Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

More newsagents act on newspaper content

Mark Fletcher
August 15th, 2020 · 27 Comments

The Kamala Harris ‘cartoon’ in The Australian a few days ago was racist and grossly offensive. On seeing it, I asked the staff at my own shops to remove it from sale. While I agree we should not act as censors, sometimes we have to take a stand. What The Australian published web too far in my view. I felt better not selling it. I don’t care what others think, this was the right decision for me.

In Scotland, The Scottish Sun has come under fire over the last 24 hours for its coverage of the train tragedy. The image is a copy of the front page from August 13, 2020.

This News International newspaper appears to approach ‘news’ in a manner similar to some papers here in Australia.

On Twitter, there are reports of newsagents not stocking the title:


Category: Ethics · Newspapers · Social responsibility

27 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Graeme Day // Aug 15, 2020 at 4:58 PM

    Cartoonists over the years can tend to offend when the intention is really to look at the double standards we practice.
    They do it it in a satirical way often in an obtuse manner to stop us from taking things too seriously.
    If you are talking about Johannes Leak the son of another Aussies great cartoonist Bill Leak who past away a year or two ago, then you can se some similarity in style.

    I beleive his intention would to be to draw the obvious fake Biden is or should I say politicians can be in their selection of running mate.
    Read the more thorough story on this written by Greg Sheridan.Political cartoonist have this way about them and I guess it’s up to the individual how they wish to take it. pickering was such a cartoonist in the 70’s and whilst accros the board in political bias he had his share of love hate followers as well.
    i really don’t see these cartoonist as being hate promoters rather than mocking our society and its ridiculous predujice and stupid transparency.


  • 2 Jeff // Aug 15, 2020 at 5:19 PM

    Sheridan is an idiot, writing for idiots.


  • 3 Peter // Aug 15, 2020 at 5:25 PM

    Everything is taken in the literal sense these days. There is a subtlety with cartoonists, there work can often be open to interpretation and two different people might feel a cartoon conveys completely different meanings. Personally, I don’t like cancel culture and public assassinations of character. It’s a very slippery slope and the purveyors of this outrage may find themselves on the receiving end one day.


  • 4 Andrew W // Aug 15, 2020 at 5:55 PM

    Cherry picking.
    I’m sure you’re one of those apologists that drop a knee for the BLM bullshit.


  • 5 Graeme Day // Aug 15, 2020 at 6:23 PM

    i agree Peter,
    It’s not my take either however from all sides I see this increasingly the position of point scoring. Once upon a time Aussie’s would use the Pommie term ‘taking the piss” as way of having a ‘go’ at the ‘stupid” or the “ridiculous” double standards presented by those in power to their mates having themselves on.
    Today they do it to show some one up by belittling them and showing how smart they are in doing so.
    Not a healthy society but one we have to deal with each in their own way.


  • 6 Peter // Aug 15, 2020 at 6:47 PM

    I agree with you 100% Graeme. Censorship comes in many forms. Some people are just perpetually outraged by the smallest things and it seems, in the digital age, we have to continually pander to their whims. Totalitarian states thrive on censorship, as I say it’s a slippery slope of unintended consequences. I much prefer our history as “piss takers” and our love of irreverent comedy.


  • 7 PJ // Aug 15, 2020 at 9:20 PM

    Of course it’s racist, it has to be to highlight the irony. It could have been done better without all the words in the second panel. A simple here’s Kamala. Unfortunately it would probably be to laconic for the average The Australian reader.


  • 8 Jarijari // Aug 15, 2020 at 9:29 PM

    Good move Mark. As a former employee of what was once a reliable news-gathering operation, my view is that it has deteriorated to the point where it is a national disgrace, any pretensions to quality debased by its ludicrous opinion writers.

    The Australian proudly displays the work of its disreputable fifth columnists, the likes of foreign editor Greg Sheridan, former editor-in chief Chris Mitchell, Janet Albrechtsen, Chris Kenny, Adam Creighton, Geoffrey Blainey, Gerard Henderson, Alan Jones, Katrina Grace Kelly. Jennifer Oriel and Henry Ergas.

    Their repugnant antics are best described on the resourceful and witty Loon Pond blog.

    Quality writers like James Jeffrey, Anthony Klan and Rick Morton have exited The Australian over the past couple of years and about the only one worth reading these days is Trent Dalton.

    After leaving News Corp, Klan wrote in a tweet: “A month ago I resigned from The Australian after 15 years. I had, and have, serious misgivings about the direction that is now being taken. Australia faces unprecedented external threats. To do otherwise, I felt, would be treasonous.”

    Morton left the paper last year after telling journalism students at the University of Technology, Sydney, that senior writers knew what the editorial line was and wrote stories to fit, adding that “the craziness has been dialled up” in recent months.

    In the Saturday Paper, in a story titled ‘Murdoch media fuels far-right recruitment’, Morton reported that a study from Victoria University had found extremist groups in Australia used saturation media narratives around Safe Schools and so-called African gangs as recruitment tools.

    “The empirical link between these two issues, as well as constant anti-Islam and anti-immigration rhetoric, sheds new light on the way these fringe outfits engorge themselves on mainstream press and politics.

    “The research shows violent extremists latch on to and are ’emboldened’ by news coverage and columns, which they see as adding credibility to their cause.”

    The report cited data that The Daily Mail, Channel Nine’s digital products and YouTube were the favoured stalking grounds of neo-Nazis and far-right figures. The Australian, with an audience many orders of magnitude smaller and its content locked behind a hard paywall, was the fourth most shared content source among far-right groups in Australia.

    The Australian’s columnist Nick Cater called the article a “vile anti-Murdoch hate speech dog whistle”.

    Morton responded with: “Nick Cater, well known for his accuracy that definitely doesn’t get his employer sued for $570k, is back with his above average attention to detail. And he believes in dog whistles now.”

    Cater and the Nine Network had been ordered to pay Toowoomba’s Wagner brothers $3.6 million in damages after a Queensland Supreme Court jury found they “gravely” defamed the wealthy family.

    In 2015, a 60 Minutes episode suggested the Wagners caused the catastrophic Grantham floods, which killed 12 people and destroyed the town. The program implied that the disaster was caused by the Wagners’ failure to take steps to prevent a quarry wall on their property from collapsing, causing a wall of water to engulf the town.

    Tony Koch, a media hall of fame inductee who worked on the Courier-Mail and The Australian for 30 years, said the national daily had “become little more than a laughing stock”.

    “The Australian in particular was a big-impact paper which regularly set the news agenda for media throughout the country,” he wrote in The Guardian last year.

    “I must say that I was never in my years instructed to write an article, or not write an article, because it suited a political bent of a particular editor,”

    “But no longer. No editor I worked for would have put up with the biased anti-Labor rubbish that, shamefully, the papers now produce on a daily basis.

    “How infantile is it of the management of these organisations to fool themselves into believing that what they are producing is being accepted by readers as quality product. I have many conservative friends who are as disgusted as I am at these newspapers because they know that what they are reading is either distorted or just plain wrong.

    “The journalists are not to blame. Many have been friends of mine for decades and they share my disgust. Probably the most blatant example of bias and low-grade coverage is the employment of most of the columnists who appear weekly. Their observations are, in the main, predictable, weak, unresearched and juvenile.”

    In an enlightening history lesson, John Menadue, who was general manager of News Limited for seven years before serving as head of the prime minister’s department in both the Whitlam and Fraser governments, wrote on his website that Murdoch had prior knowledge of Whitlam’s termination.

    “I had lunch with Rupert Murdoch in Canberra four days before the Whitlam dismissal on November 11, 1975. He told me that he was quite certain that there would be an election before Christmas and an election specifically for the House of Representatives. I pointed out that the half-Senate election was the only possibility. He rejected my view and said that he would be staying in Australia for the election. To reassure me, as I was then the Secretary of Prime Minister and Cabinet, he said that I had no need to worry as I would be appointed in the event of a Liberal victory as the Ambassador to Japan. Malcolm Fraser had obviously told him. About 18 months later I was in Japan as Rupert had predicted. Once again, Rupert denies my account but I stand by it.”


  • 9 Peter // Aug 16, 2020 at 10:03 AM

    I have recently heard News (Lord Rupert’s Private Chattel) described not as a company but rather a political party. How true.


  • 10 Graeme Day // Aug 16, 2020 at 10:12 AM

    A heap of words Jari Jari-nothing new left and right politics and conservatives mixed in with green maybe the odd communist heaps of socialism which is currently the norm in thinking now some newspapers preach one teme or another tehe end result is one either buys the papr or they don’y.
    Newspapers are failing in circulation and this is not a sign of advertising it’s a sign of the times.
    If we want real bias, biogory and pure left wing bias we can always watch Channel 2 or its brother station Channel 9.
    There are plenty of otions for all It’s the market that decides nd that is comprised of the mix and generation the market is.
    I was always advised to believe none of what you hear half of what you see and be sceptical of what you read.
    This is the way I treat newsapapers today and always have.


  • 11 Peter // Aug 16, 2020 at 11:39 AM

    Should a retailer stock products to reflect their personal set of beliefs? Is this a dangerous precedent? Can a retailer refuse to serve people that don’t hold the same beliefs as them? Can governments restrict access to what they term as inappropriate content? Should internet porn be banned outright? Interesting questions, when you try to shape the world in your image.


  • 12 Graeme Day // Aug 16, 2020 at 11:42 AM

    Sure is.
    Ever since he told Whitlam “I put you in power and “I’ll take you out” I had breakfast in Vanuatu with Gough around ’77 -78 and Gough made the point he was there by courtesey of Rupert (Ansett)
    Politics are crap.


  • 13 Mark Fletcher // Aug 16, 2020 at 12:15 PM

    Every retailer with every stock purchase decision edits what their business carries. If our businesses do not reflect us, do not make us proud, then what is their value to our souls?

    I made my decision for that issue and moved on right after it.

    I quit selling tobacco products in my newsagency in 1997 because of the irrefutable evidence of health risks.


  • 14 Peter // Aug 16, 2020 at 1:54 PM

    I know where you’re coming from Mark. But who are you to censor your customer base from a national source of news? Cigarettes are purely a commercial decision, but as a newsagent, I don’t believe you should have the power to pick and choose what major daily newspapers you choose to display for sale. Equally, I don’t believe another newsagent should have the power to deny the public a copy of the Age or SMH. Disagree, yes, deny no.


  • 15 Mark Fletcher // Aug 16, 2020 at 2:43 PM

    Given the ready access to professional news outlets, I don’t see taking The Australian off the shelves for a day as censorship. But, hey, it’s my business and I’ll stock what I like.


  • 16 Peter // Aug 16, 2020 at 3:37 PM

    What sort of arrangement do you have with Newscorp? Is it a sub agent or full newsagency relationship. Is there any contractual obligation to display their titles unless you’ve sold out of them? Just interested. Personally, I think if you’re prepared to do this you should remove your association with the word newsagent. You are effectively a gift shop that dables in newspapers as long as they fit your world view.


  • 17 Mediaweek Roundup: Tim Worner, oOh! Media, The Australian + more // Aug 17, 2020 at 8:37 AM

    […] [Read more] […]


  • 18 James Carr // Aug 17, 2020 at 11:27 AM

    Do you think Joe Biden is a racist?


  • 19 Graeme Day // Aug 17, 2020 at 12:14 PM

    He has been in this case very selective in his choice of the pre ordaned most likely to appeal to the electorate,to enhance his Party election as President.
    Certainly will be classed by many in their own perspective.
    Racist to me means degenerating the race as inferior or not to a standard as a whole entity and this may include a perceptive representative as such.
    However racist can be a positive move as well and in this case Biden is definately racist in choosing his running “mate” as V.P. He weighed up her ability -her prejudices- and the colour of skin and what it or most likely be appealing to the American vote -Racist good or bad? – I will leave that to the individual Calculated yes the decision has racist particuars in this result.
    This is my observation I don’t opine on American politics because 1. I don’t live there and therefore not got that gut feeling of the electorate. and 2. America lost the plot years and years ago with modernistic liberalism which equals no ideas just adjustment depending what the issue is however they have no ideas for the future mostly influenced by Actors -film stars that play pretense roles on and apparantly off stage.


  • 20 Tony Sullivan // Aug 18, 2020 at 3:55 PM

    Great article in today’s The Australian by Jacinta Nampijina Price.


  • 21 Graeme Day // Aug 18, 2020 at 4:28 PM

    Priceless Tony absolutely priceless. Very articulate and well thought through a truly great Australian


  • 22 Frank Grimaldi // Aug 20, 2020 at 10:59 AM

    I don’t agree it is not a newsagents job to enforce censorship there are more qualified people to do that we have a censorship body to do that, newsagents have business that has an agreement to distribute and sell newspapers and magazines etc stick to your line of business not politics.


  • 23 Frank Grimaldi // Aug 20, 2020 at 11:15 AM

    Mmmmm every buisiness choses what increases their bottom line unless they have a flourishing business that can afford to be choosey and political, IMHO


  • 24 MARK RICHARDSON // Aug 20, 2020 at 1:30 PM

    Typical cancel culture attitude


  • 25 Mark Fletcher // Aug 20, 2020 at 1:32 PM

    Frank, your double negative is confusing. To be clear, I’ve not said was a newsagent’s job to force. This is my choice for my business, for this one copy of The Australian. And, yes, this move might help the bottom line with so many Aussies hating on the Murdoch trash paper.

    As for the cancel culture comment from Mark, that’s ignorant.


  • 26 Graeme Day // Aug 20, 2020 at 5:23 PM

    Mark don’t carry on with it think about it, it’s your opinion not everyone agrees with this in fact it’s a perspective and even Jacinta Price could see that the Cartoonist was exposing the racist racism Card that Biden was/is proud of. Using the Woman and Black for first Vice Presidential rumnning mate-shame -there was nothinbg about her politica ability, which is way ahead of both candidates and is now for the public to decide.
    Biden here is the racist NOT the cartoonist.


  • 27 Mark Fletcher // Aug 21, 2020 at 5:22 AM

    Thanks Graeme.


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