Occident Prone

Welcome to Australia’s wild West

Watch out blogniks, you could be next

Posted by occidentprone on May 1, 2008

The Carpenter state government is full of surprises, not least its attitude to journalists. Alan Carpenter was a good and respected journalist who had worked in both print and electronic media, culminating in hosting the Perth 7.30 Report for ABC TV. And yet his government seems to treat journalists with contempt.

Yesterday we saw another example. The Sunday Times had its offices raided and a lockdown ensued. How dramatic. The paper says a reporter, one Paul Lampathakis, had written an exclusive in February which sparked yesterday’s raid by the major fraud squad. We’ll leave the tabloid descriptions of the raid to those who do it best, in this case paper’s affiliated website, Perth Now:

Police searching Lampathakis’ desk were requested to take particular note of anything from the “expenditure review committee”, which is chaired by Treasurer Eric Ripper.

The warrant executed by police was for: “Any and all documents pertaining to the information held by The Sunday Timesemployees pertaining to the investigation conducted for the article titled ‘Bid to buy Labor win: Ripper wants $16m for poll’, published on page 3 of The Sunday Times, 10th February 2008, including source details, notebook entries, records of conversation, editorial notes, scribings, telephone records, any form of recording (electronic or otherwise) and records of conversation.”

Staff were told by Detective Sergeant Alan Jane that police had been posted on all the building’s exits.

Anyone who left would have their names and details taken and would be searched in a “non-invasive” way for the items on the warrant.

Whatever you think of the paper, its style of reporting the facts (or not) and the government, this is really important stuff for us all to be thinking about.

If you want your news served up without fear or favour, if your want your favourite papers and TV stations – and bloggers – to be courageous and uncowed by the state, to bring you the facts untainted by spin, unhindered by censorship take notice of what is going on.

Attorney-General Jim McGinty has also taken on the media in this state. He has blackbanned reporters from The West Australian and Lampathakis from advance notice of media events. McGinty, whose own daughter was once an industrial organiser for the journalists’ union MEAA, has drawn himself to full height to confront The West and its editor.

Alan Carpenter, while giving his imprimatur to two journalists – Reece Whitby and Karen Brown – for preselection in the next election, has given Kerry Stokes the nod of approval to further concentrate media in this state because of his government’s running beef with the monopoly daily. Stokes failed but is not likely to slink under a rock so we will have to wait and see on the fate of The West.

No one expects a government and the fourth estate to have a mateship – that’s just wrong. They should be keen adversaries, aggressive enemies even. And the ministers are right when they think some sections of the Perth media are biased and out to get them. But when the government starts a war on the media, it is an assault not just on one reporter, or editor or newspaper. Watch out West blogniks – you could be next.

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3 Responses to “Watch out blogniks, you could be next”

  1. Kace said

    Aren’t there some kind of freedom of speech laws? Or do the defamation laws protect the biggies from any kind of free speech? And what about people merely commenting on blogs. Should I lock the doors and buy an incinerator?

  2. occidentprone said

    Kace, maybe blog commenters needn’t panic just yet, but if no one stands up for the professionals sticking their neck out to report what elected officials are doing, then we shouldn’t be surprised when the blogosphere eventually gets curbed too. To quote a famous monobrow: Be alert, not alarmed.

  3. […] only Eric Ripper were in charge. We’d have goosestepping investigators turning the place upside down to find the source of the […]

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