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The Oz jumps the shark

February 23rd, 2007

Seeing a link to a story headed Cheney brings out the hate in peaceniks I thought it would be the usual stuff from one of the increasingly desperate pro-war pundits at the Oz. But this piece purports to be a news story.

The actual events detailed in the story don’t do much to justify the headline or the similarly hyperbolic opening paras. A small group of protesters (about 350) marched down George Street despite not receiving police permission. Scuffles broke out and ten people were arrested and charged when protesters tried to break through police lines. No injuries were reported on either side. In other words, a run-of-the-mill minor demo just like hundreds of others we have seen.

Although the Oz has been increasingly detached from reality lately (its editorial the other day referred to Howard’s triumph over Rudd in the Obama stoush, and it has long since lost the plot on global warming) it has generally made at least some attempt to adhere to the idea that news and opinion are supposed to be separate. Obviously, that particular shark has now been jumped.

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  1. February 23rd, 2007 at 08:59 | #1

    JQ readers should also be aware of another interesting story involving The Murdoch Australian. Alexander Downer has been ignoring his own speech-writing staff and outsourcing the work to a News Ltd columnist, Christopher Pearson. Over $11,000 in taxpayer funds have been spent on Pearson speeches.

  2. cows say moo!
    February 23rd, 2007 at 12:37 | #2

    I don’t know John. The Oz jumped the shark yonks/years ago with their reality defying editorials and articles denying Global Warming, Iraq, Greg Sheridan etc. It is hard to take much of it seriously.

  3. derrida derider
    February 23rd, 2007 at 14:34 | #3

    While I certainly agree about the general weirdness and obnoxiousness of the Oz’ editorial pages, and that weirdness sometimes leaks into their selection of news stories, you can’t blame the journo for the headline – that’s down to some anonymous subeditor. Was the body of the article similarly biased?

  4. jquiggin
    February 23rd, 2007 at 14:55 | #4

    As I said, the opening para was pretty hyperbolic. But I think the fact that such an OTT headline was chosen by the sub-editor (and, implicitly, approved by the editor) is actually more significant than if a by-lined story contains some of the personal opionions of the journo concerned.

  5. krusty
    February 23rd, 2007 at 16:13 | #5

    Anybody who publishes Greg Sheridan has no interest in their credibility, that’s ruled out the Oz for a long time. Otherwise Adams would be balanced by Albrechtsen while I don’t think Bolta or Akerman make it as far as the Oz do they? The presence of Sheridan and Kelly are the argument clinchers.

  6. jquiggin
    February 23rd, 2007 at 16:42 | #6

    krusty and cows,

    The opinion pages (and even more the editorials) are certainly low-credibility but the WSJ maintains high credibility for its newspages while printing one of the loopiest Op-ed sections on the planet. So the spread of this kind thing to the news is a big step.

  7. Peter Wood
    February 23rd, 2007 at 18:53 | #7

    Doing a search on “Cheney Sydney” on video.google.com seems to confirm Prof. Quiggin’s statement that it was pretty run of the mill.

    I have found that over the top hyperbolic editorialising in news stories when there is a protest involving rowdiness and arrests seems to be extremely common in the Australian media. Coverage of the Woomera breakouts, the Baxter protests, the storming of Parliament house in 1996, the WTO meeting in sydney in 2002 and the G20 protest all had elements jumping the shark and inaccurate nonsense in the media.

  8. February 23rd, 2007 at 20:04 | #8

    Indeed Peter Wood, to that hyperbolic news reporting, add the Cronulla “riots”.

  9. jquiggin
    February 23rd, 2007 at 21:02 | #9

    SATP, I don’t think you need scare quotes here. The coverage might have been hyperbolic but the riots were real enough.

  10. melanie
    February 23rd, 2007 at 21:05 | #10

    Ditto on the WSJ op ed page. I’m sure I left a comment here yesterday, but it’s not showing up!

  11. melanie
    February 23rd, 2007 at 21:07 | #11

    Sorry, I meant this morning. Obviously I couldn’t have left it yesterday.

  12. jquiggin
    February 23rd, 2007 at 22:07 | #12

    Unfortunately, the volume of spam is huge and false positives are a continuing problem

  13. February 24th, 2007 at 09:53 | #13

    Kevin Rudd described the protesters as “violent ferals”? Has he jumped the shark too? Or is he just being a politician trying to outflank Howard to the Right?

  14. Martin
    February 25th, 2007 at 22:05 | #14

    “I don’t know John. The Oz jumped the shark yonks/years ago with their reality defying editorials and articles denying Global Warming, Iraq, Greg Sheridan etc. It is hard to take much of it seriously.”

    When was the editorial denying Greg Sheridan?

  15. hmm..how many and where?
    February 26th, 2007 at 10:30 | #15

    JQ writes “SATP, I don’t think you need scare quotes here. The coverage might have been hyperbolic but the riots were real enough.”

    Scare quotes? That’s a good name.. it seems to imply that you possess a belief about inverted commas? Inverted commas or quotation marks are slightly less scary terms so we should probably use them instead to avoid misleading people.

    As far as the incident at Cronulla goes, you sound a bit like a talk back radio host. There were no riots in Cronulla. There was a riot. A large one.

    If you want to get all plural on us you need to say what went on elsewhere afterwards, and in which suburbs (eg. Maroubra where my best friend’s street was one long line of smashed car windows). In this sense, that poster’s emotively termed “scare” quotes are quite apt becuase they create doubt about the term that was used. There were no Cronulla riots.

    Unless you have something better to contribute than grammar snarks (silly in any case, but too petty to argue about), I suggest you take your offerings elsewhere. JQ

  16. jquiggin
    February 26th, 2007 at 12:08 | #16

    Oh great, Martin, a grammar snark. I think we can take it from this that the Oz is past redemption.

    Jack, Rudd is a politician as you say. No doubt the fact that the news coverage was so thorougly slanted contributed to his judgement that this was the most effective line to take.

  17. Seeker
    March 3rd, 2007 at 15:12 | #17

    Read the Oz (particularly the Weekend Oz) in detail, for over 20 years.

    Gave up wasting my time about 3-4 years ago.

    No less the wiser for it.

    Saved myself a few dollars a week.

    Nuff sed.

  18. March 5th, 2007 at 12:02 | #18

    Dear John

    I would be the first to point out the need to present a non-violent and pro-peace objection to would-be demonstrators against the unwanted visit of US Vice President, Dick Cheney. I don’t think that violence and anger are getting our message across to the general public.

    I would also remind Channel 10 News that this loathsome specimen is the US Vice President – not simply the Vice President. He is not ours. We had no part in electing him or his protégé, US President, George W Bush. We should not have had anything to do with this US administration’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nor should we even contemplate for a minute their plans to make war on Iran.

    Dick Cheney came to Australia to ‘put the weights on’ the Howard government to send in more troops and made some secret deal with John Howard that we will find out about later – maybe. This is the first step in undermining our democratic institutions.

    But Dick Cheney’s visit required that Sydney be virtually ‘out of business’ for several days. NSW Premier Morris Iemma did a perfect job of playing along with several more steps to undermine our democratic institutions, as shown by this quote from the OZ: “NSW Premier Morris Iemma warned demonstrators against disrupting Mr Cheney’s visit with violent protests.

    “Everyone’s entitled to protest and to do so peacefully,” Mr Iemma said.
    “But they are not going to cause inconvenience and disruption and take the law into their own hands.”

    The “inconvenience and disruption� referred to here does not include the small amounts of money that tens of thousands of Sydney people will be out of pocket through the US Vice President’s visit.

    I agree with Natasha Stott-Despoja that we should no longer make exceptions for super-privileged national governments to provide their own armed security people, with, very probably, very different rules of engagement:

    “Australian Democrats senator Natasha Stott-Despoja criticised the decision to allow the secret service agents to carry firearms.

    “This is another example of the Australian Government kowtowing to the United States,” Senator Stott-Despoja said in a statementâ€?.

    In short, I can see no good coming from Dick Cheney’s visit, except that deluded people in John Howard’s entourage probably think that the dubious honour of a visit from someone who should be indicted as a war criminal would do some good for John Howard’s re-election.

    Kevin Rudd’s “feral� comments only show his willingness to get ‘on the same page’ as John Howard in the same way as Kim Beazley did. So what, if Dick Cheney understands that he would have a slightly more robust relationship with a Labor government, the nods and winks still stand.

    There are too many things about this ‘alliance’ (read dependent relationship) that have a bad smell about them. We might realise this when we are still slugging it out to no avail in Afghanistan in four years from now.

    Regards
    Willy Bach
    http://willybachpoeticthoughts.blogspot.com/

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