God is Dead

Posted 6 CommentsPosted in Craft Standards, Opinion, Political News, Public Interest, Social Media, Staffing and Resources

“Did the media get the election wrong?” asks Fairfax journalist Matthew Knott in an attempt to turn the spotlight fleetingly on he and his colleagues in the press gallery. “The consensus, speaking to colleagues in the Canberra press gallery, is a reluctant yes. Some insist they got it spot on. But many admit they expected a more decisive Coalition victory than occurred. And they concede this influenced the way the media […]

Fenced In

Posted 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.

The God Complex

Posted 12 CommentsPosted in New Media, Profession

Once upon a time in politics – not that long ago, at least in human years – the mainstream media audience sat respectfully in the grandstands watching the game. Journalists, on the  other hand, were on first name terms with players and coaches and had a cosy, inside view of the action. Now, as is increasingly evident, the audience is invading the pitch. The old insiders’ game is breaking […]

Dog Bites Man News

Posted 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 […]

Groundhog News

Posted 21 CommentsPosted in ABC, Editorial Judgement, Ethical Standards, News Corp, Newspapers, Opinion, Political News

News is what’s new. At least that’s the traditional definition. But in the case of a heavily concentrated Australian mainstream media, news is defined by the same half-dozen issues constantly rehashed as vehicles for faked-up conflict and partisan opinion mongering. So at the start of every week, it is a fair bet that The Australian Financial Review (formerly a pro-market paper, now a pro-business lobby rag) will spin as […]

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.

The Play’s the Thing

Posted 24 CommentsPosted in Editorial Judgement, Political News, PR and Communications

What do you think the pokies story is about?  According to the Australian press gallery, it’s a story about individual politicians and party politics. The prime minister they have dubbed ‘Jul-iar’ Gillard, incapable of keeping promises, has done it again – ripped up a deal, walked away from an agreement and put pure politics ahead of principle. It’s the story her opponent wants run. And , of course, the […]

You Can’t Handle the Truth!

Posted 16 CommentsPosted in Craft Standards, Editorial Judgement, Newspapers, Opinion, Sales and Circulation, Staffing and Resources

If the world of politics is now so dominated by spin and media management that ‘reality’ is whatever you choose it to be, what’s the proper role of journalism? It’s to find the truth and report it, right? Journalists are employed to serve their readers and viewers by cutting through hype, digging out red herrings, challenging misleading statements and exposing what’s really going on. You would think so, wouldn’t […]

Branded News

Posted 15 CommentsPosted in Craft Standards, Media Business, Opinion, Political News

Is journalism about truth or marketing? If you picked the former, go back three spaces. Journalism, as it is practised for the most part today, is about packaging, framing and distributing information to match the world views and ideological biases of distinct target markets. But don’t take my word for it.

Mr Jones Goes to Canberra

Posted 30 CommentsPosted in ABC, Editorial Judgement, News Corp, Political News

Photo: SMH The media is a sucker for stories about plain-talkin’, grass-roots folk confronting cynical politicians with homespun morality.  Think ‘Mr Smith Goes to Washington’. Brought up on these sentimental tabloid templates and jaded with the daily theatre of covering politics, capital city journalists tend to revel in ‘people’s protests’ as a welcome injection of ‘authenticity’ in a working environment where no-one ever says what they mean. Aware of […]