Before I even realised I was interested in journalism, one of my favourite series was a little show on the ABC called Media Watch. I loved (and still love) its integrity, fact checking and even-handed approach to complex issues. But most of all I love how it holds accountable the media industry in Australia, exposing falsehoods and analysing the news coverage of the week.
My only criticism of the series is that it should be longer. Fifteen minutes each week is never enough!
Given the role of the media and its power to influence society for good or malevolent ends there is a strong need for more journalism like Media Watch. Especially in a country like Australia where the news media is concentrated in the hands of so few – where massive corporations like News Corp Australia own most of the news media.
One of my favourite quotes from the classic graphic novel Watchmen written by Alan Moore is:
“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? – Who watches the watchmen?”
Alan Moore was inspired to use Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? from the Latin phrase found in the work of the Roman poet Juvenal from his Satires (Satire VI, lines 347–348). It is literally translated as “Who will guard the guards themselves?”, though it is also known by variant translations. This phrase is used generally to consider the embodiment of the philosophical question as to how power can be held to account.
Not only is the quote relevant to the news media’s influence on society as the fourth estate but the necessity of the media to carry out its responsibility to protect democracy by providing information to the masses and keeping those in power accountable.
There is a real need for more journalism programs like Media Watch to keep those in power honest. There is also a need for more diverse, quality journalism outlets in Australia due to much of commercial news’ disappointing performance in undertaking this “watchmen” role.
Friendlyjordies is one of my favourite Australian news and satire youtube channels. He summarises the quite depressing state of the Australian media landscape accurately in the following three videos:
Given that all of us here studying journalism take this ethical responsibility seriously I’d recommend everyone check out his channel and either read Noam Chomsky’s book “Manufacturing Consent” or watch the documentary.