Some of you will be shocked by what I am about to say — shocked and appalled.
The mainstream media are letting us down.
Yep, I said it. I know it's something I don't often say, but it’s true we are being drip-fed a distorted view of the news.
The commercial TV networks all seem to sing the same tune, except for the occasional blip which is probably intended to provide the illusion of balance.
If the ABC step a fraction too far towards the sensible centre, Tony Abbott is liable to attack it on one of his shockjock mates’ shows and launch a review into its funding the next day.
As subtle as a sledgehammer.
As for those in the printed press — it’s true we don't expect a lot from News Ltd, but despite those low expectations, they still manage to disappoint.
The Australian has continued to show itself as having about as much relevance as a safety warning label on an AK47. They may as well rename themselves the Far Right Daily.
The irony of a newspaper that wastes so much ink and paper dehumanising asylum seekers ‒ who are, after all, foreigners seeking to become Australian citizens ‒ is not lost on me. A foreign-owned newspaper that calls itself The Australian can’t really be too critical of those seeking to become Australian I would have thought. Especially not when the owner gave up his Australian citizenship to become a naturalised American.
As for the Herald Sun and the Daily Telegraph, they seem to have become the essential reading of the average bogan. They are nothing more than rags full of propaganda, such as asylum seeker drivel, climate change denial and the reprinting of Coalition MPs press releases. But with a bit of news thrown in somewhere, probably because they kind of have to.
I’m only surprised the page three girls haven’t made a comeback in the Tele and Hun, as that seems to be the demographic aimed at by News Ltd, with its back pages full of brothel and prostitute adverts.
I have no issue with political bias at all as that would be rather hypocritical of me, however News Ltd should at least be upfront about it, instead of trying to suggest they present balance.
Fairfax, however ‒ if we ignore the rantings of their shock-jocks on the radio stations they own ‒ has, for me, been a beacon of light amidst a fog misleading journalism.
The problem with Fairfax is not so much what they report and how they do it, but often when they report it or if they report it.
Examples of this would be the travel rorts saga that plagued the Abbott government in its early days. Details of Abbott’s spending of the taxpayer dollar on travel to fun runs, bike rides, weddings and even the marketing promotion of his book were known long before the federal election, yet Fairfax chose to wait until after the election to run with it.
Online news has yet to hit its stride in Australia, with most of the traffic going to the online versions of Fairfax and News Ltd. New online player The Guardian is showing great promise but, as yet, doesn’t seem to have the Australian resources for complete coverage of Australian events.
As for Crikey, they have shown themselves to be a fantastic spamming organization, with inbox’s around the country filling up with desperate bids to make you pay for their version of the news at 25% off, or 30% off depending on what day you look at your spam folder. Unfortunately, aside from a great cartoonist, First Dog on the Moon (real name Andrew Marlton) ‒ who has just been poached by The Guardian ‒ they have little that would make you visit their site for free, let alone for a price.
So, what has made me vent about the media today, you may well wonder.
For starters the coverage of the March in March was abysmal, inadequate and completely at odds with coverage given to similar events in the past.
The Carbon Tax Rally is something that made front page news and was discussed weeks and months afterwards, even still spoken of today. ABC Four Corners even dedicated an entire program to the event.
Attendance at the Carbon Tax Rally was estimated at around 5,000 — although organisers optimistically claimed 10,000.
The Convoy of No Confidence attracted a handful of trucks and around 300 people showed up, although many of them were actually press. The press attended, despite shock jock Alan Jones’ best efforts to scare them off, berating Fairfax's Jacqueline Maley for asking a reasonable question, and then being caught out lying about a police blockade that turned out to be a police escort.
Estimates have the March in March being attended by over 100,000 in events held all over Australia yet it has not received even a fraction of the attention.
In Melbourne, an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 people marched in protest, despite talk of protesting being made a criminal offence by the Victorian Coalition Government the week before.
That is at least six times the number of those who attended the Carbon Tax Rally, or triple the number at the most optimistic of counts by those with seven fingers. It is also 100 times the number that attended what Anthony Albanese accurately described as the Convoy of No Consequence.
And that’s at just one of the March In March locations. There were March in March protests in capital cities and regional cities and towns all over the country — in fact there were more protest sites for the March In March than there were trucks in the Convoy Of No Confidence.
Yet where is all the coverage? Where is all the press outrage over Abbotts many lies and broken promises already?
Tony Abbott brushed off the protest, saying with a knowing smirk:
“My understanding is that the only big rally in Sydney is the St Patrick’s Day parade."
The most interesting side note has been the mock outrage from Andrew Bolt about one of the banners at the Melbourne march, that simply read ‘RESIGN, DICKHEAD’. The response to Bolt from the banner waver, published on IA yesterday, was simply breathtaking.
Like Tony Abbott, however, the mainstream media seem to have also brushed the event aside and told those who attended they don’t count. Well not as much as those who attended carbon rallies anyway.
Another story that still has a long way to travel and will be interesting to watch is that involving the current ICAC investigation, which has seen Arthur Sinodinos step aside from his position as Assistant Treasurer.
When former State Labor MP’s Eddie Obeid, Joe Tripodi and Ian McDonald were being exposed by ICAC and having details of their corruption laid out for the world to see, the press were all over it like a rash and rightly so too. The coverage was massive and seemed never ending.
In Sydney, for added effect, News Ltd in the Telegraph decided to use a bright red graphic saying ‘NSW Labor Inc’ to brand the actions of a few corrupt individuals for each article on the hearings and its findings.
The damage done to the Labor Party by these individuals was enormous and almost certainly contributed to the downfall of the Federal Labor Government at the last election.
Heath Aston of Fairfax has written an excellent background piece linked here that gives a great overview of the case Sinodinos has to answer before ICAC.
Arthur Sinodinos, for those who don’t know is a Federal Liberal Senator who, until stepping aside this week, was also Assistant Treasurer. He is also the man responsible for the upcoming changes that take away the protections that investors have from predatory financial advisors.
Sinodinos was John Howard's right hand man after Grahame Morris fell on his sword when Howard needed a scapegoat after his own travel rorts scandal cost the jobs of three Coalition Ministers. Morris is a man most remember as the guy who made the “kicking her to death” comment about Julia Gillard.
Sinodinos is also a former Treasurer and past President of the NSW branch of the Liberal Party.
In the last year, we have seen a string of NSW Liberal MP’s hauled in by ICAC and even seen a raid performed on a serving Liberal Ministers electorate office, after which a minister, Chris Hartcher, was forced to stand down.
Despite this, we have yet to see News Ltd start using a graphic branding the articles — ‘NSW Liberal Inc’.
It is not only Sinodinos who is implicated in this corruption inquiry — there are also Liberal lobbyists such as Michael Photios, a former state MP who was also formerly a member of the NSW Liberal Party State Executive.
With the Liberal Party State Executive involved, one would expect that there may be far more people involved in this scandal than of which we are currently aware, thus I’d expect many more tough questions to be asked of many current and former Coalition MP’s.
Given that the alleged corruption centred on the infrastructure needed for water supply in the Liberal Party member dominated North West of Sydney and the firm was based in Rouse Hill, I suspect there may be questions asked of Liberal MP’s and perhaps councillors in the area — particularly those with previous or current connections or influence over the Liberal Party State Executive.
I just hope that those in the Coalition members who are dragged before ICAC are blessed with the same style and amount of coverage that former Labor MP’s received and continue to receive.
I won’t, however, be holding my breath.
Peter Wicks is a former NSW Labor Party state candidate. You can follow Peter Wicks on Twitter @madwixxy.
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