News Corp Australia’s executive chairman Michael Miller has told local staff that the company’s commentators and columnists such as Andrew Bolt and Rowan Dean will not be “muzzled” as part of a company-wide editorial project focused on climate change and reducing carbon emissions.
In an all staff email obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Mr Miller confirmed plans for the October climate change campaign, but said the series was not concieved due to pressure from advertisers and that different viewpoints will be featured in it.
“Our plans are not in response to any advertiser questions or concerns,” he said. “However, since the coverage this week, it has been great to be contacted by our clients and major Australian companies who are interested in how they can be involved.”
News Corp Australasia chairman Michael Miller said columnists and commentators won’t be muzzled.Credit:Jessica Hromas
“All our commentators and columnists will be encouraged to participate, and their views will not be ’muzzled”.
The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age revealed plans for the Rupert Murdoch-controlled media company to begin advocating for reducing emissions on Monday, in a major shift in its long-standing editorial hostility towards carbon reduction policies. The article said a plan was devised to limit – but not muzzle – dissenting voices among News Corp’s stable of conservative commentators.
The campaign is set to feature in News Corp’s city tabloids including Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Melbourne’s Herald Sun and on Sky News.
Mr Miller said the “major editorial project” was first discussed in March at a meeting of News Corp’s editorial board, which is chaired by The Australian’s editor-in-chief Chris Dore. He said the work will focus on key environmental and climate issues and the options Australia need to consider reaching a zero emissions target. It will feature leaders in the field and perspectives from lawmakers, scientists, academics and business leaders.
“Australians have told us that caring for the environment is a priority,” Mr Miller wrote. “They have told us that they are interested in the issues, the political and personal choices, as well as the costs and trade offs involved. They also want to know more about how their choices can help make the planet a better, greener place.“
“We will endeavour to ensure that all views, not just the popular ones, are heard,” he said.
Rupert Murdoch’s global media empire has in recent years faced growing international condemnation and pressure over its editorial stance on climate change, which has previously doubt over the science behind global warming.
Negative publicity about its coverage appeared in global outlets such as The New York Times and Financial Times during Australia’s deadly bushfires almost two years ago. The coverage by local tabloids and national masthead The Australian also triggered a comment from Murdoch’s youngest son, James Murdoch, who publicly denounced the outlets’ “ongoing denial” of climate change. Mr Murdoch quit the News Corp board last August due to concerns about its editorial stance.
Climate change scepticism has proven difficult to uphold as leading corporations start to aggressively push their green credentials. Woolworths and Coles used the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to broadcast advertisements that focused on their green credentials. But Mr Miller said to staff that the reason for the editorial work was due to the changing needs of its audience, rather than any requests from advertisers.
Mr Miller said News Corp will also reinvigorate 1 Degree – an initiative which began in Australia in 2007 following a famous speech by Rupert Murdoch where he said the planet deserved “the benefit of the doubt”.
News Corporation’s global environmental targets include reducing its fuel and electricity emissions 60 per cent by 2030 on a 2016 base year, reduced supply chain carbon emissions 20 per cent by 2030 and hit net zero by 2050.
“No doubt other media and social platform users will try to take issue with our coverage and attempt to make News the story, however we have never been afraid of pushing boundaries and facilitating tough and uncomfortable conversations,” Mr Miller said. “This is a conversation which Australia needs to have.”
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