Am I still able to bemoan the poor quality of the news reporting without sounding like the oafish American President shouting “Fake news,” at any report that points out he is a liar?
Because we do need to be aware that the filters used to determine what is reported and how it is reported in mainstream news are multilayered. As such it is important readers look past the headlines and hyperbolic editorialising to consider the facts of what an article is really about.
Take a look at the ridiculous coverage of Turnbull’s attack speech on Bill Shorten. Ignoring the extraordinary hypocrisy of Turnbull attacking someone else on integrity of all things, a number of journalists described it breathlessly as some kind of political win for the Prime Minister.
Celebrating this rant in the same week Turnbull admitted he misled the country over the cause of the South Australian power blackouts is complete nonsense. A real win would have been to pass some progressive legislation that would benefit Australia, instead of just liberal party donors. The Prime Minister using parliamentary privilege to throw a selection of derogatory names at the opposition leader that were all more applicable to himself is just a distraction. When a Prime Minister beholden to the coal industry, the banking industry and the extreme right, calls someone else a sycophant this is sadly not news.
If that is the highest point of his Prime Ministership so far (and he couldn’t name much else he has achieved in the last two years- setting a record for the most times someone can say “Jobs and growth,” doesn’t count), then he should be embarrassed. But much of the media coverage ignored all of that and focused on the spectacle of adversarial politics and baseless name calling. So much for Turnbull’s promise to respect the intelligence of the Australian people.
This kind of nonsensical reporting doesn’t just show that companies like Newscorp have a strong financial interest is keeping the Coalition in power. It also shows more generally our media organisations, including the ABC, are still more interested in scandalising and titillating than actually informing their audience. This is why they focus on the school yard bitching and the loudest voices at the expense of those with anything important to say.
This sensationalism doesn’t just apply to the political sphere. Last week I saw a number of headlines about accidents with the word ‘explosion’ in the title. Every one of them was due to an accident or electrical malfunction, but every heading was written for maximum drama. In the current political climate it would have been easy to assume they were referring to possible terrorist attacks. This is really irresponsible because many people don’t actually read the whole story and just assimilate their first reaction on seeing the headline with their pre-existing ideas, reinforcing their fears around terrorism, which, as I have written previously, are massively over-exaggerated.