Doing a Number

Posted 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 […]

Of Human Bondage

Posted 23 CommentsPosted in ABC, Craft Standards, Financial News

An increasingly unhinged Australian mainstream media, with a few honourable exceptions, has been revving up the scary-o-meter in recent days about this country facing a future of debt, deficits and public penury for as far as the eye can see.   “A decade of deficits spells a bleak future for Australians,” was the headline on the increasingly tabloid ABC television news, warning of a crisis bigger than the one […]

Media Stockholm Syndrome

Posted 9 CommentsPosted in Craft Standards, Financial journalism, Public Interest, Staffing and Resources

‘Twenty Ways to Bulk Up Your Cash’. That was the breathless headline in The Australian Financial Review on September, 27, 2005 “It’s shop till you drop for ordinary people with money to park,” the article gushed. “And the range of investment options is so vast, it’s very nearly an embarrassment of riches.”

Learning to Count

Posted 5 CommentsPosted in Entrepreneurial Journalism, New Media

“1, 2, 3, 4, Let’s Go!” Journalists are words people. They take pride in their propensity to pun and parse and prune and parry. They are also instinctive types. They tend to rank gut feel above logic and numbers. In a nutshell, journalists are analog people lost in a digital era. And this may be their problem.

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 ‘Certainty’ Myth

Posted 25 CommentsPosted in Editorial Judgement, Financial journalism, Financial News, Government Policy and Regulation, Political News

A sub-narrative amid the media thumbsucking about the future of the Australian Labor Party after the leadership spill has been the ritual calls from business leaders for the removal of “uncertainty” – the idea being that the economy has ground to a standstill as the egos exchange handbags in Canberra.

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 […]

The Secret Sauce

Posted 9 CommentsPosted in Editorial Judgement, Newspapers, Political News, Sales and Circulation

What did the International Monetary Fund say about the Australian economy? We’re heading for a severe slowdown. No, wait! We’re better placed than anyone. Hold on, that’s not right! Julia Gillard is putting a brave face on a grim outlook. In an age when the source material for most news events is freely available on the web, it is surprising that media organisations continue to spin multiple versions of […]

Locked Up

Posted 9 CommentsPosted in Editorial Judgement, Financial News, Political News

The Federal Budget is ‘The Big Day Out’ for the political and financial media in Australia. Busloads of hacks (only the lucky ones go by plane these days) make the long journey to late autumn Canberra to join their full-time press gallery brethren in what is a media and political ritual – a six-hour lock-up, a frenzy of writing and then off to The Holy Grail (these days the […]

Noise Vs Signal

Posted 18 CommentsPosted in Craft Standards, Financial News, Political News, Staffing and Resources, Technology

First it was the nightly weather, then the finance report and now it’s politics. There is a creeping conspiracy in television news of people standing in front of charts, taking the daily temperature – of meteorology, of markets and of members of parliament – and trying to persuade us that it all means something.