Meet Kate Doak, a wonderful Twitter pal of mine, a cool person, a smart writer, and now, a special guest blogger:
News Corp Journalists – Be Nice to Your Boss’s Mum
It’s not often you see a Journalist biting the hand that feeds it, though that’s exactly what happened on Australia’s national broadcaster over the weekend. On the ABC’s sunday morning political show “Insiders”, News Corporation’s Piers Akerman heavily insulted Rupert Murdoch’s 102 year old mother Dame Elizabeth Murdoch, because she expressed a positive opinion on the climate change legislation that’s currently going through the Australian parliament.
Now unlike their colleagues on Fox News, most of the journalists within News Corporation’s Australian publications are rather smart with their words. That’s because what would be considered politically correct to say in America, isn’t always the same in Australia due to differences in our respective cultures and political environments. For example, rather than openly calling somebody “old and senile” because they expressed an opinion they disagreed with, journalists such as Piers Akerman will often say something along the lines of:
“I don’t believe that Dame Elisabeth, or any person of that age, is in a state where they can be on a couch debating the actual issues”.
Given that Australia’s elderly are heavily engaged in politics and love making themselves heard, it was a rather offensive comment by Australian standards for the 61 year old Akerman to make.
Now considering the reactions of News Corp’s male journalists to other prominent women speaking their minds on climate change (cue actress “Carbon Cate” Blanchett and journalist Fran Kelly), it’s arguable that there’s a misogynistic culture creeping into their newsrooms. While male journalists in Australia can often get away with making such comments, the fact that this is a direct attack on Rupert Murdoch’s mother of all people, changes things.
That raises the question: If Rupert Murdoch doesn’t discipline Akerman for his comments about his own mother, then what faith can the public have in News Corporation to report fairly and accurately on women’s issues? Furthermore, what does it say about Murdoch’s ability to responsibly control his own newsrooms, if he isn’t able or willing to protect his own mother from the wrath of his journalists?
Like it or not, these are all questions that need to answered as a result of this story.
Kate Doak is a freelance journalist, who specialises in media, politics, the LGBT community and the Australian music scene. She regularly writes for www.thescavenger.net and is a frequent contributor for ABC Local Radio in Newcastle, Australia. She can be found on Twitter via @katedoak.