As journalists rightly demand more protection and recognition for their work, it is time to finally resolve the threshold issue of what journalism is, and who gets to do it.
Something very worrying has happened in the world of journalism. When we talk about the dangers for reporters around the world, it is hard not to conclude that there are no safe spaces any more.
As the battle heats up over how much protection and freedom the news media deserves as it goes about its business, a famiiar problem is once again raising its head. In these days where anyone can start a website, run a blog or publish via social media, what IS a journalist anyway?
A huge story of abuse, murder and exploitation, involving senior figures in the establishment. A confirmed police investigation into allegations the authorities describe as 'credible and true'. Lives and reputations are at stake, the headlines are lurid and compelling. But what if it isn't true?
Too often, journalists find themselves accused of being traitors when they file difficult and controversial stories about their country, stories that can lead to embarrassment, disgrace and even short term damage to national reputations. But the truth is their work can make a democracy stronger, not weaker, proved they go about their business in a careful and ethical manner.
In London this week, Governments, media and the non-profit sector gathered to make bold plans and issue bold statements about how to defend media freedom against growing attacks around the world. However, as interesting as the promises and speeches were, what was more interesting was the things left unsaid, and the identity of those who were absent from the discussions.
It has been interesting, as an outsider currently in the US, to see some of the key issues that have emerged in the wake of the ABC network's 30 hours with Trump. From beginning to end, it has highlighted how far we the media still have to go if we want to be respected and trusted in holding powerful public figures to account.
Because we are so saturated in American culture, very few Australians realise that free speech in this country isn’t really a thing. It is not merely not protected – it’s far worse than that. If you read any of the vast array of laws that protect government secrets, disclosure in the public interest is discouraged, criminalised, punished, and deplored.
We found that while journalists aimed to fulfil traditional roles, like informing and educating the public, they valued their unique role: to promote unity and reconciliation. Having lived through Rwanda’s genocide era, they wanted to prevent a similar tragedy from reoccurring.
There seems to be little learning among the news media about how they might cover elections better. Here are five weaknesses in the approach of most mainstream media.