Springtime of the Peoples

For a group where lip-curling cynicism is the mask of choice, journalists sure seem to have gone all hand-on-heart, high-falutin’. It’s impossible to read an editorial these days without being slapped around the face with warnings of the coming police state.

“Freedom” is on the chopping block, we are told, all because a government-commissioned inquiry recommended the establishment of an independent regulator to improve the accountability of media organisations to the public and to ensure they follow the very standards they claim to uphold.

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Cast your mind back 17 years. A Reuters journalist prepared a report on the jobs data. loaded his script on the autocue, turned on his TV lights, positioned the ISDN camera, loaded his DIY graphics and went live to air on a digital feed to Tokyo. Afterwards, he wrote 800 words for the wire, recorded and cut a radio interview and turned around a 2-minute package for conventional TV.

Yes, that ‘multimedia’ journalist was me, which is why I’m surprised to read that “everything has changed” in the last 10 years and an entire new skillset is now required of journalists. Writing quick updates for the web is a huge imposition, it seems, and a radical departure from what came before.

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Spinning Wheel

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. Continue reading

The Mega Perspective

Good journalists still exist. It’s just that these days,with few exceptions, they tend to exist despite, rather than because of, the media organisations that employ them.

One is Laura Tingle, who continues to write penetrating and original analysis of politics. Another is George Megalogenis, whose sober, measured style and grasp of historical detail make him one of the few remaining reliable chroniclers of Australian political economy (and one of the few reasons, if any, to read The Australian).
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The Great Leap Forward

It is 2020. We are on deadline. And the professors are in charge. Seven years since the imposition of the News Media Council – and anti-democratic academics are editing our newspapers. Bookish elites – thinkers not doers – are defining news for the ordinary people. And our freedom – Our Freedom! – lies bleeding to death in the gutter of our dreams. Continue reading

A Fistful of Donuts

Which party is best at cutting the red tape that stifles Aussie entrepreneurship, promotes small business initiative, checks lazy government waste and puts downward pressure on interest rates for working people? Me sir! Me sir! Just bend me over the desk for a moment and flash me your fiscal rectitude.

Isn’t the state of economic journalism clear by now? After the earnest and profound economic policy debates of the 1980s, we seem have devolved into¬† a pale imitation of that in our modern political discourse – one in which one side and then the other stage a predictable pantomime that bears little resemblance to our lived reality. Continue reading

Not in it for the Money

Why go into journalism? The industry that employs you is in decline, the on-the-job training is virtually non-existent, the business model is broken, the hours are long, the work involves endless and mindless churning of pregurgitated material, and the pay is lousy. Most of the population rate you just above used car salesmen and now the major media companies are farming off jobs to sweatshops.

Yet people are spending more time with news than ever as the technology that enables the creation, distribution and reception of news grows every more sophisticated. It’s just that no-one can work out how to make money out of it. Continue reading