“Prediction is very difficult, particularly about the future.” Journalists would do well to keep in mind that aphorism from influential Danish physicist Nils Bohr when quoting “experts” about the outlook for financial markets, the economy and politics.
A health warning to mainstream media consumers: When a news story starts with the words “is expected to”, activate the BS detector. When that story involves forecasts about economic statistics, shift detector to warp speed.
It is less than 20 years ago that the US financial news organisation I then worked for started asking journalists to put an email address at the bottom of every story. I remember snorting at the presumption that our readers were as nerdish as our tech-head editor in Washington. Move on two decades and we find journalists doing the bulk of their work over the internet – through research, […]
Politics is a television medium. It has been for nearly 50 years. But TV has changed in that time. Artifice in the aid of the entertainment was formerly tolerated. Now, thanks to the ‘reality’ TV phenomenon, we seek out representations of ‘authenticity’. Guess what happens to politics?
Just back from the US, where alongside the endless Republican primary circus and The Madonna of the Superbowl Festival, the media was preoccupied by Groundhog Day, in which the likely length of winter is prognosticated by a rodent.It seemed strangely familiar.
If the world of politics is now so dominated by spin and media management that ‘reality’ is whatever you choose it to be, what’s the proper role of journalism? It’s to find the truth and report it, right? Journalists are employed to serve their readers and viewers by cutting through hype, digging out red herrings, challenging misleading statements and exposing what’s really going on. You would think so, wouldn’t […]
What do we think of the political media in Australia? Obviously there are some great individuals out there working as journalists, but the overwhelming impression of political journalists and editors – as expressed by an admittedly narrow section of the Twitterverse in a very non-scientific poll – is interesting.
The first the Australian public heard of the now infamous Say Yes television advertisement on climate change action was when The Sunday Telegraph told its readers that “Carbon Cate” Blanchett had “sparked outrage in the community” by fronting a campaign that no-one had actually seen at that point.
First it was the nightly weather, then the finance report and now it’s politics. There is a creeping conspiracy in television news of people standing in front of charts, taking the daily temperature – of meteorology, of markets and of members of parliament – and trying to persuade us that it all means something.
A truism about journalism is that it consists of applying six basic questions to issues of public interest: Who, What, Where, When, How and Why. In breaking news, journalists often will deal with the first four questions fairly readily. The last two are sometimes harder. Decades ago, public broadcasting sought to deal with this challenge by splitting the roles of journalists between the who, what, where and when people […]