Why today's newspaper front pages are blacked out

Australia's media outlets have united in a massive campaign to issue a stark warning about growing censorship and attacks on press freedom by the federal government.

The nation's major commercial and public media companies including Nine and News Corp are warning against creeping laws that allow elected governments to cover-up scandals and hide or restrict information.

The front pages of the major newspapers on Monday replicated a heavily redacted government document, alongside an advertising campaign challenging laws that effectively criminalise journalism and whistleblowing.

The front pages warn federal and other governments are pursuing restrictions on news reporting, asking "when government keeps the truth from you, what are they covering up?".

"Australians should always be suspicious of governments that want to restrict their right to know what's going on," News Corp Australasia's executive chairman Michael Miller said.

Just weeks after the May federal election, federal police officers raided News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst's home over a national security story she had written more than a year earlier.

A selection of Nine and News Corp newspapers have taken part in an organised plan to protest against a lack of press freedom in Australia.

The next day, police raided ABC offices about another national security story two journalists had written two years earlier.

The raids made international news, but so far none of the journalists involved has been told whether or not they will face jail time for reporting in the public interest.

"This is much bigger than the media. It's about defending the basic right of every Australian to be properly informed about the important decisions the government is making in their name," Nine Entertainment chief executive Hugh Marks said.

"Australia is at risk of becoming the world's most secretive democracy," ABC managing director David Anderson said.

New research reveals 87 per cent of Australians value a free and transparent democracy where the public is kept informed - but just 37 per cent believe this is happening in Australia today.

Some 88 per cent of Australians want stronger protections for whistleblowers who play a vital role in calling out wrongdoing in society.

And more than three-quarters believe journalists should be protected from prosecution when reporting in the public interest.

The media companies want law changes so journalists don't fear imprisonment for doing their jobs and stronger protections for whistleblowers.

More than 60 new laws have been put in place over the past 20 years, which media companies say effectively criminalises journalism and penalises whistleblowing.

More information about the media campaign against the government can be found at the Your Right to Know website and on social media under #righttoknow.

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