Sunday, August 01, 2010

What obligation does the media have?

I'm just wondering, if the people of Australia vote in Tony Abbott's lot because the media has completely failed to even report, let alone analyse, any policies, can we mount a class action against the media for neglecting duty of care?

I can't help feeling that the media needs to be held accountable for presenting an election campaign as a battle over who throws the best slurs and what's going on in intra-party politics this week. I mean, yes, the Labor party is still settling after the leadership change, but they are no worse than the Libs were last November after the Turnbull ousting. Both parties are equally capable of shooting themselves in the foot internally, and the media should be acknowledging that.

In the end, I don't care who leaked what or how many times someone can say "fair dinkum"*, I care what they are going to do if someone gives them the keys. I have deep and terrifying suspicions about what Abbott will do, but I can't actually verify them, because I've seen no policy from him. A few (no doubt non-core) promises from him whose funding has not been explained, but no actual policies. He might have them, of course. I know Julia has some, because I've seen a few on Twitter. You'd never guess it by watching TV or reading the newspaper. And so far Bob Brown only has opinions on which part of the voting form you should use, if MSM is to be believed.

So, I say that media should be regarded as an essential service in a democracy, and should be obliged to provide the basic services a democracy needs. Holding out for policy analysis might be too much, but demanding that at least equal space and prominence be allocated to reporting of policy as to party political bullshit during an election campaign seems to be necessary. And a bloody sad state of affairs it is too, that media owners have pushed journalism to this. Well, them and media consumers who buy more tacky headlines than indepth analysis.

Remember, friends don't let friends vote for Tony Abbott (or above the line).

*Ok, yes, I do care how many times someone can say "fair dinkum" - if it's more than once it's fucking infuriating. Even once is tedious, most of the time.


  1. Well as far as i understand it the media only has a couple of obligations.

    1) make money
    2) write what Rupert tells them

    Which brings me to our ABC. It is pretty sad when all serious political journalism in Australia boils down to 2 or 3 journos, Kerry I'm looking at you...

  2. I agree with pretty much all of this. As much as I get really angry about folks who don't seem to know how our political system works (ie, most of the ridiculous reaction to ALP spill and bleating about how no one voted for Gillard), but the thing that really riles me is that the MSM continue to support this sorry state of political awareness.

    Stephen was saying this morning that it seems a whole bunch of MSM editors already had a 'narrative' picked out for this election, and then spill happened and ruined it, and they're having a massive go at the ALP and Gillard and essentially giving Abbott a bunch of free passes (otherwise known as not being around him enough for the inevitable moments where he opens his mouth) because of a pile of grudgewank.

    What saddens me is that it's highly unlikely much can be done about it, as far as I'm aware, but if someone can show me otherwise I would be most grateful.