A media via media

Russell Powell

Discussion about the poor quality of much of the media lurches from no regulation to over-regulation. Is there another way?

I mention this because one of our breaking news links in the past week quoted the former High Court Judge Ian Callinan, who came out strongly against 'muzzling the media with regulation'. 

Of course, I only have media reports to go on and to paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies, 'They would report that wouldn't they'. But it seems Callinan, who is no stranger to being for and against media companies in his life as an SC, regards government intervention to control the media, as "far too risky". He doesn't like the idea that free speech could be wound back by governments. 

According to The Australian, Callinan says "defamation law is the proper way to control the media and calls for radical defamation law reform, including uncapped and punitive damages and changes to help ordinary Australians sue the media. He backs the creation of laws to enable individuals to sue the media for invasion of privacy."

That's fine as far as it goes, but there is a lot more damage that can be caused by media bias, incompetence or just plain misinformation than can be fixed by law.  

I wonder if there is not, pardon the pun, a 'via media' between the model suggested by Judge Finkelstein in his media inquiry and the Callinan plan. Beyond the punitive and the legal measures, it would be good to see some self-regulation led by journalists themselves. That may not only have more effect, it would also show that the media is serious about dealing with some of its own issues. 

Now, on to the five stories you should read this week -

Pakistani Christians face a backlash after a mentally handicapped girl is accused of blasphemy. The WaPo has good coverage.

The same-sex marriage issue is at a critical point in the Parliament, so this may be your last chance to contact your local MP before a vote. Professor Patrick Parkinson has also written a good opinion piece.

There are fewer homeless people sleeping rough in Sydney, according to the SMH.

The Digital Bible pops up in more pews, pulpits - USA Today coverage here and SydAng comment here.

and an interesting story on connecting in your neighbourhood. The only thing not mentioned is church...