Tuesday, July 19, 2005

What can newspapers do?

"What then can newspapers do? Like other businesses in trouble, they must focus on their core competency, which usually is local information. Second, they must actively plan for a paperless future. Such transitions are gradual; but they are also inexorable. Managing the transition will not be easy. Online and print newspapers depend on each other symbiotically. Print needs online for the future. Online needs print for the present, to subsidise it financially and intellectually. Third, they must customise. The traditional newspaper provides averaged-out content to a multiplicity of readers. What it needs to do is to serve the increasingly differentiated readers’ particular mix of interests..."

ELI NOAM, Professor of Finance and Economics, Columbia University
(from The Financial Times)


Blogger Amoranthus said...

Newspapers can act as responsible, intelligent citizens of Australia!

(reposted by the author from the Elgg blogs)

I was pleased to see the passion in all these posts about the importance of Human and Civil Rights. This may sound like I'm flag waving, but such ideas are very much America's most important contribution to the world.
I am an American living in Melbourne, Australia, and you just won't see such passion for rights in this country. Australians could not care less that their country is the only english-speaking democracy without constitutional guarantees of Human and Civil rights.

As Americans, we are raised to believe in the Constitution as much as in whatever spiritual or religious beliefs we may hold. It's only when you travel that you see how important, and different, the power of the Bill of Rights can be.

Australians are surprised to hear me say that as soon as someone sets foot anywhere inside the United States, they are protected by the Bill of Rights.
Australia is not only an ecological disaster, but a civil and humans rights catastrophe.

Detention Centers

Australia has thousands of people in detention centers awaiting approval of their applications for asylum or emigration. These detention centers are little more than medium security prisons. The detainees are behind razor wire and armed guards for years. Legally within Australia, they have no rights -- any more than any other Australian.

Detainees have sewn their mouths shut in protest, held riots and burnt facilities, and mobs have ripped open the centers to allow the people to escape.

Cynical Pretenses

Equal protection under the law is only implemented in Australia in areas where international scrutiny exposes the country. That leaves the elderly, injured, and disabled unprotected.
In fact, because of international and press scrutiny, a bill was recently proposed in the Australian parliament to protect the elderly from abuse in their own homes. The law is revolutionary here. It still does not protect the injured or disabled from abuse, however.

The Australian system provides for "ombudsmen" offices to placate the UN, press, international scrutiny, and to pretend to live up to the country's treaty obligations. The reality is that the Human Rights Ombudsman and Offices of Attorney Generals are mandated only to deal with conflicts between individuals and industry or government. They are little more than specialized Industrial Relations offices.
No Ombudsman or office protects the simple right of individuals to live in their own homes in peace.

Intervention Orders

One horrid example is the implementation of the intervention order laws.
Similar to US restraining orders, the lack of equal protection under the law has produced an obscene statistic far out of synch with the rest of the world: 87% of Australian men in relationships are abusive.
For the rest of the world, approx. 55% or men and 45% of women are the abusers in relationships.
The implementation of these laws by government funding, policy and practice of the police, social services -- private and public funded -- and the untouchable magistracy has produced a situation that even police officers recognize is an abuse of human and civil rights.

The statistic and its implementation has produced a nation that tells its children that boys are abusive and girls are victims. Of the 8 million households in Australia, this statistic affects 4.6 million households in a nation of just over 20 million.

The courts are flooded with instances of abuse of intervention orders. Police departments estimate that they spend more than 50% of their time on the job servicing intervention orders instead of pursuing "real crimes." Lawyers have latched onto the prejudiced legal structure for profit.
A man accused by an intervention order may lose his home, his rights to his children, and all his possessions without any hard evidence of abuse. The courts excuse is that they are just too full.
The police nor the courts are bound to provide equal protection under the law, so once removed from his home by an order, the man loses whatever possessions he leaves behind.

This is the worst aspects of civil and human rights of America in the 1950s canonized into law, policy, funding, and practice.

New Anti-Terrorism laws

Following the George W Bush' lead, the Howard government in Australia has instituted a new set of anti-terrorism laws. What escapes most Australians is that these laws have no legal balance. They can be applied for any reason at the discretion -- or prejudice -- of the authorities at any level of government (city, regional, state, or federal).
The magistracy here is immune to lawsuits or prosecution. At worst, a conspiring magistrate may be removed from the bench, but that rarely happens since it would "damage the image of the bench." -- The fact that such immunity has produced unending corruption throughout the police and courts is simply overlooked.

Australia, America, and the World

In order to uphold its treaty obligations and membership in the UN, Australia is forced to legislate each identifiable group in society to common civil and human rights. This produces legislation by mob mentaility. Individual citizens are at the bottom of the social order -- other than the elderly, disabled, and injured (or others not yet legislated to rights) -- and they know it.
Once the law is passed, then the responsibility falls to the implementation of the law: funding, policy and practice.

For all of its problems, America still stands as a light to the world in human and civil rights -- and many other areas.
Be proud to be American.
When America loses its passions for these rights, or when America passes into history, it will stand for the rest of time as a light for the rest of the world.

Sadly, in these times filled with terrorism and bloodshed, George W Bush is not the best person to be President. He is too influenced by those who cynically give lip service to the greatest contributions of the United States to humankind, and seek to subvert those principles in the same breath.

6:44 PM  

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