21 Oct 2019 - In a rare move of solidarity, the media consortium launched the #righttoknow campaign by placing an advertisement on the front page of their newspapers - redacting text in what appeared to be news articles.
This radical decisive action was taken after recent events that drew the conclusion - information was being held back by government and when we, as journalists, are ready to publish, we are in many situations gagged.
Frustration on the part of the media is that the government often wouldn't answer questions via Freedom of Information (FOI) requests on the grounds it would compromise "national security". In many cases, there did not appear to be a legitimate national security concern.
The raiding of ABC journalist Annika Smethurst's home after reporting on a government plan to allow the Australian Signals Directorate to spy on Australian citizens for the first time was seen as an attack on press freedom in Australia.
Then there is the East Timor spying revelations that resulted in charges against 'Witness K' for speaking to the media and lawyer Bernard Collaery defending the whistleblower for breaching the intelligence act. The case is not over, however Four Corners recently investigated and produced "Secrets, spies and trials: national security vs the public's right to know".
Did you know... "Australia is the only democracy in the world that does not protect free speech, freedom of religion and freedom of the press through a Bill of Rights or a Charter"
When journalists promote their own self-advocacy, we have a right to be suspicious. Even the finest Australian journalists are guilty of falling into the trap of providing their own uninformed opinions, narrative or off-the-cuff flippant parting comment designed to surmise how you should interpret their article or program. Publishing sloppy work does not lend to their credibility, especially when they're playing their games on the political establishment sometimes delving into the dangerous terrain of gutter-journalism. They often sacrifice the importance of quality journalism to publish a headline for a deadline. If journalists are serious about working toward press freedom and securing their industry into the future, they should radically rethink their business model. Journalists can start by refusing to give fanatical minorities the vast quantity of airtime that they do, engage in more comprehensive research exploring all angles of the issue and most importantly remain impartial.
I don't consider myself to be a fanatical minority. I represent about 4% of the Australian demographic or about 1 million people as a licensed firearms owner. As a licensed firearms owner, I have seen persistent unjustified attacks on the firearms community from journalists and Gun Control Australia.
I require firearms for my farm, now sold, and I also use them in target shooting competitions. The firearms community and I believe there are many issues with the National Firearms Agreement (NFA). There are many anomalies and unnecessary complexities that need reform. Unfortunately, whenever there is a call for reform, the Gun Control Lobby accuse us of wanting to water-down the firearms regulations. The Gun Control Lobby is an example of a fringe minority that I was referring to earlier. They comprise of only a handful of people. Most vocal proponents are Adjunct Associate Professor Philip Alpers and Samantha Lee. They frequently spread disinformation to the media and to the Greens to perpetuate lies for cheap media headlines. In turn the Greens use these articles to support their anti-gun political agenda.
It is now time to put a stop to all this nonsense by challenging the unsubstantiated emotive fearmongering that is perpetuated by a few people, yet spreads like a cancer.
The goal of this article is to challenge journalists to question the status-quo, by writing an informative investigative piece into how the firearms community have been demonised for over 20 years. This test will prove to demonstrate if journalists still have the ethics and integrity to justify the case that they are entitled to press freedoms and the #righttoknow.For over 23 years' we have heard journalists tout about the good work John Howard has done implementing NFA in 1996. Without fail, every year there are many articles published on the anniversary of the Port Arthur massacre to remind us how great John Howard was. Over that period, we became so lost in our own self-indulgence by accepting this narrative that we have forgone even considering the thought of challenging or even reviewing the effectiveness of the NFA. It's easier to simply accept it was the right thing to do at the time. We allowed Howard and the media to tug on the heart strings of Australians that ultimately made the case for implementing a knee-jerk policy driven purely by emotion. Unfortunately, laws make terrible memorials.
The law of propaganda that is often attributed to Joseph Goebbels states:
"Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth"
There is a whole psychological science between confirmation bias, which you can read a little bit about in the article "how liars create the 'illusion of truth'".
So put aside your confirmation biases for a moment and toy with the idea that maybe we have all been fed a lie. Put aside your personal views on guns, the idea that you are in danger because people have guns or any other biases or bigoted views you might have about farmers, hunters, sporting shooters, collectors, theatrical armourers etc.
For this exercise, i'd like you to read the following questions and conduct your own research. Be careful of misinformation by confining your research to credible sources. gunpolicy.org run by associate professor Philip Alpers is not a credible source.
1) Why does the Australian Institute of Criminology show no vast change of firearm homicide over the period before and after the 1996 gun buy back and why does the graph show firearm homicide was always trending down - most likely due to improved economic prosperity?
2) Of all the images we have seen of dump trucks containing firearms from the buyback, why is it impossible to spot an AR-15, the rifle used by Martin Bryant?
Some theories are that Australians have held on to them, sold them onto the black market or cased them in grease and buried them in PVC piping somewhere. Without more research into this, we will never know.
3) Why do we have a belief that we could or have banned firearms, when they are rudimentary in design and are routinely manufactured to be sold on the black-market, as this one example provides? I'm sure you can find many more examples when you look. You might even want to search "guns made in prison".
4) Why does The University of Sydney condone Adjuct Associate Professor - Philip Alpers accepting funds from 'Gun Control Australia' to write an article in their favour to push a political agenda?
Why does the university condone Mr Alpers tarnishing their name as an educational institution by allowing him to make false claims in The Conversation citing his own website and own research that doesn't reference any official data? Why is Mr Alpers writing for the Sydney Morning Herald? Is he a researcher or a tabloid journalist?
Mr Alpers often cites his own website as a reference in his articles. The website cites his own data and there is rarely a reference to an official source. In one example, Alpers cites his own spreadsheet that contains a reference that cites the very same spreadsheet in a circular loop style of referencing.
"While it would be a mammoth task to catalog all of Mr Alper’s errors, but we hope this selection from just 2 pages printed by him, will suffice to put the reader on their guard. Never assume any summary of information by Mr. Alpers is what it at first appears. Remember that these questions will have been “spin doctored” (phrased and rephrased many time to get the desired answer, which very often is not the implicit one, or indeed, the one later summarized)." - Link
Why do the Australian Greens use researchers like Mr Alpers to push their anti-firearm agenda? Should question marks now be raised of the Greens integrity in relation to their other policies because they might too reference pseudo scientific research?
5) To measure the effectiveness of the 1996 buyback, why is it that the Federal and State Governments do not release data via Freedom of Information (FOI) detailing how many and what type of semi-automatic firearms were relinquished to each state at the time? Is it because it would be a political embarrassment to Howard that so few prohibited firearms were handed in?
6) Why will the State Governments not provide data as to how many safe storage inspections they routinely conduct on approximately 1 million licensed firearms owners nationally, so that we may assess the cost of this exercise on the police services, keeping in mind there is no evidence that licensed firearms owners have not been compliant with the regulations? Surely we'd prefer those police boots on the ground to act as a deterrence in crime hot-spots or to investigate crime previously committed?
7) What is the cost to the tax payer to maintain firearms registries and where is the evidence there is a public safety benefit of this service above and beyond licensing and safe storage requirements?
8) How did Man Haron Monis obtain a pump-action shotgun, a prohibited shot-gun that was supposed to be handed in during the 1996 buyback? If our gun laws made us so safe - noting the buyback alone cost $500m why did it seem to largely net granddads rusty old guns as evidenced by photographs taken during the buyback?
9) Why is it contingent on an ordinary Australian to conduct their own investigative journalism and publish a blog and use twitter to promote it, without resources or pay, to challenge the nations firearms laws and the media narrative? Why are the crumbling media empires crying wolf that their industry is dying because they're now having to compete with bloggers like me? Bloggers that ask the questions the journalists are either too inept, afraid or refuse to ask.
With the #righttoknow campaign appearing to be a last ditch attempt to secure press freedom in Australia, perhaps my questions might challenge journalists enough to spark an epiphany. An epiphany that if you persistently continue down your current path, your industry is likely to self-destruct, especially since it is becoming easier for individuals to use the internet to conduct their own research, write articles and publish to an audience that has lost faith in the integrity of the mainstream media.
I challenge you with this mandate... Show us you can be trusted with the responsibility of conducting a comprehensive investigative piece questioning the tangible benefits of the NFA and the gun buyback. Please do this in the interests of 1,000,000 Australians that are licensed firearms owners who use firearms responsibly and in the interests of all Australians that pay an inordinate amount of tax to fund the firearms registries and compliance activities. Take back control of your destiny and remember to always employ your code of ethics now and into the future.
The business model for the media to achieve the highest ratings and advertising revenue.
Dr Hennessey Hayes – School of Criminology & Criminal Justice
The media tend to:
- report crimes that have occurred recently rather than some time in the past. Present information about crime as isolated events rather than include information about broader social and/or historical contexts
The media tend to:
- · focus on the most unusual and dramatic crime events
- · treat rare and unusual crimes as common everyday events
- · use dramatic and provocative language in crime reporting for impact
· Well known victims and offenders are more likely to be reported than unknown victims and offenders.
Crimes are often reported in the simplest of terms so that crime stories are accessible to the widest range of readers.
- · Often times fewer details regarding criminal events are included
- · Information about broader social contexts and historical trends often is omitted
· Media tend to focus on sexual crimes or sexual violence for impact
Media report on criminal events in ways that can be understood.
- · Focus is on criminal and crime types that are readily known to people.
- Street crimes and violence
- · Focus less on more complex crimes such as
- Complex business fraud and white collar offending
- Internet crime
The media tend to:
- · Verify the information they report about crimes through a limited range of sources.
o The media tend to rely on official sources, such as police, government officials and other “crime experts” for information about crime and criminals
o Rely less on agency administrative data and official agency reports
Similar to immediacy
- Focus is on telling new crime stories rather than retelling old crime stories
- This focus on new criminal events can give the impression that crime is on the rise