The West Australian prints ‘blank’ front page for climate change protesters

Seven West Media’s newspaper The West Australian is baiting climate change protesters with a blank front page.

The Extinction Rebellion movement plans to protest outside SWM’s Perth operation today.

In response, the front page of The West is largely blank, creating what the paper says is a useable placard for would-be protesters.

“The climate change ‘rebellion’ plans to bring its protests to the doors of The West Australian today. This is a democracy. And we support free speech and peaceful demonstration. In that spirit, here’s a blank front page for your placards. Use it wisely,” the page reads.

In September, the Western Australian arm of the Extinction Rebellion movement wrote to Seven West Media’s chairman Kerry Stokes and The West Australian’s editor Anthony De Ceglie, saying they felt a “deep disappointment and sense of betrayal” towards the media organisation.

“The Amazon has burned like never before and so have Australian rainforests, while The West Australian has devoted front pages to a diet of sharks, Taylor Swift and football,” the letter said. “The house is on fire, and the response has been to turn up the volume of the soap opera.

“Seven West Media, as the major source of information in Western Australia, must give the climate crisis the primacy it deserves and bring home to people what is at stake, however inconvenient that is for the bottom line.”

The Rebellion also questioned The West’s claims that is stands for, and supports, free speech.

“Three times Extinction Rebellion WA has attempted to speak out through these pages, to correct errors, identify alternatives, and draw attention to the climate emergency and what is to be done. Three times our voices have been silenced,” the letter claimed.

“Democracy is damaged by a monopoly on opinion and the facts.”

It also hit out at the paper for failing to regularly disclose Seven West Media’s mining and resources interests.

“It’s time to tell the truth about why Western Australia is failing to act on the climate and ecological crisis.”

The Extinction Rebellion listed three demands:

1. Tell the truth about climate change and biodiversity loss by running stories every day in the West Australian and on Channel 7, including devoting the October 7th 2019 episode of Flashpoint to climate change.

2. Prioritise free speech by platforming responses to the climate emergency from a range of voices, including running opinion pieces by activists and non-profit campaigns.

3. Disclose the full extent of SevenWest Media and parent company Seven Group Holdings’ financial interests in the energy and resources sector in every article that discusses these issues.

Giving the organisation 14 days to respond from the letter’s date (24 September), the movement said it would meet the business’ leaders at the doors of Seven West Media today and “demand the truth”.

Seven West Media has been contacted for comment.


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