Every day, letters roll into the offices of Fairfax Media intended for publication in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Letters to the Editor. And every week, a controller of some sort, decides what will make the cut into one of Australia’s most recognised Mediated Public Spheres (MPSs). The SMH’s Letters to the Editor is a great example not only of a mediated public sphere, but of a contemporary text which has the capacity to cause debate within itself.
The SMH is supposedly one of Australia’s last remaining publications attempting to present truly unbiased, balanced and fair coverage of news and opinion to it’s readership. Based on that, one would assume that as MPSs go, this would be one of the best. It should be published the way the rest of the SMH is meant to be – balanced, fair, unbiased and “Independent. Always”.
But, can something which is guarded by a gatekeeper ever be truly balanced? That’s the debate this text, as a MPS, provokes.
Letters to the Editor are meant to reflect the varied and differing opinions of the public, who are the readers of the SMH. But, gate keepers are meant to withhold certain information and make things fit the way they want, or need them to.
Further, MPSs like the SMH’s Letters to the Editor a merely a product of the readership. If the readership slants left or right, would it be unreasonable to expect that the Letter’s also lean left or right?
I trust Fairfax to present the balanced thoughts of their readership.The point is merely to recognise that this is still not the cleanest version of a MPS we can get. Even when it is from the organisation widely regarded to be one of the most balanced publishers in Australia, I think we still need to look for better.
Fairfax Media, 2014, SMH Masthead, image, Screenshot, viewed 8 April 2014, <http://www.smh.com.au/>.