The Rudd essay on the GFC – was he right?

This is a follow up to a piece posted on 7 February Kevin Rudd’s essay on the global financial crisis and another piece posted a month later The Turnbull answer to the Rudd essay.

The Monthly, which published the Rudd essay, has published in its May issue The Rudd Essay & the Global Financial Crisis in which the opinions of what it describes as five ‘influential thinkers’ from the international scene are given.  Its reason for doing this is stated as being its disappointment at the media response to the essay: “The overwhelming majority have been carping and superficial.  Virtually no one has offered a penetrating critique or proposed an alternative account of the most significant economic calamity since the Great Depression.”   Even the ABC comes in for criticism for not conducting an interview with the PM on the essay.  More...

How do you rate our TV and radio journalists?

What was intended to be a two part piece needs another – this is about TV and radio journalists.

Some of these are the most acerbic and intimidating interrogators.  They look for and enjoy the gotcha moment, and because they are well known for this propensity, politicians are wary of them and cautious with their remarks for fear of them returning in a disadvantageous video clip.  I am most familiar with national journalists.  Let’s start with Kerry O’Brien. More...

How do you rate our political journalists?

The last piece How should we rate the quality of our political journalists? outlined the criteria that might apply when judging their quality.  This piece reflects on individual journalists.  Your views are invited.

First let’s deal with editorials which are a particular problem in appraising quality in journalism. When there is a named author it is possible to compare any particular piece with others by the same person; with editorials, the author is usually unknown and often changes. Editorial writers hide behind the paper’s banner, yet their words are meant to reflect the paper’s stance and potentially have an important influence on readers’ opinions.  Maybe because they are generally anonymous they seem to be bolder in their assertions and opinions.  They often speak with the authority of Moses descending from the mountain with wisdom engraved on tablets of stone.  It’s pretty hard to hold them to account; the only recourse for readers is ‘Letters to the Editor’ published in the newspaper; there seems to be no online opportunity for this. More...

How should we rate the quality of our political journalists?

Bell-shaped (Gaussian) curves abound in nature and human endeavour, no less among political journalists.  They are scattered along a normal distribution curve in more ways than one.  Their political orientation varies from the extremes of conservatism on the one hand, to extremes of socialism on the other.  The vast majority lie between these extremes.   In terms of quality, they vary from the excellent, several standard deviations above the mean, to the bulk that could be described as ordinary or maybe even mediocre, to the shabby, several standard deviations below the mean. 

In his 1974 book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – An Inquiry into Values, in which he explores the metaphysics of quality, Robert Pirsig asserts that quality is indefinable, but goes on to say   "But even though Quality cannot be defined, you know what Quality is!".  Put another way, you recognize quality as soon as you see it.  In the area of rhetoric Pirsig singled out aspects of quality such as unity, vividness, authority, economy, sensitivity, clarity, emphasis, flow, suspense, brilliance, precision, proportion, depth and so on, but found them too difficult to define.  Pirsig also reminds us that the Greeks equated quality with truth, a notion that might help us to discern quality among journalists.

This piece confines itself to journalists who focus mainly on politics. More...