Friday, 29 August 2008

Freedom of the press

When Paul Sethe (12. 12. 1901 - 21. 6. 1967) was publisher of the German daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung he pointed out: “The freedom of the press is the freedom of 200 rich people to express their opinion.”

These days we in Australia see this grim remark come true. After The Age’s editor-in-chief was sacked on Wednesday, this Friday the Sydney Morning Herald columnist Mike Carlton had to go. According to the ABC Carlton refused to write his regular column for the paper's Saturday edition because of the current strike by journalists and editorial staff. “He was told that he would no longer be writing for the newspaper as a result.”

The Australian media who so freely criticise everything and everyone – especially our Royal Family and the institution of the Australian Monarchy – cannot stand being criticised themselves.

Paul Sethe was wrong only in one aspect: In Australia it is not 200 people who can express freely what they want. The number is closer to 20.

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