Newspapers, radio, television and now the internet are the means by which countless millions engage with information about the world in which we live.
For much of the time, the principal purpose of the media is to entertain.
However, there are critical moments in our lives when the truth really matters ... when disaster strikes, when powers contend, when the decisions that shape our lives are in the balance.
Can the media be trusted at these moments? Are commercial imperatives overwhelming considerations of public interest that once defined the role of democracy’s fourth estate?
Julian Burnside QC, is a barrister, writer and President of Liberty Victoria. He has acted pro bono in many human rights cases and is passionate about the arts. He elaborates the law in relation to art censorship and how it is exercised, including the complexities of "intention," "context," "reasonableness," public attitudes, protecting human rights and freedom of expression.
He is President of Liberty Victoria, Chair of fortyfive downstairs and author of Wordwatching - Fieldnotes from an amateur Philologist and Watching Brief - Reflections on Human Rights, Law and Justice.
John B Fairfax AM is a member of the board of directors for Fairfax Media, former Chairman of Rural Press and former Chairman of the Media Council of Australia.
Jonathan Holmes is the presenter of ABC's Media Watch and a former executive producer of ABC's Four Corners.
Dr. Simon Longstaff is Executive Director of St. James Ethics Centre. Simon spent five years studying and working as a member of Magdalene College, Cambridge. Having won scholarships to study at Cambridge, he read for the degrees of Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy. He was inaugural President of The Australian Association for Professional and Applied Ethics and is a Director of a number of companies. He is a Fellow of the World Economic Forum and a member of the International Advisory Committee of the Foreign Policy Association, based in New York.
Professor Catharine Lumby is the Director of the Journalism and Media Research Centre at The University of NSW. She is the author of six books and numerous journal articles.
Professor Lumby is a well-known public commentator who has worked as a news reporter, feature writer and columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Bulletin magazine. She sits on the Education and Welfare Committee and the Research Committee of the National Rugby League, advising them on gender issues. She is also a member of the Advertising Standards Board.
Stephen Mayne is a Walkley Award winning journalist who for almost 10 years worked as a reporter, business editor, gossip columnist and chief of staff for a variety of Australian newspapers. Mayne launched www.crikey.com.au in February 2000, then sold it in 2005 but remains a Crikey contributor. Mayne has been an active campaigner for more women on public company boards over the past year, raising the issue several times at AGMs and in the media.
Mark Scott is Managing Director of the ABC. He was former Editor-in-Chief of Metropolitan, Regional and Community newspapers at Fairfax Media.
Both sides agree the media can't be trusted to tell the truth. The difference is to what extent. So why not debate on possible solutions?
One solution could be found in categorizing news/stories in a mandatory sectioning as 'Opinions' or 'Fact Finding' information.
Such a system would be measuring the integrity of a story. A certain criteria of proof could be the new legal rule that has to be met in order to be presented as 'Fact Finding' information.
It would be a way to let the public truly represent as well a be presented with a choice to prioritize 'Fact Finding' or 'Opinion sharing" news information. At the same time this system can satisfy the bottom line issue for what sells and address the need for the integrity of truth.
As the 'Fact Finding' section would truly reflect the truth as it is knows at the time, this simple sectioning rule could be the beginning of applying solutions to the obvious problem.
I'm biased so my experience here was possibly lesser than others. I've rejected media for about 3 years now, I never intend to look back to sea of opinions and story tellers. There is no absolute truth, only varying degrees of probable truths.
I agree with what he said here. I think that most media is biased and you have to take what is given with a grain of salt. However, I think that it can also be positive because we are able to see many different points of view. I just make sure that when I read and watch what is in the media, I am open to the other views without disregarding my own.