New Not for Profit Watching the Media
27 October 2011 at 9:44 am
The UK phone hacking scandal is one of this year’s biggest stories, and shows little sign of abating.
The scandal didn’t just shine a light on some of journalism’s more dubious practices but highlighted the enormous power and media ownership concentration of News International.
For campaigner Ed Coper, it made him question media ownership and diversity in Australia and whether enough was being done to monitor the monitors.
|Above: Ed Coper says NewStand will act as a watchdog to all media outlets.|
He told Pro Bono Australia from his base in Sydney, “Off the back of the phone hacking scandals in the UK we realised there was a gap in the campaigning and advocacy space – looking specifically at media issues. After the phone hacking scandals a lot of people were thinking: could this happen in Australia? And what could we do about it?”
Coper, together with “a whole bunch of individuals and organisations” – including GetUp and the Centre for Policy Development – decided to do something about it.
The result is a new Not for Profit – NewStand.
The organisation – which is currently recruiting a Director – will act as both a media watchdog and a campaigner.
NewStand describes itself as “part Media Watch, part advocacy group, NewStand is building a movement of informed, empowered people to change the Australian media for the better. With over 30,000 supporters in its first two weeks, this organisation is set to become a vocal and permanent fixture in Australian politics.”
According to Coper, “the polling that we’ve done has shown that Australians believe in more diverse media. Vast number of Australians supported a call for a media inquiry – they thought there were too few owners, they thought that privacy protections were inadequate and there are individuals who feel that there is media intrusion.”
At the moment the group is asking supporters to petition their MPs, make submissions to media inquiries, and “be engaged.”
Coper said the aim of the start-up was not to attack journalists but to create “conditions for quality journalists to thrive.”
He said, “We are definitely conscious of being seen as an anti-Murdoch group,” but said NewStand would act as a watchdog to all media outlets.
Former Justice Ray Finkelstein is heading a media inquiry independent of the Gillard government.
Public hearings begin in a fortnight, but in the meantime the inquiry has asked newspaper editors to consider their social responsibilities, including how often journalists are ''reprimand[ed]'' for ethical breaches each year.