The “boring” election

July 31, 2010

Political journalists contribute significantly to misinformation about Australia’s political process, policies and civil society. They distort and distract, and with only a few exceptions their gutter-obsessed herd-mentality results in myopic and shallow commentary.

The stock photo is as generic as most political commentary from the Canberra Press Gallery.

Over at the Political Sword (an excellent blog whose authors’ commentary rivals that of the most experienced Press Gallery hack), Ad Astra has some insightful views about the role the media is playing at this election:

Laurie Oakes seems to be losing it. After extolling the virtues of the Government’s economic record and how well it got us through the GFC, he says: “At the moment, Labor’s campaign is in a trough. Things keep going wrong. No strong message is getting through. There is growing pessimism in the ranks. The ghost of Kevin Rudd hovers over everything. If she is to win this election, Gillard needs somehow to get voters to pay attention to the economy. She must start telling what is, for the Government, a very good story.”

Yet HE has been the one that has distracted Julia from her campaign task. It’s almost as if Oakes is attributing Julia’s problems to herself while he is throwing bombs into her campaign almost daily. If he is serious, one has to question his reasoning process, if he’s not, he’s being typical game-playing Oakes. Neither are attractive.

(No direct link, since it’s in a comment, but here’s the article.)

Ben Eltham – a Crikey journalist – is also of a similar view. With no major gaffs coming from the campaigns organically, the “antsy” media are manufacturing their own:

By common consensus, it’s been a pretty boring election campaign so far. I have been expecting the tedium to provoke the media corps to eventually try and make something more of a story that isn’t really one, and with the Laurie Oakes leaks this week, that’s what we’ve got.

When journalists get bored, they get cranky. They get antsy. They get all riled up over relatively little things, and they get themselves worked up into such a lather that they can’t wait to pounce on a gaffe, a policy pratfall or media mistake. Add in a senior member of the Canberra press gallery who has some juicy gossip to report, and hey presto! Confected controversy.

No wonder, therefore, that Laurie Oakes’ supposedly “explosive” leaks about Julia Gillard are attracting so much attention. This morning, nearly all the major newspapers led with the story, despite the fact that they remain unsubstantiated, unattributed and denied by Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.

For those of you who often watch Insiders on Sunday mornings, you will remember guests regularly pontificating about the important role of the so-called Fourth Estate.

There is no doubt that an independent media is important to democracy. The Canberra Press Gallery is not that.

It is mostly running in the herd of News Limited, and even the ABC and other independent journalists are unduly influenced (even unintentionally) by the Murdoch Press.

This is not to say that Murdoch or his editors are explicitly interfering in what journalists write. Rather, that the business model of the papers, the ideology and the personal views of the journalists hired by the papers, and the views of what journalists think “people are interested in” are driving political journalism ever further into dangerous distortion.


Comments

  1. nasking - July 31, 2010 at 8:31 pm -

    Well said Alex. Tho, I do think Murdoch interferes sometimes. And his underlying somewhat convenient libertarian views of late must hang over his journos heads…at least the gatekeepers. Plenty of debts to payoff. :)

    N'

  2. nasking - July 31, 2010 at 8:34 pm -

    My view on this complex election & the media pack:

    So Abbott’s Won, Labor’s Dead, Howard Era Was Great
    http://cafewhispers.wordpress.com/2010/07/31/so-a

    N'

  3. nasking - July 31, 2010 at 11:01 pm -

    Thankyou Alex.

    Yes, the UK Labor-bashing by the CONservative papers was absolutely dreadful. And quite influential I imagine. Fortunately there was The Guardian's more balanced account of the campaign…occasionaly The Mirror & Independent. I wrote a post on the site Blogocrats about it at the time. Highly disturbing manipulation of events by some in the Brit media.

    The Murdoch empire's spread is very worrying. Tho, empires can become a pain to run after awhile. :)

    N'

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