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November 18, 2007 / Amy Bradney-George

The Media and the Writers

Paige Smith* is a journalist who works in Australia. Where she works doesn’t really matter, because she knows who her real bosses are (“their are only two of them”, she says in her professional, trained newsreaderspeak). She likes the current political system and what it does (to) for the fourth estate. “The anti-terror legislation is good for journalists…and we know we don’t have to concern ourselfs with Freedom of Information requests because what we get back is generally similar to what we start with – a blank page,” she reports.

I could go on about Paige, she’s certainly an interesting character with her strong support of the current system (the ‘fourth estate’ didn’t get it’s name from agreeing with governments, I promise), but the crux of the matter is safety, which these days often gets overlooked outside of an individual’s own safety. Paige is looking out for Number One, but in theory is that what the law should be doing? If you follow the code of ethics, set out by the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, if you stand by those twelve short points, you should be a decent journalist. But under the current laws, following at least one of these principals (“Where confidences are accepted, respect them in all circumstances.”) can get you put in (contempt) gaol. Is that fair? Is that allowing journalists to do their jobs properly? With the threat of personal safety so close to journalists, it’s no wonder Paige Smith feels the way she does.

In other news and on a completely unrelated train of thought, I am still thinking of all the Writers Guild of America members who are on strike. It seems as though (especially in film) producers and directors and actors get the most respect from the general (not that word) public. I can understand their cause, and I make a point of appreciating the writers of both films and television shows I enjoy (more so with tv shows as you’re more likely to become familiar with a writer). I hope it ends soon though, for the sake of the writers and all the other skilled professionals like costume designers who are currently out of work.

At least we can write about it for them.

*Paige Smith is a character created for the forum theatre satire show, John Howard on Trial

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