Josh Wolf is #1!

Three days ago, on February 6, videoblogger Josh Wolf made US legal history. According to The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press:

Blogger Josh Wolf now holds the troubling record as the longest-jailed journalist for contempt of court in recent American history.

Wolf, who is refusing to comply with a grand jury subpoena for his testimony and video outtakes, has spent 169 days in a federal prison in California as of today. He has now spent more time behind bars than author/journalist Vanessa Leggett, who spent 168 days in a Texas federal prison for refusing to comply with a subpoena in 2001…

Local Australian journalists have paid special tribute to Wolf by completely avoiding any mention of his case. Some journalists — especially those associated with the liberal broadsheet The Age — have even gone so far as to actually join the police in an online ‘thug hunt’; Wolf’s refusal to act as an arm of the state obviously inciting local hacks to obey Murdoch’s Third Law: “For every action, there is a disproportionately hostile reaction.” In fact, while Crimestoppers has begun to remove images of those arrested (#1, #10, #13; #17 replaced by #28), The Age continues to provide a semi-eager public with images of all 28 ‘persons of interest’.

    According to Reporters sans frontières, in 2006, 81 journalists and 32 media assistants were killed, at least 871 were arrested, 1,472 were physically attacked or threatened, 56 kidnapped and 912 media outlets were censored.

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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7 Responses to Josh Wolf is #1!

  1. Now that you mention it, it is quite odd that I have not come upon this story in the Australian press. The first I heard of this journalist was through your blog. Now whilst it may be odd it is by no means surprising. This man has set the bar quite high in terms of journalist ethics and I would guess our local media are afraid that we will discover the sell outs that they are!

    How is the internet connection going? Still not connected at home? Hope new housemate/housemate hunting is fun.

  2. @ndy says:

    Hey Miss P,

    Odd… but only if one doesn’t consider the fact that Australia is blessed by one of the worst, most ‘backward’ media sectors, with the most highly-concentrated ownership, in the English-speaking world. Nevertheless, I expect there to be at least *some* mention of Wolf’s case soon. After all, it’s all over the US media and on the wires, and, given the fact that much of the Australian media sector’s ‘foreign’ reportage has been out-sourced, principally via US networks, it would be very hard to avoid. So: I think the problem is as much structural as it is ‘political’.

    Government blah blah blah on structural issues can be found here:

    While Leanne Connell provides a more critical assessment here:

    Oh, and you’ll be glad to learn that the NEW! IMPROVED! Internet connection is humming, and that the new housemates have been successfully hunted down and bagged. Having overcome those obstacles, *now* all I gotta do is overthrow the state, capitalism and patriarchy. Of course, rejecting all morality and restraint, in the pursuit of such minimal demands, I commend theft, the destruction of scholarship, the abolition of work, total subversion, and a world-wide proletarian revolution with unlicensed pleasure as its only goal.



  3. The legislation pertaining to cross-media ownership has already had an effect on the depth of reporting. First, let me start off by saying that in my lifetime I have not found the diversity or depth of reporting in the Australian media to be of a particularly high standard. Secondly, despite the fact that the media is supposed to be independent of Government, the reality is quite literally the opposite. This is clear when one considers the small number of players who actually own the media in Australia — and not only that — but also that these players are generally from a particular and quite similar ideological perspective. With the exception of perhaps the ABC (though this too is changing) and SBS (much better than the ABC), we have quite a small group of men (gender specific) who own our newspapers, radio stations and the like.

    Clearly, the current role of the media is to perpetuate the propaganda of the Government and/or Opposition. Rarely do we find articles in the mainstream press that report factually and undertake rigorous investigations in respect to important community and/or political issues. This is exactly the intention of Coonan\’s ridiculous changes to cross-media ownership. This, coupled with the draconian \’anti terror laws\’, has resulted in a media that is literally at the Government\’s whim. Perhaps not completely, but certainly they must be careful in not only what they report, but in how they report it.

    The situation with this journalist in the US is a clear example of the Government attempting to put fear into the small group of journalists left who are willing to risk their freedom in an effort to report the facts.

    I would like to say that in Australia something similar could well happen, however I fear that the journalists and media owners just wouldn\’t have the ticker for it. Sure independant press is different, but most journalists in this area wouldn\’t have the kind of sources nor would they be privy to the same level of \’leaks\’ as mainstream journalists.

    I have gone off a bit from what I initially was trying to say. My point is that: since the new laws have taken effect, we have had less diversity of opinion, not more. Of course, I knew this all along as the Government\’s Newspeak has never fooled me. Unfortunately, so many Australians couldn\’t give a toss and as such I cannot see things improving any time soon.

    Which brings me to my final point. Continuing to work towards the overthrow of the system of capitalism is our best chance for positive change. Doing away with patriarchy would add that much needed boost to a more equal society. Though how we are going to do this is quite beyond me most of the time!

    I\’m glad you got the housemate thing sorted. Even more glad you have yourself a faster, better internet connection! Nothing like speed to get the heart pulsing.

    PS. There are going to be [NO!] spelling errors in this post…

  4. @ndy says:

    Hey Miss P,

    Hmmm… yeah… kinda… but I look at media a little differently, whether in terms of structure, content, or cultural / economic / political and social function.

    In Australia, the great bulk of the market is dominated by commercial media. Commercial media — film, Internet, press, publishing (books and magazines), radio, television (cable and free-to-air) — is basically divided between John Fairfax Holdings, News Corporation and PBL. Or: Murdoch, Packer and a tiny number of other wealthy men (eg, Stokes), all of whom — when they’re not trying to stab one another in the back — are busy pissing in each other’s pockets.

    As a matter of course, commercial, market pressures tend to mandate the formation of a monopoly in any one market, subject to Government restraint (and, extremely rarely, popular pressure). Given several decades of legislative change, each new law removing further obstacles to the creation of such monopolies, especially across media formats in the one location (the biggest, and the most profitable markets, are naturally Sydney and Melbourne), the result is both predicted and predictable in terms of ‘media diversity’ (which is a complete wank in any case).

    Point being: commercial media is driven by commercial considerations, just like any other business. (And if that means producing shit, because shit is more profitable, they’ll produce shit.) Essentially, various mediums attempt to secure *audiences*, access to which is then sold to advertisers. Thus *The Age*, for example, has a lower circulation and readership than the *Herald Sun*, but it maintains its profitability, in part, by catering to a different (A/B) market: in general, people with higher disposable incomes tend to read liberal broadsheets more often than they do populist tabloids…

    In other words(?), I think that there’s a form of political symbiosis between Government and media, which together function as part of the ‘ideological state apparatus’ (cf. Althusser). So, the Australian Government needn’t resort to censorship — and very rarely does — in order to ensure that political discourse remains within highly-circumscribed boundaries. That’s because these boundaries are institutional (or structural) in nature, and Government and media tend to complement one another in terms of securing a broader agenda: establishing and maintaining capitalist (‘bourgeois’) ideological hegemony over public life and, especially, discourses concerning it.

    (That’s the crude version…)

  5. Ben W says:

    Behind bars is where many controlled media stooges should be. First on the list, scumbag red scum with a price on his head GREG ROBERTS!

  6. @ndy says:

    Ooooooh… scawy!

  7. @ndy says:

    Inre propaganda that attempts to masquerade as ‘journalism’, see also the new Frontline (US) PBS series, ‘news war’:

    I imagine it will be broadcast by SBS at some point later in the year.

    “To see how these [supposed] conflicts [between the state and corporate fourth estate] are taking shape in the new digital news landscape, Bergman interviews blogger Josh Wolf, who was jailed for refusing to turn over a videotape of a San Francisco protest to the FBI. According to police, during the protest, some of the protesters tried to set a police car on fire, and federal prosecutors subpoenaed Wolf’s video footage. But Wolf refused. “There was a trust established between people involved in the organization that I was covering and myself … what I chose to release was what I chose to release,” he says, “and … I wasn’t an investigator for the state.” If [sic] Wolf remains in jail for the duration of the grand jury proceedings, it will be the longest term ever served by an American journalist.

    William Safire sums up the conflict by comparing the news media’s ability to gather information to that of the government. “The government has all kinds of ways to get information. It can eavesdrop. It can wiretap legally. It can offer immunity to criminals. … What is the essential route to get information by the press? And that is to offer a confidentiality.”

    Still not a whisper in the Australian media… tho’ Wolf has been recognised by the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists:

    “Freelancers Josh Wolf and Sarah Olson and San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams will receive special honors for fighting government subpoenas to turn over unpublished information or to testify.”

    You can also listen to / read an interview (February 12) with Mr.Wolf here:

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