Freedom of press is usually a good indicator of the state of a democracy. While Australia still stands at a flattering 19th place in the Reporters without Borders annual ranking for freedom of information, it is concerning when journalists need to start lobbying to protect their own rights.
This is the purpose behind the creation of the Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom (AJF), a much-needed initiative, especially in an election year.
The most successful democracies in the world have freedom of press deeply rooted in their legislation. The US constitution (1789), the Law on Freedom of Press in France (1881) or the Article 5 of the Basic Law in Germany (1949) are a few examples showing that other democracies have made freedom of speech and press a key element of their democratic systems early on. The time may have come for Australia as well.
For decades, freedom of press never really had to face any threats, but the further tightening of national security laws might jeopardise some of its basic principles, such as protecting sources, and it is only fair that as those policies evolve, so do the ones protecting information in Australia.
Investigative journalism is providing a public service, keeping every party (politicians, businesses, individuals) accountable, shielding society against corruption, and guaranteeing transparency. The Banking Royal Commission probably would have never happened if media did not play their role as whistle-blowers.
I dearly value transparency as a PR professional. I advocate it as often as I can because I think it does the best service for journalists and to clients. I wish the AJF the best in its democratic fight.
the Alliance for Journalists Freedom, is launching a campaign for a Media Freedom Act. The Act would act as a yard-stick to measure all our laws against, to protect the watchdog role that journalists play.