Do Keep Up

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Editorial Judgement, Financial News, Political News, Public Interest

For millions of Australians forced to save for their own retirement, ‘finance’ is Alan Kohler on the news every night telling them what happened to the Baltic Dry index that day or explaining why Stock A’s share price went up when their earnings went down. The truth is that what happened in the global and domestic financial markets on any one day is hardly relevant to the vast majority […]

Fenced In

Posted on 24 CommentsPosted in ABC, Editorial Judgement, Political News, Public Interest

“Our job is not to step in, our job is just to reflect, it’s just to report on what happens.” That’s a quote from the ABC’s head of current affairs, Bruce Belsham, in the transcript published by New Matilda of his conversation in 2013 with the public broadcaster’s then technology editor Nick Ross about the National Broadband Network.

Storm in a Tea Hat

Posted on 5 CommentsPosted in ABC, Craft Standards, Editorial Judgement, News Corp

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 […]

Insided Out

Posted on 14 CommentsPosted in ABC, Editorial Judgement, News Corp, Political News

It’s now four years since the US journalism academic Jay Rosen decried at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival about the “cult of savvy” in political journalism and the treatment of politics as a game for insiders. What’s changed since? Not much, going by the hysterical coverage of the leadership change in the Australian Greens.  In what may simply have been a case of a party leader deciding to quit politics […]

Body of the Host

Posted on 12 CommentsPosted in Craft Standards, Editorial Judgement, Profession, Social Media

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 […]

Left Right Out

Posted on 47 CommentsPosted in Editorial Judgement, Opinion, Political News

When people talk about media bias, they inevitably are referring to the house leanings of particular publishers. What’s often overlooked, though, is the bias generated by the necessity of journalists choosing certain frames and narratives to shape what’s known as “news”. The March-in-March protests around Australia provide an object lesson in how journalists can be captured by those tired frames and by the tired institutions they report on.  While […]

Doing a Number

Posted on 22 CommentsPosted in Craft Standards, Editorial Judgement, Financial journalism, Financial News, Political News

Journalists, as a rule, don’t do numbers. They’re words people – topped the class in creative writing; struggled in maths. And in most areas of reporting, that’s not a huge disadvantage. But when it comes to economics, it can leave them open to being conned. Take the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook. That News Corp would run this set-piece through its lazy and deliberately misleading partisan filter (‘Labor’s Debt […]

Analysts Say

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Craft Standards, Editorial Judgement, Financial journalism, Financial News, Public Interest

‘Analysts say’: It’s the no-more-gaps of journalese. The dignifying of rent-a-quotes with the title of ‘analyst’ is all-purpose cover-up for the passing off of idle conjecture and sheer guesswork as the carefully though out prognostications of the prescient. Financial media is full of it. Up against deadline and desperate to find facts to fit the premise snatched from the ether by an editor in search of an easy splash, […]

Noise Vs Signal

Posted on 13 CommentsPosted in Craft Standards, Editorial Judgement, Political News, Profession, Staffing and Resources

One of the curses of being a news journalist is that the ‘news’ (a hazy concept at the best of times)  must always fit the available space. The space for news has been expanding exponentially in recent years as new digital, real-time platforms emerge. At the same time, the resource to fill that space has been dwindling. What do you think happens?

Dog Bites Man News

Posted on 15 CommentsPosted in Editorial Judgement, Media Business, Opinion, Political News, PR and Communications, Profession

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 […]