Describing The Mercury’s recent decision to begin to utilise a paywall to access its content as high risk and ambitious is a fair understatement. I reckon it makes David Cameron’s decision to call a referendum on Brexit look positively cautious.
It is especially risky when you publish trash like this.
“Jihadist propaganda sparks surge in patriotism”
the headline screamed, followed by an opening sentence proclaiming enlistment to the army reserve had increased due to the activities of ISIS in the last 12 months.
‘That’s a pretty big claim,’ I thought, ‘I wonder what sort of studies they did to come to that conclusion.’
The answer- unsurprisingly- was basically none. The number of people recruited to the army reserve has increased significantly in the last 12 months. That was only factual premise for a quite lengthy article that kept trying to use Daesh as an explanation without any real evidence. I wrote previously about the media’s obsession with terrorism, but this is one of the flimsiest excuses I have come across yet.
The defence spokesperson the reporter interviewed agreed that a desire to play a part in Australia’s safety was one factor that influenced the decision to enlist, but that isn’t new to the last 12 months. Australian military forces have been active in theatres of conflict around the world for most of this century. To say that the increase in recruitment is attributable to the rise of Daesh (which happened earlier anyway) is baseless and lazy journalism.
Here are a couple of other factors that could have explained the figures but weren’t discussed in the article.
Statistical anomaly: The only figures quoted were over a 12 month period. Did anyone bother to look back another year and see whether this was a normal trend or whether last year was an unusually low? If they did, they didn’t bother include that in the article.
Under employment: With the Turnbull government continuing to wreak havoc on our economy, underutilisation of the workplace (people in part time work who are seeking more, but who are not included in the unemployment rate) is a growing problem. Given its tax-free status, army reserve work, would obviously be attractive to many as a second source of income, if they start to lose hours at their primary job.
Increased efforts in recruitment: It is also possible that increased intake of soldiers is related to the Defence Force putting more effort and resources into recruitment, but this factor like the others is ignored.
To be fair, I criticise The Mercury for this article, but I don’t think it was written by one of their reporters (it was also found in The Courier Mail), but if The Mercury wants to make an argument they are providing quality news content worth paying for, they need to do better than cut and pasting Newscorp crap like this.