MediaWatch recently celebrated its 20th birthday – the report that reporters dread for it is without fear or favour, and never afraid to bite the hand that feeds it (the ABC). Always controversial, insightful and with humour when required, reporting on the industry of (Australian) journalism.
One highlight of the 20 years of MediaWatch was a political episode of what became known as the “Cash for Comments” scandal; radio jocks being paid by big corporations to comment favourably about them or their industries, without telling their listeners about any comment being an advertorial. Strident critics had become fervent admirers.
The political and industrial fallout was nuclear: without MediaWatch, I doubt anyone would know the murky, grimy, greasy-palmed world in which journalism operates, and why nations like the United Kingdom and Australia need a publicly funded independent news source that is globally respected for its impartiality.
Murdoch may want the BBC and ABC to stick to radio and television, but in this brave new world of free news content, it’s important that the BBC and ABC at least match what NewsLtd/NewsCorp can do online, and provide it for free. After all, in Australia the ABC’s tagline has been for 2 decades “It’s YOUR ABC.”