Contributed by some members of the MEAA
The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), the journalists’ union, has joined with a range of media organisations to campaign on the basic right for everyone to be informed.
By joining, the union has added to the now 10-year old campaign called Your Right To Know. This is a very positive move.
This has been brought about by serious concern about the government attacks on media freedom in Australia.
On the campaign’s website and under the heading “Australia, you are being kept in the dark,” it says, “You have a right to know what the governments you elect are doing in your name. But in Australia today, the media is prevented from informing you, people who speak out are penalised and journalism that shines a light on matters you deserve to know about are is criminalised.”
Later the statement goes on to say, “Australians have been slowly losing their right to know how their government operates and about issues that affect their families and finances.”
The following clip on the website gives an idea how the attack on journalism and publishing affects everyone.
As positive as the Your Right To Know is, it remains that media organisations themselves are not necessarily unknown for silencing voices, which are of concern to their shareholders and do not meet editorial policy.
This is something that must be taken up in the long run. But for now, it should not get in the way of welcoming their participation in challenging the immediate threat.
The other point is that seeing that this is a matter that affects everyone, not just media organisations and journalists, the campaign must involve more sectors and individuals to be truly effective. It is not only up to the formal members of Your Right To Know . Others must get active too.
The attack on journalism and publishing cannot be separated from the broader attack on democratic rights.
Unions battle against the incremental loss of their right to organise and represent their members. Those on benefits have lost their right to be properly informed about what is happening to them and to not be treated with dignity. There is a loss of transparency over how government and its agencies perform. Laws have come into being that have begun to dismantle the concept of innocent until proven guilty and other legal norms. The list goes on.
In campaigning for media freedom, it is essential to wage a campaign against the trend towards autocratic government.
Attacks on media freedom have a purpose, and that is to impose the will of those who are in power on the rest of us. This purpose must be opposed as well.
Bound in with this is the need to open media to more voices.