Supporting Democracy: How Well do the Australian Media Perform?
Griffith Centre for Cultural Research
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Communication and Arts / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts,Technology, Education and Communications
This monograph analyses how well the Australian media perform in their role of supporting democracy. The central section of this study is part of the Media for Democracy Monitor project, which was developed for mature democracies, and has been carried out in nine European countries and Australia. The study uses a methodology developed by Trappel (2011) which examines how well a country’s media and media framework fulfil the core principles of freedom, equality and control. Areas examined include the free flow of information, patterns of media use, media ownership concentration, levels of self-regulation, independence of news media from owners and/or those in power, internal media democracy, and the importance of the watchdog role. This study concludes that, in comparison to the European countries, Australia performs moderately well and that its legal framework and media ownership structure are the two most significant factors impeding its democratic functioning. Despite the legal hurdles, Australia stands out for its commitment to watchdog journalism. This is evidenced by the fact that nine out of ten journalists in Australia see the watchdog function as their most important role, that professional education assigns high importance to it and that media allocate some resources to investigative teams or sections.