It’s lucky that Press Council chairman Julian Disney doesn’t seem to take things personally.
Otherwise The Australian would have reason to feel nervous next time the APC considers a complaint against the paper.
Featuring a large cartoon of Disney being chased by an angry mob protesting for “free speech” certainly does seem a tad provocative
The cartoon accompanies a lengthy editorial headlined: “Press council ventures too far from its brief” in which the national broadsheet criticised the print self-regulatory body for adjudicating matters of satire, in particular last year’s Bill Leak Budget cartoon which showed Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan being chased by an angry mob.
In short, its fair to say that The Oz didn’t like the decision of the umpire.
It cited last year’s controversy over its budget day front page which featured a cartoon by cartoonist Bill Leak who in the paper’s own words: “drew the Treasurer and Prime Minister as class-war heroes, complete with ‘Occupy Treasury’ badges under a banner headline of ‘Smash the rich, save the base’. Leak says he deliberately created a ‘parody of a Soviet-era propaganda poster purely for comical effect’.”
The cartoon led to a complaint to the Council and while the self regulatory body eventually ruled in the newspaper’s favour this hasn’t stopped The Australian from criticising the APC for noting that Leak’s cartoon “may have caused deep offence” to those featured in the cartoon.
The newspaper went on to argue: “These are ominous times for free speech. Professor Disney and the press council need to concentrate on accuracy, fairness and balance, while crediting the public with sufficient intelligence to fathom their own assessments of opinion and taste.”