Monday, 11 November 2013

I had the most curious collection

of "tweets" in my time-line yesterday.
I had left a response to one of our senior journalists "suggesting" that perhaps the Jakarta Post was not a reliable source of information. As a journalist of course he is well aware of that. Like other journalists he has been using a front page article in the Jakarta Post in order to try and pressure the Australian government into a different information delivery mode. They do not like the "reduced" access to information. It makes it much harder to produce the sort of headlines they love.

Our political viewpoints and our interests will determine whether we believe the media is biased or balanced. The reality however is that what information we get and how we get it is determined by the political viewpoints and interests of journalists. Their “fair and balanced” reporting is often heavily influenced by their own beliefs, other popular beliefs, political correctness and the need to maintain their audience. Actual news or balanced commentary are secondary to headlines, scaremongering, “human interest” and gossip. Deliberately misleading but politically correct information makes good copy.

All this is irresponsible but it is policy and market driven. The media is not there to inform. The idea that journalists are there to provide a balanced and unbiased version of the news is utterly incorrect.  Governments of all persuasions use it to promote their policies, so do activists. Advertisers will use the sources with the largest audiences. They are not interested in news unless it brings in their own target audience. Sensational headlines will sell. Cold, hard facts will not.  

In recent years many in government have sung from the same hymn sheet as journalists. There has been unprecedented “access” to information which has suited both those in power and the many members of the Press Gallery who support them. Selective and often negative reporting and misinformation has been used to try and shape public opinion about any number of issues – often with great success.  What we know about issues like "climate change", "terrorism", "illegal boat arrivals", "racism", "multi-cultural affairs", "mining taxes", "transport" and "law enforcement" to name a few have all been driven by government and media - often working together to give an inaccurate picture but the one they want us to have in order to shape our behaviours and our responses to these issues.

There is now a different government in Canberra . It has a different agenda, one the electorate voted for.  I suspect many journalists are unhappy with this. They do not see it as democracy at work but as a failure to educate the public to think in the way they would wish.  They are finding it difficult or impossible to “maintain the rage” and “make the news”, especially when it is not dished up daily as it was in the past.  

It is not necessary however for them to seek information from abroad. It can be obtained here. It is up to journalists to report it – and report it in a fair and balanced fashion.

Journalists only have themselves to blame for the apparent tightening of control on information sources within Australia. The information is there and available. Using sources such as the Jakarta Post to try and pressure the Australian government to reverse decisions is both dishonest and deliberately misleading.   Australian journalists had access to that information and chose not to use it. It suited them not to use it.  They have the freedom to do this...and it is being abused.


Anonymous said...

Spot on Cat! The news was doing the rounds here long before it hit the Jakarta Post. Chris

Anonymous said...

It is becoming very obvious to me that many of the journalists have no idea how to find a story, investigate it and then write it all by themselves. Rewriting government media releases is not even good reporting and far from being good journalism.