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Australia: Pell censorship shows there’s more than one way to gag the press

31 12 22

ONE of the biggest news stories in the world yesterday wasn’t reported to the very people who most needed to hear it.

Australian Cardinal George Pell – often called the third most powerful man in the Vatican – was found guilty of sexual misconduct on charges that reportedly stemmed from the abuse of two choir boys in the 1990s.

This conviction makes Pell the highest-ranking Vatican official to ever be found guilty of such a crime. Pretty major news, I’m sure you’ll agree. But Australian media has been banned from reporting any of the details of the trial, including Pell’s identity and the nature of the charges.

All media organisations are required by law to adhere to the suppression order issued by the state of Victoria courts. If violated, it could lead to a contempt of court conviction.

SEE ALSO: Vatican Cardinal George Pell pleads not guilty to historical sexual offences

The order was imposed to avoid prejudice in a further trial against Pell that’s making its way through the courts now. As this is the first trial, the process is designed to ensure future juries are not swayed by Wednesday’s verdict.

While the motivation is sound, the implementation of them is not. Not only does it muzzle the press, but a major complaint is that they simply do not work.

The media is no longer constrained by printing presses and gag orders. In the online world we live in, it is........

© Asian Correspondent