Talking Back to the Wireless

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, people would sit in their lounge-rooms listening to the news on the wireless. The rounded and reassuring tones of a voice-of-god announcer would interpret for eager audiences the messy events of the world in neat packages.

The yearning for that distant-yet-familiar authority figure/’expert’ lives on today in the aging audience for shockjocks like Alan Jones. This is a market that appears to want strong opinions – preferably ones that reinforce their own fears and prejudices. Continue reading

Groundhog 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 “exclusives” a handful of front page beat-ups on productivity and the Fair Work Act, along with a couple of hatchet jobs on the NBN.

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The Murdochratic State

Anyone beguiled by appeals by the Murdoch press in Australia for the defence of “freedom” against the Leviathan of the state needs to read Tom Watson’s ‘Dial M for Murdoch’ – a forensic examination of the gradual corruption of the British state by News Corporation.

Reading the book should cure any delusion you have that these events are in any way controversial. Using court and police records, it shows in great detail that elements within News Corporation have bought police, put politicians on the payroll, intimidated regulators, invaded privacy and routinely smeared critics to get its way.

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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

A Day in the Life

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 ‘The Heart of the Nation’, meanwhile, the splash was ‘Smash the Rich, Save the Base’, with Swan and Gillard seen leading an angry mob against a hammer and sickle backdrop. Continue reading

Black Budget Blasts Blueblood Battlers

Don’t talk about alleged “middle class welfare” to Prudence Hetherington-Alswyth. This is a woman who already felt she had sacrificed enough. And now with Wayne Swan’s heartless  budget, her struggling family feels it has reached rock bottom. This is their story.
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Sex Text Pest Bests Rest Test

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.
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The Frame Game

Photo: Lucas Coch, AAP

Life as a TV news cameraman in Canberra is not one normally filled with adrenalin. Most of their days are spent trudging from doorstop to doorstop. Once in a blue-moon, there’s a leadership spill and they get to walk backwards down a corridor as the new leadership team promenade for the press. But riots? In their dreams only.
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The Play’s the Thing

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 genuises of the press gallery dutifully report it (‘The Blame Game Begins’, says Seven News).

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You Can’t Handle the Truth!

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 you? Continue reading