Dragon’s diary: Tragedy and farce

Leftright

I won’t add my thoughts to the likely millions of condolences expressed at the sudden death of Phillip Hughes. Mainly because I’d never heard of him until this week as I don’t follow cricket. That’s not to say Hughes’ death didn’t affect me. I was reminded of my own fragile mortality, gave thanks for the health and safety of those […]

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Patsys, players and the future of Australia’s political media

Here’s my latest post for the AusVotes 2013 federal election blog… The most significant thing that emerged from the mea culpas and post mortems that littered the coup-that-wasn’t battlefield was the notion that journalists are willing to be made patsys. What other explanation can there be for the role the media played in the Rudd camp’s most recent premature leadership tourney? Seasoned […]

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Ooops Greenpeace!

Shell should have placed full page ads like this in the early days of the Let's Go! arctic campaign

This week I attended a public affairs conference entitled True Spin, held by the Walkleys/MEAA. There were conflicts, inconsistencies and knowledge gaps that struck me during the presentations at the conference, but one thing that consistently stood out was the consensus that Shell had badly dealt with Greepeace’s Let’s Go! arctic campaign. Disappointingly, while several presenters were happy to pile […]

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Did I miss the zombie apocalypse?

Aaaargh, brains.....

Here’s my latest piece at The King’s Tribune I must have missed that moment when we relinquished our brains. You know, that moment when we scooped out the gelatinous orbs that give us independent thought and popped them into a bin for collection. That didn’t happen, you say? Well then, did I miss the zombie apocalypse? Was I in a […]

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A surprising omission from Tingle

I was disappointed by Laura Tingle on Friday. Tingle is one of the few journalists writing from the Canberra Press Gallery that we usually can depend upon to be consistently rigorous in research, forensic in analysis and objective in reporting. There was however a piece of information missing from her Canberra Observed column that surprised me. Tingle was commenting on the poor prospects for long-term policy debates due to distractions such as the obsession with “process” or insider stories rather than “outcomes” stories. She held aloft as an example the case of Jillian Broadbent AO, the esteemed business woman who chaired an expert panel looking into investment for clean energy. An eminent panel headed by Jillian Broadbent reported to the government this week on the structural problems of getting investment in clean energy. Broadbent is a member of the Reserve Bank board (appointed by the Howard government), and a director of ASX Ltd and Woolworths. Such an obvious Labor stooge, in fact, that the Coalition accused her of engaging in “partisan activity and partisan criticism” simply for observing that the Coalition “haven’t been very interested in speaking to me, despite my preparedness to brief them”. Anyone trying to contribute to the current public policy debate, as opposed to anticipating where political fortunes might go next, is smeared in the process. Any reasonable reader would conclude from this analysis that the Coalition had snubbed and smeared an experienced and independent business […]

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Not all spin doctors use their powers for evil

Being an effective communicator is a lot like having the Force – you can either use your power for good or evil. To illustrate, I’d suggest that JFK and Martin Luther King Jr used their power for good. I would place Anthony Robbins and the Shopping Television Network at the other end of the spectrum (yes, my definition of evil is non-Catholic to say the least). Others would place the dreaded spin doctor (or public relations practitioner) in the same quadrant as the insistent voice telling you to call with your credit card details right now to get not one, but three pedi-eggs for the price of one. I will state up front that I am a communications (ie. PR) professional, and have plied my trade for over 20 years. My training is in communications theory and practice, which is not the same thing as journalism. Yes, I learned how to write in a clear and (hopefully) compelling fashion. I also learned how people pay attention, listen and learn. I understand the relationship between people’s values, beliefs, attitudes and perceptions and how these ultimately shape behaviour. This knowledge is stock in trade for communications professionals. We build strategies from these robust theories to help people and organisations effectively communicate with their audiences. Much of this communication is done for good not evil. Sometimes the messages help people find or use something, or to be safe, or informed about their rights […]

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New media prejudice based on fear of the unknown

It’s human nature to dislike, even hate, what we fear and to fear that which is foreign to us. These drivers underpin many of the entrenched prejudices that exist in this world, to humanity’s great shame and dismay. Prejudice and its implications can occur on a grand scale or at the micro level. The most profound cast a shadow over people’s gender, sexuality, colour and religion. At the micro level it may be the cut of your suit, the ink on your skin or even the way you speak that fans the embers of ignorance into the flames of prejudice. While these biases are nothing compared to the ones mentioned above, they still exist and should be challenged. Well, at least that’s what we always say about prejudice – that it should be challenged. Perhaps it’s more a matter of deconstructing prejudice through personal experience. Attitudes are very hard to shift, but they can be altered with knowledge gained through first hand experience. There are many (but clearly not enough) examples of people relinquishing their prejudices once the unknown becomes the personally known, either through a friend or relative coming out, or by getting to know someone of a different colour or religion. It’s the micro level of prejudice that I’ve pondered since attending the Media140 social media conference last month. Quite a number of mainstream media journalists participated in panel discussions and I was struck by the disdainful way […]

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Refuse the election media spoonfeed and make up your own mind!

No eating

I have sympathy for people wanting more substance from the Australian media this federal election. Truly, I do. As I’ve previously explained, some of the political media’s obsession with election frippery is due to them rebelling against being tightly managed during the campaign. However, I’ve noticed an assertion creeping into some commentary that the media should not only be covering […]

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