As a university student, I had to write an essay on the diversity of sources in Australian media. I wrote another essay on Australia’s cross-media ownership laws. While I no longer have a copy of those essays, I remember much of the content, and it’s as relevant today as almost 20 years ago.
Times have certainly changed regarding the layout of Australia’s media landscape. The rise of online media has put substantial financial pressures and seen the demise of outlets, including newspapers. The “two out of three rule”, the basis of Australia’s cross-media ownership laws, preventing a single media company from owning both a television and radio station or both a television station and a newspaper in the same market no longer exists.
Changes to the legislation saw Fairfax Media, publishers of Australia’s oldest newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald (1831), taken over in 2018 by the Nine Network with its entirely different editorial style and ethos.
Fairfax journalists have always prided themselves on editorial independence, in 1988 fighting for, and winning, a formal charter of editorial independence. The charter meant journalists could report free from commercial pressure to satisfy their advertisers. Journalists are hoping this charter will be honoured by Nine.