Friday, November 11, 2011

Toward a post-Murdoch age

I forgot to link this piece I did for ABC Australia a couple of days ago:

...Carl Bernstein, one of the journalists who cracked open the Watergate affair, has likened Rupert Murdoch to Richard Nixon, referring to "corruption at the highest levels ... the corruption of the process of a free society".  A 'free society', according to the liberal-democratic canon, is one that has elected legislative offices, an independent judiciary, and a free press, among other attributes.  The free press is a particularly prized component of this institutional matrix.  The brief of the 'fourth estate' – however much that term is saturated with mythopoeic connotations – is to keep the other institutions honest and to facilitate popular democratic participation.  As Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian put it, "The press doesn't share the same aims as Government, the legislature, the executive, religion or commerce, it is or it should be an outside".  The 'corruption' of these assets, therefore, may be lamentable, and call for reform – but only inasmuch as strengthens those institutions. 
Yet, in the current context, the language of the 'free press' is being appropriated by those who want to prevent meaningful reform...