Monday, 22 February 2016

Suppression orders are

curious things. They are on the rise again in this state - according to a report in the state newspaper this morning it is by about 50%.
If they actually are on the rise then I am not in the least surprised. It will have little to do with our "right to know" or not to know something and much more to do with the way the media is reporting such things.
It seems news has to be "sensational" in order to sell. "Dozens killed" sounds much more dramatic than "twenty-five". It's "accurate" but it is still misleading.
If I was relying entirely on the media I would believe that a baby born in Australia to refugees was going to be sent back to a refugee camp in Nauru. I would believe that the conditions there are "horrific" and "dangerous" and not fit for anyone. I would believe that the government was prepared to move her by force, that "security guards" were preventing access and more. "Thousands of people" have protested about this. I would believe that her mother is being denied access to her lawyer and more.
The reality is actually very different. For reasons of its own the government does not wish to broadcast them. The situation is a politically delicate one. It can be said however that the reported conditions on Nauru are very different from the actual conditions. The problem is that to acknowledge this does not fit with the agenda of groups like the Refugee Action Coalition or the "LetThemStay" campaigners. The media has also invested a lot in the reporting of this agenda. It's a powerful lobby with some powerful people behind it. 
There was a story reported in the media a couple of days ago about another incident on Nauru. The RAC gave the media a version of events which were designed to garner sympathy for the refugee cause. The official statement about the incident and the report I had about the incident were entirely different from the RAC version. It was the RAC version which was given media attention. 
Some time ago an arrest was reported in the paper. The man "arrested" was not guilty of any offence. His name was similar to that of someone to whom the police wished to speak. The incident did him considerable harm. The media eventually published a tiny correction almost hidden from public view. It was too late by then. The damage to his reputation was done. A single phone call to check would have prevented this but the story was more important than the actual facts.
And of course the problem with the lack of accuracy and the desire, indeed pressure, to sell the news is that we all miss out in the end. Journalists create news rather than report the facts so more suppression orders are created and then journalists have less facts to work with so create more news instead. 
It's a circle that has to be broken or social media will take over instead. I know. I can point the mouse, press a couple of keys and have this all over the globe in a matter of seconds. 

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