When bias hangs in the balance

Comment by Barry Tucker                    12 March, 2013

Journalists face a lot of problems getting the full story, understanding it completely and filing it before the deadline. But that’s the job.

The issue of balance (providing both sides of the story) is made harder when “the other side” won’t talk to you.

The Sunshine Coast Daily’s Kathy Sundstrom has encountered this problem and wrote about it in an opinion piece for her on-line newspaper.

I don’t agree with Kathy’s decision to offer a copy of another story (penultimate para) to the source to check its accuracy. It’s the reporter’s job to get it right. Asking the source to do this for you leads to censorship and spin.

Kathy Sundstrom

Kathy Sundstrom

Churlish pollies and a dose of Brough stuff

Refusing to talk to a reporter who has written something they don’t like is another childish tactic.

So often “the media” is blamed for not reporting both sides. Yet, equally as often, the other side of the story is impossible to get hold of.

For someone with political clout to then refuse to talk to a reporter because they weren’t happy with a report written, sometimes weeks or months ago, is churlish.

Read all about it

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6 thoughts on “When bias hangs in the balance

  1. When an interviewee replies to a question from a reporter & that reporter then faithfully reports the answer in an article, it makes it hard, although not impossible, for the interviewee to deny saying it. This is why the likes of Mal Brough don’t like giving interviews. Their lies are there for all to read especially if the reporter is like Kathy Sundstrom & does their job without fear or favour.

    Good for Kathy, Mal is scared of her.

    • It’s happened to me and I’ve seen it happen to many others. When an interviewee is quoted and then gets into trouble for what he/she said, their immediate response is to cry “I was misquoted” or “taken out of context”. One of the effects of reporters switching from shorthand to audio recording devices was a reduction in defences of that type. The introduction of TV interviews had the same effect. TV also led to training sessions for politicians and others on how to conduct yourself, “handle” an interview and talk around issues instead of addressing them directly.

  2. In the article Kathy Sandstrom says she would have voted for Mal Brough anyway. How can she say this when she has presumably read the Rares’ judgment?

    It would have been helpful for Sandstrom to tell us what questions she would have asked Brough. As it stands, the article is full of weasel words and I have no idea, apart from my familiarity with the Rares judgment, what she is talking about.

    • You need to read Kathy’s story of her interview with Brough on a recent train ride. She did ask some tough questions. Brough answered them to a point, then brushed her off. Brough has since said he is happy to answer reporter’s questions on the Ashby affair, but a number of reporters have said that he doesn’t return their calls.

      I think the “Yes” vote reference is to a second, unrelated issue.

  3. Tony Abbott is a master of these dodgy arts having had good tutors, What fascinates me is that they, particularly LNP pollies, still come up with the old chestnuts of being misquoted or taken out of context (a favourite of their barrackers), even claims of not having said so & so when we can all see & hear them say it.

    Any reporter speaking to Tony Abbott has to stay on script as he has been so deeply media trained he cannot speak off the cuff any more.

    • I have written (Fingering the bias) about my own difficulty in maintaining balance and objectivity on this blog and you have pointed to the very essence of the reason for my problem. The Liberal party members, like Conservative or neocon parties elsewhere, have become masters of the art of dissembling. Their ability, their willingness, to distort and lie and then to deny it and retaliate by completely twisting the allegation around is astounding and, I’m sure, a fairly new and emergent thing. It represents nothing less than absolute contempt for the truth and the role of the news media, even the democratic process, in our modern society.

      Unfortunately the news media, to the largest part controlled by commercial interests, have becoming willing participants in this charade. I can’t see anything good or worthwhile emerging from it except, in the long term, a massive upheaval to correct and restore balance and fairness — cornerstones of democracy.

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