Alliance for Journalists' Freedom White Paper

White Paper plots law reform pathway for Press Freedom

Holly Friedlander Liddicoat, 14th May 2019

The Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom (AJF) has released a White Paper that provides seven recommendations for legislative change to strengthen press freedom in Australia.

The Australian organisation AJF was established in 2018 to promote press freedom and the right of journalists to report the news in freedom and safety. It works to reform legislation infringing on journalists’ freedom in Australia and campaigns for journalists’ freedom and safety in the Asia Pacific.

The White Paper's recommendations include a framework underpinned by a Media Freedom Act which would balance press freedom and national security interests while protecting journalists from unwarranted prosecution or civil liability.

Chris Flynn, AJF Director, and Partner at Gilbert + Tobin, reflects on the effects of recent legislative changes: 

“Publishers are telling us that recent changes to law restrict investigative journalism in Australia. They expose journalists to prosecution or excessive civil liability in the course of doing their jobs.”

Each of the White Paper’s recommendations are designed to support journalistic investigation, research and reporting by ensuring transparency and accountability – a cornerstone of democracy.

You can download the White Paper in full. Its seven recommendations cover:

  1. The Media Freedom Act
  2. National Security
  3. Confidentiality of sources
  4. Shield Laws
  5. Whistleblower protections
  6. Defamation and Public Interest
  7. Suppression Orders

Fellow AJF Director and UNESCO Chair in Journalism and Communication at the University of Queensland, Professor Peter Greste, says:

“These legislative changes including the Media Freedom Act don’t just serve to strengthen journalism, they will support and strengthen democracy and transparency which, aside from ensuring our democracy remains one of the strongest in the world, will set an example across the region. These recommendations are a potent and necessary step in the right direction.”

For more go to

Facebook comments



The article discusses the relationship between third sector broadcasting (TSB) and International Human Rights Law (IHRL). The article aims to show that there are legal obligations derived from IHRL which require States to contemplate TSB in their broadcasting policy, and, to demonstrate that TSB has a significant potential to contribute to the realization of IHRL goals. Specific issues discussed include how Freedom of Religion requires States to provide means of access to the airwaves for religious groups and how TSB can be used as an affirmative action measure to increase the participation of members of traditionally disadvantaged groups in the media.


This paper examines the changing contribution of local radio to the democratic process in Australia. It takes the whole local area approach suggested by the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, to examine all the services available in three regional areas to assess their potential in facilitating public sphere discussion, disputation and deliberation, and (since the common assumption is that deregulation severely curtailed these processes) it does this in a historical frame, comparing the changes in services from 1976 to 2001. Because of its strengths in the analysis of relationships between the state (public) and private sectors, Habermas’s public sphere theory is used to frame this discussion. Recent theoretical extensions have also seen the welcome elaboration of issues of power (Fraser, 1992, 2000) and the inclusion of a new and subtle range of cultural issues (Peters, 1993; McGuigan, 1997, 2004; Keane, 1998) inside its developing literature.


The internet provides a means for non-professional media-makers to produce and publish their own video and audio content, as community television and radio have done for several decades. While the web seems to exemplify the principles of media access and diversity championed by the community media sector, it also raises challenges for broadcast community media participants and their online equivalents, not least being the co-opting of the term ‘community media’ by large commercial interests. A symposium held in Melbourne by Open Spectrum Australia (‘Quality/Control’, State Library of Victoria, Oct 2008) brought together people with a wide range of community media experience to discuss this and other issues, particularly the possibilities for greater cooperation between broadcast and online community media participants.

This paper draws on participant contributions at the symposium to explore the relationship between broadcast and online community media. Despite shared values, we identify different, and possibly incompatible, cultures within the two groups. We argue that this disjoint stems from two different systems of control or validation (licensing and networks), as well as producer-centered accounts of community media that are out of sync with the contemporary media environment. Instead, we propose that theory and practice begin to address issues of consumption in relation to community media, including identification, navigation and the notion of ethical choice.