Bias — News Ltd shoots its foot

There is growing evidence that Rupert Murdoch’s vice-like grip on Australian public life is weakening.

The circulation of his Australian mastheads is shrinking; the ratings for his offerings on Sky News remain miniscule.

And it appears News Ltd’s best efforts to sway voters away from the ALP and independents have failed.

In spite of the Murdoch media’s overwhelmingly biased coverage of this election campaign against Labor and the new teal independents, it seems a swathe of seats may be taken from the Liberals on election night.

Celebrated journalism academic Margaret Simons says the Murdoch empire has been the instrument of its own demise.


In an opinion piece published in the Nine newspapers, she argues that the Murdoch press has become so obviously biased that it has undermined its readers’ trust — and that’s made the organisation politically impotent.

Margaret Simons says:

The evidence shows naked campaigning and biased reporting undermines trust, and that undermines the purpose of the exercise.

After surveying the election coverage in a series of News Ltd newspapers across the country, Ms Simons concluded that many of the articles clearly read like Coalition advertisements.

Though Murdoch publications away from the east coast are less rabid, most of its media outlets, from Queensland to Victoria, have been more obviously partisan.

References to the teal independents have been particularly nasty.

She writes:

So accomplished women participating in the democratic contest are depicted not merely as poor candidates but as somehow immoral.

The papers have not subjected Clive Palmer of United Australia Party, or independent lower house MP Bob Katter, or One Nation’s candidates to a similar approach – even though they are equally likely to be important to the balance of power either in the lower house or the Senate.

Though Margaret Simons acknowledges that the attacks, particularly against the women of the teal independents, must “surely penetrate the conversation in the relevant seats to some extent,” it is unlikely the Murdoch press can turn an election by impacting voters.