Andrew Elder responded on his blog today to Fairfax columnist Martin McKenzie-Murray’s unintentionally ironic attack this week on blogs and their ability to do investigative journalism:
This piece of fluff is designed to make journalists feel good and important, which is why so many of them tweeted and retweeted it. Apart from the feel-good aspect it doesn't really work for the same two reasons that any piece of journalism fails: it lacks perspective and it has no powers of observation.
It is wrong on almost every level. First is the straw man that new media such as Twitter and blogs don't do journalism but that newspapers do.
The mainstream media decided, for whatever reason, that the biggest story this year is what one backbencher allegedly did with a work credit card back in 2005. I dare any editor to produce any evidence whatsoever that the public is clamouring for more and more details - the more prurient the better - on Craig Thomson's activities. Nonetheless, that's their story and by heavens aren't they sticking to it, sticking to it like oh never mind.
None of McKenzie-Murray's idealised journalists are doing a fraction of the work that Peter Wicks and his small team are doing. What's worse is that there is a kind of embarrassment on the part of the so-called professional journalists that there is more to the story than they had managed to uncover. Walking from the press gallery to a press conference and back again might satisfy McKenzie-Murray's definition of "shoe leather" expended, but it isn't good enough.
How much "shoe leather" was expended by Channel 9 in getting an interview with that prostitute? Is that team more likely, or less, to be recognised by their fellow journalists than Peter Wicks?
After explaining in significant detail why McKenzie-Murray's thesis was arrant self-serving nonsense, Elder rounded off his piece with the following:
Martin McKenzie-Murray regards "good journalism" as though it's something of which he has experience and familiarity. He's patronising and dismissive about journalism outside media organisations, especially when it's those people who are carrying the can right now. His attitude toward "good journalism" should be more like that of Gandhi's attitude toward "Western civilisation" - a good idea to be worked on and not clouded by false dichotomies, pulled punches on your colleagues, and other examples of dishonest thinking. I can only assume that he fetishises shoe leather so much because he has gotten used to the taste, what with his foot being squarely in his mouth.
Read the rest of this excellent piece at Politically homeless.
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