US News: Australian Newspapers Redact Front Pages in Call for Press Freedoms - - PressFrom - United Kingdom
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US News Australian Newspapers Redact Front Pages in Call for Press Freedoms

13:15  21 october  2019
13:15  21 october  2019 Source:   msn.com

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Australia ’s fiercely competitive newspaper industry shelved rivalries on Monday to present a united front against what it says is a government campaign to Asked by reporters during a visit to Jakarta on Sunday on whether his conservative government could respond to calls for more media- freedom

Newspapers ran redacted articles on their front pages in a show of solidarity, and online and on the air, prominent journalists called for change. “When government keeps the truth from you, what are they covering up?” was the question that ran on the cover of newspapers including The Australian

a close up of a newspaper © lukas coch/Shutterstock

SYDNEY—Newspaper front pages across Australia were blacked out Monday, as the country’s biggest media companies are calling on Canberra to enshrine press freedoms and protect whistleblowers.

The heavily redacted front pages of major daily newspapers including The Australian Financial Review and The Australian carried statements such as: “Jail terms for journalists and whistleblowers. It couldn’t happen in Australia? It’s happening now.” and “When the government starts hiding the truth from Australians what are they covering up?”

The protest comes after police raids on two media organizations earlier this year reignited a debate about the effect of counterextremist laws across the western world on democratic freedoms.

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Newspapers across Australia ran heavily redacted front pages on Monday in protest against government secrecy and a crackdown on press freedom , a rare show of The media groups are also calling for enhanced protections for public sector whistleblowers -- who have also faced charges for

Newspapers across Australia ran heavily redacted front pages on Monday in protest against government secrecy and a crackdown on press freedom , a rare show of The media groups are also calling for enhanced protections for public sector whistleblowers -- who have also faced charges for

Backed by the Australian Broadcasting Corp., News Corp, Nine Entertainment Co. and others, the campaign is calling for legal changes, including the right to contest search warrants and limiting which information can be deemed “secret.” News Corp owns Dow Jones & Co., which publishes The Wall Street Journal.

Since the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, Australia has passed or amended about 70 antiterror and security laws. Legal experts say it now has more national-security laws than any other nation.

Related: Look who's watching: Intelligence agencies around the world (Photos)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said press freedom was important to Australia’s democracy, but that the “rule of law” needed to be upheld. “That includes me, or any journalist or anyone else,” he said.

Some of Australia’s toughest laws allow police and intelligence agencies to monitor journalist contacts and in some instances upend the onus of proof to force journalists to prove innocence rather than requiring prosecutors to prove guilt.

Unlike media in the U.S. and Europe, Australia’s press doesn’t have civil covenants like a charter of human rights explicitly enshrining free speech. Despite this, the country ranks well above the U.S. and U.K. in international comparisons of press freedom published by Reporters Without Borders this year.

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Newspapers display redacted copy on their front pages in Sydney, Monday, Oct. 21, 2019. Rival media businesses first banded together to fight for press freedom in June after police raided the Canberra home of a News Corp. journalist and the Sydney headquarters of Australian Broadcasting

National and regional titles across the country hit news -stands on Monday with most of their front - page news stories blacked out. The campaign was sparked by police raids earlier this year that were launched in response to stories that had proved embarrassing for the government.

In June, agents from the FBI-style Australian Federal Police raided the Sydney office of state-owned broadcaster ABC and the home of a journalist from News Corp Australia. They were searching for evidence of sources behind separate stories containing national-security secrets.

The ABC raid related to a 2017 report about possible war crimes by elite Australian commandos in Afghanistan. The News Corp Australia raid related to a 2018 report on a secret government proposal to give the Australian Signals Directorate, which is similar to the U.S. National Security Agency, unprecedented powers to spy on civilians. Three journalists may face prosecution in the wake of the raids.

In June, non-ruling-party lawmakers in the Senate proposed enshrining American-style freedoms for the press in the nation’s constitution, similar to the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. But neither the government nor the main center-left opposition party has signaled support for such a proposed amendment.

An intelligence and security committee in Canberra is examining the impact of national security laws on the media, alongside a more wide ranging press freedom inquiry.

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