albeit I don’t know if that includes rail). Still wants cost-benefit analysis, even though he wants less enquiries. Claims the north-south one in Adelaide went without one. Leaves question of a toll to the Victorian government.

  12. If Abbott wins, Pyne will just gag Albo every time he opens his mouth. You can tell that smug snivelling little turd is dying to do it. Or Speaker Bronnie will just chuck him out. I think I’ll just ignore parliament altogether if Abbott wins, just like most of the rest of the country.

    I hope there’s other ways Albo can make them look bad though.

  13. 24 seems to be wrapping up, went to theme music before resuming.

    Apparently got a q on reducing emissions via Direct Action. Looks like a waffle answer that a sensible business will work their way to it. Goodbye market forces and incentives by the sound of things. Says soil carbon remission alone might get them there. Very confident he’ll achieve, but limited to how much he’ll spend.

    Bongo on the PPL. Gets onto the equity of it by comparing an executive with a single mum. Abbott tries to sidestep by saying PPL is restricted to the worker. Still caliming being a levy on business makes it different, since it then becomes an employee thing and not welfare. Pretty elastic interpretation!

  14. Mr. Abbott, many companies, have for decades, have been movimng to cheaper power options. This includes many large ones.

    Mr. Abbott, they did this, as they believed, no matter the government, ther would be some type of ETS.

  15. Abbott not doing to well with the wash up on ABC 24.

    Could some be getting worries, that Abbott might get in.,

  16. I gave the NPC a miss. Thank you to al lthe brave people who gave a commentary.

    And….here’s Louise, I mean Lou-Lou, back to join Fradget and Brinces for the last days of daddy’s campaign. Or that’s the story. It seems she has taken absolutely no notice of Tony’s lectures on virginity and is shacking up with a lover.

  17. If my wine improves with age as Kate Carnell does then I have a lot of drinking to do very fast.

  18. dunny – thanks again, I don’t know how you managed to make a concise commentary from what was coming out of Abbott’s mouth.

  19. re Louise or Lou, Lou

    Jeez that man is a grub, belittling his daughter’s budding diplomatic career

    If you are in a profession that demands a good reputation you don’t let people call you by diminutive names.

    What did he study at Oxford University on his Rhodes Scholarship?

  20. My parents never referred to me or my sisters by any family nickname or pet name when outside the family. Those names were strictly for private family use. My parents always used our full Christian names in public, not even abbreviations allowed. I don’t refer to my kids by their pet names outside the family either.

    Why does Abbott feel the need to belittle his daughters by referring to them, in the national media, as Lou-Lou, Bridgey and Francie? To me it sounds try-hard, as if he wants to convince us he’s a doting father. I think those young women must cringe whenever he does it.

    Because I can’t tell Abbott two younger daughters apart (one pony-tailed young woman stuffed into a too-tight outfit looks exactly like the other) I have decided to call them by combined names for as long as they are hogging the attention of the OM. It will be Fradget and Brinces, or Fridget and Brances, or maybe Banter and Frigid, for the duration.

  21. I have a sneaking suspicion that Rudd is learning that “popularity” aint what it was cracked up to be. And, I think there are lot of Labor MPs who are realising how beautifully they were conned into ditching a remarkable PM for a termite who’d spent three long years eating away at the Party and Govt foundations – and all to save some furniture.

    I got an email yesterday, supposedly from Rudd, asking for another donation. I replied (to Therese Rein) that I would gladly donate again but despite my feed-back emails, the PM has continued to spend the whole campaign talking about himself and has failed to hammer home the achievements of the Labor Government, especially during the term of the minority government, and therefore has allowed the abbott to get the upper hand. I pointed out that terms like “the comeback kid” goes down like a lead balloon.

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