Click Go the Fears

HiResJournalism 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. Continue reading

Recycling the News

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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. Continue reading

Approved Targets List

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One consequence of the death of the mainstream media’s business model and the commodification of news is a corresponding increased reliance on provocative commentary that generates page impressions.

News Corp’s Andrew Bolt is the poster child for the success of professional trollery as a revenue generator and brand differentiator. He has clear targets, strong opinions  and he succinctly expresses them. He has a fiercely loyal audience and equally fierce enemies who despise him with similar force. Bolt is now parlaying this approach of calculated outrage on commercial television. And good luck to him. Continue reading

His Master’s Voice

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A common defence of Rupert Murdoch’s overwhelming dominance of the Australian media is that it reflects market forces. His papers account for 60%-70% of newspaper sales because they are popular, goes this line.

A second defence is that the multiplicity of new platforms for news and information and the proliferation of blogs make Murdoch’s stranglehold over traditional media, particularly newspapers, less of an issue for democracy. Continue reading

The Australian Asylum

The Rudd government’s new PNG solution to the asylum seekers problem is aimed at shutting down a filthy trade run by cynical and low-rent opportunists who exploit the hopes and fears of the most marginalised for commercial gain. Yes, we’re talking about tabloid editors.

There are two dimensions to the refugees issue. One is managing the problem itself – a relatively marginal one for a rich economy that leads the developed world on most economic metrics. The second dimension – and the trickier one – is the theatrics around the issue, a charade kept alive by attention-seeking sections of the news media and the frightened politicians they goad into one piece of policy knee-jerkery after another. Continue reading

Noise Vs Signal

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?

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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

Deep Throaties

It’s 9pm in the Daily Telegraph bunker and Gemma Jonestown is screaming herself hoarse.Her nationwide scoop about fatcat asylm seekers scoring free taxpayer-funded microwaves to heat up their 2-minute noodles is held up in production.

“For chrissake, Woodward and Bernstein would KILL for this story,” she screams, between hurried sips of her Hungry Jacks large chocolate shake, “It’s only a photo illustration, mate!”
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Class Consciousness

The debate over media regulation has reached an impasse: In the one corner, the unrepresentative left-liberal academic elitist swill seeking to silence free media with their jackbooted authoritarianism; in the other, the free spirited and unshackled mavericks of the Murdoch media bravely speaking the people’s truth to power.

It’s a debate made for the professional underdogs of News Ltd – the nominally working class warriors who find their capitalist cultural identity at News Ltd. These tribal folk love nothing more than to scratch their class itch by throwing bombs at bourgeois academics who have “no idea how real people live” out in the fabled suburbs. Continue reading

Mounting Precious

Just in: Pressure is increasing on Julia Gillard to call a leadership spill amid unrelenting pressure from backbenchers pressuring for a release of the pressure valve holding back potentially explosive leadership pressures.

Sources close to the ABC say talk is growing about an imminent shift of three non-aligned backbenchers to the camp considering a vote for Kevin Rudd in order to silence ongoing media speculation about the release of the imminent pressures. Continue reading