Media muzzling

Asked by a publisher to write a memoir, I’m working on a chapter that shows how the Australian media is manipulated by the country’s wealthiest players. At a time when the late Kerry Packer was attempting to take over Fairfax (The Age, Sydney Morning Herald etc.) there was a toxic, three day blaze at the chemical storage depot, Coode Island. For five days the toxic smoke was lifted above the city by an upward thermal. A downward thermal would have killed thousands for the smoke contained cyanide gas. Having been told by the foreman of the depot (well, he left me in the boardroom with the depot’s manifest) that Packer owned all the chemicals that burned over those days, I attempted to alert the major news organisations.

They weren’t having any. I organised for a Member of Parliament to release a press statement claiming exactly that. There was no response in the media and no calls to the MP’s office.

The MP then anounced it in Parliament which allowed the media to report the information without legal ramifications. Nothing.

Later, passing Big John Hindle in the street, I mentioned it to him. He was then running a 3AW afternoon program. He agreed to run it after I faxed him the Hansard report of the MP stating the factual material in Parliament. He announced it and was taken off air.

This was the second incident of media muzzling by the infuential and powerful that I’ve been involved in. Of course there are many more indirect ways of keeping real news from the “hounds” but these two incidents don’t allow the media any fallback position.

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