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On March 1, 2023, three presenters from radio station 2SM made defamatory statements about the Australian Prime Minister after a fake tweet attributed to the leader was circulated online. The tweet suggested that the Prime Minister was advocating for the protection of paedophiles. The presenters, who have a large audience in Sydney and across Australia, used the fake tweet to make accusations against the Prime Minister and invited callers to share their opinions.
The presenters and callers made serious allegations without verifying the authenticity of the tweet or checking the facts. The fake tweet, which was quickly exposed as a hoax, was supposedly from the Prime Minister’s official Twitter account. However, the presenters and callers failed to take basic steps to verify the source of the tweet and instead used it to attack the Prime Minister’s character.
This type of behavior is unacceptable in any form of journalism, whether it be on the radio, television or in print media. The role of the media is to report and comment on news events, but this must be done in an ethical and responsible manner. It is vital that journalists and media outlets ensure that they check the facts and verify the authenticity of any sources or information they are reporting.
The presenters at 2SM failed to do this and as a result, they defamed the Prime Minister. They allowed their biases to influence their reporting and this led to a serious breach of journalistic ethics. The presenters also failed to provide balanced and objective coverage of the story, which is a basic tenet of responsible journalism.
In addition to the presenters, the callers who phoned in to support the accusations made against the Prime Minister also bear responsibility. The callers did not verify the authenticity of the tweet or the source of the information before making defamatory statements about the Prime Minister. This highlights the danger of unverified information being spread on social media and the need for media literacy and critical thinking.
It is clear that 2SM needs to take action to ensure that this type of behavior does not happen again. The radio station must provide training and education to its presenters and staff on ethical journalism practices and the importance of fact-checking. The station should also review its policies and procedures for verifying sources and information to ensure that all reporting is balanced and objective.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) should also investigate the matter and take appropriate action against 2SM. ACMA has a responsibility to ensure that all media outlets operate in accordance with the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 and the Australian Communications and Media Authority Act 2005. ACMA should investigate whether the presenters and callers breached any of these Acts and, if necessary, impose penalties.
In conclusion, the behavior of the presenters and callers at 2SM was irresponsible and defamatory. The circulation of a fake tweet should have been investigated and verified before being reported, but instead, it was used to attack the character of the Prime Minister. 2SM needs to take action to ensure that this type of behavior does not happen again, and ACMA should investigate the matter and take appropriate action. It is time for responsible journalism and media literacy to be prioritized in the Australian media landscape.
Written by: Alex Aliheim
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