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It has never been more apparent that we have a problem with our news media.

On Thursday 6th August 2020 Victorians were entering the most severe restriction of freedom experienced in our country.  Across the state people desperately needed clarity on the rules, impact and available support services.

To our collective disappointment journalists spent an extraordinary amount of time aggressively questioning the Victorian Premier, Dan Andrews, about quarantine failure points and responsibilities.  Focusing on an issue that occurred weeks earlier, is under formal investigation and not of urgent importance was irresponsible - and certainly not a priority for the state at that time.

The same day journalists spent an extraordinarily short amount of time passively questioning Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Hon Peter Dutton MP about the alleged lack of participation and transparency by federal employees in the Ruby Princess investigation.

The contrast was stark and it was the last straw for many.

At a time when news reporting has a direct impact on our immediate health and safety, some of the so-called “journalism” surrounding the current pandemic has been truly shocking. Similarly, many headlines and taglines are completely unacceptable, clearly designed to incite fear, anger, division and spread misinformation.

We recognise that the media and journalists play a vital role in our society informing and educating the populace.  You are our fourth estate.  We rely on you to hold powerful and influential people to account.  We expect you to use your vast influence shaping public opinion and community consensus in a responsible, informed, fact driven and non-partisan manner.  We rely on the quality of information provided.

We believe news media standards have been deteriorating for many years. In our opinion:

- Hidden agendas, power and money are influencing the news
- Bias and partisanship have infiltrated reporting
- Cherry-picking facts to support a position has become more and more prevalent
- Balance has been replaced by extremist view points
- Sensationalism now trumps quality
- Experts have been replaced by well known non-experts' opinions or qualified extremists
- Headlines are designed for click-bait and shock value

Australians deserve better.  Australia needs better. 

The signatories of this statement are putting news media on notice - enough is enough.