Who will be News Ltd readers’ choice of Australian of the Year in 2021?
There have been many worthy recipients who have earned this recognition in the past and after the challenges of 2020 there will be no shortage of heroes who would well qualify.
Could it be a name we all remember, or will it be someone who worked in the background to ease the pain of those suffering the devastating impact of last year’s bushfires, drought, flood or pandemic?
My choice for the 2021 award would be ABC broadcaster Norman Swan who maintained a regular and reassuring update on so many aspects of the pandemic throughout 2020. His professional knowledge and empathetic communication skills were invaluable to so many Australians who rely on the ABC for essential factual information, especially in times of crisis.
There is no doubt that more traditional newspaper readers have changed over the years.
Today fewer people are relying on hard copy newspapers as they seek a wider range of media for news and information.
That should be a positive development for broadening understanding and encouraging a better-informed community.
However, such change is also accompanied by wide dissemination of fake news and some biased reporting. Conspiracy theories are easily promoted on social media and can be extremely dangerous as we have witnessed with attacks on the US Capitol. Social media giants must be closely monitored by governments to ensure responsible dissemination of news and information. Here in Australia some parliamentarians have not been called to account when they undermine rational and factual debate about climate change and medical science. Certain media commentators also need to be challenged about the way they misrepresent fact and perpetuate divisive rhetoric that is not in the public interest. We need to be very clear about the difference between freedom of speech and irresponsible speech that is grossly misleading and potentially damaging.
The Senate’s Media Diversity Inquiry is a good opportunity for Australians to review just how best to broaden the Australian media landscape. Over 5,000 submissions have been received which demonstrates the keen interest of Australians who want a guarantee of wide ranging and reliable news and information sources.
The ABC and SBS provide independent news and information but there remain risks to these public broadcasters with ongoing attack coming from some competitors and policy makers. As we approach a new year it is important we commit to expanding opportunities for more independent news and factual reporting.
ABC Friends National
Ph: 0418 181 843
We need your help to continue our work this year of advocating for a well funded ABC that is recognised as an essential service for all Australians. Can you help ABC Friends stand up for our ABC in 2021?