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The War on Journalism

Media Moguls, Whistleblowers and the Price of Freedom

By Andrew Fowler
12-minute read
Audio available
The War on Journalism: Media Moguls, Whistleblowers and the Price of Freedom by Andrew Fowler

The War on Journalism (2015) explores the challenges journalists face while seeking the truth amid increasing state control and private sector criticism. Even though the internet has allowed those in the media unprecedented access to people and information, equally technology and new rules of the game have made fact-seeking a far more problematic pursuit.

  • Aspiring journalists and media professionals
  • Students of politics or sociology
  • Anyone who follows the news

Andrew Fowler was an investigative journalist for (Australian) ABC TV’s Four Corners program and was also foreign editor and chief of staff at The Australian. His series of interviews with Wikileaks’ Julian Assange led to the publication of his award-winning book, The Most Dangerous Man in the World. Fowler is retired from daily journalism and spends his time between Sydney and Paris.

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The War on Journalism

Media Moguls, Whistleblowers and the Price of Freedom

By Andrew Fowler
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
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The War on Journalism: Media Moguls, Whistleblowers and the Price of Freedom by Andrew Fowler
Synopsis

The War on Journalism (2015) explores the challenges journalists face while seeking the truth amid increasing state control and private sector criticism. Even though the internet has allowed those in the media unprecedented access to people and information, equally technology and new rules of the game have made fact-seeking a far more problematic pursuit.

Key idea 1 of 7

In a democracy, the media need to be free to conduct investigations and report the news.

Do you read the news? Have you followed major developments such as Edward Snowden’s revelations about the US National Security Agency or the so-called Panama Papers?

If so, you’re familiar then with both whistleblowers and investigative journalists, and understand how the activities of both groups can affect society at large.

The media is often called the fourth estate. Coined in Britain in the eighteenth century, this term set journalists and their craft as a check on the power of society’s other “estates,” namely the clergy, the nobility and the common people.

Today, journalism’s role as the fourth estate is still important. When a government enacts harmful policies or officials pursue controversial plans, journalists are tasked with letting the public know, in effect working to curb the influence of the too-powerful in society.

The reasoning is simple. Citizens have the right to know the facts, so that they can make informed decisions.

The Guardian, for example, has a long track record of writing about controversial issues and has often collaborated with whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden on stories. The information Snowden released on the National Security Agency (NSA) in the United States – a secretive agency that was spying on US citizens and leaders abroad – sent shockwaves across the globe.

Journalists and publications such as the Guardian can only function if they can freely investigate issues on an independent basis. A free press is a crucial part of any democracy; if the state controls the press, it can limit the public’s access to information and cover up deeds about which it doesn’t want society to know.

Snowden’s NSA revelations, for instance, wouldn’t have been possible if he hadn’t had access to a free press.

While there are still many TV stations and newspapers run by governments in countries around the world, most media outlets are privately owned. This separation allows journalists to report on issues without fear of losing their jobs or being censored – or worse.

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