Must-Listen Podcast Episode: On the Media: Climate Change, News Corp, and the Australian Fires


What is the podcast?

On the Media is a biweekly podcast which tackles issues within the media with transparency and fairness. With over 1 million weekly radio and podcast listeners, On the Media navigates topics such as cancel culture, the influence of the media on climate action and the internet’s role in democracy. This episode of On the Media is hosted by Bob Garfield and features an interview with Nick Cave of the New York Times. The episode focuses on Australia’s conservative press and the framing of arson as the reason for the widespread bushfires, rather than climate change.


Where will you find it? 

You can listen to the podcast here. 


Why should you listen to this episode?

This episode of On the Media gives an objective overview of conservative media in Australia, many of which are owned by Rupert Murdock, and explores its coverage of the bush fires. Bob Garfield talks to Damien Cave, the New York Times Australia Chief in Sydney. Cave discusses the Murdock media’s blanket statement that the cause of the bushfires is directly correlated with arson. This has been disproved by scientists and has been labelled as a clear act of deflection aimed to deflect people from climate change. Mediawatch on ABC did a piece about denialism. They filmed a press conference of 23 former fire chiefs – the people who were on the front lines, fighting the flames – demanding climate action. 


‘The lacklustre response of the government is intimately tied to the protection of the prime minister by the conservative media.’ The Australian continent the size of the lower 48 United States is in a ring of fire. ‘How how how is it possible for Murdock and the rest of the conservative press and the Prime Minister to stake out these positions.’ Garfield highlights the point that if the status quo serves you well, you don’t want things to change. Garfield explores the parallels between American conservative media and the Australian model, which increasingly protects Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The Australian defended Morrison’s decision to take a holiday to Hawaii in the height of the bushfires, rather than holding him accountable for his actions.


On January 2, when the fires were page one coverage just about everywhere in the world, the lead story in the Australian was about a potential alcohol ban. Tweets coming from bots or trolls, who had previously supported Trump and conspiracy theories, had been found muddying the water of climate change discussion online by creating hashtags and creating discourse online in support of the conservative media. This podcast is essential listening for PR professionals as it gives expert insight into the bias and spin by certain conservative media outlets, not just in Australia, but throughout the world. Being aware of the type of media that you are pitching to and their stance on important issues can affect the success and portrayal of your press release.

Some of the things that they say:

‘Rupert Murdock fiddles while Australia burns’


‘For more than 10 years, scientists in Australia have been saying the fires are going to get more intense. […] This is info that was known and expected within the scientific community for more than a decade 


‘It’s quite clear that when you put a giant story in the paper that says “Arson Crackdown’, you’re signaling to the reader that this is the thing you should be angry about. It is what many critics would say is a clear act of deflection to keep people away from climate change.’



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