Non-censorship shocker – The Punch allows anti-Murdoch comments

I think I’ve spotted a healthy sign that The Punch is starting to find its way.

Earlier this week, editor David Penberthy posted a piece on the potential for charging readers for online content. He set out his ideal online paper, and asked readers whether they’d be willing to pay.

But the impressive thing is that, despite the comment thread turning into something of a cavalcade of hate against News Ltd, the comments have been left up there.  

And they are pretty harsh:

“I would rather dig my own eyes out with a spoon than pay Rupert Murdoch one cent of my hard earned for his biased, propaganderous dribble!”

“I will never pay for content… particularly the garbage, sensationalistic tripe that oozes from News Ltd sites.”

“Am guessing this is the reason that little Murdoch has been at the throat of the BBC in the UK. It is hard to charge for something when the BBC is giving it away for free. The same goes for Australia too. Farewell news limited.”

“Half of the news (probably more) on news.com is sourced from overseas anyway. And many of the Australian articles seen in the news these days seems to be full of spelling mistakes, grammatical errors as well as factual errors. Pay for this?? Err I don’t think so..I’ll get it from the BBC or the ABC thanks.”

“Not to mention the myriad of blogs out there that generally perform a hell of a lot better than NewsLimited. So yeah, good luck with your pay model. Won’t work, but it will be fun to watch Ruperts media empire slowly collapse.”

“I can get more unbiased news elsewhere, and I do, to balance what I read on News Ltd. Just like I also read international news, but not from Fox in the US, which is also owned by News of course.”

“News.com will need to lift its game if it wants to attract paying customers. The articles (and headlines!) regularly have spelling mistakes and typos and the articles frequently contain false information”

“News Ltd would have to dramatically improve the quality of its journalism, and employ a decent sub-editor or two to clean up the copy (when fee-payment comes in, I’ll be buying from Fairfax for these two reasons I’m afraid).”

“Online “news” becoming another Murdoch snow-job. Half baked ill-informed opinion passing itself off as news, while we pay for the privilege through subscription.”

I don’t think I’ve ever read this amount of anti-Murdoch content on a News Corp media property before, here or anywhere else in the world.

And that’s why I think that’s such a positive sign for The Punch. If they’d moderated away those sort of comments, then the punters would have soon gone elsewhere to have an uncensored conversation. But this will have built a little trust.

And the chances are that next time the topic comes up, at least some of those critics will have already had their say, and the debate will move on.

of course, that’s how media should be – allowing unbiased debate. But the reality has never been that way. Murdoch editors often happen to spontaneously toe the News Corp line. That’s why this is such a change.

It must have been fairly uncomfortable for The Punch team  seeing those comments stream in, but they deserve a lot of credit for leaving them up.


Tim Burrowes


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