Dog Bites Man News

Life is tough in the news business. Journalists are being asked to do more with less. Print reporters, once required to file once a day, must now produce in real time for multiple platforms. Speed and volume has primacy over care and quality. The noise-to-signal ratio has arguably never been greater.

What to do? The ideal solution is to hire more staff. But we know that’s not going to happen. The industry is downsizing faster than a Biggest Loser contestant as migrating audiences and advertisers cut its formerly generously proportioned profit margins to skeleton thin. Continue reading

Society of the Spectacles

“When social significance is attributed only to what is immediate, and to what will be immediate immediately afterwards –  always replacing another identical immediacy – it can be seen that the uses of the media guarantee a kind of eternity of noisy insignificance.
– Guy Debord, Comments on Society of the Spectacle, 1987

When Julia Gillard delivered what was her best and most substantial policy speech as prime minister recently – one in which she also announced the date for the federal election – the media’s focus was on her new “hipster spectacles”. Continue reading

Talk is Cheap

Our public broadcaster is our most trusted source of news. So why does it spend so much time and money chasing cheap and predictable opinions from a small group of people who have plenty of other places to bang their tin drums?

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Send in the Clowns

“What we will witness over the next 18 months or more is a Great Unhinging, an orgy of hysterics. The goalposts of what constitutes government legitimacy will be moved from the constitutional to the convenient, from the reality of the parliamentary majority to  concocted nostrums about mandates to govern. It will not just be a campaign against the government, but one rolling, frenzied campaign after another, where each new contrived outrage will assume a greater level of mania than the last.”

Uncanny, isn’t it? That prediction was made just over three years ago by blogger, econometrician and polling analyst Scott Steel (AKA Possum Comitatus). Perhaps, it’s his distance from Canberra. Perhaps, it’s because he doesn’t scribble about politics for a living. And perhaps, it’s because he doesn’t have to try to say something new every day. But Possum’s piece on the Great Unhinging is still the most chillingly accurate portrayal of the media-politics dynamic served up in recent years. Continue reading

Contesting the News

The fierce debate over perceptions of Julia Gillard’s parliamentary speech on sexism – the press gallery take versus the public one – has touched a nerve among journalists for a simple reason. It has created doubt about the craft value journalists hold most dear – their nose for news. Continue reading

Ordinary People?

 

“Grandma, tell me about the Great Cyber War. What was it like?”

 
“Well, dear, on top of hill were the well-armed, but rapidly depleting mainstream media corps defending their turf to the death, or at least until deadline.

“Assaulting the outskirts of parliament were we brave bloggers, dressed only in our pyjamas, fuelled on skim lattes and clicking on petitions until our index fingers blistered. It was ugly, dear.”

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News Judgement Fail

Global media:

Local media:

One principle in journalism is that the closer you are to a story, the less likely you are to see it. It’s why wire services rotate people around the world. Journalists who work for Reuters, Bloomberg and AP have a frame of reference wider than the average local reporter.

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Talking Back to the Wireless

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, people would sit in their lounge-rooms listening to the news on the wireless. The rounded and reassuring tones of a voice-of-god announcer would interpret for eager audiences the messy events of the world in neat packages.

The yearning for that distant-yet-familiar authority figure/’expert’ lives on today in the aging audience for shockjocks like Alan Jones. This is a market that appears to want strong opinions – preferably ones that reinforce their own fears and prejudices. Continue reading

Old Angry Men

Call it the Grumpy Old Man business model. At a time when our busted mainstream media are axing the jobs of hundreds of hard-working journalists, the market for menopausal male misogynists in print and broadcasting remains stronger than ever. Why?

With a nod to our new ideological overlords of the IPA, it seems the market has spoken. What Australia wants from its media is not The Truth, but something that the archetypal 50-something Dad – full of three James Boags and two Pinot Noirs at the family barbecue – declares to be the reality. Continue reading

Estate of the Nation

 

If it hadn’t been Grog’s Gamut, it would have been someone else. The unmasking of the popular political blogger by The Australian newspaper in 2010 served in retrospect as the moment when blogging in Australia gained something of a critical mass.

Until then, the nation’s mainstream media had treated blogs as background noise, at best, unrelated to the real business of journalism and political commentary. But when News Ltd’s James Massola revealed “Grog’s” true identity as a Canberra public servant Greg Jericho, it was clear something had changed.

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