Media Release 28 November 2011
At first light on the 3rd December 2011 at Eureka Park near the old Eureka Monument in Ballarat during the Anarchist Media Institute Reclaim the Radical Spirit of the Eureka Rebellion day/night long celebrations to mark the 157th Anniversary of the Eureka Rebellion, Graeme Dunstan of Peacebus.com will be burning an effigy of Rupert Murdoch.
An action that, at first sight, may seem to have nothing to do with the Eureka Rebellion is intricately linked with the unfolding of the Eureka story.
A free independent press, the antithesis of the role the Murdoch Press plays in Australia and the rest of the world today, played a pivotal role in the Eureka Rebellion and its aftermath in Melbourne. Many independent newspapers served the 30,000 people living on the Ballarat goldfields in 1854. In an era when newspapers were the only source of information, they played a pivotal role in the affairs of the communities they served.
The first newspaper published in Ballarat, The Banner, was issued on the 11th September 1853. A biweekly newspaper, it only lasted three weeks.
George Black, an influential member of the Ballarat Reform League, bought and edited the Diggers Advocate, a radical newspaper, launched in Ballarat by George Thompson and Henry Holyoake. The Diggers Advocate played an important role in the events leading up to the Eureka Rebellion.
The Ballarat Times and the Southern Cross was launched on the 4th March 1854. The paper was closed down by the government in the aftermath of the Eureka Rebellion. Its editor Henry Seekamp was arrested on the 4th December 1854 and charged with sedition. Ironically, Seekamp was the only person ever convicted of a crime as a result of the Eureka Rebellion. He was jailed for three months for sedition.
The events surrounding the Eureka Rebellion were closely monitored by the Melbourne and Victorian regional press. The Age, launched in 1854, edited by Ebenezer Syme was a strong supporter of the Eureka Rebellion. The Melbourne based Argus and Herald and the Geelong Advertiser and the Mount Alexander Mail also openly supported the rebel's demands.
The Sydney Morning Herald was strongly against the diggers, calling their demands digocracy.
Frank Hasleham, the reporter for the Geelong Advertiser and the Melbourne Herald was camping more than three hundred metres from the Stockade when it was stormed. He was shot through the shoulder by a mounted policeman and was left handcuffed, bleeding on the ground for over two hours.
John Manning, a reporter for the Ballarat Times was involved in the establishment of the Eureka Stockade. He was in the Stockade when it was stormed. His vivid written eyewitness account makes him Australia's first war correspondent. Manning was one of the thirteen men charged with High Treason who were acquitted by Melbourne juries in 1855 after a vigorous campaign for their release, spearheaded by Melbourne's newspapers.
A free and independent media is as important for the health of a civil society in 2011 as it was in 1854. Media monopolies, whether electronic or newsprint, corporate owned or state owned act as a brake on the ability of people to reclaim the inalienable human rights they were born with to share in the commonwealth and be involved in the decisions that affect their lives.
Those inalienable human rights are being stymied by the creation of monopolies and legislated away by the state in 2011
Dr. Joseph Toscano, Reclaim the Radical Spirit of the Eureka Rebellion Celebrations / Anarchist Media Institute 0439 395 489Ê
Rupert Murdoch burns @ Eureka Dawn Media Release