If you're a government propagandist, the silly season always provides a happy hunting ground. Newsrooms are thinly staffed and there's little beyond the holiday road toll and bushfires to fill the bulletin until the sports report kicks in. This means the bar for 'news' is set abnormally low. A perfect time, then, to flick the 'Our-Welfare-Bill-is Out-of-Control' switch. (more…)
Journalism isn't really a profession, much as some of its practitioners proclaim it to be. It's much closer to being a trade or a craft. And like all crafts, success in journalism is usually achieved by getting not just one thing, but a number of small but critical things right. These small things include spelling people's names correctly, accurately reporting what people said, answering all the key questions like who, what, where, when and how, and, most of all, repeatedly asking 'why'. It's the 'why' thing that's falling down most right now. (more…)
Why does the media routinely "commemorate" the anniversary of major news events like the Lindt Cafe siege with blanket over-the-top coverage? Is it out of respect for the victims? Or is it about money and ratings? The news presenters put on their grave faces for these anniversaries and roll out the boilerplate emoting. "It changed our lives forever....a day imprinted in our memories", Producers with lots of time on their hands roll out the slow-mo and Barber's adagio. (more…)
Are you over Zaky Mallah yet? If incomprehensible men in funny hats appearing live on our television screens were such a crime against humanity, as this episode seems to be viewed, how did Australia survive Molly Meldrum for so long? Assailed by the manufactured outrage over this beat-up in the last fortnight, one could see the government desperately lapping up every opportunity to connect this opponent of ISIS and advocate for Australia with the murderous thugs painting Iraq and Syria red. (more…)
"Graffiti crimes shall be written upon your walls.
Well I shall spray them so bold and so tall.
Just you wait 'til you read this one." - Misex, 1979 What distinguishes "electronic graffiti", as a besieged prime minister characterised social media, from the "real" journalism of the mainstream? That's easy. One is full of uninformed opinion, unsourced speculation and lazy trolling. The other is to be found on Twitter. Unfair, I know. But it's becoming increasingly hard to see why the "official" media should continue to hold any special place in the national conversation when so much of its content does not hold a torch to the best analysis of the "amateurs" online. (more…)
It often takes a crisis for a society to reflect meaningfully on its institutions - their value, purpose, strengths and weaknesses. Do those institutions serve us or do they primarily serve themselves? The global financial crisis, for instance, exposed how a large swathe of the international banking system had been corrupted by reckless risk-taking and had internalised the view that it could simultaneously privatise its profits and socialise its losses. (more…)
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed - and hence clamorous to be led to safety - by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."-- H.L. Mencken
In a world in which everyone is constantly distracted, arguably the most valued currency is your attention. Politicians know it. Journalists know it. As Big Idea professions trying to survive in a post-modernist age, they're drowning in indifference. Terrorists know it, too. (more…)