News, Press Freedom, Press Filtering ... is 'fake news' a diversion?

With so much talk of ‘fake news’ in recent years, some of the basic and assumed freedoms of the press may be more important than ever - but are they being treated accordingly or are commentators being trained to follow the lead of the news creators/instigators with the risk of being shut out if they rock the boat or probe too hard? Is the day of the determined investigative journalist a thing of the past? is a story just a story and all that matters is getting something vaguely resembling reality (or at least a believable fiction) published ‘first’ - details and corrections to follow?

There have been whiffs of the ‘follow the leader’ kind of journalism for a long time and I’ve sensed (probably a little cynically) that COVID-19 has emphasised this, with some exceptions that seem rather less than tolerated. The COVID-19 situation has brought about many changes in many areas, not the least of which are people’s awareness of some of the more ‘latent’ legislation that exists, some of which for a long time. It has also given many sectors of public life a story to tell where it could be suggested it was convenient or helpful in either selling people on something, or distracting people from something that wouldn’t sell. Some of this would be comical if it weren’t so serious, while some is just comical, and …

Where is the press in all of this? The current situation in the NT might be an interesting example. With a population less than some of history’s more famous rock concert attendances (even including tourists in a good year), it is a place of rare beauty, vast open spaces, and people who have opted away from the big smoke. It’s a small pond, population wise, so a cynic might suggest anything more than a sardine is probably a big fish relatively speaking. Big enough to nudge the Australian Constitution and get away with it? maybe …

My question is this - what have others seen in their local area, be it region or state/territory? How has the current health crisis affected that? What news has been filtered either by follow-the-leader style journalists (almost apologists?) or by diversion/etc, and how much freedom of the press is ‘ok’ and where should it stop? (for me, this means remembering that freedom of press and investigative journalism is something consumer organisations such as CHOICE often push to the limit to get the answers).


Thankfully we are still way ahead of many backwaters of civilisation such as these disgusting examples.

And his “:terrible review” on Tripadvisor at the top of the 1 star reviews.

500 Thai Baht (AUD $22) for “corkage”. What an absolute bunch of theives.

I guess all the other 1 star reviewers were out of the dump prior to being arrested.

And a Chinese tycoon jailed for calling a tin pot despot a clown.

What a shame that Xi did not stay in his cave after being exiled instead of following in the footsteps of Mao, the biggest mass murder in history, and Deng Xiaoping who murdered the Chinese student protestors in Tiananmen Square.


The old adage ‘when in Rome do as the Romans do’ might also be timely advice.

Irrespective of how we might be permitted or not permitted to behave in Australia, knowing the local customs is important. That might include visitors to Australia as much as when we are elsewhere. Choose the wrong vacant seat at a traditional pub in the English countryside …? We’ve only the DropBears to worry visitors with. :wink:


That is very true and is the advice of SmartTraveller.

Being in the travel industry, there are many factors which can affect the enjoyment of a experience. Many of these may not relate to the experience itself, but what led up to the experience (such as very tired from a long haul flight, poor weather while on holidays, personal relationship issues, hung over and the list goes on). Unfortunately such can taint one’s view of the experience and one has to be very careful not to create biases based on something which may be in their own control. It is a little like abusing a shop assistant because one was having a bad day and they happened to be the nearest person at the time.

It is worth noting that the particular hotel has 1920 travel reviews with average of 4.5/5…which is quite high.


In keeping with the topic, I was referring to freedom of speech.

For someone to face the prospect of 2 years jail in some backwater of civilisation just for expressing their views is absolutely ridiculous, let alone someone being sent to priosn for 18 years simply for calling a clown a clown.


One persons backwater may well be another persons front yard?

Should expressing a different view entitle one to defecate in some else’s front yard without risk of the consequences? In the instance of Mr Wesley who is living in Thailand that permission comes with an obligation to respect the local law, good or bad.

For individuals in China speaking out is a choice with known consequences. China for all it’s history and current success is hardly a backwater of civilisation. If history is the guide which came first, civilisation or democracy? How many civilisations have prospered without democracy and how many with are now failing.

Thailand and China march to a different drum. Clowns if there be any in China are more likely fools and unlikely to hold any position of authority. At present I’d look elsewhere for notable public clowns. And hope they aren’t lest we need them as closest of friends. There are too many clowns closer to our own front yard staining the lawn.


Australia also has defamation laws as well. If one expresses a view, not based on fact, which causes defamation, then the person expressing those views have a few questions to answer if the defamed party takes the matter further. From what I understand, the laws extend defamation against individuals to small businesses. The ABC covered this a few years ago…


A Dutch Journalist’s view of the USA and how reporting the way it is being done could be part of the problem (it’s about a 16 minute read so just linking):


How do you to tell when it has been a “slow news” weekend. Just ask “A Current Affair”.

No further comment needed.

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Tripadvisor issues a warning to travellers after a US man was arrested for posting his opinion of a den of inequity, the Sea View hotel and Spa on Koh Chang island in Thailand.

“Message from Tripadvisor:
This hotel or individuals associated with this hotel filed criminal charges against a Tripadvisor user in relation to the traveler writing and posting online reviews. The reviewer spent time in jail as a result. Tripadvisor serves its users best when travelers are free to share their opinions and experiences on our platform – both positive and negative. The hotel may have been exercising its legal rights under local law, however, it is our role to inform you so you may take this into consideration when researching your travel plans.”

Better still, simply avoid these grubs like the plague.

The best option is to be truthful/honest/factual when one does a review online. Exaggerating or making unsupported comments like those made by the individual in the article is what got him into hot water. If he was objective in his comment about what he thought was high corkage cost, there possibly would not have been any issue or problems caused.

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An article suggesting Trump will set up his own TV network after he is evicted from the White House.

I expect the network will be named FNOS, “Fake News On Steroids”.

Interesting to see that Trump and Fox/Murdoch don’t love each other any more.

I guess it is similar to the old saying that says there is no honour amongst theives.

And a farewell song.

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This is what Trump may be trying to achieve…


He has not been trying to do anything. He has been very successful at creating a significant network of people who do not believe anything and question everything yet accept what they are told as truth not only because of repetition, but also because they want to since it fits their predisposed view of ‘why’ even if they did not know it beforehand.

To the topic title, fake news is not a diversion, it is a tactic and means to an end. Our press may also be world leaders in intentionally filtering news unfavourable to government or certain public figures, and the acceptance of no news is no worry, even when there is a real expose ‘hiding around the corner’ screaming to be published. Sometimes they publish, only for us, the readers, to give a big sigh or ‘meh’ in response.


There is a poor record of the press and pollsters foreseeing the future, reading the tea leaves, or anticipating Trump.

It’s a waste of time speculating over an individual who has been able to rise in the 12 months prior to the 2016 US elections from oblivion to US President. He has outwitted the powerful Republican Party and defeated the Democrats. Not quite half the US nation still support the Trump ideal based on the recent vote.

Others appear at any cost to be fighting to keep that dream alive. The rules were made to be broken, or at least bent a little.

Some might say ‘smarter than the average American’ and then some.

Success Breeds! :wink:

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To be precise, that is the voters not the nation and it is a similar outcome to 2016 where he lost the popular vote by a comfortable margin yet won the electoral college. Not much has moved in reality, but similar to our marginal seats a few votes changed in the American ‘swing states’ yielding a different outcome from what is roughly the same ‘data’.


Yet another artifact of the quaint combination of optional voting, lack of national rules for setting electorate boundaries and an authority to implement them, and the electoral college system. That’s freedom for you.

Isn’t it interesting how our two countries have developed along different paths.

Our constitutions are quite similar (parts of ours is based on theirs) but the courts have played an entirely different role in how the constitution affects everyday life. They have many court rulings on the books about the separation of church and state and it remains a hot issue, we have almost none and it isn’t.

Both have the historical anomaly of States but we make some effort to harmonise laws and regulations across them (except when a Premier wants to play) but they prefer their State to their national government and begrudge any power to the latter. We have a dog pack that snaps at the alpha they have a herd of cats.

Both cede a great deal of power to media and big business. They think they are doing the right thing keeping power away from governments as big government is socialism, we just don’t care. Despite all evidence to the contrary (and a system that perpetuates inequality) they firmly believe in the great dream where every man is master of his fate and can rise as high as his effort takes him. We don’t notice rising inequality while leaders attempt to sell the same dream. And still don’t care.

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An article regarding the NT Government banning a news publication they do not like from their press breifings whilst allowing Murdoch’s local rag.


They have banned because the guy behind it funding-wise is not happy with Gunner, the chief minister.

Interestingly, crime south of the Berrimah Line is never on the agenda, with even the ABC filtering and removing comments about it.

In other news, Gunner’s wife is a journalist with the ABC.

… nothing to see here …


… and a fairly strong message from the Federal Senate …