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Censorship in Australia: Intrusions into media freedom flying beneath the international free expression radar

Volume 21, Issue 1

May, 2015

From page
40
to page
60
Pearson, M., & Fernandez, J. M. (2015). Censorship in Australia: Intrusions into media freedom flying beneath the international free expression radar. Pacific Journalism Review, 21(1): 40-60.
POLITICAL JOURNALISM
Author(s): Joseph M. Fernandez, Mark Pearson
Publication date: 
May, 2015

Australia has ranked among the top 30 nations in recent world press freedom surveys published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Freedom House and is broadly regarded as a substantially free Western liberal democracy. This article considers how the methodologies of those organisations assess the impact upon media freedom of a range of recent decisions and actions by Australian politicians, judges and government agencies. There is considerable evidence of a shift towards official secrecy and suppression of information flow. However, according to this analysis such developments are unlikely to impact significantly on Australia’s international ranking in media freedom indices. This article uses the methodologies of RSF and Freedom House to explore whether the international free expression organisations’ criteria are justifiably weighted towards violence against journalists, their imprisonment and formal anti-press laws and might allow for a nuanced comparison of other evidence of constraints on the news media in developed democracies.