Home > #NewsCorpFail, #Ozfail, Media > The Oz is not a newspaper

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. fred
    October 17th, 2012 at 14:17 | #1

    ” .. while Murdoch should be free to publish whatever he likes ….”

    I don’t get this.
    Why should he be allowed to and yet I can’t?
    The last time I looked I’m as much a citizen of this country as he is. Probably more so actually, I live here full time and I’m not a citizen of any other country. And I’m not a criminal, considered,like Rupert, to be legally sane. I’m a bit younger than him, but still well past the voting age.
    I just don’t get it, why him and not me?

  2. Newtownian
    October 17th, 2012 at 14:35 | #2

    Thanks John, We do live in strange times journalistically. Oz journalists and fellow travellers (the Devines, Bolt, Jones) give the profession a very bad name which many of their own colleagues (sports journalists?) may not deserve so much.

    On the other hand the bias is increasingly so transparent (as it is with various Oz syndicated columnists whose identity and opinions are easily deduced from a quick look on the web at their other works and organisation affiliations) that a little deconstruction can go a long. As a result unlike in the past where good information was mixed with the bad it does allow one to avoid reading them completely with a clear conscience and say baldly to friends they are wasting their time reading this rot.

    On the other hand it does beg what alternatively one should read and this one is still evolving. For the moment at least we still have the Guardian and its weekly version which provides me at least with non Australian news of reasonable quality. On radio and TV we still have Auntie ABC and SBS doing a fair job locally. Then in the blogosphere we have specialists like yourself and a linked current favorite of mine Naked Capitalism which abounds in many good links and synopses by useful experts. There is enough good information here to keep one occupied and satisfy curiosity. So things arent all bad. And this is before the rapid access to the vast ocean of primary scholarly journals and reviews.

    Re the statee SMH/Age that is more difficult and maybe you might comment on your feeling there. They still have good journalists but I can help but feel they are being increasingly ‘managed’ if not directly by the dreaded Gina then by under-resourcing compared to the old days.

    Maybe they should all leave and resurrect the good old ‘Nation Review’ (anyone under 35 see the Wiki entry).

  3. October 17th, 2012 at 14:37 | #3

    Fred: fairly sure our host means “within the confines of defamation and incitement law”. Anything that you can say on Facebook or your blog without being hauled off to chokey, so should News Limited be allowed to say. But they shouldn’t get any more access to the PM or the press gallery than someone who rants on Facebook or their blog.

  4. @TatteredRemnant
    October 17th, 2012 at 14:37 | #4

    @fred

    Fred, you just said what you liked and you were published.

  5. fred
    October 17th, 2012 at 14:38 | #5

    The same as Rupert?

  6. John
    October 17th, 2012 at 15:54 | #6

    The Australian is center right biased, so what? The New York Times, Guardian, Age are left wing biased, who really cares? That’s their business model and they favour opinion writers that suits their needs.

    A whole lot of people need to calm down and grow the f### up. Gillard and Labor have their and excepting a miracle are going to be out of government before Christmas next year. Every day in government is one day closer being out of government. The center left will be in government again like I knew the the libs would be when Howard was defeated.

    Abbott will be the head of government in twelve months, he will inherit the roll Gillard currently fills. And that will include any “special powers” that happen to be there. Any rights Australians lose are never returned. Every politican (Abbott will be the same) convert into believers very quickly about such things when their opposition title changes to that of a government title.

    Politics just isn’t worth getting involved in these media and law changes.

  7. Jim Rose
    October 17th, 2012 at 15:57 | #7

    Good idea. Every government should be able to choose its inquisitors.

    A leading characteristic of media bias is people agree on its existence, but disagree on the sign.

    Competition forces news outlets to cater to their customer’s preferences. The print media is under dire threats to its very existence at the moment.

    Any media bias is likely to be slightly to the centre-left for the following reasons:
    1. young women tend to be one of the most marginal groups of news consumers (they are the most willing to switch to activities besides reading or watching the news).
    2. young females often make the consumption decisions for the household so advertisers will pay more to reach this group.
    3. Since young females tend to be more centre-left on average, a news outlet may want to slant its coverage that way. Newspapers sell space to advertisers tailor the way they cover politics to gain more readers.

    Realised profit is the criterion by which the market process selects survivors: those who realise positive profits survive; those who suffer losses disappear. Positive profits accrue to those media outlets who are better than their competitors. Their lesser rivals will exhaust their retained earnings and fail to attract further investor support.

  8. Fran Barlow
    October 17th, 2012 at 16:07 | #8

    PrQ

    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.

    Very much agree.

    IIRC I advocated almost exactly this policy following the June NPC address by Gillard at which she famously cautioned: Don’t Write Crap

    I also responded to Malcolm Turnbull more generally on what ought to be done with the press. Rarther than clog this place up, I’ve left the link.

  9. Ikonoclast
    October 17th, 2012 at 16:08 | #9

    About once every 3 months, I glance quickly through a newspaper. This is enough to remind me why I don’t buy or read them now. I’m all in favour of quiet consumer boycotts for myself. But I am quite happy for people like JQ to point out that modern newspapers like the OZ are very poor.

  10. John Quiggin
    October 17th, 2012 at 16:47 | #10

    @fred

    What john b said.

    To be clear, commenters aren’t entitled to say what they like on this blog. If you breach my comments policy, I’ll delete or ban you. But it only takes 5 minutes to set up your own blog, Twitter feed etc, and there you can say what you like, subject to defamation etc.

  11. Newtownian
    October 17th, 2012 at 16:48 | #11

    John :The Australian is center right biased, so what? The New York Times, Guardian, Age are left wing biased, who really cares? That’s their business model and they favour opinion writers that suits their needs.
    A whole lot of people need to calm down and grow the f### up.

    John

    Are we to take it from this that you consider Murdoch’s rabid Fox in the US and the bizarre hacking culture of his London newspapers to also be centre right and normal practice, that we should just get used to such nonsense and ‘grow up’ – and that all this scandal and drivel overseas has no relationship to the behaviour/content of his Australian newspapers?

    What a curious view of the world you have. Afterall what the Murdoch media shows is, in addition to loathing the left, (fair enough as this is really just about football team analogues if I follow your rationale) Murdoch also considers his fellow travellers and supporters of the right like you so locked in to his media organs that they can be dished up any rubbish and will accept it.

    There was a time of course when the majority on the left were similarly locked into an bastard ideology – the days of support for old Jo Stalin and the homicidal Mao. Fortunately most of the broad left have now grown up and see the world in terms of grey and Julie not as some supreme being.

    But that now leaves people such as your good self. What I want to know is when are you going to wake up and realize how likes of Murdoch are treating you with as much disdain and disrespect as the old dictators of left once did (and still in the case of North Korea do in ways which would be comical if they werent so tragic in human terms).

  12. Sam
    October 17th, 2012 at 16:54 | #12

    “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.”

    I vote “everyone.”

  13. Katz
    October 17th, 2012 at 16:55 | #13

    Clearly the Oz is the flagship of vanity publishing.

    Those long-suffering US stockholders who just yesterday tried unsuccessfully to jemmy Rupert out of his position of power no doubt have publications like the Oz in mind when they grind their teeth at the less than optimal return on capital achieved by NewsCorp.

    Rupert retorted that NewsCorp shares had rocketed in price since the NOTW scandal and that if shareholders weren’t happy with the performance of the company, then they should sell up. Given that Rupert’s rellies own a large proportion of the voting shares of the corporation, any shareholders who want to buy influence as well as wealth should consider carefully Rupert’s advice. Otherwise, they can remain, birdies in a gilded cage, waiting for the next corporate fiasco to spring from the increasingly sclerotic mind of Rupert Murdoch and of his accident-prone offspring.

    Meanwhile, the Oz, the Great Panjandrum of Bloviators, floats smugly on a deep ocean of red ink.

    Rather than boycott the Oz, government spinmeisters would be better served pointing out the above facts whenever circumstances recommend. In the public mind, ridicule is a far sharper barb than complaint.

  14. Oliver Townshend
    October 17th, 2012 at 16:58 | #14

    Ironically I tried to read the Oz today, while having lunch in a coffee shop. Hard to cop this “news”.

  15. Jim Rose
    October 17th, 2012 at 17:18 | #15

    murdoch has made mistakes: he supported whitlam in 1972. vanity publishing indeed.

    Murdoch is like Packer. Murdoch has a long history of backing whoever is the winning side: supporting Whitlam, Hawke, Keating and Blair. Murdoch then changes with the political winds to stay on the winning side. do investors in highly regulated free-to-are TV and cable TV industries have other options?

    Murdoch’s see-sawing political stances are entirely pragmatic. He is always been prepared to back winners just before they win, and to shift allegiances on non-ideological grounds.

    Murdoch seems to supporting right-wing parties more simply because the right-wing parties are more popular and win elections more often.

    HT: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/a-man-of-selfish-loyalties-rupert-murdochs-apparent-overture-to-tony-blair-strikes-a-chilling-chord-among-australian-politicians-he-has-supported-1376362.html

  16. ratee
    October 17th, 2012 at 18:14 | #16

    Murdoch will back anyone he thinks he can own.

  17. John
    October 17th, 2012 at 18:14 | #17

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the leftist political aware of today are self destructive. The self righteous and proud always are.

    A leftist can never simply state what “they” want. That would be selfish. Countless time and effort must be spent convincing others of how much this is being achieved for them. This includes amazingly fighting for (at sometimes large personal costs) ideas ,actions, and people one not only doesn’t really agree, one sometimes doesn’t even like. It’s a self sacrifice thing that the selfish could never understand apparently.

    I’m amazed at the personal drama and losses in so many ways, people have put themselves through to get to a place that isn’t actually of any personal benefit. More often than not it was at personal expense.

    I think Mr Quiggin would like to see more government involvement (money) in say his chosen field of education. Rather than simply point this out he advocates government spending and that includes deficit spending. He then goes through all the reasons why people should support it and what they’ll gain from it.

    They deserve it they’re encouraged to believe. They’re entitled to it they’re made to feel. Those that say otherwise a stealing or hiding this entitlement. The time has come to go get what is in fact rightfully theirs. Tell a person enough about how important and sinned against they are, and unfortunately one day they’ll come to believe you.

    The most sought group of people, lets call them the “government” deciding bogans, which oddly enough are the same people that are the cause of so many problems our leftist thinkers point out recieve their entitlements. Which guess what? instills a new sense of empowerment. Which only re-enforces a growing sense of entitlement. I want a better house, I want my kids at a better school, I want three flat screens and two cars, I want a yearly overseas jaunt.

    Why haven’t I got it? What are you going to do to make it possible? Punishment will be swift for anything except complete acknowledgement and acceptence of the all needs, now morphed to entitlements. Which means to even think about denying is now viewed as a form of theft.

    Mr Quiggin rather than be honest about the abject waste batts, halls, and oddles of underserved compensation etc is, you defend it if undertaken by your preferred political ideology. You even stated that it didn’t really make any difference where or what the money went toward.

    So here we are at the point of arguing the merits of a personal home expense like pink batts being placed in overly large home owned by “bogan” types that Mr Quiggin is down right hostile toward. Many of this down trodden and tortured once grow up in household too proud to take governement money they were legally available to them, because “they needed really need it”, “and it would be better going some place that does”.

    This life saving stimulus spending has meet the criteria for success, making pink batts for bogans the equal importance of say a 3 billion investment in education, training, grants and so forth.

    Where are we at? Well we now have a government desprately trying to find money (one way is by cutting 600 mill from research), so as the maximum amount can be found to offer these people the spending that is so important to gain the power and the right to spend more government money on their growing needs. Which of course means finding cuts to things these people place little importance toward.

    Leftists, convice a bunch of people they need something, so as they can attain it, and a clear new sense of their power, all so one can end up with less of the thing one set out to gain in the first place.

    That’s the thing about winning, it’s a lot like morals, it meaning isn’t a universially accepted one.

    Let’s get out their and convince people they should control what we all can watch, read, and hear. It can only be for the greater good in the end.

  18. Julie Thomas
    October 17th, 2012 at 19:33 | #18

    John you say “Which only re-enforces a growing sense of entitlement. I want a better house, I want my kids at a better school, I want three flat screens and two cars, I want a yearly overseas jaunt.”

    I’ve always thought that it was the amoral marketing by ‘the capitalists’ that has taken away our values and left us sheeple wanting more and more stuff.

    Surely you have noticed that it is the ads, not the government, that encourage us to be really bad people and actually use the seven deadly sins – sloth, envy, lust, gluttony, etc, to sell us stuff? It is the capitalists that have done this social engineering and made us believe we are ‘entitled’.

    So the way I see it the government is spending money to pay for the damage that the capitalists do. It is capitalists who make the useless food that makes us fat. They make the things that discourage us from being active and doing things for ourselves. Did you know that orange growers are going out of business because we are now too lazy to peel oranges; we want mandarins.

    It is capitalism and the example set by the 1% that encourages us to climb that ladder and step on the person below. It is the desire of capitalists to make more profit that encourages us to throw good stuff out and buy new things. Where did thrift go? It is not the government that encourages us to feel entitled.

  19. October 17th, 2012 at 19:37 | #19

    Why should he be allowed to and yet I can’t?

    You can Fred. It’s called blogging.

  20. October 17th, 2012 at 19:40 | #20

    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.

    As an alternative to this, John, the government could try being less crap. Personally I don’t have any problem with biased journalism, as the pose of ‘fair’ and ‘balanced’ journalism is not only boring but often quite dishonest anyway.

  21. Fran Barlow
    October 17th, 2012 at 20:08 | #21

    @TimT

    As an alternative to this, John, the government could try being less crap. Personally I don’t have any problem with biased journalism, as the pose of ‘fair’ and ‘balanced’ journalism is not only boring but often quite dishonest anyway.

    Like you, I reject the notions of ‘bias’ and ‘balance’ as misleading and at best useless. On the other hand, a commitment to professional journalism — selecting salient data, not claiming things you know or ought to suppose were misleading or wrong — is a reasonable thing. Being accountable for the things one claims in public space, admitting both error and its provenance are fair things to expect of journalists, IMO.

    You don’t specify what you mean by the government “being less crap”, but even allowing for the sake of argument that they were crap, that would not relieve journalists of the responsibility of trying to do a professional job in reporting on its activity. Likewise, even if the government were paragons of accountability, competence and pursuit of equity in public policy — on your model the journalists could defame them at will and use their near monopoly control of public discourse to subvert the possibility of most people making informed decsions about the quality of the regime. I don’t see how that could be a good thing.

    So what the government “might try” is a red herring. We are not discussing the quality of the regime here but the quality of the media and their right to be accorded privileges.

  22. John Quiggin
    October 17th, 2012 at 20:44 | #22

    @TimT

    As Fran says, you’re missing the point. I don’t have a problem with biased writing or even with the dishonesty inevitable in political propaganda. It’s just that the term “journalist” carries a bunch of connotations which include a degree of objectivity and truthfulness not found in the Murdoch Press. Once we recognise that those connotations don’t apply, we can respond sensibly to the fact that the Oz routinely prints lies when they help its political allies or harm its enemies (as noted, identities may change depending on Murdoch’s commercial needs and political whims).

  23. Jim Rose
    October 17th, 2012 at 21:45 | #23

    on objectivity and truthfulness, many a muckracking journalist is disqualified.

    the news emerges from a contest of views, a clash of opinions and a continual tension between competing groups. the decent chaps rule never works. critical evaluation is better.

  24. TerjeP
    October 17th, 2012 at 21:57 | #24

    the government could try being less crap.

    LOL! I used to think that. But on reflection I think they have tried and it hasn’t worked. They’re still crap.

  25. rog
    October 17th, 2012 at 22:45 | #25

    Ultimately Murdoch is committed to growing his global media entertainment business and the Oz is just another stream.

  26. Jill Rush
    October 17th, 2012 at 23:39 | #26

    I looked at the Australian in the coffee shop I visited today. However the headlines on the front page gave me no reason to even pick up the free paper for a look over a cuppa. I agree that the Government should ignore the people who claim to be journalists who write for this paper as the headlines alone showed the strong anti government bias. Pulling government advertising was a good start.
    TerjeP and TimT perhaps the government isn’t crap but you just think that because of the biased media you read. Just look at last week when the PM delivered a speech which has few equals and the MSM decided to tell everybody that it was crap. Because people could see it for themselves many formed the opinion that the opinion pieces were the real crap. It does show how a biased media taints the democracy and makes the idea of a contest of ideas impossible if the MSM is the standard as there was no contest there at all.

  27. October 18th, 2012 at 00:26 | #27

    Residents and visitors to the Gold Coast have many newspapers they can read.

    We have Rupert’s ‘Courier-Mail’, Rupert’s (ironically named) ‘The Australian’, Rupert’s ‘Gold Coast Bulletin’ and, increasingly, Rupert’s ‘Daily Telegraph’.

    They are all consistently crap. I find it interesting that over the years trolls like to defend Rupert’s right to publish crap but I never see them standing up an argument about how that crap is of any value to this country.

    As a journalist with a website I see nothing terrifying in the Finklestein suggestions. I would be happy to even have a law that says we couldn’t publish “lies”.

    Speaking of which, today’s “Bully” (the very appropriate local term for Murdoch’s ‘Gold Coast Bulletin’) had as its front page screaming headline a story about how the evil ‘fun police’ had banned the traditional ‘burnouts’ etc.. from this weekend’s V8 event.

    Of course the story wasn’t true.

    It was a lie.

    It was fabricated, made up, false, untrue, dishonest, fake and so on….

    These people are not journalists. They are the type of people who hack a dead child’s phone for fun. They are, to use Rupert’s terminology, scum.

    There is no such thing as a “good” News Ltd employee. They are enablers.

    Scum.

  28. TerjeP
    October 18th, 2012 at 03:28 | #28

    Just look at last week when the PM delivered a speech which has few equals and the MSM decided to tell everybody that it was crap.

    The incident last week actually lowered my regard for this government. And I had thought we were at rock bottom already. My view is that many in the main stream media opened their eyes for a change.

    This government is crap. It deals in dirt. It lies. It spends recklessly. It implements dud policies. It protects the most shady and shonky of characters on the most ludicrous of pretexts. Most of the mainstream media has been biased in favour of this government and has failed to hold it fully to account. If the media is now belatedly saying the government is crap it is not because of anti government bias but because of a decline in pro government sympathies and the underlying reality that this government really is crap.

  29. TerjeP
    October 18th, 2012 at 05:35 | #29

    Back to Johns point about privileged status for media outlets. I think revoking press passes for News limited wouldn’t work in the governments favour. However it could give it a go if it wants to further paint itself as a government preoccupied with petty things. And if we were to rank government privileges given to media outlets then surely the elephant in the room is the fact that the ABC is given a mountain of taxpayers money.

  30. JB Cairns
    October 18th, 2012 at 07:45 | #30

    Terje, please give some substance to your ‘opinions’.

    Take spends recklessly for instance.
    you do know the public sector is detracting from Growth this financial year.

    Can you explain how a contractionary budget is spending recklessly?

    That is just one point.

    One could take you to task on the others but it would take a lot f time

  31. Fran Barlow
    October 18th, 2012 at 07:47 | #31

    @TerjeP

    Predictable but implausible attempt at a thread derail. This topic is not about the quality of the government but about the quality of the media. There is no case for arguing that News Ltd is describing the sweep of government policy in the way that would a professional observer.

    Your amateur copy and paste from Menzies-IPA-Catallaxy doesn’t change that.

  32. Lloyd
    October 18th, 2012 at 08:05 | #32

    On the plus side Shanahan and Sheridan are the best comedy act in the Australian media especially Sheridan’s line about Abbott’s meeting with SBY being ‘a defining moment in Australian diplomatic history’.

    More gold here.

    http://hyperbolicgreg.tumblr.com

  33. TerjeP
    October 18th, 2012 at 08:06 | #33

    Predictable but implausible attempt at a thread derail. This topic is not about the quality of the government but about the quality of the media.

    Why blame me? Sure I may have added to the discussion about the quality of the government but it wasn’t me that started it.

  34. Katz
    October 18th, 2012 at 08:12 | #34

    Most of the mainstream media has been biased in favour of this government and has failed to hold it fully to account.

    Depends on what you mean by “fully”, TerjeP. There are some who allege that Gillard caused her father to “die of shame”. Are you disappointed that the sections of the media not controlled by Murdoch haven’t investigated this proposition with sufficient diligence?

  35. TerjeP
    October 18th, 2012 at 08:15 | #35

    Terje, please give some substance to your ‘opinions’.

    Normally I would oblige and justify my criticism of the government however two things lead me to hesitate:-

    1. I’ve already being accused of derailing the discussion. Following your lead would probably just take us down further rabbit holes.
    2. My opinion was offered as a subjective retort to Jill’s subjective view point. We’re just playing “she thinks, he thinks”. She thinks the media showed bias this past week, I think it momentarily overcame some of it’s bias. It’s hard to sustain objective arguments about subjective views of bias. Especially when there are elements of a tribal divide. If Jill wants to pursue the matter then I may engage but for the moment I will pass up on the opportunity.

  36. TerjeP
    October 18th, 2012 at 08:21 | #36

    Katz – as far as I know only one commentator (Alan Jones) has said that Julie Gillards father died of shame. Alan Jones was being a complete arsehole. His remarks were condemned by all sides of politics. Nobody has defended the remark or suggested he should stand by the remark.

  37. Fran Barlow
    October 18th, 2012 at 08:31 | #37

    @TerjeP

    Why blame me? Sure I may have added to the discussion about the quality of the government but it wasn’t me that started it.

    Because you added to it? If one person starts doing the wrong thing, it doesn’t mean that the door is open for others to compound the problem. Your responsibility continues.

    This topic is about what (if anything) should be done about the quality of News Ltd. How “crap” one thinks the government is, is quite a separate matter — and something we discuss regularly in other topics.

  38. Ron E Joggles
    October 18th, 2012 at 09:15 | #38

    @John
    For Heaven’s sake! You can’t reasonably discount the overwhelming dominance of the Murdoch press – the relentless bias of the Australian and other News Ltd papers is in large measure responsible for the poor image of the Gillard govt and the failure to nail Tony Abbott for his lack of vision or even clear policies.
    The few “left wing” commentators don’t come within a bull’s roar of the coverage and influence of Murdoch’s disingenous spruikers.

  39. TerjeP
    October 18th, 2012 at 10:00 | #39

    Fran – perhaps I should have asked “why single me out?”. I agree we should try and stay on the main topic as a general rule but I doubt that is a rule you could consistently live up to yourself. In short don’t be too precious.

  40. Julie Thomas
    October 18th, 2012 at 10:16 | #40

    “the relentless bias of the Australian and other News Ltd papers is in large measure responsible for the poor image of the Gillard govt and the failure to nail Tony Abbott for his lack of vision or even clear policies.”

    I think propaganda is the right word for this lack of fairness, objectivity and lack of interest in an alternative narrative.

  41. Troy Prideaux
    October 18th, 2012 at 10:28 | #41

    Lateline had a similar discussion last Friday with News Ltd’s Campbell Reid and Prof Rod Tiffen re: media integrity and the effectiveness of the Press Council etc. Reid conceded on 2 occasions that they’ve received an unusually large amount of complaints regarding the reporting of climate change, but appeared to brush it off as something they were willing to not act on.

  42. ts
    October 18th, 2012 at 10:38 | #42

    The left and the right are just as guilty as each other of indulging in groupthink and circlejerks, publishing only that which suits their particular world view.

    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.

    I would caution against setting such a petty precedent, thought that is only my humble opinion.

  43. rog
    October 18th, 2012 at 12:16 | #43

    ACMA and 2GB have come to an arrangement whereby Jones will be subjected to increased monitoring by 2GB

    http://www.acma.gov.au/WEB/STANDARD..PC/pc=PC_600069

  44. Newtownian
    October 18th, 2012 at 12:20 | #44

    @rog

    This is the quote:

    “Alan Jones’ new porkies test: fact-checker for shock jock (18 Oct)
    Alan Jones’ editorial comments will be fact-checked before going to air, under a deal struck between 2GB management and the Australian Communications and Media Authority. The controversial broadcaster will also undergo training next month to ensure his on-air statements are factually accurate and that he understands the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice.”

    The mind boggles at Alan Jones ‘undergoing training’. Who will be the lucky facilitator. Will questions from the trainee be allowed. Will this be a group exercise or a one on one. I would love to be a fly on that wall.

  45. Fran Barlow
    October 18th, 2012 at 13:35 | #45

    @TerjeP

    I agree we should try and stay on the main topic as a general rule but I doubt that is a rule you could consistently live up to yourself. In short don’t be too precious.

    That’s fair comment. I have been known to take a rather expansive view of what the topic boundaries are. Most recently, I became involved on the “boycott hate radio” topic in a diversion about the history of the left and IIRC Ernerstine called me on it. I stopped and returned to the topic.

    In my case, while wandering off topic was wrong — I shouldn’t have taken the bait — nobody will suppose I was keen to run interference on a topic in which I’m invested. 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

    a) It smells like a call for regulation — which for you is hot button issue
    b) you regard an Abbott regime as less objectionable and News Ltd is therefore defensible because it is trolling the regime

  46. Geoff Andrews
    October 18th, 2012 at 14:07 | #46

    Already been done by a right wing government, ts.
    In the 1980′s, Bjelke-Petersen referred to giving a news conference as “feeding the chooks”.
    He didn’t ban news organisations; only specific reporters, obliging that reporter’s employer to send someone who would report his “chook food” favourably. It worked.

  47. Will
    October 18th, 2012 at 14:17 | #47

    While it is undeniable that Murdoch uses the political influence of his media empire to support his incumbent, rent-seeking privilege, it is trivially false to suggest this is somehow a neutral or apolitical process of picking the winner to sustain commercial advantage.

    Murdoch is not Roger Ailes but he is certainly a dogmatic ideological conservative. This narrative cannot account for countless instances of politicians coming to him as supplicant, and receiving it under specific ideological conditions which have nothing to do with his business interests. For example, see Tony Blair and Euroscepticism and the Iraq War.

    Nor can it account for the day-to-day uniform bias against any nominally progressive politics, the fawning and credulous attitude to movement conservatism and reactionary politics that pervades both straight report and editorial pages in all his mastheads, and the lack of any sustained and serious scrutiny that goes to the conservative side. \

    It is true that a politician facing an inevitable win, will most likely receive an imprimatur of “heart of the nation” as part of bet-hedging. But that simple truism ignores the fact that Murdoch has traditionally already extracted a price from the candidate just to get in the race and have a career in the first place that aspires to leadership. Even so, any nominal progressive faces the headwinds of negative coverage that by tooth and claw will always favour the conservative up until there is no scintilla of doubt that the conservative cannot win.

    For example, the much touted example of The Oz backing Rudd was preceded by months of disingenuous coverage by their political team trying to spin every indicia of polling that could conceivably suggest another Howard term. Had the race been even remotely competitive that endorsement would never have even happened. It is intellectual sophistry of the the highest order to suggest such endorsements are somehow neutral decisions that simply reflect organic democratic preferences – when all his coverage is fundamentally ideology and all non-conservative hedges are made in absolute last resort when even the most dishonest coverage has failed to sway the electorate the other way.

  48. Geoff Andrews
    October 18th, 2012 at 14:30 | #48

    @TerjeP
    TerjeP, assuming “the government” has lied (you probably mean a person in the government), to which lie or lies are you referring?
    Would the pink batts fiasco, the ill-conceived solar panel subsidy scheme and the dud BER school grants be examples of reckless spending?

  49. ts
    October 18th, 2012 at 14:33 | #49

    Geoff Andrews :Already been done by a right wing government, ts.In the 1980′s, Bjelke-Petersen referred to giving a news conference as “feeding the chooks”.He didn’t ban news organisations; only specific reporters, obliging that reporter’s employer to send someone who would report his “chook food” favourably. It worked.

    Contemptible behaviour by a government as I’m sure you’d agree.

    Probably not a good example to follow, no matter what your political persuasion.

  50. JB Cairns
    October 18th, 2012 at 14:54 | #50

    by golly Geoff,

    The BER taskforce didn’t find it was a dud, Far from it.

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

    Just for the record feeding the chooks was another of giving news to reporters.

    well done Geoff

  51. Fran Barlow
    October 18th, 2012 at 15:09 | #51

    @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.

  52. Will
    October 18th, 2012 at 15:11 | #52

    @ 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.

  53. Will
    October 18th, 2012 at 15:14 | #53

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

  54. Fran Barlow
    October 18th, 2012 at 15:27 | #54

    @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.

  55. Jim Rose
    October 18th, 2012 at 15:45 | #55

    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.

  56. Fran Barlow
    October 18th, 2012 at 15:48 | #56

    @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 ….

  57. Jim Rose
    October 18th, 2012 at 15:58 | #57

    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

  58. Fran Barlow
    October 18th, 2012 at 16:13 | #58

    @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.

  59. rog
    October 18th, 2012 at 16:42 | #59

    @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.

  60. Jim Rose
    October 18th, 2012 at 16:58 | #60

    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.

  61. Markus
    October 18th, 2012 at 17:31 | #61

    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.

  62. rog
    October 18th, 2012 at 17:58 | #62

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

  63. rog
    October 18th, 2012 at 18:05 | #63

    @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.

  64. Katz
    October 18th, 2012 at 18:11 | #64

    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!!

  65. Fran Barlow
    October 18th, 2012 at 18:13 | #65

    @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.

  66. Jim Rose
    October 18th, 2012 at 19:17 | #66

    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.

  67. October 18th, 2012 at 19:21 | #67

    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!

  68. Katz
    October 18th, 2012 at 19:28 | #68

    @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.

  69. Jim Rose
    October 18th, 2012 at 19:41 | #69

    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.

  70. TerjeP
    October 18th, 2012 at 20:37 | #70

    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.

  71. wilful
    October 18th, 2012 at 21:22 | #71

    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.

  72. Will
    October 18th, 2012 at 22:51 | #72

    “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.

  73. Will
    October 18th, 2012 at 23:08 | #73

    “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.

  74. Jill Rush
    October 18th, 2012 at 23:22 | #74

    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.

  75. John Brookes
    October 19th, 2012 at 00:42 | #75

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

  76. October 19th, 2012 at 00:47 | #76

    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.

  77. John Brookes
    October 19th, 2012 at 01:00 | #77

    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.

  78. October 19th, 2012 at 01:02 | #78

    @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.

  79. Newtownian
    October 19th, 2012 at 06:01 | #79

    @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.

  80. paul walter
    October 19th, 2012 at 07:02 | #80

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

  81. October 19th, 2012 at 10:24 | #81

    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.

  82. may
    October 19th, 2012 at 13:32 | #82

    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.

  83. Geoff Andrews
    October 19th, 2012 at 15:51 | #83

    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.

  84. Jim Rose
    October 19th, 2012 at 16:51 | #84

    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.

  85. Geoff Andrews
    October 19th, 2012 at 17:08 | #85

    @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.

  86. Graeme Bird
    October 19th, 2012 at 17:31 | #86

    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.

  87. Newtownian
    October 19th, 2012 at 18:20 | #87

    @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.

  88. TerjeP
    October 19th, 2012 at 18:25 | #88

    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?

  89. Jim Rose
    October 19th, 2012 at 18:42 | #89

    @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.

  90. Jim Rose
    October 19th, 2012 at 18:57 | #90

    @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.

  91. Newtownian
    October 19th, 2012 at 19:00 | #91

    @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.

  92. October 19th, 2012 at 20:04 | #92

    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…)

  93. rog
    October 19th, 2012 at 21:06 | #93

    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.

  94. Jim Rose
    October 19th, 2012 at 21:54 | #94

    @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)

  95. October 20th, 2012 at 00:37 | #95

    @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.

  96. rog
    October 20th, 2012 at 07:49 | #96

    @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).

  97. rog
  98. Philip Machanick
    October 20th, 2012 at 23:02 | #98

    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.

  99. Fran Barlow
    October 25th, 2012 at 15:33 | #99

    @Philip Machanick

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

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