Public broadcasting and quality journalism under siege: the case for a Royal Commission
The Honorable Kevin Rudd AC President and CEO, Asia Society; President, Asia Society Policy Institute
Quality public interest journalism is the lifeblood of any true democracy, but Australia’s news industry is plagued by structural decline, disruption and dysfunction. In his 2021 A.N. Smith lecture, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd argued our print media is the most concentrated in the democratic world and is dominated by a self-interested Murdoch monopoly that ruthlessly sows disinformation into public debate and intimidates its critics, chilling free speech. But as wealthier Australians flock to defamation courts, ordinary citizens are stonewalled by toothless regulators. And while corruption is on the rise and extremism on the march, the journalistic profession is shrinking – especially in regional communities – as commercial priorities drive newsroom decisions. And that’s just for starters.
Mr Rudd also contends that instead of working with journalists to tackle these challenges, our national government has embarked on a wholesale assault on our national broadcaster, the ABC. Mr Rudd says Australians should refuse to accept the demise of public interest journalism is inevitable, and reasserts that now is the time for a Royal Commission to ensure Australians can rely on a strong, growing and more diverse media for the future.