Today’s editorial in The Australian, retorting to those who noticed how inconsistently News Ltd has treated the mother of its proprietor compared with another prominent supporter of the government’s action on climate change who didn’t have such a family connection:

Regular readers of this newspaper will be aware of our consistent support for a market-based price on carbon as the most efficient method of reducing emissions. But regardless of our considered position, this newspaper takes seriously our duty to provide news coverage on policy debates that covers all significant information, views and perspectives. We respect the intelligence of our readers and have confidence in their ability to make up their own minds. We operate on the understanding that you expect us to provide as much relevant information as possible, enabling you to be well-informed. It is our unwritten compact…

For a newspaper to censor or deliberately avoid points of view, such as these, because they conflict with or undermine its own position would be a fundamental breach of trust. Fairfax editors must hold their readers in such low esteem that they will only share with them information that will help shape pre-determined opinions. What a deceptive manipulation of public discourse and an insult to the readers. What disregard for the essence of news and journalism…

When you’ve recovered from the ballsy shamelessness of those paragraphs, we’ll continue. It gets even more surreal:

Yet Gordon’s analysis suggests these increased costs should be hidden from the public, lest they oppose the tax. This would be an old Soviet Union level of censorship. Surely, you would think, Fairfax papers are not shielding their readers from reality. Sadly, it seems they do. This suggests a blatant disregard for the first point of journalism’s code of ethics: “Report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts. Do not suppress relevant available facts, or give distorting emphasis. Do your utmost to give a fair opportunity for reply.”

The fleeting moment of frankness from The Age enlightens us to the dark heart of Fairfax, where complex debates are distilled to simple viewpoints, peddled to a deliberately misinformed readership

The decline in relevance of these papers is directly related to their surrender to advocacy journalism. They no longer attempt to appeal to the broad population of the cities they serve but increasingly reflect the narrow interests of those who would shut down any argument that does not accord with their prejudices. To their journalists and editors, life is a battle between right thinkers and wrong thinkers in which they, naturally, are on the side of the angels. A newspaper which aspires to play a constructive role in civic society cannot afford such conceit, or such contempt for its readers. Its pages should be a clearing house for ideas that stimulate rather than suppress debate and play a part in the development of sound public policy. The vast majority of Australians have open minds and are willing to change them when presented with new evidence or fresh information.

Is further comment really necessary?

(You’ll note the editorial doesn’t actually address why they’re not running the same lines on Dame Murdoch that they did on Ms Blanchett, either. Attack is the best form of defence, etc etc.)

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