Political journos get their just desert


By Barry Tucker                    26 October, 2013

Nothing unusual about Australia’s political leaders having folks around for dinner. It’s part of the job: hobnobbing with diplomats, industrialists — even journalists.

Peter Munro must have missed out on an invitation. He’s a bit narky in this report for the Federal Politics section of The Sydney Morning Herald on tonight’s do.

Abbott’s first gathering of the Australian media is an invite-only affair of conservative columnists and broadcasters, Munro writes.

“Many are disagreeable but, happily, rarely so with the nation’s 28th leader.”

Who got an invite and who didn’t? Several are named in Munro’s story.

For an interesting exercise, check the names in the story against what those people write or say on tv — shows like the ABC’s Insiders, The Drum or Ten’s The Bolt Report or Meet the Press, newspaper columns and stories by members of the Canberra Press Gallery in the Fairfax and Murdoch papers.

Here’s a little oddity from Munro’s story. He reports that: Abbott this week divided Australia’s media landscape into two broad camps: ”There tends to be an ABC view of the world, and it’s not a view of the world that I find myself in total sympathy with. But, others would say that there’s a News Limited view of the world.”

It’s curious that the Liberal party still insists that the ABC exhibits a Left-wing bias. It certainly hasn’t done so since Abbott became Liberal Parliamentary Party leader on 1 December, 2009. Apparently, if you’re not consistently 100% behind the Liberals you must be biased against them. They’re an intolerant lot.

Oh, and “News Limited” has been News Corp since 1 July, 2013. We all make mistakes — even Abbotts.

Here’s another strange thing. It’s related and it’s not. Last night, 25 October, Channel 9’s Breakfast co-host Lisa Wilkinson delivered the Andrew Olle Lecture.

What’s amazing about that (apart from the fact she is only the second woman journalist to have done so) is that there is not a single mention of the furore over political news reporting during the two terms of the previous federal Labor governments.

It’s like, “we’ve done nothing wrong; we were proper and correct; nothing to see here; move on”.

Almost all of the fuss occurred in social media and in the independent online magazines and news sites. You will find plenty of that recorded in this resource centre.

To Wilkinson, and the rest of the commercial and publicly-funded news media, it’s as if nothing unusual happened. There was no palpably biased reporting against Labor or favouritism for the relentless negativity of Abbott and his cohorts.

Wilkinson, quite rightly, spent a lot of time commenting on the sexist depiction of women (and their fascination with it and themselves, it has to be admitted) and asked when, if not now, will the mass media get over itself and its preoccupation with this topic. It’s time the mass media treated women equally, not differently and not as sexual related objects.

The reality is, as the mass media keeps telling us, women make most of the buying decisions and pampering to them and their concerns (apart from liberation) is the lifeblood of advertising revenue.

Wilkinson deals with Twitter and Facebook, with the new electronic media generally, and says it is now an indispensable part of journalism. But she makes what I think is an error by claiming that the old established MSM is the sole guardian of the truth when it comes to accuracy, and that consumers of news will always fall back on old media when seeking the facts.

Old media is dying, and old journalists can’t face that fact. In talking about old media, Wilkinson gets into stuff like tradition, legitimacy, intimacy among journos, encroachment upon sacred turf by the insolent new media — anyone with an iPhone or laptop. It is those things that make it hard for some journos to let go of the old and get with the new.