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Australia – (F3) Diversity of news sources

Score in short:

For Australians, as part of the English-speaking community, the Internet offers a wide array of news sources. Also the world-wide media network of News Corporation feeds the Australian market, whereas the public broadcaster has cut its commitment to foreign correspondents.

Score in detail:

Australia benefits from being part of the english-speaking community, which permits Australians to easily access, for example, British or American sourced international news. This somewhat restricts the importance of the Australian national news agency, AAP (Australian Associated Press). AAP is owned by the four major Australian newspaper publishers, and mostly concentrates on domestic news but, in the provision of international news, is complemented by alliances with the major international news agencies.

Similarly, the News Corporation’s world-wide media network feeds into its Australian papers and its pay television channel, Foxtel. The national newspaper, The Australian, in its business section carries in each edition one page sourced from the Wall Street Journal, and in its world section articles taken from the London Times. But other Australian media have similar alliances, and the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) takes a number of its reports from the BBC. The ABC, until recently, maintained quite an extensive foreign correspondents network. However, due to reallocating resources to its news 24 News Channel, support to the foreign correspondents network, such as translators and fixers, has been cut back.

With regard to the use of PR material, a joint Crickey – ACIJ (Australian Centre for Independent Journalism) investigation, carried out in September 2009, has found that “nearly 55 % of stories analysed were driven by some form of public relations” (Crickey 2009, 3). However, any story based on a media release, a public relations release or other form of promotion was counted in this percentage. A further breakdown of figures into media releases and PR releases or other promotions shows that the highest levels of PR content were found in police (41 %) and arts & entertainment (39 %), and the lowest in energy and environment (11 %) and politics (12 %) (Crickey 2009, 6).