Yes, I’m writing on this topic again. On the same topic that I wrote about last week in response to Mr Denmore and the same topic that my mother, Kay Rollison, has written so eloquently about today. There’s more to be said and no doubt I will keep saying more because this topic is important.
I’m talking about the quality of our mainstream press.
I’m sure mainstream journalists who write about politics in Australia have noticed how angry huge swaths of the politically engaged populace are with them and their measly efforts at ‘journalism’. I often wonder what they think about the criticism they receive, week in, week out on social media, blogs and independent news sites. But I’m not likely to find out, because to tell us, they would have to reveal what they really think, and as I’ve already established, this is a big no no. Having an opinion is akin to hysterical nonsense in their world. So they end up saying nothing at all. They end up saying ‘the Opposition Leader says’ while we all yell at our TV’s ‘so what? This is completely irrelevant!’
I’ve been thinking this week about how has this sorry situation occurred. How has it come about that we have an oversupply of right wing commentators and talking heads all over our TV, including the ABC, but we never seem to hear from anyone who is willing to go out on limb and say anything about the successes of the Labor government? There are a couple out there, I will admit. Channel 10’s Paul Bongiorno is one who battles on, giving his opinion on policy and sometimes even debating on Twitter, proudly showing off what he really thinks about political news. But the fact that Bongiorno stands out as not always negative about the Gillard government, while there are literally tens of journalists, commentators, columnists and personalities on News Ltd, Fairfax and the ABC who are openly partisan towards the right, openly hostile about the Gillard government, and completely unreasonable when it comes to balance and accuracy, shows just how slim pickings there are for a left-wing audience. And I’ve got a hypothesis about why this is the case.
The problem is, the likes of Andrew Bolt in all his revolting disrespect for facts, accuracy and balance, scares the pants off journalists who don’t want to appear to be as downright unprofessional and dodgy as this gutter dweller is. It’s like their thought process works as follows:
‘Andrew Bolt agrees with everything Abbott does, and hates everything Gillard does. He is quite obviously a terrible excuse for a journalist. He is a propagandist and is untrustworthy. If I endorse anything Gillard does, I’m just a left-wing version of Bolt and this is not the type of journalist I want to be. I’m above that’.
The whole ‘above it’ argument has been brought up again by Jonathon Green on the Drum this week. The headline is all you really need to read to understand Green’s point: Journalism tainted by conviction isn’t journalism. Conviction. Defined as “a firmly held belief or opinion”. Green’s basically saying if you have a a firmly held belief or opinion as a journalist, you are tainted. You are alike to Andrew Bolt. But here lies the problem. There are so many journalists making such an effort not to be ‘tainted’, they are missing the fact that their lack of conviction is destroying their work. Because they have no conviction, or they hide their conviction in order to make it appear they are pure and unaffected, they end up being nothing and offering their audience crap.
It’s no wonder so many of us are frustrated. Because it’s perfectly clear that while the left has this problem, the right doesn’t.
Let’s pause for a moment and think about this left/right divide. If I write that I think the Gonksi education reforms are a fantastic idea and will be good for the long term success of the Australian economy and I provide evidence for why I have this view, am I automatically ‘tainted’ as a ‘lefty’? Remember I’m analysing the policy and I’m providing evidence for why I think it’s a good policy. Does this make me a Labor stooge? Does this make me a propagandist? Does this make me a tainted ‘lefty’? No. It doesn’t. I’m not behaving like Bolt in any way shape or form. Because Bolt doesn’t use facts. He prefers to misrepresent them. He prefers to use hyperbole, mock outrage and general nastiness towards people he doesn’t agree with. He doesn’t reason. He doesn’t analyse. And his conclusions are always utterly predictable and easy to refute. But somehow, journalists have let the Bolts of the world win by using this tactic, as they have convinced themselves that if they say anything complimentary about the Gillard government, they’ll be tainted in the same way Bolt is who obviously campaigns for Abbott regardless of what he think of his policies.
It’s quite obvious that the reason there is an abundance of left wing bloggers, and a distinct shortage of right wing ones, is because the right have their opinions adequately covered in the mainstream press, and the left are screaming out for a voice. So us bloggers are doing the job of journalists in analysing policy and providing our thoughts on the impact of these policies. We can’t find this analysis elsewhere so we write it ourselves. Let’s be clear – we’re not doing this because we’re campaigning for the Labor party. We have convictions that we have no intention of hiding. We’re not in anyone’s pocket and there’s no vested interests dictating our views. Just because I’m a Labor voter, and proud to say it, does not mean I’ve given up the right to analyse with an objective eye. Each and every post I write is filtered through my view of the world – which is all any one can ask of any writer or journalists. In fact, most independent bloggers I read, who would be considered ‘left wing’, are critical of the Labor party when they feel it’s warranted. And we’re always very particular about getting our facts right. We’re doing the job of the journalists too when it comes to correcting the official trail of lies the right wingers in our press leave in their wake. For example, since journalists aren’t pulling Andrew Bolt up on his blatant misrepresentation of climate change (and his insult to mathematics), independent bloggers like Greg Jericho point out these facts instead.
Independent writers and bloggers seem to have more conviction in one post, than the mainstream media have collectively in all their work. Mainstream journalists don’t care that Abbott’s Opposition are constantly distorting the facts about the current state of the Australian economy and the size of Australia’s debt. They don’t care that a well orchestrated campaign was carried out within the Liberal National Party to force the resignation of the Speaker, to try to force an early election. They don’t care that Abbott’s Direct Action policy has been left un-scrutinised, while the story about climate change and the Carbon Price was all about Gillard’s supposed ‘lie’. If they had even an ounce of conviction (not left or right, just plain old conviction about right and wrong), how could they possibly ignore this? How can we trust what they say if they are so determined not to care about anything? Surely this is the definition of tainted; writing without conviction.
The question of balance is also one that needs to be examined. Does balance mean being negative about Gillard one day, and positive the next, while being equally negative and positive about Abbott? Do climate change deniers funded by vested interests get the same access to an audience as distinguished scientists who have proved time and time again that the deniers are wrong? Of course balance means none of these things. Gillard should only get positive coverage when her government deserves it. But when you look at the facts, and the resulting coverage, there is a huge hole when it comes to positive stories about the Gillard government. Balance is the ability to weigh up facts fairly, to report these facts fairly and to provide analysis of the impact of these facts fairly, without prejudice or dishonesty. There is no simpler way to explain it.
Frankly, I’ve had enough of the whole scene and I don’t think I’m alone. While Abbott gets a free run in a cowardly press, who refuse to question anything he does, while Gillard’s achievements are buried and her problems over-exaggerated or created, and while the right wing mouth-pieces get free rein to say anything they want without any standards of fact-checking or decency applied, we are all losers. While journalists are ducking and weaving to hide their convictions, all that is left for the thinking public is to find analysis and inspiration elsewhere. And if we can’t find it, we write it ourselves.
Some time ago, I was in conversation on Twitter which included Latika Bourke. My point (kept simple for twitter) is that journalists seemed to be leaving universities without the ability to research and with only 5 minute memories. The conversation went to and forth until eventually Latika called me deranged. I have heard that she is quick to ‘unfollow’ but didn’t bother to find whether she had done that to me. One Tweep said to me that its all about journalists being ‘inept stenographers’. I queried this because I didn’t understand. He then sent me a link and I did remember. The link was to the famous Stephen Colbert speech at the Foreign Correspondents Dinner at the White House in the early days of George W. Bush’s presidency in which Colbert lambasted them for being inept stenographers who took down in their notebooks exactly what the President’s press secretary said; asked no challenging questions; and went away to type up exactly what had been said.
Victoria a great article.
I have allowed myself to read Michelle Grattan on the conversation and I find she has not changed with her constant carping at this government with conducting policy analysis I put Michelle Grattan and Sally Warhaft and another lightweight commentator Annabelle Crabb what a lightweight lot but we then have to put with the clowns from Murdoch on the ABC with the likes of Ackerman, Henderson, and that little flower Niki Sava. Maley from Fairfax and we then have to contend with junior journalists from the ABC like Lattica Bourke and she is a BURKE any one with political nouse has left the ABC because of its move to only promote right wing ideology. I remain angry with Rudd for allowing that liberal party stooge to stay as chairman of the ABC.
Thank you again for your blog and I will continue to go to your Blog whenever I go to the internet.
I agree with you Tex. Howard sacked a few permanent Heads of Departments just to show who’s the boss. The Labor Party never cleaned out the stacked Government Departments or LNP appointees at the ABC; they just want to play by the rules from an earlier and more innocent era. Subsequently the rightwing commentary from the ABC masquerades as balanced reporting. I’m very disappointed by the man Rudd, as PM and for lacking courage when others take a personal risk to allow him to challenge. When Gillard was asked by the Party to step up Rudd never went to a ballot, but simply resigned, and kept up an underground course of destabalisation which allowed Abbott & Co the air space to criticise non-stop for more than three years. The rest is history.
A wonderful post, as we have come to expect from you, Victoria. Declining newspaper sales, lack of belief in TV and radio news, all seems not to have changed anything.
What is the most extraordinary thing is how unrepentant the MSM is for allowing these distortions to occur and to allow reporting to lapse into “He said, she said” type of rubbish. Not that the relaying of opinion is any better – in fact it’s worse. The prevailing consensus is that Labor should either replace Gillard or give up now, because the situation is so hopeless.
There has been no attempt to examine policy, the quality of management and administration and the governance of the country. Tex mentioned Grattan, supposedly one of the Press Gallery doyens, who has probably got the shock of her life since going to The Conversation where she has encountered informed readers who want a little more than the pap she churns out. That she hasn’t learned from this hostility suggests the problem runs very deep.
Considering the one-sided rubbish we have had to swallow over the past three years, we should not have been surprised that all of the Press Gallery, and most of the MSM initially, completely dismissed or ignored the significance of the PM’s Misogyny Speech.
Did they apologize at all for such a complete failure? Not on your nelly! It was all about “context”, you see, and Gillard’s speech was still piss-poor in relation to context. That the rest of the world saw it so easily didn’t change their position. That Gillard soon afterwards was mobbed by adoring young women in India as a role model was covered in the TV news-clips but not enough to change local media opinions or even discuss.
We have been asked to believe that black is white and so very few have the courage or integrity to challenge that distortion.
Its clear from your piece that you are unhappy about the bad press that The Gillard government has been getting but instead of considering to what extent that bad press was well deserved you are blaming the messengers. I know that you don’t want to believe that Gillard has done anything wrong but she and her party have been a disaster for the country and worse yet she has been in command of a party that is self destructing right before our eyes.
Finally you are very much mistaken about there not being many conservative bloggers out there and your citation of Michael’s piece at the AIMN has to be a joke if my experience is anything to go by you minions of the left have only limited ability to engage with contrary view points in a civil manner especially when we have the tide of public opinion running with us.
Finally its clear that you are a believer in the AGW proposition but its also clear that it is over as a significant issue in Australia and the warministas have lost the argument. Even the ALP have no mention of climate change on the election website.
This period of Labor government is going to go down in history as the prime example of an administration that having got into power had no idea how to govern properly, clearly no idea how to be decent fiscal managers and no idea of the importance of honesty to the people who elected them.
Iain Why do you not stick preaching your values on your own sight and produce your political comment their because you have nothing of value to add to the conversation that is why and nobody listens to your rubbish so you have to come onto other blogs to try and put you rubbish ideas.
No analysis of the article just generalised argument because you have no facts to support your statements.
When did the previous administration have a perfect record lets puts some facts before you.
Sale of the gold reserves under there value
Sale of Telstra to the citizens when they were getting a Billion dollars a year in revenue.
They claimed to wipe out the $96,000,000 but $40,000,000 was the legacy from Fraser and Howard from the recession of the 1980s that they left behind.
What did the IMF say about that administration of Howard and Costello they said they were profligate so do not come onto this site and tell your version of prudent financial management because what we saw from those two was a splurge to buy votes at election time with middle class welfare millionaires super contribution baby bonus produced a housing bubble and transferred with high interest rates and private debt bubble that could have and may in the long term produce a collapse in the housing market because it is over valued.
There a lots of instances their poor management but you will deny that of them because you cant see their faults.
Now go back to your own blog and talk to your self because nobody else listens to you right wing rubbish.
Well you are listening enough to compose your rant here so that blows your own argument to jell doesn’t it?
Further the evidence of the national polling is surely that those of your political persuasion are roundly contemned by the majority of voters so if anyone is not being listened too its you Lefties.
You know I could have gone through Victoria’s article line by line and made a detailed rebuttal of her arguement(I’m famous for doing so) however I think my comment got to the crux of her argument with simple brevity .
I actually agree with criticisms of some of your citations above(marked with #) however all of those are very small beer compared to the crap that we have had from Labor under Rudd and Gillard.
Hmm I think you mean billions rather than the millions you claim here but besides that its just a sign that the Labor party have no commitment to clearing government debt when they are in office.
Yep I’ll admit that the coalition have not in the past been perfect however they do seem to have been scoring well above the ALP most of the time which makes them at least the lesser of the evils when it comes to fiscal management and as such a better choice for the country going into the future that the utterly disgraced Labor party.
Oh Tex you are being so presumptuous considering that this is not your blog 😆
Dear Ian. Mr Murdoch, ever since she became Prime Minister, wanted Gillard gone, and Tony has done the best he could to ‘get rid of her’. Ridicule, slogans, personal attacks etc… Nothing seemed to have worked. Destabalisation from without and within: nothing. Plots to get rid of Slipper by using Ashby did not have the desired outcome. Never in the history of the Australian Federation ‘have so many tried so hard to achieve so little’. Murdoch wanted results: Now! His papers gave the lead for the MSM in the all-out frontal assault to pull Gillard down. Stil no results. Yet not a word about this civil war in the media! No criticism of the baffoons that masquerade as the Opposition. No stupidity on the part of Abbott ever dwelt on or examined: nothing! Yet Gillard, who has the strength and internal fortitude to appear by her-self to face hostile audiences on Q & A several times, has calmly soldiered on. Short comings in her administration there are, but is there a debate out there on these? No: only relentless onslaught rather than insightful dissection. The electorate may surprise you when the election comes and Tony Abbott is not seen to sweep into power on a landslide. Nothing in his demeanour convinces the electorate that this is a statesman worthy of the role to take the place of Julia Gillard. Despite the propaganda from the Murdoch empire: and his silencensing of any indication to the contrary, Julia Gillard may surprise, and Tony Abbott may disappoint many come the election.
Thank you Robbie for coming into support my Argument with Iain Hall he trolls the web to spread his untruths about this government without ever any substantiation but he has to use other peoples blogs because he would have very limited hits on his own. because people see through him for what he is a right wing blogger without facts to backup his statements the same as coward Abbott will not present himself to scrutiny by an independent media he will run to his mates like Lewis of Ashby fame to try to get favourable press with the likes of the set up of the arrest of Thomson during Abbotts press address and also connivance of the Victoria police under the control a police Minister who has shown himself to be corrupt by the mess they left getting rid of respected Chief Commissioner.
So when we read the likes of Iain Hall on this or other web sites we know he will try to defend the indefensible Liebral party.
I flat out don’t for a minute buy into the big conspiracy theories about the Murdoch media pulling lots of strings against a blameless and beyond reproach Labor Government. You undermine your own argument by insisting on calling the opposition “buffoons” when its obvious to everyone with a functional set of eyes that The coalition are out playing Labor in every encounter and on every issue. You see its a fundamental part of all politics that you not only have to have the right ideas but also the right political skills to Shepard those ideas from conception to completion and Labor just can’t get that gamesmanship right on anything,
you will have to accept the reality of Labor’s failings come September when they suffer the biggest rout in my life time and the sooner you cam move on from denying that truth the sooner you can work through your grieving for the terrible demise of Labor that is to come.
Victoria, you ask
The answer for me is fairly straightforward. Most commentators in print and electronic media willing to say anything about the successes of the Labor government have either been retrenched, retired or fired or live in fear of one of those fates. Since much of our media is largely owned by one man determined to promote a Coalition government which he knows will grant him ownership of the developing NBN and massive profits in the future he is quite willing for his old media interests of the past to be exploited, even destroyed, to achieve that and to bring down Labor. He knows that newsprint journalism is a dying industry anyway. so he is not interested in balance or quality,
With respect that utter bollocks, anyone who has been watching the media must have noticed that now even the ABC and Fairfax are now being openly critical of the government, not because they are fearing unemployment but because the government deserves to be critisied for its ineptitude.
You are factually wrong to suggest that one man (Rupert Murdoch)”largely owns all of the media”, he does not own the ABC SBS, Fairfax media, or most of the commercial free to air TV and your conspiracy theory about the NBN is equally bonkers.
Like it or not the sad fact is that Labor are responsible for their own demise because they have utterly failed the most fundamental rules of government and financial management namely they were spending far more than they were collecting and thought that this would never catch up with them. Sadly it has and now they will pay the price with a very long stint in the political wilderness.
What a load of bollocks, Iain. How can the over-representation of IPA hacks on ABC be classed as ‘balanced’? They are paid shills for tobacco, mining,banking, casinos, media-Murdoch and other interests. They make a habit of complaining about the ABC just being there for lounge-chair elitists- Yet they’re quite happy to hog a platform which should more ethically be in the hands of academic specialists. But I suppose you’d regard them as too biased, spending all that grants money on hoaxes like climate change.
If you don’t think the ABC has changed since Howard, Newman and Scott, watch this investigation of the IPA from 2001
Now, the point I’d make is that it’s inconceivable that something like that would be aired on the ABC today. Yet the report is perfectly factual.
Your ‘warmista’ terminology gives you away, Iain. It’s not a matter of winning the media or political argument. It’s a matter of addressing the scientific evidence. Monckton doesn’t count then. Most of us accept scientific findings in every other endeavour – some still have a little trouble with evolution, but on religious grounds, not scientific. The objections to taking any action on climate change are not scientific – they’re merely economic and political.
If you’d rather put your faith in cults, that’s your choice. If I’ve got a medical problem I tend to put my confidence in medical science.
There there, mon petit,
Have a Bex, a cuppa, and a good lie down.
It made so many women back in the day feel so much better …
(You might, after having the benefit of some rest and reflection, do some serious fact-checking.)
My that is a very big chip on your shoulder George!As it happens I quite enjoy the ABC and think that it generally does a good job but there is no doubt that when it comes to the talking heads there are far more of the left who get a go on air than there are from the right. That is in the DNA of the organisation. what you forget or don’t understand is that the ABC has may hours of air time to fill so they cast their net widely for talent to fill that time and none of them as individuals has to be “balanced”they give their opinions and others with differing opinions give theirs. That is how you get balance. Quite simply you don’t understand the media at all George probably because you are too blinded by your own angst filled ideology.
I agree that the ABC has changed George but I disagree with you that such a bucket job could not happen now its just that The IPA is no longer the new and frightening(to the left) kid on the block that it used to be its been around long enough to have established itself as respectable think tank and as the Abc also gets all sorts of lefties more often to offer their opinions its hardly as if the IPA dominate air time. But then I suspect you think that they should be banned form the national broadcaster don’t you?
George I make no secret of my position on “Climate change” It has been consistent for years but you would have to be utterly blind if you have not noticed that it is no longer politically a big deal except to the far left. In fact I would go as far as to suggest that it serves as a very good example of the folly of selling an idea with hysteria and scare tactics.As for your claim to be accepting “scientific evidence” well it sounds to me like the typical appeal to authority from the Green religion, and its sad because so much of that authority is quite questionable and it is being questioned and found lacking in answers.
The irony that you, a follower of the Gaian cult, should be chiding me about cults just makes me laugh.
I already lie down far more often than I would like to and that gives me a great deal of time for rest and reflection but really its you that needs to both fact check and come to terms with the inevitable fall of the Labor government. You see I will be delighted on 14 September but I suspect that you will be needing either a large dose of drugs or a very large alcoholic drink, maybe both.
Well written and very pertinent, Victoria,
Oh, I missed Fairfax in that reply, Iain, but Chris Johnson helpfully provided me with an example.
Tell me, how can a family be “worse off” if a proposed tax cut is no longer given? How is it taking money out of their pockets? OK, you can take a swing about a proposed cut no longer on offer, but “worse off”?
If Johnson isn’t telling porkies, he’s certainly being very liberal with the truth.
being better or worse off is not really the point of the criticism of Labor’s renouncement that the second round of largesse linked to the mining tax would not be paid. The criticism turns on Labor making grand promises and then failing to deliver on them not once or twice but many many times . My argument is that Labor certainly deserve to be criticised for this and you can’t claim that its a media conspiracy when they are.
The criticism I didn’t contest, Iain. It was the attempt to mislead by pretending people would be “Worse off”. You’re claiming that this is fair and honest reporting? Seriously?
I don’t ever put much stock in these bake of an envelope calculations by journalists so as far as I’m concerned such speculative pieces by “financial journalists” just before the budget are all a bit of fluffy nonsense and to straight with you I think with such speculations are neither honest or dishonest they are just page fillers and of little consequence.
Iain, I think you have amply demonstrated the level of your comprehension skills by referring to me as “George”.
Well I have to concede that one because I misread you cryptic user name…..
It’s clear from this ‘comments’ thread that Iain Hall is a rampant Liberal troll …and will mouth off, mock, and obfuscate at every opportunity….
He is the ‘Andrew Bolt’ of blog trolls and he adds zilch to any debate he involves himself in… Iain Hall is a blog virus … which interrupts normal discourse for no good reason…
Iain Hall should be moderated out of all blogs he infects… Isolation is the only cure …
Maybe IPA could give you a job, Iain. They seem to prefer slogans and propaganda to rational discussion. You’d be right at home, and get paid for it.
I am only yawning at a rather boring personal attack , as for the IPA well a paid gig would be nice but it could make that which I do for fun far less amusing.
Iain, I do not deny your right to your opinions (after all they are opinions, not facts) but do you have to be a pompous windbag all the time? Suely you must have something better to do with your time?
If you check on my blog you will see that I have a mission to bring light into the darkness which is why I come here.
No you come here because nobody goes to you.
I get plenty of hits to my humble blog but I also like to spread the love 😉
Given that it is compulsory for us all to vote how can Journalists possibly be fair and impartial in their reporting of a Party they do not support ?
From my observations of their comments it seems that the majority of them are Liberal supporters for they certainly make it painfully obvious they do not want Labour in again.
Perhaps all the reporting Media should either be given the right not to vote, or else make it public who each of them support.
Iain, out of idle interest I checked your blog. As I suspected, my earlier summation of you was confirmed. Your writing is sadly light weight. I was hoping for some in depth analysis as I love trying to learn more from my reading but whilst I agree with some of your views about the current sad state of Labor I thought you might do more than just cheer on Joe & Tony by recycling their publicity blurbs.
BTW what is it with Abbott & his penchant to carry around little red comic books & shoving them into camera vision. Does he hope that voters will be impressed with poor parodies of Superman comics instead of actually telling us about the details of LNP policies. As you seem to have a good rapport with Joe Hockey, perhaps you could tell Joe that this is a childish look for a man who aspires to lead the nation.
As a proud Queenslander I can agree with some of your praise of Victoria. I love to visit Melbourne to see my daughter down there. Great place for a holiday but Iain, the weather!! “Go the Cats”
I am not the only Author at may blow I have a guy from Sydney and a guy from rural Victoria writing there also, the pieces praising Victoria are not written by me. That said I like to have both light and shade at the blog with a mixture of humorous and light hearted pieces and those of a more serious intent which helps to keep things on an even keel.
For what it’s worth, I am a long-time reader of The Australian, and an occasional reader of the Daily Telegraph (berate me not!). The Australian has always been a voice for conservative politics and the corporate world. However once upon a time it used to speak in a relatively genteel considered voice, engage in rational debate and give reasoned arguments for its stance. Under the editorship of Chris Mitchell, while still holding pretensions to ‘quality’, it has gleefully plummeted into the sewers. The voice has changed to shrill and loud, it favours proclamation over argument, it never ever misses a chance for a dig at its perceived ‘enemies’ (the ABC, the Greens, pre-Gina Fairfax) and it never lets the facts get in the way of a polemic.
It has not reported ‘politics’ since Gillard came to power. It has run a daily virulent campaign against the government. Any possible negative is highlighted, headlined and sustained. Any possible positive, if it can’t be spun negatively, is ignored, relegated and given short shrift. There is no pretension at all to balance, fairness or reportage. It’s a blatant, unrelenting, over the top campaign against the elected government with the obvious intent of unseating it.
Given the level of autonomy that Rupert’s papers are renowned for (according to multiple testimony from his own ex-editors), it shouldn’t be too hard to work out where this blatant anti-government campaign originates from (hint: NY). I guess how you feel about it depends on how you feel about a media company (with serious prior form for just such political skulduggery) and its foreign proprietor indulging in a blatant campaign to unseat a legitimately elected Australian government.
It doesn’t sit well with me.