Julian Burnside: Independent media for reality's sake

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Human rights advocate and barrister Julian Burnside AO QC talks about his disenchantment with newspapers and the vital need for more than just two voices in Australian media.

I DON'T READ NEWSPAPERS all that much, but when I do I'm disenchanted.

It was some years ago, I guess, that I started doing cases the media were interested in and naturally, being an eager young barrister, I'd look for the report. 

I'd read it and think:

"Oh, was that the case I was in?"

I couldn't believe how completely unconnected to reality the mainstream media reporting was of things about which I knew. It made me think perhaps I couldn't rely on it on other subjects — things I didn't know about.


The media in Australia – the mainstream media – is obviously very tightly held; there's basically only two viewpoints and most people only listen to one of them. That really annoys me.

In the area in which I am particularly interested, which is the treatment of asylum seekers, 70 per cent of people think asylum seekers are illegal and 70 per cent of people get their news from the Murdoch press. Now, that's an interesting coincidence of numbers; they may not be the same cohort precisely, but they may be.

That's why we need independent voices, because with independent voices people can actually learn, you know, facts and things, which would be quite good...

The more independent media we have, the more likely it is Australians generally will understand what is actually going on and be able to form views that reflect reality.

~ Julian Burnside

Read more by Julian on on his website or follow him on Twitter @JulianBurnside.

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