Pacific Media Watch
Foreign correspondent blasts 'political lies'

Title -- 3765 INTERNATIONAL: Foreign correspondent blasts 'political lies'
Date -- 16 September 2002
Byline -- None
Origin -- Pacific Media Watch
Source -- Pacific Media Watch, 16/9/2
Copyright -- PMW
Status -- Unabridged

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Pacific media 'gatekeepers' condemned at conference


SYDNEY (Pacific Media Watch): Leading Australian foreign correspondent Jeff McMullen has warned against being fooled by the "big lies" of politicians about the war on terrorism.

Speaking at a Public Right to Know conference sponsored by the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism at the weekend, McMullen also blasted lies about the secret training of Digger troops as strike breakers, the Pacific "solution" on asylum seekers, and the lock-out of the media over harsh treatment of refugees in desert concentration camps.

The conference also included a session on the Pacific media and Solomon Islands corruption.

McMullen was among several prominent journalists and media personalities, a Kurdish broadcaster and an Islamic student who spoke at the conference opening.

"As our world lurches closer to another spasm of violence it is the right time to focus on these big lies, the art of lying practised by political leaders," McMullen said.

"If the public is to have any chance of knowing the truth, people must examine very sceptically the role of the media in wartime propaganda and learn how to recognise the independent journalism that usually exposes the truth about war."

McMullen, who has worked for many years with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Channel Nine's Sixty Minutes, cited Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's denial that his country possessed weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, as an example of a Big Lie.

He also cited President George Bush's claim that there were no plans on his desk to attack Iraq among other examples of Big Lies.

Radio Australia's Asia-Pacific journalist Peter Mares, author of the book Borderline about Australia's treatment of refugees; Kurdish broadcaster Mansour Razaghi on 2000FM; and gender studies university student Rafa Zaim also addressed propaganda issues.

In other sessions, adjunct professor and executive producer Peter Manning spoke about defamation as a means of suppressing information, Professor Mark Pearson of Bond University outlined a reflective practice approach to press freedom and open justice in the journalism education curriculum, and documentary filmmaker Anthony Snowden of SKATV showed a compelling film about protesters and refugees at Woomera camp.

Associate Professor Dr Brian Martin, of the University of Woollongong's School of Science, Technology and Society, exposed the illusions of whistleblower protection while Swedish journalist John Lidberg , of Murdoch University, contrasted West Australian and Swedish approaches to freedom of information and journalistic content.

Associate Professor Wendy Bacon, of the University of Technology, Sydney, chaired a moving session about "hidden stories" when members of the public presented documented examples of where the media had "colluded" with government or authorities to suppress stories.

The conference was the second in an annual series to raise awareness about public issues and on the need for constitutional protection of freedom of expression and access to information in Australia.


PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).

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