By the end of this month (30th April, 2010), it will be the 1st Anniversary of the Australia News and Features Services (ANFS) website (http://www.austnewsandfeatures.com) and the International News Syndicate (INS) Website (http://www.internationalnewssyndicate.com) (registered in Hong Kong), putting up a statement which declared that: “This site is currently undergoing redevelopment. We apologise for any inconvenience.” However, the truth about the state of these websites is in the second statement: “It is, however, still business as usual for us here at International News Syndicate Limited. Please, simply contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org”.
Have a look at the website, there is a login for editors on the left and login for accredited INS freelancers on the right. I wonder how long this “currently undergoing redevelopment” statements going to stay on the websites? 1 year, 2 years or more is anybody guess. But, I believe that the 4,800 editors who use INS syndication service or 25,000 (depending on the content of which e-mails I received from the director of INS between February and March 2009) and the readers of these thousands of newspapers and magazines within Australia and across the world have the right to know that:
1. This is a form of media control by INS and ANFS! That is, INS may be in the business to decide on behalf of editors what they should read and published. (Please click on special note on the content of INS website)
2. It is also one of the possible reasons behind the lack of reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance in the mainstream Australian media.
Why I decided to enrol in a Journalist Course?
I have been watching news from a satellite TV for a number of years, I am in the position to compare news reported overseas with the media in Australia on a daily basis on major international events as they occurred. To my frustration and disbelieve, the level of bias, selective, partial, misleading and distorting report in the mainstream media is at pandemic level. (click on my research Media Disinformation for detail analysis).
In the year 2008, the way China was abused deliberately and unfairly by the mainstream media on a daily basis has finally stirred up my emotion and passion to defence China and any developing country under the on-going media distorting reports. I begin to search the Internet for Journalism Course, and delighted by the benefits offer by Morris Journalism Academy at the successful completion of the Course (http://www.morrisjournalismacademy.com/index.asp?apg=complete). I decided to pay the $1095 course fee and went through 6 months of training with 10 assignments while working full time, 6 days a week.
Before enrolment, what kind of benefits the Journalism Academy offer to its potential graduate?
Below are the links to the scan copies of the kind of benefits offered by Morris Journalism Academy printed Prospectus posted to me with an enrolment form. As you may notice by clicking through the links below, many of the benefits of the Course have been repeated a number of times under different heading and subheading across the PROSPECTUS.
Scan Copy 1: What Accreditation Brings You/Your New Credential
Scan Copy 2: 10 Good Reasons to Become a Freelance Journalist
Scan Copy 3: 5 More Good Reasons To Do This Course
Scan Copy 4: Your Guarantees
Scan Copy 5: What's Special About This Course
Scan Copy 6: What's Required On Your Part?
Note: I have successfully completed the Course on the 27th January 2009, and received my accredited media pass with my photo attached to it in February 2009. However, I did not receive any welcoming letter nor any information on my entitled benefits as a new member. At the time of writing this statement (more than 1 year after accreditation), I am still unable to enjoy any of the benefits outlined above as an accredited freelancer of INS and ANFS. Why? (Note: I didn’t even receive the monthly electronic newsletter as initially promised by the course!)
The content of the assignment that got me into trouble with my tutor and INS.
There were 10 assignments throughout the 6 months course. Part of the 9th assignment required us to define our area of specialisation in our writing career. The following is the content of the assignment I submitted on the 16th Dec 2008 that got me into trouble with my tutor and then the director of Morris Journalism Academy, INS and ANFS:
My Primary Area of Specialisation in my writing Career is as follows:
Journalism & Objectivity seem to be an important part of the emphasis in this course. However, whenever I read or listen to the daily news, especially related to International issues, I cannot find any ‘Objectivity’ in them. Perhaps, this is due to the fact that Australia Media simply cut and paste their report from BBC & CNN etc?
Thanks for bearing with me over the last few months. I know that to be a professional journalist, I should not put my emotion in my writing, but as I regarded those assignments I have written as simply an assignment for the course, I let my rage against the Western Media and Government’s behaviour against countries not towing their line of interest flow in my wording.
Like Mr. Kim Beasley’s observation during his interview by the Phoenix TV in Hong Kong few month ago, it was also obvious to me that, during the March’s Tibetan riot in Lhasa, it was the Human Rights of the Han and Muslim Chinese been violated and not the other way round.
However, the way the Western Media and government distorted the incident boiled my blood and for the first time, I decided to use my spare time to voice up for China and other developing countries. In order for me to make accurate statement, I have read more than 15 books over the last few months in preparation for my part-time writing career in 2009, including reading the book “???” (Note: name of book is removed as it is not my target of complaint in this report) written by a British writer who made so many subjective, partial and inaccurate statement in her writing.
The following 2 YouTube Videos can best describe my rage against the Western Media:
Tibet: The Truth (A Political History) by a Hollywood producer
Free Iraq, Free Tibet, Very good cause!!
The British and some European countries through their colonial past, created most of the world problem today. Whether it is the conflict between Pakistan and India, Israel and Palestine, the ethnic conflict in Africa or the Tibet issue, etc.
The British Government through its Foreign Secretary David Miliband has for the first time recently officially acknowledged that what the British Government did in Tibet a century ago was a historical mistake, using his own word, it is an "anachronism" (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/tibet/3385803/UK-recognises-Chinas-direct-rule-over-Tibet.html).
It puzzle me that, the “Objective” Western Media in Australia hardly reported this kind of News and I am not sure how many Australian Politicians or Journalists knew anything about the actual history of Tibet and China?
The West has massed with Africa for centuries, not only the border of each country in Africa was created by a ruler with a straight line by the European colonial powers in the past, over the last 60 years after the 2nd World War, Africa is almost under the exclusive manipulation of the West. But, African despite rich in resources still remain the poorest on earth. Why?
In fact, if my prediction is not wrong, the welfare system in Australia, Europe and USA will be partially collapse within the next 10 to 15 years. All kind of social problem will intensify and the society will no longer be in harmony. A small incident will spark riot like the incident in Greece. The current election system will become a problem like many 3rd World Nations had experienced.
The rule of law and institutionalisation of certain universal human value like Human Rights, Free Speech and anti-corruption are the keys toward a stable and harmonise society, not direct election. The ability of a political system to place the most competent people at the top job are the key toward solving all kind of social problem including poverty, not the current form of Western Style Direct Election System. The world in the 21st century is too complex for any Tom, Dick and Harry on the street to decide what is good and what is workable.
I will dedicate my time to research and produce articles as an independent writer. All the above named issues are my primary research objective.
My secondary area of specialisation is as follows:
Issue of social concern or suffering such as homeless, loneliness, unemployment, people living purely on social welfare, kids wandering on the streets during school hours, shop lifting epidemic, the breaking down of family value and its effect on the society and individuals, and the implication of our “lazy and unreliable” young generation to the society, etc.
All the above issues has been part of a social problem for ages, and it will become an issue of social proportion in the 21st Century due to our:
- Declining family value (people have nowhere to fall back and seek support the day when government no longer able to provide social benefit);
- Substandard economy with an aging population growing faster than the ‘lazy and unreliable’ young generation.
- A political system that fail to produce visionary and responsible first class leadership.
All the above issues can be easily found around us. As a retailer in a shopping center for more than 3 years, I have witness all the above problem on a daily basis. Therefore, I believe that it is of social interest to speak about the problem and solution.
Is it a crime to specialise on the above topics? This is how my tutor (an editor) response:
Note: The academy has a 5 days assignment return policy and it was consistent throughout my first 8 assignments. However, for this assignment, my tutor refused to mark it for more than a month. I have to initiate a series of communications before he finally returned me on the 27th Jan 2009 with the following remark:
Hi Wei Ling, thanks for your assignment and your letter. I understand that you are very passionate about the subject of the portrayal of China in the western media, and the issues of Chinese global politics.
Both of these would make for very good areas of specialisations in your writing career. However, I would say that you will not be very successful in achieving commissions if you use your articles to push your own personal opinions.
You will, after all, be writing for the western media for the most part, and as such, I cannot envisage too many editors being willing to publish your articles on which you rail against their papers and magazines.
All journalism and freelance writing should be balanced and opinion free. If you feel that much of what is written about China’s relationships with the west is not balanced or accurate, then that is your right – and you seem to have done a great deal of research on the matter.
However, it is fair to say that that is your opinion, and very few editors or readers will be interested in that opinion.
My advice is that you use your excellent research, fantastic passion and great analysis to write on a broader range of subjects – particularly if you wish to earn an income from freelance writing.
The areas you have concentrated on are certainly interesting, and would make for a good specialisation, but they will not result in a regular flow of commissions.
I hope this helps and I have provided feedback on your ideas below.
Where is my democratic right for free speech, free expression, free opinion and free will in the supposedly “Free” World without fear and favour?
As suggested by the title “freelance” journalist, I am supposedly “free” to come out with my own story ideas and try to sell to editors in the media industry through INS or ANFS syndication website with my personal web listing as promised by the Course. The Journalism Academy printed Prospectus mentioned 3 times that, we can specialise in our passion. For examples, detail in 10 Good Reasons to Become a Freelance Journalist, and 5 More Good Reasons To Do This Course,
The Academy own tutorial material in pg 19 (tutorial six) under the heading “Identifying Angles” indicated that: “Every story, no matter how simple, has innumerable angles. These are the different approaches you might take to it. In writing a topic from one angle as opposed to another, you may of course, uncover more related stories…” and “each of these angles is a story in its own right, yet they are all based on one event. Further exploration could yield even more story ideas.”
The problem I encountered with my tutor in this instant is that, when the angle I selected as my area of specialisations not of his personal liking, he then forgotten what has been taught in the tutorial: “ each of these angles is a story in its own right” and what has been preached to us before enrolment “you can specialise in your passion”. My tutor begin to request that I should be “opinion free”, and claim that “very few editors or readers will be interested in that opinion”. He also mentions two times in his above short comment about not successful in earning “commission” or “income” in my area of specialisation. My tutor then advice me to use my “excellent research, fantastic passion and great analysis to write on a broader range of subjects”.
Who the hell my tutor think he is to represent the view of all the editors and readers in the Western world? Is that a crime to specialise in my chosen area?
On the other hand, after cooling myself down with some logical analysis, I have to admit that, I respect my tutor for his honesty and frank advice as I believe there are some kind of control at a higher level in the western media industry. My tutor simply told me the reality in the industry. I honestly feel that he is a man I can still respect and for this reason I do not have any hard feeling against him.
The irony of this incident is that, the media industry in the “FREE” world seem to place themselves on high moral ground whenever they abused or accused other culture of media censorship, but, when one of their own citizen/journalist is critical about their bias, selective and distorting behaviour, they seem to show no tolerance at all to their own critic.
It is a long story, for those who are interested to know more, please click on How I became an Outcast Journalist in the “Free” World for detail including how the Anti-Discrimination Commission rejected my case for a hearing and the person who rejected my case didn’t even dare to have his or her name printed underneath the signature.
Before I end this report, I would like to draw to your attention the following information:
1) Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 have the following legal framework:
Discrimination by industrial, professional, trade or business organisation in membership area
20.(1) An organisation of workers, employers, or people who carry on an industry, profession, trade or business must not discriminate—
(a) in any variation of the terms of membership of the organisation; or
(b) in denying or limiting access to any benefit arising from the membership; or
(c) in depriving a person of membership; or
(d) by treating a person unfavourably in any way in connection with the membership
Discrimination on the basis of certain attributes prohibited
7.(1) The Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of the following attributes—
(j) political belief or activity;
2) Please read the following 2 e-mail’s correspondent between myself and Mr. Joseph Morris - the director of Morris Journalism Academy, INS and ANFS to judge by yourself if the Anti-Discrimination Commission should reject my case for a hearing:
Below is an article I had written for Tutorial 2 in August 2008, and added information in January 2009. The Original title is: We Should Be More Objective When Criticising China On Human Rights Issues. Please read this article first to form your own opinion before reading Joseph Morris e-mail below. (Note: Throughout the 6 months course, The Academy did not teach us anything on referencing our sources. In fact, we were told that, unlike America, Australia is not as strict about quoting our sources).
As Joseph Morris in his previous email claim that my article contain “political comment” and lie that “INS does not syndicate political comment”. I have no choice but to asked him to use the above “China’s Human Rights article” as example to define his meaning of “Political Comment”. This is how Joseph Morris replied:
My reply to Joseph Morris above e-mail in 2 parts:
For other e-mail correspondents before and after the above 2 e-mails, click on How I became an Outcast Journalist in the “Free” World.
Do the “Elites” in Australia respect the value of free speech, free expression and free opinion?
The American base PEW Research Center recently conducted a survey on the Americans' views on media bias and independence. The result was released on the 14th Sept 2009 under the title: Press Accuracy Rating Hits Two-Decade Low, indicated that “Just 29% of Americans say that news organizations generally get the facts straight, while 63% say that news stories are often inaccurate”.
The Australia National University (ANU) researchers also released a media survey on 2 Sept 2009 (SMH) with the following points: “the more a political party spent on advertising with a media outlet, the more favourable the media coverage.” The report also found that “editors were more likely to take a political line” (that is, lacking the objectivity in their editing process).
On 13 February 2009, it was reported by WA Today that, in a recent interview, dumped West Australian editor Paul Armstrong says “a difference in opinions led to his departure from the newspaper”. Mr. Armstrong further evaluate that: "That's business, that's life ... You've got to accept that this job more often than not ends in sudden circumstances."
So, do the “Elites” in Australia respect the value of free speech, free expression, free opinion and the objectivity of the press? Should the Anti-Discrimination Commission accept my case for a hearing? Is it true that: the law is only as good as the people who administer it? Should my investment of $1,095 and the 6 months time and effort I put into the Journalism Course and my eventual status as an accredited INS freelancer be respected and honoured by INS? Is Australia a country of fair go and equal opportunity for all or simply a country of hypocrisy and double standard? Let the people be the Judge!
Written on 1 April 2010