Australian media unites to rally for press freedom

epa07937729 A posed photograph shows the front page of some Australian newspapers displaying a campaign called 'Australia's Right to Know', in Canberra, Australia, 21 October 2019. The front pages of some major newspapers on 21 October replicated a heavily redacted government document, alongside an advertising campaign challenging laws that effectively criminalize journalism and whistleblowing. EPA-EFE/LUKAS COCH AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

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Australian media companies have redacted their front pages to highlight the constraints on media organisations under strict national security legislation.

National mastheads, including The Australian and the Financial Review, ran special covers on Monday morning arguing the media is subject to a regime of intense government secrecy and the threat of criminal charges for journalists doing their job.

The protest is aimed at national security laws which journalists say have stifled reporting and created a “culture of secrecy” in Australia.

The government said it backed press freedom but “no one was above the law”.

The campaign on Monday, by the Right to Know Coalition, was also supported by several TV, radio and online outlets.

The campaign argues that tougher security laws enacted over the past two decades have threatened investigative journalism, eroding the public’s “right to know”.

Since new counter-espionage legislation was introduced last year, media outlets have lobbied for journalists and whistleblowers to be given exemptions to report sensitive information.

The organisations have also called for greater freedoms in other areas, such as reforms to freedom of information and defamation laws.


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