Dr Mumbo

Freedom of speech and the ‘optimism bias’

Dr Mumbo was delighted to hear at this morning’s Future Forum that Newspaper Works CEO Mark Hollands firmly backs the concept of freedom of speech and the importance of a vibrant and questioning press for the functioning of our democracy.

It’s just a shame Mark didn’t pass the memo onto Network Ten’s Russel Howcroft who was moderating a panel session with the four top CEOs of the newspaper industry from Fairfax, News Corp, Seven West Media and APN.

And so for the second year in a row, instead of the normal format of taking questions from the floor, Russel vetted the questions asking people to text him what they wanted to ask. He also made a proviso “rule” about which questions he would take telling the crowd that it would be based on his “optimism bias”.

So, instead of being able to probe the four men on issues like the viability of EMMA, the recent Mike Carlton incident and fallout, the further decline of print circulations and revenues, or the future of the Press Council which has recently come under attack from at least one member of the panel the questions were generally of a softer nature…

Howcroft did open with the one question that everyone was waiting for, asking Julian Clarke about yesterday’s revelations around the leaked News Corp financial documents. But Dr Mumbo is not sure he would have phrased it quite like this: “You have had an interesting day in the office so um, I think maybe we should just talk about that, very quickly, if you don’t mind Julian, let’s do that…”

You can read Clarke’s response to the Laurie Oakes-esque probing here.

The final question posed came from The Australian’s business media writer Darren Davidson who asked: “What advice would you give to people coming into the industry today?”

Dr Mumbo looks forward to seeing Julian Clarke’s answer leading The Australian’s front page tomorrow.


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