On Bullshit

Posted Leave a commentPosted in ABC, Opinion, Public Interest

              Bullshit. It’s so pervasive right now in our politics and media that we are losing respect for the truth. Disturbed by this barrage of bluff, a Princeton professor of philosophy Harry Frankfurt wrote a book about the phenomenon. In ‘On Bullshit’, Frankfurt makes a neat distinction between lies (the deliberate and conscious utterances of untruths) with the humbug of pseudo-experts, dilettantes and […]

Spinning Wheel

Posted 26 CommentsPosted in ABC, Craft Standards, Education, Financial News, Political News, Staffing and Resources

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.

A Day in the Life

Posted 21 CommentsPosted in Craft Standards, Financial journalism, Newspapers, Political News

I read the news today. Oh boy. Apparently, Australia is now a socialist dictatorship run by red rag shop stewards stealing the legitimate rewards of those with enterprise and throwing it away on the undeserving poor. “Once again, nothing in it for me,” said  ‘Single Dad’ in the comments section of a Sydney Morning Herald analysis from Adele Ferguson describing Wayne Swan’s fifth budget as ‘Class Warfare’. Over at […]

Convergence or Submergence?

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Broadcasting, Digital Media, Government Policy and Regulation, Newspapers, Political News, Technology

The history of media regulation in Australia is one of the communications bureaucracy playing a no-win game of catch-up with technology. Just as a regulatory regime is nailed down, another revolutionary distribution mechanism appears out of nowhere and rips up the floorboards again. The final report of the government’s Convergence Review is an attempt to future-proof the rules for a digital age in which standalone notions of print vs […]

Sex Text Pest Bests Rest Test

Posted 18 CommentsPosted in Craft Standards, Government Policy and Regulation, News Corp, Newspapers, Political News

As with dramatists, journalists thrive on sex and conflict. We love to weave narratives around contested, err, positions. And the more passionate the partisans, the more drama we can wring out of the contest. You could say that without sleaze and conflict, there is no story. Which is why the Peter Slipper saga is heaven for hackdom.

A Fistful of Donuts

Posted 13 CommentsPosted in Craft Standards, Education, Financial News, Government Policy and Regulation, Political News

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 […]

A Show About Nothing

Posted 5 CommentsPosted in Craft Standards, Financial News, Government Policy and Regulation, Newspapers, Political News

Where else but Australia would the media work itself  into a frenzy over a ‘MYEFO’? Perhaps if you told the Brits it stood for My Youthful Exotic French Odyssey, they might bite. But Mid-Year Fiscal and Economic Outlook? Hold the front page. In Australia, journos scribble millions of words every year about data that has little or no bearing on the lives of most of us – like monthly forecasts […]

Head Bangers

Posted 15 CommentsPosted in Craft Standards, Editorial Judgement, Political News

Old and experienced editors (are there are any left?) will tell you the best stories write themselves. Answer the who, what, where and when in the first paragraph. Tease out the why and how. Then add background and quotes to provide authority and colour. But with so much competing noise out there, that template is rarely sufficient anymore. So journalists take every piece of news, however routine, and stick […]

The Forgotten ‘Poeple’

Posted 11 CommentsPosted in Craft Standards, Fairfax, Media Business, Newspapers

The Americans call them copy editors; the English and Antipodeans call them sub-editors. Whatever you call them, they are traditionally the most under-valued and under-appreciated people in journalism. And with Fairfax’s latest bout of self-mutilation, they take one step closer to extinction.

That’s Entertainment (Revisited)

Posted 11 CommentsPosted in Craft Standards, Fairfax

At what point does journalists’ dedication to ‘neutrality’ obscure their obligation to reveal the truth? My post about a public form about ‘false balance’ in reporting on climate science, run late last year, has sparked feedback from one of the quoted forum participants – the Sydney Morning Herald’s environment’s editor Ben Cubby. Ben’s complaint, and I quote him in full below, is that I had taken him out of context. […]