When it comes to the superhero powers to take on the behemoths of Google, Facebook and Apple in Australia Superman does not exist. Additionally, his alter ego, mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent, is also quite mythical. The Daily Planet, if it had ever existed, went belly up years ago.
It would have been competing against a myriad of sensational online echo chambers that would be spinning eyeballs off the Daily Planet and taking the advertising revenue with it. The trick is to be the planet the platforms live on. Let others, the carnival barkers, put their billboards on your planet for the online universe to stare at.
On the miserable path of perdition, the Daily Planet would have to put off well-meaning Hamlet, Clark Kent, and replace him with Roy Rogers (Buck), the well-dressed party boy and highly-rated gossip columnist known by his colleagues, who can't stand him, as John (Smith).
When the remaining investigative reporter discovers a great malfeasance, the editor would bark "OK, I am at zero interest unless it comes with cleavage". But what of truth, justice and the Australian way? Well, you may be driven by justice but you are answerable to advertising.
It ain't a story unless it's gory, unless it can hook, from an ever-reducing school of paper fish, the curios or the voyeur through the recent Daily Planet paywall. But why pay for it, if you can get it for free on a search engine? If the MO is voyeurism, then even Roy Rogers is timid in the click and gaze world of the free online.
In the democracy archives there can be read a range of articles that argue the fourth estate has something to do with a transparent government as a leader but is a also servant of the people. Media is there to inform the citizens over a wide range of issues, taking the reader to new areas not necessarily in their usual remit but in the national interest.
This assists the oversight of the nation in areas including government policy and importantly, informing the reader about who may be a more competent alternative government. There is a cynicism that Roy Rogers is the man for the job and no faith at all that the online Beaver Blog is an alternative.
Media is there to inform the citizens over a wide range of issues, taking the reader to new areas not necessarily in their usual remit but in the national interest.
Now if the Daily Planet had ever a chance to survive, it required the government and the Daily Planet to come to some arrangement that relied on a shared responsibility. The Daily Planet would make sure that stories had some connection to the truth and give prominence to the pertinent theme that was trying to be conveyed by political players to the wider community. The Daily Planet would take seriously what was in the public interest and what was piffle. They would ask the question, would it be fair to face the cricket ball that I am bowling at the political batsman?
The government, for its part, should, and I believe is reflecting on how the United States dealt with issues contrary to its national interest. The centralisation of a vital section of the nation's life is anathema to a market and ultimately a democracy.
In the US with the emergence of the motor car, John D Rockefeller realised in the late 1800s that power was not with those on the ground, but from the oil out of the ground. The Standard Oil Company worked with rail companies to tie up more than 80 per cent of the market. For a nation whose birth came from the Boston Tea Party, a revolt against the monopoly power of the British East India's power over trade, the power of the Standard Oil Company did not sit comfortably. To make a long story short, the government broke up the Standard Oil Company.
The Sherman Act of 1890 did not go far enough so the Clayton Act was introduced in 1914. This allowed the breakup of the Bell Telephone Company. The US was breaking up monopolies to promote markets and protect a tenant of democracy.
Britain had the Enterprise Act, Canada had the Consumer Act and Australia has, well nothing. Well, nothing that is going to touch the oligarchs in electricity companies, or the internet. It is the same power and communications sectors that attract the discerning compilers of true market domination.
I support the Treasurer's renewed declaration of a divestment power to deal with the way major power companies exploit their position because it's the pensioner who pays the price when they are forced to turn off their heater to run their fridge.
I commend the recent statements by the attorney-general to start dealing with the excessive power of Google, Facebook and the online attack on a true and competent fourth estate so essential to a western democracy. Yes, Roy Rogers may work in the gallery peddling piffle, but the discerning reporter of the true issues of national importance, best be employed in the desk beside him.