Saturday, 7 February 2015

Journalism in Australia

hit a new low yesterday. It tends to be pretty dismal at the best of times. There are claims made about "left" and "right" and "pro" and "anti", about the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), the Fairfax and Murdoch controlled papers and more. I believe it would be fair to say that the media leans left - although not quite as far as some people would like to believe. Like other things views on that are coloured by individual political leanings.
With respect to politics I like to think of myself as a cat sitting on a fence post and annoying the hell out of the dogs on both sides. It's the only way to survive politics Downunder.
We have a national newspaper "The Australian" (Murdoch stable). I am not sure how it survives although the standard of journalism in that is generally better than the state focussed newspapers. Our state newspaper tends to read a bit like the old "News of the World" at times and also belongs to the Murdoch stable.
I also get a couple of professional news feeds. I don't read them all the time but if a major emergency occurs then I need to know what is going on because it could involve work for me.
And then there are sites like Twitter - and there lies yesterday's problem. Professional journalists use Twitter and that is fine. It's their job to inform people - and that is what they should be doing. They should be informing people. It is not a journalist's role to make news. It is a journalist's role report it and, if they are also have a regular column, to comment on it.
It is not a journalist's role to make gloating, sarcastic comments. It is not a regular columnist's role to make gloating, sarcastic comments either.  There were journalists and columnists making both of those yesterday - over the almost certain demise of the Prime Minister. They have been agitating for his removal ever since he took office, indeed since before that.  No, they don't like him. He wasn't their choice of PM. They have made sure other people don't like him either. Oh yes they had plenty to say about the previous two Prime Ministers as well but the comments yesterday reached a new low. Made about any other individual than a politician these remarks would have amounted to libel. They were designed as the definition goes to "bring someone into hatred, ridicule or contempt".
One individual in particular stepped beyond the bounds of fair comment - even fair comment about a politician he loves to hate. That is going too far.
The danger, which apparently journalists refuse to recognise, is that such behaviour could end up leaving everyone less able to comment. Do we really want restrictions on the media that see people thrown in gaol and news sites shut down?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you. There was one particular columnist who went much too far and has apparently got away with it. I note he is still stirring up trouble today.
This was to be expected of course. Malcolm Turnbull has powerful friends in the media who have never forgiven the Coalition MPs for voting against their clearly stated wishes. It says something for TA's leadership that he survived as long as he did. If he goes it will be because of the media campaign not because MPs cannot work with him. Bob C-S