Sunday, March 25, 2012

'Freedom' Versus Truth

Judged by the hysterical reaction of the media and its think tank boosters to the modest ideas of the Finkelstein inquiry, journalism's ultimate arbiter is the market. If the press' output is no good, the public will not buy it. Or so the story goes.

It's a neat trick that equates freedom of the press with the notion of an unfettered capitalist free market. Anything that stands between the desire of media companies to make a profit by selling audiences to advertisers must automatically be an attack on freedom.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Mega Perspective

Good journalists still exist. It's just that these days,with few exceptions, they tend to exist despite, rather than because of, the media organisations that employ them.

One is Laura Tingle, who continues to write penetrating and original analysis of politics for a publication whose new management  appears to have outsourced its editorial judgement to the Business Council, the ACCI and all the other business lobbies dressing up their own interests as those of the public.

Another is George Megalogenis, whose sober, measured style and magisterial grasp of historical detail make him one of the few remaining reliable chroniclers of Australian political economy (and one of the few reasons, if any, to read The Australian).

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Great Leap Forward

It is 2020. We are on deadline. And the professors are in charge. Seven years since the imposition of the News Media Council - and anti-democratic academics are editing our newspapers. Bookish elites - thinkers not doers - are defining news for the ordinary people. And our freedom - Our Freedom! - lies bleeding to death in the gutter of our dreams.

Brave and bold voices of moderation like Bolt, Devine, Akerman and Albrechtson - the spokespeople for the voiceless - have been hounded from journalism, leaving The People unrepresented in a New World Order governed by latte-quaffing, tertiary educated goons who each day bring down the jackboot of elitism on the face of the Oi Oi Oi.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Freedom from the Press

  • "There is common ground among all those who think seriously about the role of the news media and about journalistic ethics that a free press plays an essential role in a democratic society, and no regulation should endanger that role": Opening words of the 468-page report of the independent inquiry into the media by former Federal Court Judge Ray Finkelstein. 
  •  Labor Plan to Control the Media: Headline on Australian Financial Review's front page splash on the Finkelstein report the following day. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

The 'Certainty' Myth

A sub-narrative amid the media thumbsucking about the future of the Australian Labor Party after the leadership spill has been the ritual calls from business leaders for the removal of "uncertainty" - the idea being that the economy has ground to a standstill as the egos exchange handbags in Canberra.

"Business groups have welcomed (the resolution of the) leadership ballot, saying having Julia Gillard remain prime minister delivers certainty to small business," one article said, quoting the small business council. Echoing that view was big business council boss Graham Bradley, who told The Australian, that business needed, yes, "certainty" and an end to the Labor feud.

And on and on it went, as a cavalcade of CEOs, pinstriped bankers, cigar-chomping miners and sundry thinktankers  lined up to plead that the very wheels of capitalism were at risk of falling off if Kevin and Julia did not bury the hatchet in one or the other's head as of yesterday.

Pundit Fatigue

A consequence of the '24/7' news cycle is that everyone breaks their necks trying to be the first with news that's going to break anyway. Witness the overkill coverage of the Rudd-Gillard spill. Perfect for live TV - a set piece in a confined space at a specific time and pitting warring protagonists in a showdown. Like a footy final really.

In the case of the spill, the result was never in doubt. It was only the margin. And once that was known, the big interest was in the demeanour of the key players afterwards. Still, that didn't stop some of the networks from cranking up coverage from before dawn, which gave the on-screen pundits plenty of time to comment on the frocks and the build-up to the Oscar ceremony leadership spill.