The fourth estate or a bunch of followers?

As a journalism student, I would like to think journalists are not just relaying information to people but are actually searching for and presenting the truth.

This week, I was a part of the Q and A live audience at the ABC studios in Brisbane. I witnessed first hand Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s response to a pastor which has hit national headlines. When asked how people could trust Mr Rudd, as he had changed his position on same-sex marriage when he became prime minister again this year, Mr Rudd said that he made his decision to support same-sex marriage from a “Christian conscience”. Mr Rudd went on to say that homosexuality was not an abnormal condition and that the Bible also said “slavery was a natural condition”.

People booed the pastors questions to Mr Rudd whilst cheering the loudest applause of the night for Mr Rudd’s answer. News articles shot up all over the Twitter sphere within under an hour of Q and A being aired singing Mr Rudd’s praises for his “staunch defence” of same-sex marriage.

But was Mr Rudd’s comparison to slavery as a “natural condition” misguided? The following article explains.

As this article outlines, Mr Rudd’s statement that the bible says slavery is a natural condition does not exist in the bible and the passage that he may have been referring to he took completely out of context. The amount of news articles that have praised Mr Rudd for his response does concern me. First of all, it concerns me that Mr Rudd has called himself a Christian and made a false claim to the bible. Whether Mr Rudd knew he was wrong or not, this appeared to be a low attempt at getting votes on the eve of an election.

Secondly, as journalists, we are meant to uphold the fourth estate and find out the truth. However, these articles seem to be just following popular (and incorrect) opinion that Mr Rudd made a brilliant comeback. If we want to be journalists who uphold the fourth estate, shouldn’t we be digging to find out whether Mr Rudd’s statement was actually correct? If some news organisations had done this, they would have found out that Mr Rudd’s statement was incorrect and thus kept him accountable to the public.

It is a scary thought that the journalists of today are blindly praising an incorrect statement made by our potential future prime minister.


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