Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The front page headline

in the state newspaper today reads, "Drip feed justice". I am beginning to think it should read "Drip feed news". 
Why? A little further on in the paper the editor, one David Penberthy, attempts to justify the need for people to pay for news.
I actually agree with him. We do need to pay for news. It costs money to gather the news. Journalists have, like the rest of us, a need for sustenance and shelter. In order to obtain those things they need to be paid for what they do. 
That is not the problem. What is a problem is that every morning from Monday to Saturday I collect two papers from our front lawn. I tear open the plastic wrap which is supposed to keep them clean and dry. I discard the wrap in the recycling and then I proceed to discard the pieces of the papers we do not read. 
The Senior Cat and I are probably unusual. We do not read the "sports" sections. We do not read the "real estate" section. We do not read the "cars" section. We do not read the "situations vacant".  Other people presumably must or they would not print these things. Nevertheless there are many people I know who do not. Printing these things for everyone is a waste of newsprint, ink - and ultimately the trees from which the newsprint it made. I wish there was a way in which one could choose not to get these sections of the paper and save the newsprint at least.
But what would be left? I sometimes think there would be very little. All too often our state newspaper has what amounts to gossip or perhaps "human interest" on the front page. We don't have a "page three" picture any more but often what has replaced it is no better. All too often it is not "news".
The international news is relegated to the rear-centre of our state newspaper. It is clearly considered to be of little or no importance compared with stories about footballers, drugs in sport, house renovations gone wrong, someone's employment prospects or dismissal and minor (rather than major) road accidents. Of course the people who appear as "news" on the front pages believe their own stories are important - and they are important to them. They are simply not really important to the rest of us. We should be much more concerned about the direction the G8 summit has taken - something which was barely mentioned. 
We finally have a "yes" and a "no" case article for the upcoming referendum on federal funding for local government but it follows the "Letters to the Editor" page - twenty something pages into the paper. Most readers will simply not get that far - and they will go vote on the issue ill-informed because both the government and media have chosen to keep it that way.
While there are individual journalists who try to present actual news in an intelligible manner there are many more who are intent on presenting what they believe we should know. Getting their point of view across has become more important than the news itself. These people are not columnists who are there to write opinion pieces. They are supposedly there to present facts in a way which can be understood. All too often this does not happen. The language may be subtle but it will undermine a public figure or poke fun at another.  They will say "it is alleged" and "sources say...". Brought before the courts they hide behind the assumed right to "keep their sources confidential".
 Are some of them even unaware of what they are doing? They must be. 
If we are paying for news then we surely have the right to news and not just gossip or opinion?

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