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Pressure on major news networks to remain objective ramps up

Both overseas and abroad Murdoch-owned news, and those who choose to partner with them are facing increasing scrutiny, but do things look like they might finally be changing?

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Unless you have been living under a rock you might have heard about Kevin Rudd petitioning for a Royal Commission into Australian media. The reason behind the petition was on the lack of media diversity in Australia, and the way in which "media ownership is becoming more concentrated alongside new business models that encourage deliberately polarising and politically manipulated news". The notion that opinion and fact can be blurred and then printed in an overwhelming majority of (mainly) Murdoch-owned publications. It also took aim at the "powerful monopolies emerging online including Facebook and Google".

The petition has become the biggest online petition in Australian history and this nation's third biggest petition of all time, hitting 501,876 signatures at the time of writing this.

Potentially failing to read the room correctly, Woolworth's came under fire last week when it announced a partnership with NewsCorp, resulting in the #1 Australian trending Twitter hashtag #BoycottWoolworths.

Another ex-PM, Malcolm Turnbull also flamed the fires, after having spoken about the same issue in his memoir, Turnbull delivered a scathing delivery on the topic on last week's Q&A. Shortly after this, a senate inquiry into the issue (not quite a Royal Commission however) has been announced.

However in a very timely turn of events something very interesting occurred during the US Presidential election. While much of the heat for previous elections has been aimed at social media networks, this time TV news came into play.

When Trump delivered baseless claims of voter fraud, networks including MSNBC, ABC, CBS, CNBC, and NBC cut away from the highly problematic speech. But more dramatic than this perhaps was Fox News' stance.

Fox News, famously owned by Rupert Murdoch, and seemingly a longstanding ally for Trump, was the first to call Arizona for Biden. Few would have assumed that Trump supporters would be heard shouting "Fox News Sucks". but amazingly, this is what happened as Trump staffers alleged cheating in states such as Arizona.

Not only this but Fox also followed suit with other broadcasters, cutting away from the "illegal votes" claims of White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany in a briefing post election. The network "has shifted away from its loyalty to Trump over the past week, instead seeming in what appears to be closely co-ordinated messaging to warn its readers that Trump has lost the election despite his claims to the contrary.

Unsurprisingly Trump was not happy with Fox, sending out a stream of angry Tweets like "Very sad to watch this happen, but they forgot what made them successful, what got them there," he wrote. "They forgot the Golden Goose. The biggest difference between the 2016 Election, and 2020, was @FoxNews!"

So are they listening? Will things change? Will our national laws enforce such changes into the future to protect forced divisions among citizens?

Zara Cooper


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