Ben Macintyre (“Reporting the news without fear or favour”, The Australian, 6/7) is surely right to assert that fiercely independent former Times journalist William Howard Russell would have been “shocked … by the politicians and lawyers now swarming to control and regulate the press by law”. But it is equally likely he would be appalled by corporate or proprietorial interference in press content. A case in point: the recent secret recording of Rupert Murdoch, which has been a prominent and ongoing news story across the globe – except in media outlets he owns.
The Australian, for example, buried a small story in the Media section (“Murdoch dubs hacking probe a ‘disgrace'”, 4/7) which failed to canvass the key issue that the recording revealed the insincerity of Murdoch’s contrition before the Leveson Inquiry. Instead, it reproduced News Corp’s official line that Murdoch was motivated by “empathy” for his staff. Other News Corp outlets carried the exact same story, and not a single opinion piece on the subject.
Was this a result of fear, favour, or both?