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The Oz is not a newspaper

October 17th, 2012

I happened to look at the front page of The Australian today, something I don’t do very often. Of five front-page stories, one was a brief teaser for a business story about Channel 9. The other four were hit pieces on the Federal government. Even a piece on increasing inequality was presented as an attack on Wayne Swan. One (on asylum seekers) was accompanied by an “opinion” piece by Greg Sheridan, notable for the fact that it was more sober and balance than the “news” story on which Sheridan was commenting.

As I’ve said before, I don’t see this as a problem requiring a regulatory solution, as suggested by the Finkelstein Report. Rather, we simply need to recognise that 20th century assumptions about “the press” have ceased to be applicable. The Australian looks like a 20th century newspaper, just as Fox resembles a 20th century US TV network, but both are far more like political blogs in terms of their content and operating procedures.

An obvious implication is that, while Murdoch should be free to publish whatever he likes, his employees should not be accorded any of the special privileges that were routinely accorded to journalists in the 20th century, such as press passes, access to press conferences, special privileges shielding sources and so on. These should either be made available to everyone, or restricted to media organizations willing to commit to factual reporting, fair treatment of the issues in news stories and so on.

The most important asset of the traditional media is not a formal privilege but the assumption that journalists, unlike you and me, have a right to ask questions of perfect strangers on matters of all kinds, and to expect an answer. In a context where the answer is bound to be used dishonestly, this makes no sense.

If I were advising the government at this point, I would suggest a routine policy of “no comment” in response to any question from an employee of News Limited. Obama tried this with Fox News early on, but other news organizations threatened to boycott his press conferences in solidarity and he backed down. That was, I think, a mistake.

Categories: #NewsCorpFail, #Ozfail, Media Tags:
  1. Fran Barlow
    October 18th, 2012 at 15:09 | #1

    @ts

    If you want this government to refuse to answer News Ltd reporters than equally when a Coalition government is in power its supporters could justifiably demand that it refuse to answer Global Mail, or even arguably ABC, reporters.

    Personally, I’d have no problem with this, though given that the ABC tends to follow News Lt’s lead it would probably be counter-productive. In the end, the public can make up their minds about whether this action is reasonable or not.

    It’s clear to most that News Ltd is simply a propaganda organ of Murdoch. Even the coalition tribe knows this, but they are happy about it because right now, he’s with them. The ABC is widely seen as being a quality outlet (which is one reason why the ABC following News Ltd is so dangerous to the public conversation and why the government putting News Ltd out into the cold would be a good thing — it would be a shot across the bows of the ABC as well).

    If the Coalition went the other way, it would make it very clear that the media, far from being non-partisan and professional — were active players in politics and open the whole of media copy up to critique. That would in turn force a much more open debate about what was fair comment and professional journalism and what was camapigning and special pleading; what was analysis and what was just the latest vacuous infotainment meme. The ABC would then not get away with leading with Julia Gillard’s tumble in India. People would ask in much larger numbers why that was the most important story to run with in the 6.00 bulletin, rather than some passing filler later on.

    I’d see that as a huge step forward in public engagement.

  2. Will
    October 18th, 2012 at 15:11 | #2

    @ various

    A lie involves a synchronised mental element like intention or at least recklessness. Gillard gave a promise on the carbon tax that was not wise, but it is simply incorrect to call it a lie without access to her thoughts or any corroborating evidence from her inner circle at the time. The evidence suggests she made a foolish promise in the expectation of forming a majority which she subsequently decided to break as part of the concessions of forming minority government. The old amorphism of not attributing to malice what can be attributed to incompetence or stupidity applies here.

    Pink bats was flawed in that they underestimated demand, and thus they probably could have done a better job anticipating shonky operators. However, the biggest issue was how it was wound up in a rush. That was the fiasco – one attributable in equally measure to the media coverage as to the government’s glass jaw. The popular conservative understanding of the fiasco as being about blood and safety is a complete fiction. The program actually resulted in improved safety.

    BER was more clearly a straightforward success as a stimulus measure, subject to caveats around time lags and state management.

  3. Will
    October 18th, 2012 at 15:14 | #3

    That should read aphorism. Apologies. I really do a terrible job proofing my posts.

  4. Fran Barlow
    October 18th, 2012 at 15:27 | #4

    @JB Cairns

    nor was the pink bats a fiasco as the Hawkes report showed.

    It wasn’t even largely about “pink batts”. The “batts” in the Home Insulation Program included those composed of foil or in other colours. Pink was chosen as the focus of the meme because “pink batts” sounds more ludicrous than “orange batts” or “foil batts”. Pink alludes to the effeminate, and things feminine are, ipso facto, laughable, in the view of the right, especially when connected with masculine things like building materials. For the record, nobody died as a consequence of a pink batt. One person died of heat exhaustion after his dodgy employer left the fellow, a cognifitvely delayed person, in a hot roof space. The other three deaths were electrocutions from foil batts.

  5. Jim Rose
    October 18th, 2012 at 15:45 | #5

    Politicians have long played favourites. Leaking to this journalist and cutting others out. the new and the up and coming are the easiest to manipulate.

  6. Fran Barlow
    October 18th, 2012 at 15:48 | #6

    @Fran Barlow

    FTR, I saw the above post as germane to the question of media beatups by the Oz, rather than as a comment on the worthiness of HIP ….

  7. Jim Rose
    October 18th, 2012 at 15:58 | #7

    Rog, you seem to think that the introduction of fact checking procedures that stop Jones from making a total fool of himself is a good thing?

    What next? Newspapers will be found to have defamed public figures?

    Bob Hawke used to on a nice little earner from defamation suits.

    A Sydney resident was once convicted and cleared of murder. The newspapers from time to time mixed this case up with a famous terrorist case. His lawyers would then invoice the offending newspaper pointing out the futility of mounting a defence.

    see http://www.maynereport.com/articles/2009/03/10-1024-2493.html for a long list of Australians who have sued for defamation

  8. Fran Barlow
    October 18th, 2012 at 16:13 | #8

    @Jim Rose

    Rog, you seem to think that the introduction of fact checking procedures that stop Jones from making a total fool of himself is a good thing?

    It mightn’t help but it couldn’t hurt.

    What next? Newspapers will be found to have defamed public figures?

    If a fact check filters out the claim, then 2GB is indemnified. If others are worried they can do the same.

  9. rog
    October 18th, 2012 at 16:42 | #9

    @Jim Rose Jones will be under pressure from 2GB and 2GB will be under pressure from ACMA and possibly the sponsors will get tired of all this.

  10. Jim Rose
    October 18th, 2012 at 16:58 | #10

    Rog, I wonder what would have happened if communists various mostly of days gone by were reported to press complaints commissions to their rather strong opinions of the capitalist class and their fact selection about how capitalism and socialism works both in theory and in practice behind the iron curtain and in pre-1979 China.

    a few still make pilgrimages to Cuba and even North Korea to tell the most appalling lies to flatter their hosts and express their contempt for Western democratic societies.

    Orwell identified these as renegade liberal in his proposed preface of ‘Animal Farm’. Renegade liberals glorify communist experiments despite their own pleasant bourgeois circumstances.

    Renegade liberals search for outlaw states and revolutionary movements to support. Their revolutionary excesses are excused as the misadventures of ‘liberals in a hurry’ who understandably lost patience with the slow pace of democratic reform.

  11. Markus
    October 18th, 2012 at 17:31 | #11

    I have read the Australian most days since issue #1. I cancelled my subscription about 6 months ago for exactly the same reasons you have listed here. Funny, one week ago I severed the umbilical cord – the daily email of 0Z headlines still being sent to my phone – giving my reason as “The oz is no longer a newspaper. Goodbye”. How coincidental!

    “The Heart of The Nation?”. No, more like total organ failure. what a shame. I feel sorry for the captives left working therefor what is essentially a Murdoch blog.

  12. rog
    October 18th, 2012 at 17:58 | #12

    @Jim Rose Jim, I dont doubt that you do wonder.

  13. rog
    October 18th, 2012 at 18:05 | #13

    @Fran Barlow That’s a good analysis Fran. Seems to tie in with the “I’m just a plodder and not smart enough to lie” meme adopted by Abbott.

  14. Katz
    October 18th, 2012 at 18:11 | #14

    I wonder what would have happened if communists various mostly of days gone by were reported to press complaints commissions to their rather strong opinions of the capitalist class and their fact selection about how capitalism and socialism works both in theory and in practice behind the iron curtain and in pre-1979 China.

    Those lucky old commies. All they had to cope with was an attempt to declare their organisation illegal and several decades of harassment by ASIO and various state Special Branches.

    Looxury!!

  15. Fran Barlow
    October 18th, 2012 at 18:13 | #15

    @Jim Rose

    As none of them were radio hosts, and nor very often, guests of such, nothing much would have happened. The current rules have not given these folk enough oxygen to keep a dust mite breathing.

  16. Jim Rose
    October 18th, 2012 at 19:17 | #16

    katz, the Communist Party was a criminal conspiracy controlled and financed by a hostile foreign power that recruited members for clandestine work and used that apparatus to collaborate with the espionage services of that power. Their global treason from 1939 to when Germany attacked the USSR is one of many examples.

    A close contemporary analogy would be a Fundamentalist Muslim party running for elected office while funded by Al Qaeda, whose policies are dictated by Al Qaeda, and whose leaders and some members have aided Al Qaeda via espionage activities. It is hardly clear that free speech requires any government to tolerate the existence of such a party and that governments could not close it as a criminal conspiracy.

    The Venona intercepts revealed Wally Clayton, a leading official within the Communist Party of Australia, was the chief organiser of Soviet intelligence gathering in Australia. It was the Venona intercepts that led Chifley to set-up ASIO.

    As Bob Carr recently recalled, Paul Keating, as president of Young Labor in 1968, always referred to the Left of the ALP as “the comms”. Carr now understands why this was accurate. major figures in the ALP Left were dual members of the Communist Party of Australia.

    See http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/thankfully-whitlam-and-co-rescued-labor-from-the-reds/story-e6frg6zo-1225887763473 and Mark Aarons’ measured reply.

  17. October 18th, 2012 at 19:21 | #17

    Threads like this always remind me of the following extract from a comment on David Edwards’ old ‘Media Lens’ blog:

    “I’m a journalist working for a crappy, rightwing corporate Australian newspaper. I do what I do because I cannot do anything else. Nothing I do makes one iota of a difference but there are millions of people like me in the world who need the money and will do whatever it takes to support our families.

    We aren’t bad people — even though I suspect you think we lack your ideological purity and revolutionary zeal and have, therefore, sided with the “dark side” and probably deserve to die the death capitalism has invented for us.

    Let’s face it, man, most of us humans live in a f*cked world and we get f*cked every day. Whingeing about it has never worked to our advantage. In fact, it’s made matters worse.

    People like me don’t like the “dark side” anymore than we like the “right side” — simply because both sides can be found on the same coin.

    Yours Comrade Jack”

    Whenever I need to find the above quote I simply search “Anguished Shill Wrestles With Inner Hypocrite” and up it pops!

  18. Katz
    October 18th, 2012 at 19:28 | #18

    @Jim Rose

    Whether or not the commies got what they deserved, the point is that they were harassed to a much greater degree than Alan Jones ever was.

    For the record, Jim Rose, you invited the comparison between Jones and the commies. Now you claim there is no comparison.

    Please be consistent.

  19. Jim Rose
    October 18th, 2012 at 19:41 | #19

    megan, the strength of democracy is a small group of concerned and thoughtful citizens can band together and change the world by running for office and winning elections. That is how new parties such as the ALP, the country party, DLP, and the greens changed Australia. One Nation even had its 15 minutes of fame. Bob Katter’s party is next.

    The ALP immediately won many seats in the early 1900s and formed governments a few years later. The agrarian socialists in the country party immediate secured cabinet seats in 1922.

    You find democracy frustrating not because parliaments cannot change things radically. You find democracy frustrating because you cannot win at the ballot box even under proportional representation in federal and state upper houses.

    When Fred Nile, the shooters party, the no aircraft noise party and the no pokies party can all win seats ahead of you, it is time to accept that your bitter Left message simply does not resonate with the electorate. Complete amateurs can quickly win seats.

  20. TerjeP
    October 18th, 2012 at 20:37 | #20

    In your case, there is the lingering supsicion that you’d like the topic to be something else but what to do about News Ltd becase

    Fran – I have a lingering suspicion that sometimes you’d rather engage in petty character assassinations than making any sort of meaningful conversation about matters of substance.

  21. wilful
    October 18th, 2012 at 21:22 | #21

    I had the instructive joy of only having the Oz as my media source the last two weeks (visiting my mum in FNQ), and I can say unreservedly that it is a joke of a paper, with a total of two redeeming features, being George Megalogenis, and generally excellent rugby union coverage. In two weeks there was literally one positive article about this government, written by Wayne Swan (and debased by harrumphing commentary inserted almost as part of the article by that tosser Dennis Shamahan). Every single other article was beating the drum for the Opposition or vested special interests. Judith Sloan is a damn fool, her economic literacy is at about the same level as mine (and I make no claims whatsoever). Truly the paper gave the sense that this was a government in utter disarray and crisis. And oh the polls, so so very important. Thankfully Possum Comitatus popped that bubble a long time ago.

    It was particularly interesting that the proposal to re-introduce grog into remote communities (as far as I understand it, a LNP idea), not once did they label it anything to do with Campbell Newman or conservative politics. Had it been a Labor idea, they would have been screaming about inner-city elite lefties, you all know it is true.

    As to the idea that the Age is just a sbad but on the left, well that’s bollocks. Amanda Vanstone, Peter Costello, quite a few conservative voices get published, regularly. And anyone that thinks Ross Gittins is some rusted one marxist luvvie hasn’t understood a thing he’s written.

  22. Will
    October 18th, 2012 at 22:51 | #22

    “The Australian is center right biased, so what? The New York Times, Guardian, Age are left wing biased, who really cares? ”

    I would say anyone who defines The Oz as a “center-right” publication has somehow escaped the tether of earth’s gravity and planted new goal posts on a distant planet. Center right is the label you would apply to mastheads like The Economist and The Financial Times – publications that are part of a respectable neo-liberal paradigm. Such organs still deal with empirical reality, deferential to science, evidence, logic and rhetoric in the classic sense. To the extent that they provide a platform to express ideology, there is at least a reasonable marketplace of ideas, and editorial voice and campaign values of their respective editorial boards are still bound by decency and good faith.

    The Oz is nothing like that. It is an utterly vacuous, mendacious and anti-intellectual. It exists to provide fan service, and to control the political agenda at all costs. Mimicking Ayn Rand’s cartoonish soviet realism, it has become under Chris Mitchell’s tenure a propaganda outlet for movement conservatism with a paper-thin veneer of broadsheet pretension and bombast. There are a couple of decent reporters there, and of course, the national treasure, George Mega, but it’s otherwise awful.

  23. Will
    October 18th, 2012 at 23:08 | #23

    “The Australian is center right biased, so what? The New York Times, Guardian, Age are left wing biased, who really cares? ”

    I would say anyone who defines The Oz as a “center-right” publication has somehow escaped the tether of earth’s gravity and planted new goal posts on a distant planet. Center right is a label you would apply to mastheads like The Economist and The Financial Times – publications that are part of a respectable neo-liberal paradigm. Such organs still deal with discernible empirical reality, deferential to science, evidence, logic and rhetoric in the classic sense. To the extent that they provide a platform to express ideology, there is at least a reasonable marketplace of ideas, and their editorial voice and campaigning values are still bound by basic decency, good faith and a willingness to address the best version of the other argument (the charitable principle).

    The Oz is nothing like that. It is utterly vacuous, mendacious and anti-intellectual. It exists to control the national political agenda with self-censured flattery of Murdoch’s base prejudices and fan service for older conservative men. Mimicking Ayn Rand’s cartoonish soviet realism, it has become under Chris Mitchell’s tenure a propaganda outlet for movement conservatism with a paper-thin veneer of broadsheet pretension and bombast. There are obviously a couple of decent reporters working there who manage to get good copy up notwithstanding the interference of sub-editors which taint everything with oblique ledes and headlines. And, of course, there is the national treasure, George Mega. But otherwise it is uniformly awful and the marketplace of ideas is non-existent. The version of “serious conservatism” it puts on display is completely embarrassing and it has no ability to grapple with alternative views other than dishonesty.

    Perhaps worst of all, is it’s whiney insecurity. Despite it’s cultivated self-image as a fearless tough-guy, campaigning warrior it has the weakest glass jaw in the business. It is hyper-sensitivity to any criticism and views itself as in a kind of perpetual siege from everyone in academia and social media and the world outside it’s little bubble. Criticism of any kind is met with narcissistic, defensive rants that go for pages and pages, with Byzantian self-referential nonsense and more dishonesty piled on top of dishonesty. If it were a person you would have to say it was bipolar.

    And I say all this as someone who used to buy it every day for many years. Its opinion pages were always rubbish like the WSJ, but it used to be a solid paper otherwise. Now it is a sick joke.

  24. Jill Rush
    October 18th, 2012 at 23:22 | #24

    I have a degree of scepticism about the polls quoted in the News Ltd papers. On Tuesday at the same coffee shop where I had no interest in any of the headlines of the Oz I did pick up an Advertiser which had a poll featured prominently on an inside page. The entire page was devoted to an internal leaked Liberal Party Poll which showed that Labor was quaking in its boots in SA even in seats with 12% buffers. There was not a shred of evidence as to how the internal poll was conducted nor how it had come into the hands of News Ltd staff. It appeared to be a cross between free Liberal Party propoganda ad and filler pieces for otherwise empty space.

  25. John Brookes
    October 19th, 2012 at 00:42 | #25

    @Fran Barlow
    I had noticed the way the ABC seems to have caught whatever disease News Limited is suffering from. Very worrying.

  26. October 19th, 2012 at 00:47 | #26

    And just now on Fairfax I see Rupert is demanding that the ABC apologise for its “lies”!!!

    Apart from the fact that Rupert DID refer to his phonehacked victims as “scumbags” (talking, as usual, straight out of his memory hole), that is utterly hilarious coming from Mr. “I promise there is no poison pill” Murdoch.

    And all this crap about ‘George Mega’ being a redeeming strength of ‘The (American Owned) Australian’ just makes my earlier point – anyone who works for him is an enabler.

  27. John Brookes
    October 19th, 2012 at 01:00 | #27

    I think Will has nailed it.

    Up to about 5 -10 years ago, I used to be proud to get a letter published in The Oz, but then I started to feel sorry for my letters, because of the company they were having to keep on that page. And the quality of the other letters was getting worse, so that it no longer seemed an achievement to join them. Once I discovered that the puzzle page in The West Australian was better than that in The Oz, it was an easy decision to stop reading it.

  28. October 19th, 2012 at 01:02 | #28

    @John Brookes

    It isn’t some unlucky coincidence. There has been a very deliberate infestation of the ABC by News Ltd traceable to the highest levels of both organisations.

    Anybody from Brisbane remember when News Ltd’s Madonna King was surprisingly parachuted into the Brisbane ABC 612 morning radio slot? Anyone remember how she gave a gushing interview to David Fagan, the editor of the News Ltd ‘Courier-Mail’?

    Nobody at their ABC seemed to think it worth mentioning that the editor of the ‘Courier-Mail’ was her husband.

    What about all the News Ltd/IPA hacks given time on my ABC to ensure no corner of this country is left unsullied by their dishonest screed?

    It isn’t just a sad happenstance, it is a deliberate and brilliantly executed plan.

  29. Newtownian
    October 19th, 2012 at 06:01 | #29

    @Megan

    Thanks for raising this hypothesis Megan and John. The changes in the ABC have been worrying me for a while. I had put in down to may tendency to ‘it was better in the good old days’ thought patterns but now you have made me wonder whether there is more going on.

    A case in point relevant to John’s blog is ABC mainstream economics reporting particularly ABC TV AM and PM. Rather than seeing incisive analysis in prime time as one might hope for one gets the Alan Kohler’s parrot like imitation of Tom Petrovski “the market went up and then went down” every evening. Then following lateline we get a parade of suits being serious but not terribly informative.

    This extremely poor reporting has seemed more inexplicable since the 2008 (near?) crash unless you adopt the view that the ABC is just going along with economic revisionism so well described in John’s recent book.

    There are of course still bastions of inquiry notably on Radio National but your thesis seems to fit with the reporting we see at prime hours and television.

  30. paul walter
    October 19th, 2012 at 07:02 | #30

    No, it’s not a newspaper. It’s not even butt-wipe, like its proprietor.

  31. October 19th, 2012 at 10:24 | #31

    After reading the comments of TerjeP at 28 and 29, I can understand why the electors of Bennelong in 2010 gave him just 344 of the 92,504 primary votes cast.

  32. may
    October 19th, 2012 at 13:32 | #32

    John Brookes :@Fran Barlow I had noticed the way the ABC seems to have caught whatever disease News Limited is suffering from. Very worrying.

    the other day in the fin an opinionator called the ABC left wing.
    i went What?

    the head of the board is an american evangelist who used to work for merde-OK.
    the board members are tied to the faceless coalition.
    the metroman who put out the dumdrnk&racist is a merde-OK apparatchic.

    (alright,alright.i’ll tone it down)

    the spiel seems to be that the ABC has no right to compete with commercial “legitimate” broadcasters.

    so we see programs like “the science show”,a program of religious scholarly debate,
    radio plays and other non commercial programs eliminated by the merde_OK board.
    the board that is in charge of public broadcasting.
    the public broadcaster that fills the many,many information gaps left by the market-share,for-profit,advertising-funded,ratings-driven commercial public broadcasting industry.

    is it possible that a current near monopolistic commercial public broadcaster wishes to see the introduction in Australia of the kind of voter representation that is currently in place for the governance of that broadcasters business?

    and with the elimination of the kind of programs that the commercial broadcasters wouldn’t touch with a bargepole,does that mean the reason for the ABC’s existence would no longer be valid?

    but of curse! poof.

  33. Geoff Andrews
    October 19th, 2012 at 15:51 | #33

    In the face of such profound perspicacity, ts, I can only timidly offer the observation that such abuse of the democratic process over, what, six years was, perpetrated by a corrupt right wing government that could not even be checked by their Liberal coalition partners or more importantly, by a boot-licking press.
    It took the (what was then an independent) ABC to expose the ministerial and police corruption.
    Some went to gaol, one escaped gaol claiming an imminent death and one escaped gaol by corrupting the judicial system.
    Which reminds me of a joke that went the rounds in the late 1980′s.
    One of the gentlemen , to whom I alluded above that escaped gaol, consults a doctor.
    On examination, the doctor discovers a cane toad growing out of the gentleman’s head.
    “Good god, man”, exclaimed the doctor, “how long have you had this?”
    To wich the toad says, “Dunno, it just started as a wart on me arse
    Keep yer chin up, mate: Turnbull may still be able to knock off Abbott before the next election.

  34. Jim Rose
    October 19th, 2012 at 16:51 | #34

    John, fortunately for this thread Leigh and Gans published “How Partisan is the Press? Multiple Measures of Media Slant” in THE ECONOMIC RECORD, MARCH, 2012, 127–147.

    They employed several different approaches to find that the Australian media are quite centrist, with very few outlets being statistically distinguishable from the middle of Australian politics. The minor exceptions were the ABC channel 2 and perhaps the Melbourne Age in its news slant in the 2004 election. These media slants were small.

    Australian newspapers tended to endorse the coalition in the federal elections from 1996 to 2007 although The Australian, right-wing rag that it is in your eyes, backed the ALP in 2007! I agree that this was a serious lapse of judgement.

    The editorial election endorsements data series should have been long because some newspapers back winners just before they win and oppose the re-election of tired and smelly governments that have being there too long no matter what the party. Murdoch makes making himself the new best friend of the next Prime Minister his business strategy.

  35. Geoff Andrews
    October 19th, 2012 at 17:08 | #35

    @JB Cairns
    ….er, sorry, JB …. must have been a senior moment .. forgot to write “fiasco”. “ill-conceived” and “dud” in inverted commas in my original comment, to reflect our hard-working press?
    Let’s say it was a crude attempt to lure TerjeP into responding to the bait (where are you, TerjeP?).
    So yes, JB, I’m aware that the rates of house fires and deaths during the laying of pink batts were the same during the government scheme as they were during the pre government scheme installations. So why wasn’t this reported in our free, hard-hitting, investigative press?
    Once this fact was known, why didn’t the government reintroduce the scheme?
    Why did they stop support for the installation of solar panels?
    Better still, why didn’t the government become a wholesaler of panels to be sold off at cost? Shit, sorry, sorry: that’s socialistic, isn’t it? (I keep forgetting: capitalism good; soliciasm worse – see? I can’t even SAY the word!)
    That aside and totally irrelevant, I note that Ergon, a power supplier in Queensland (the sunshine state for you southern tossers) has announced that 500 employees are to be laid off because “demand has dropped off”!!!!! (Note the shock & awe?)
    Hey, Tony baby, what a chance for a photo op, eh? You, in hard hat, outside an Ergon plant, backdrop of “sacked workers” with appropriate signs (why not start off with “You don’t turn ME on, Juliar”; and your grab is” .. the reckless spending (got it TerjeP?) on the pink batt fiasco and the ill-conceived solar panel scheme has caused the loss of jobs of these (here, dramatically point to to “workers”) poor workers”
    I will cover Julia’s “lie” and the BER if TerjeP has had time to respond.

  36. Graeme Bird
    October 19th, 2012 at 17:31 | #36

    I just think the mainstream news is utterly useless right now. It consists of Murdoch and his loyal opposition. Bland, hopeless, most of it not newsworthy, and missing all the important stuff. Nothing against the bankers. No report on the bankster stealing spree. Playing down the economic disaster that this stealing spree has had in the US particularly. Big news seems to be captured news.

    One highlight is Russia Today. Probably run by the modern version of the KGB it shows how time can change everything. Moscow used to be “a place where people lie all the time” and yet now Russia today is about the only place you can get real news about the US on cable.

  37. Newtownian
    October 19th, 2012 at 18:20 | #37

    @Jim Rose

    Jim have you really had a good look at that study? Here are some of the weird and wonderful bits in it I came across for starters which you failed to mention.

    - The biggest red ragger in the country is indicated to be …….. The Australian Financial Review??!!!
    - The Daily Telegraph is as balanced as Radio National ?????????????!!!!!!!!!!!! and both are near perfectly balanced by their criteria?! And the Tele makes 4 times more mentions of ‘Public Intellectuals’ as RN. What a powerhouse! Or maybe I should be wondering ‘so what?’.
    - Gerard Henderson was mentioned 32 times in parliament but 78% of the mentions were by Labor! Are we seriously supposed to consider this represents anything more than his name was mentioned in a debate – as against it showing anything about bias by Labor in his favour? I fear again this is a so what item.
    - Tables 4, 5 and 6 and a good number of the weighty Appendix tables are based on a stunningly crude 5 point value judgement laden scale completed by mere 5 mysterious ‘coders’ (yes 5 not the 10 dentists of toothbruth comparison fame) whose selection basis is not transparent. I managed to find one probably from a linkedin reference to someone who looks like a dreaded consultant – also known by Don Watson as plague rats. Now he may actually be a fine dinner party guest but if he is representative of the rest what you probably are seeing here this is a bunch of mature age MBA or business students – Certainly the senior author is one of these and where else do you get survey guinea pigs but from your students if you a normal time poor academic? These are not people I would trust to code in a pink fit. Sorry but this is very suspect. That it was not booted out by the referees says something I fear about the journal’s editorial system.
    - The survey appears to have been done around 2007 – a lot has changed in the wall since then including a massive rise in political acrimony and winner take all bias. A particularly big focus is the climate change debate. Up to 2007 the coalition was not especially into the denial and winner take all state they are now and Murdoch was not so embattled.
    - Some final gaps – many of the discussions on bias centre around journalists themselves. AND THEY ARE THE ONES WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO BE THE MOST OBJECTIVE. Yet none of our favorites were scoped with the exception of the honorable Philip Adams – no Alan Jones or Miranda etc. and there are no business luminaries like Rupert and Kerry who certainly have been just as noisy then as now. And there are no signs of the policy organisation wonks like Mitch from the Minerals council. They seem to have left all the fun stuff out where the bias actually appears.

    In conclusion there is more devil in the details of this paper than you have owned up to and methinks you have been a tad selective in your analysis – not that I’d trust the findings of ‘management science’ anyway. I’m afraid the social science method whereby you develop your narrative and then marshall statistics to support the narrative leaves me laughing out loud all the way to the paradigm shift.

  38. TerjeP
    October 19th, 2012 at 18:25 | #38

    JohnL :
    After reading the comments of TerjeP at 28 and 29, I can understand why the electors of Bennelong in 2010 gave him just 344 of the 92,504 primary votes cast.

    That would be 344 votes more than you got. Yeah?

  39. Jim Rose
    October 19th, 2012 at 18:42 | #39

    @Newtownian
    I suggest you expand your thoughtful post as a comment and submit it to the economic record.

    measurement error is common in media bias tudies because bias itself is hard to define; and competing measures of bias abound in the field.

    the data they used was a bit dated. The working paper was 2009. don’t know if pulications lags such as this are common.

    The use of multiple methods that arrived at similar results to those overseas suggests that the paper deserves some credit.

    The media makes money by attracting audiences. The most marginal members of that audience will be women. Slightly more women and men vote to the centre-left. This would normally suggest that the media is biased slightly to the centre left. Leigh and Gans were a little light on whether they expected the media bias to be in one direction or the other.

    I think the best of the measures of media bias used endorsements of state-level initiatives and referendums to find that newspapers are located almost exactly at the median voter in their home states. Newspapers appear to be more liberal than voters on social and cultural issues such as gay marriage, but more conservative on economic issues.

  40. Jim Rose
    October 19th, 2012 at 18:57 | #40

    @Newtownian
    forgot to mention that I routinely blog elsewhere disputing that the media has a left-wing bias. Australia’s cities are not London. not big enough for product differentiation as follows – Hacker: Don’t tell me about the press. I know exactly who reads the papers:

    The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country;
    The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country;
    The Times is read by the people who actually do run the country;
    The Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country;
    The Financial Times is read by people who own the country;
    The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country; And The Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.

    Sir Humphrey: Prime Minister, what about the people who read The Sun?

    Bernard: Sun readers don’t care who runs the country, as long as she’s got big tits.

  41. Newtownian
    October 19th, 2012 at 19:00 | #41

    @Jim Rose
    Thanks for your very civilised response Jim.

    Your suggestion is tempting but I have a pile of evolving manuscripts in my own area I need to do first like the one I’m temporizing on at the moment.

  42. October 19th, 2012 at 20:04 | #42

    Brian Cathcart’s “hackinginquiry.org” website commissioned a poll about the public’s view on a genuinely independent media regulator:

    “With weeks to go before the Leveson report is published, the poll is dramatic evidence of the isolation of the newspaper industry, and particularly of those editors and proprietors of national newspapers who continue to press for another round of press self-regulation.

    When people were asked whether they agreed that, after the hacking scandal, newspaper owners and editors should no longer control the press complaints system, 77 per cent agreed and only 5 per cent disagreed. Seventy-one per cent thought we could not trust editors to ensure their journalists acted in the public interest, and 68 per cent said the government should do more to correct inaccurate stories.

    The poll of 2,846 people was commissioned by Hacked Off and the Media Standards Trust and conducted by Yougov, a member of the British Polling Council which has polled for the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Times, among other publications. It was carried out earlier this month.

    When compared with other surveys over the past year, the new poll suggests that public opinion is hardening against the editors and proprietors just as Leveson completes his work. And it showed high levels of faith in the judge, with twice as many people saying they trusted him to make fair and effective recommendations as didn’t, and 57 per cent saying the government should implement his recommendations – against just 6 per cent who said it shouldn’t.”

    A democracy cannot function without a decent press (ie: diversity of ownership/control; accountability for accuracy; adherence to standards – I would add “news” taking priority over “opinion”, etc…)

  43. rog
    October 19th, 2012 at 21:06 | #43

    I would query “democracy cannot function without a decent press” given the emergence of competing media (I take “press” to mean the print media). You could argue that democracy has been corrupted by the press and alternative forms of media have been more helpful towards democracy.

  44. Jim Rose
    October 19th, 2012 at 21:54 | #44

    @Megan
    How does a free press emerge? For much of the 19th century U.S. newspapers were public relations tools funded by politicians. Information hostile to a paper’s political views were ignored or dismissed as sophistry. Newspaper independence was rare. Fraud and corruption in 19th century America approached today’s more corrupt developing nations.

    The newspaper industry underwent fundamental changes between 1870 and 1920 as the press became more informative and less partisan.
    - 11 per cent of urban dailies were independent in 1870,
    - 62 percent were in 1920.

    The rise of the informative press was the result of increased scale and competitiveness in the newspaper industry caused by technological progress in the newsprint and newspaper industries.
    • From 1870 to 1920, when corruption appears to have declined significantly within the United States, the press became more informative, less partisan, and expanded circulation considerably.
    • By the 1920s, the partisan papers no longer coupled allegations of the corruption of their party members with condemnation of the character of the person making the charge.

    A reasonable hypothesis is rise of the informative press was one of the reasons why the corruption of the Gilded Age was sharply reduced during the Progressive Era.

    A supply-side model suggesting that newspapers weigh the rewards of bias—politicians’ bribes or personal pleasure—against the cost of bias—lost circulation from providing faulty news. The key predictions of the model are that, as the size of the market for newspapers rises, and as the marginal cost of producing a paper falls, newspapers will become less biased and invest more in gathering information.

    Corruption declined because media proprietors discovered that they could maintain and boost circulation by exposing it. An independent press which kept a watchful eye over government and business was a spontaneous order that was a by-product of rising incomes and literacy of readers.

    Politicians did not help the process along. Technological innovations and increased city populations caused a huge increase in scale.

    It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. Newspapers become big businesses; they increased readership and revenue by presenting factual and informative news. Following these incentives, newspapers changed from political tools to impartial reporting.

    HT: The Rise of the Fourth Estate: How Newspapers Became Informative and Why It Mattered by Matthew Gentzkow, Edward L. Glaeser, and Claudia Goldin. In Corruption and Reform: Lessons from America’s Economic History (2006)

  45. October 20th, 2012 at 00:37 | #45

    @rog

    Fair enough, but the problem is a bit more than just one of definition. I used “press” as a catch-all for “media”. But that must be further clarified/defined.

    Perhaps “mass media”? It is, in my opinion, a trap (deliberately encouraged by the controllers of our traditional ‘mass media’) to ignore the fact that several hundred thousand fellow Australians daily ingest only a handful of papers/TV/radio.

    The internet is wonderful but the vast majority of our population are either fragmented by it, or simply get most of their info from the various forms of “old” mass media.

    Anyway, a democracy cannot function without an honestly informed population. The quality of the information is as important as its general availability and ‘consumption’ (I hate that word used this way).

    If you’ve ever been the only person in a crowd of cheering fools to notice that the person whose clothes they are admiring is actually naked, you will know how lonely it can be. In the fairy tale everyone suddenly listened to the little voice and the emperor was shamed. I’m not sure we have any mechanism left for the little voice to speak truth anymore – at least not without being dragged away by ASIO and charged with terrrrsm or sedition or something.

  46. rog
    October 20th, 2012 at 07:49 | #46

    @Megan George Mega has admitted that the Gillard speech is important and it was the number of YouTube hits that convinced him (just google “Online sensation exposes Abbott’s gender card play to millions” to avoid Ruperts pay wall).

  47. rog
  48. Philip Machanick
    October 20th, 2012 at 23:02 | #48

    Markus :
    I have read the Australian most days since issue #1. I cancelled my subscription about 6 months ago for exactly the same reasons you have listed here. Funny, one week ago I severed the umbilical cord – the daily email of 0Z headlines still being sent to my phone – giving my reason as “The oz is no longer a newspaper. Goodbye”. How coincidental!
    “The Heart of The Nation?”. No, more like total organ failure. what a shame. I feel sorry for the captives left working therefor what is essentially a Murdoch blog.

    Here in South Africa newspapers had to fight for freedom and take their role seriously, e.g., see Mail&Guardian. When I worked at University of Qld, I bought the Oz subscription availble at uni for $10 for half a year. I don’t know why: there’s nothing in it to appeal to the intellect, and I lack a bird cage to line.

  49. Fran Barlow
    October 25th, 2012 at 15:33 | #49

    @Philip Machanick

    And now that His Murdochship is on Twitter, why would you need the Oz anyway?

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