Australia's Front Pages [Redacted]

A rare show of unity from competing newspapers in the land down under.

I’m Scott Nover. Welcome back to Pressing, a newsletter about press freedom. If you haven’t yet subscribed, you can do so here and receive this letter in your inbox every Tuesday morning.

This is the 16th issue of Pressing and I’m thrilled to have you on board. Please keep the feedback coming and send thoughts, suggestions, and tips my way at sgnover@gmail.com.

Australia’s Newspapers Unite Against Government Secrecy

In the very first issue of Pressing, on June 11, I discussed two threats to journalists in Australia: in one week, federal police raided the home of Sunday Telegraph editor Annika Smethurst and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) office. The Smethurst raid was (ironically) connected to a report about the government expanding its surveillance capabilities. The ABC raid had to do with the 2017 “Afghan Files,” which detailed illegal killings by Australian forces in Afghanistan. Well, let’s just say the government hasn’t apologized and reversed course since the summer.

Much of Australia’s press launched a campaign Monday, led by the Right to Know Coalition, protesting the country’s strict secrecy laws — propped up in the name of national security — which press advocates say “erode democracy” in Australia.

“Australia is at risk of becoming the world's most secretive democracy,” ABC managing director David Anderson told the BBC.

In accord with the campaign launch, newspapers across Australia ran similar front pages with redacted text as a way to visualize the government secrecy they feel deprives the public of their “right to know.” Notably, News Corp. and Nine — two rival publishing companies — united for the effort: their major papers, The Australian and The Daily Telegraph (News Corp.), The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age (Nine), each featured front pages with redacted text. Here’s what the papers look like today:


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In the News About the News

  • Lawyers for President Donald Trump and his reelection campaign have threatened to sue CNN for “falsely advertising itself as a news organization” and other bogus claims, Reuters reports. This is most likely an intimidation tactic and an appeal to Trump’s base; it’s unlikely he actually sues. That being said, Trump has been involved in legal action with CNN when Jim Acosta sued for his right to cover The White House—and won. Reuters notes that Trump also threatened to sue The New York Times over an investigative report into his business dealings, as well as the journalist Michael Wolff for his book Fire and Fury.

  • The letter came from Trump lawyer Charles Harder. You may know Harder as the lawyer who killed Gawker, representing Hulk Hogan in the case Bollea v. Gawker. He also recently represented Melania Trump in her libel suit against The Daily Mail—which was settled. And… he is (or was) the lawyer for Ross Levinsohn, the embattled media executive that’s now the CEO of Sports Illustrated (through his new company, Maven) after a controversial tenure at The Los Angeles Times.

  • As it turns out, I wrote about Sports Illustrated and Maven, in Fortune magazine last week. My piece details Maven’s history of troubled finances, as well as its strategy to fire much of the Sports Illustrated newsroom (which happened earlier this month) and replace full-time journalists with independent contractors that are denied benefits and—it seems—legal protection. You can read my full piece online here.

James Foley Would’ve Been 46…

Friday, Oct. 18 would have been James Foley’s 46th birthday. The journalist was captured and murdered by ISIS soldiers in Syria in 2014. At the time of his capture he was working for GlobalPost and Agence France-Presse (AFP).

On Saturday, the James W. Foley Foundation held its annual Foley Freedom Run in Rochester, NH; Washington, D.C.; and supported “virtual runs” all over the world in honor of Jim’s legacy.

The Best Things I Read This Week

  • The New York Times: “When the Student Newspaper Is the Only Daily Paper in Town” by Dan Levin. Here’s an important look at the news ecosystem of Ann Arbor, MI, which has long been without a daily printed newspaper after the Ann Arbor News stopped printing in 2009. In its stead, The Michigan Daily, the impressive newspaper of the University of Michigan, has stepped up to provide the public with local and community news.

  • Slate: “This Sure Looks Like Mitt Romney’s Secret Twitter Account (Update: It Is)” by Ashley Feinberg. Feinberg did it again. After figuring out James Comey’s Twitter account for Gizmodo in 2017, the sleuthing reporter found U.S. Senator Mitt Romney’s pseudonymous Twitter presence Sunday—under the fantastic alias “Pierre Delecto.” Her investigation began after The Atlantics McKay Coppins published a profile of the senator and former Republican presidential nominee that same day. After Feinberg published her piece, and the Twitter account was locked, Coppins hopped back on the phone with Romney. Here’s Coppins’ update for his piece: “When I spoke to Romney on the phone Sunday night, his only response was, ‘C'est moi.’”

Press Freedom Around the World

  • Steven Butler, Asia program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, was denied entry into Pakistan and forced to return to the U.S. last week. Pakistani authorities told Butler his name was “on a stop list of the Interior Ministry.” “I’ve spent more than 20 years at CPJ, the last 12 as executive director. In that time, no one from our staff had ever been detained while traveling on CPJ business.” CPJ executive director Joel Simon wrote in a Washington Post op-ed about the damage Trump’s anti-press rhetoric is doing around the world. “Now it’s happened twice in the past year. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.”

  • Russian police raided a series of newsrooms and journalists’ homes last week, according to CPJ. The news outlet Dovod was one of the newsrooms raided.

  • Reporters Without Borders has a new report about press freedom in Malta and the car-bomb assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017.

  • Columbia Journalism Review’s Jon Allsop had a smart piece, critiquing newspaper editors for allowing Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to publish op-ed’s in their pages. The Washington Post’s editorial page editor Fred Hiatt told Allsop that allowing the op-ed is not an endorsement of Erdoğan and that “the op-ed page should be ‘a forum for a wide range of views.’”


That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next Tuesday! Send tips and feedback to sgnover@gmail.com.