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Letter to the Editor: The Australian.



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Letter to the Editor—The Australian

 

15 March 2002

 

Web visitors and subscribers would recall our posting last week of a letter to the editor to The Australian which sought to point out the inexplicable differences between a news article and a follow up editorial on Chairman Geoff Clark’s views on a ministerial statement by Minister John Ah Kit in the NT Parliament.

We said in our initial posting we would inform you if the newspaper published the letter in whole, or in part.

The published letter was heavily “edited.”

It is worth comparing to the original posted on this website, and read in tandem with a previous unpublished letter, also on this site.

We publish this material in the belief many consumers of mainstream media assume that what they read in their newspapers is all, or most, of the material submitted.

This is not the case.

Most Australians have a healthy mistrust of what they read, see and hear on mainstream media, but we also suspect the majority have very little idea of just how much information is kept from them.

This is done under the guise of available space and “editing” We call it omitting.

Rarely do readers get the whole story.

When we received the “edited” version of the Chairman’s letter on Wednesday, March 13, prior to its intended publication the following day, we sent the following email to The Australian: “We have received your “edited” version of the letter to the editor from Mr Clark and have discussed it with him. The letter you propose to publish has carefully removed all references to the non-publication of the previous letter, the fact that the editorial compounded the sins of the first, and the ten year advocacy by ATSIC in regard to the issues raised in Mr Ah Kit’s speech, apart from the fleeting reference in the final para.

ATSIC Media - display

http://www.atsic.gov.au/media/media_releases/display.asp?id=930 (1 of 2) [05/04/2002 10:44:18]

It is clear your edited version is as much as the Chairman can expect to see published in The Australian in his attempt to inject balance into your coverage.

In that regard he has asked that you go ahead and print what you have sent.

However he has asked me to inform you that he wishes this email to be published on our website, alongside his original letter and your heavily edited version.”

There was no response.

The published letter read: Ah Kit Support I write in response to Megan Saunders's article referring to my backing of indigenous reform (9-10/3) and your editorial, "Ah Kit shines his light on black despair" (11/3). It is hard to believe the two articles appeared in the same paper. In the first, I am quoted accurately as saying I "couldn't agree more" with the sentiments expressed by John Ah Kit in his ministerial speech to the NT Parliament. Your follow-up editorial concludes with the observation: "The growing movement for change among reasonable people who care for Aborigines should send a clear warning to ATSIC and its chief, Geoff Clark, ahead of looming ATSIC elections. "

The editorial then accuses me of "showing little inclination to lead the Aboriginal policy reform debate", and of seeking to criticise Mr Ah Kit.

If anyone is showing any disinclination to change in this debate it is your editorial writer.

The article written by Megan Saunders was accurate in relation to my comments regarding Mr Ah Kit's statement. In fact, I discussed his statement with him in Darwin during the early stages of its drafting and informed him that I was totally supportive of the tone and content he outlined.

Mr Ah Kit had the grace to recognise in his statement the fundamental importance of key ATSIC programs in delivering solid outcomes to indigenous territorians, a fact overlooked in most reports of the speech.

Geoff Clark Chairman, ATSIC

 

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