By Barry Tucker 28 September, 2014
In a rare article — written at the end of a strange week — The Guardian’s Deputy Political Editor, Katharine Murphy, illustrated some failings of the news media.
Some might say it’s a timely article. Others might say it’s long overdue.
It was triggered by the news media’s handling of a national security alert that began a week earlier and culminated a few days later in the death of Abdul Numan Haider. Haider was shot by a policeman after Haider attacked him and a colleague with a knife outside a Melbourne suburban police station.
Murphy takes the media to task for its reporting and misreporting of the incident and its handling of aspects of the national security alert.
During the week, the Australian parliament began accepting — rather than debating — wide-ranging and extraordinary new powers granted to security agencies in dealing with internet material.
The proposed laws allow for journalists and whistle blowers to be jailed for revealing details of security matters.
Murphy is critical of the news media for having little or nothing to say about how the legislation will affect their ability to do their job.
On a broader front, social media in particular has had a lot to say about what it sees as a fraudulent security scare, conceived to boost support for Australia’s re-engagement in Iraq while distracting people from intransigent opinion poll figures for the LNP government and its harsh and unpopular budget.
Murphy’s 26 September tweet:
A love letter to my profession http://gu.com/p/4xqzy/tw
began an argumentative exchange with News Corp journalists Miranda Devine and Samantha Maiden over the fact that Murphy had named News Corp papers The Courier-Mail and The Daily Telegraph, but not The Sydney Morning Herald, which headlined Haider as “teen jihad” in advance of any police or coronial findings.
Murphy responded by saying The Sydney Morning Herald was covered by her use of “we” and tweeted that “we” included herself. She did not seek to exclude herself from making errors.
Fairfax Media stuffed up badly by publishing the picture of a young man wearing a suit (see above) and identifying him as Haider. The young man and his father were outraged and severely embarrassed, with the man’s father saying his son’s future prospects have been severely damaged.
The photograph was lifted off a Facebook page. People who read widely know that the social media world can be a dangerous place, for various reasons. Nigel Phair, director of the Centre for Internet Safety, University of Canberra, commented on the incident and the dangers in an article for TheConversation.com.
Myles McGuire studied journalism because he thought he wanted to be one. He writes about that and what happened next in a thoughtful reaction to Catherine Murphy’s article, titled: Why I’m not a journalist.