Journalists’ union the MEAA hopes a debate on media regulation will follow its decision to leave the Australian Press Council.
In a statement, the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance announced that it will be giving the required four years’ notice of its intention to withdraw from the council, following a meeting of its rank-and-file national media section committee.
“We want our notice to leave the Press Council to spark a serious discussion about media regulation,” MEAA media federal president Marcus Strom said.
“Currently our members are more concerned being hauled over the coals on (ABC programme) Media Watch than being called before the Press Council. That’s obviously not an acceptable situation.”
Members had become “increasingly frustrated” by what it describes as inconsistent adjudications and poor governance standards. “Arbitrations have been inconsistent, slow and are increasingly out of touch with community expectations,” Strom (pictured) said. “The Press Council has lost credibility with journalists and even with the publishers who make up its membership. There have been too many cases in recent years where adjudications have been mocked or ignored.”
The union – which represents more than 5000 journalists – says media section members were “overwhelmingly in favour” of withdrawing, Strom pointing the $1 million the union had contributed in fees to the council over the past decade. Despite media convergence being “a lived reality” for journalists and the public for a decade, the regulatory framework had failed to keep up to date.
MEAA Media federal vice-president Karen Percy said dozens of members had provided the union with feedback about the union’s future participation in the APC. “In order to maintain trust in journalism in Australia, a credible regulator – where there are real consequences for breaches – is critical,” she said.
“We also see a growing role for the MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics to show the way for ethical journalistic practice.”