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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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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Think tanks: Independent does not mean objective

Thinker1

Somewhere along the way, in the debate of public policy issues, we seem to have forgotten that “independent” does not necessarily mean “objective”. Think tanks in particular are the guiltiest in using this sleight of hand. In stressing that they are independent scholarly organisations, think tanks attempt to lay claim to a higher moral ground that comes from academic objectivity. […]

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Should online commenters register with a credit card?

I’ve lodged a comment today on Greg Jericho’s latest interesting piece at The Drum about privacy and freedom to comment. My reason for doing so is the confusion that seems to have arisen about whether online commenters should register with a credit card. I recall discussing this with both Greg and Jonathan Green at The Drum, so thought I would share my views on how/why it could be done. This is what I had to say: Another nice piece Grog. The irony of the Australian doing a feature on you yesterday was extreme to say the least. Only to be exceeded, in fact, by your graciousness and generosity in doing the interview IMHO. On the credit card point. I think that might have been something you and I once discussed. If so, I suggested that paying $1 by credit card to register to comment on an online news/opinion site would be more effective in proving that one is a “real” person than using one’s Facebook profile (which is a method used by some media organisations). Using emails addresses or Facebook profiles does not weed out anonymous or pseudonymous commenters (clearly), or the astroturfing that can be perpetrated by them. But paying $1 by credit card demonstrates you are actually who you say you are, because the issuing bank will have made sure of that before issuing it to you. Or you would hope so……

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Abbott in a Zegna suit?

Copyright Rob Walls

Shaun Carney’s recount today of former Treasurer Howard sending Treasurer Keating a congratulationary note on becoming the world’s greatest treasurer, caused me to ponder what sort of Opposition Leader Keating would’ve been.While no more than a fantastical imagining, I can’t help think he’d be more in the Abbott mould than the Turnbull one. Because, when you think back, is there […]

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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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Democracy, by-lines and the cult of celebrity

I have a little theory that needs to be refined.  So I encourage you, dear reader, to comment and correct me. My theory is that the advent of by-lines and the cult of celebrity have irrevocably changed the nature of democracy in Australia. When I moved to chilly Canberra to be a neophyte press secretary in the 80s, not every journalist had a by-line.  That honour was bestowed only upon senior reporters and feature writers.  Most Canberra journalists were reporters in the truest sense.  They were required to succinctly, accurately and anonymously report on newsworthy matters of the day. While most journalists I know have a strong point of view, in those days they were proud of the objectivity they displayed in their work.  Their saw their role as information providers, and had faith in the public reaching their own informed views about the matters that were important to them. My middle-aged memory fails me when I try to pinpoint the turning point – when journalists became participants in, rather than reporters of, the political process.  But I have no doubt that the advent of the by-line was a contributing factor. When you are a Canberra operative you tend to notice these things, such as the infectious “title inflation” that has been going on in the print media.  Back in the 80s and early 90s, political reporters clamoured just to get a by-line.  Earlier this decade there was fierce competition […]

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