Is there a widening chasm between the Canberra Press Gallery and the people?

It’s probably not possible to accurately define the ‘Canberra Press Gallery’; in this piece I’m referring to the journalists who get to ask guest speakers at National Press Club events most of the questions, and those who report on federal politics.

Judging from what members of this group say in newspaper columns and on radio and TV news and current affairs programmes, their role seems to be four-fold – to report the facts, to interpret them and express an opinion, to predict, and ‘to hold politicians to account’, a task the group has assumed with some relish.  This piece attempts to tease out these functions and assess how professionally Press Gallery journalists are doing their job – just for a change holding them to account.  It will also argue that the bubble in which many Press Gallery journalists live has so divorced them from the electorate that they no longer correctly represent its values, beliefs and feelings.

It is acknowledged that there are some political commentators who do their job professionally and are respected by their audiences.  We know who they are and admire them.

Reporting the facts
Information is derived from a variety of sources: parliamentary debates and QT, ministerial announcements, official press conferences, unofficial ’door-stops’, press releases, arranged interviews in private or on radio and TV, corridor and restaurant conversations with politicians mostly ‘off-the-record’, whispered bits and pieces, scuttlebutt, and of course the whistleblower’s email.

The quality of the information is highly variable.  Although video clips or audio recordings of actual utterances must be the most authentic, this information source can be grossly misleading when cherry-picked to make a particular case.  Likewise, quoting actual words in columns can be authentic so long as the quote is accurate and complete and the context is stated.  But we all know that selective editing can distort or seriously mislead.  We see it every day.  We see it in the bootstrapping that has come to characterize much of what purports to be well-informed reporting.  While it is usual to place words actually uttered in quotation marks, this does not always occur, leaving the reader wondering who said what, and what the journalist is saying.

Unofficial conversations are often used by journalists to embellish their pieces.  ‘Informed sources’, ‘usually reliable sources’, or simply ‘sources’ are quoted while carefully preserving their anonymity.  Readers have no idea how authentic these tidbits are, how accurately and completely reported, the questions that were asked, the context, or their origin.  Was the ‘source’ another journo down the corridor or one in the favourite drinking hole?  Often these so-called ‘sources’ are the ones that give rise to the bootstrapping Bushfire Bill described in the last piece.

In my view there is no place in worthy journalism for this; once I see it, I doubt not only its accuracy but also the journalist’s motives, and discard it as useless.  It is a refuge for lesser journalists of which there are too many in the Press Gallery. 

The whistleblower’s email has an appeal to journalists near the bottom of the pile.  We all remember the infamous Grech email and how it was manipulated by News Limited’s Steve Lewis.  This past weekend we had News Limited’s scuttlebutt supremo, Glenn Milne, with his very own email which he represents as coming from an authentic whistleblower, salivating at the prospect of inflicting damage on the Government.   Do these journalists understand in what contempt they are held by those who believe in decent reporting?

On the fundamental task of presenting the unadulterated facts, many in the Press Gallery do poorly.  Not because of their disconnectedness with the electorate – but because they so often present the facts inadequately, and too often disingenuously.

Interpreting the facts and offering an opinion
This is where journalists have the chance to insert their own views about the meaning of facts and events.  The pure opinion piece usually can be identified for what it is, but most articles, or radio or TV commentaries are less easily identifiable as opinion.  There is often a mixture of facts and opinion that cannot easily be unravelled.  So when an opinion seems to be on offer, it is not always easy to know whose it is.  Why can’t journalists preface their opinions with ‘in my opinion’?  Moreover when their opinion is offered, consumers need to know on what it is based – the facts as presented, what others are saying, what the voters are saying, what interest groups are saying; or is it simply their own unique view based on their experience and inevitably governed by their biases. 

Sometimes opinions are based on well-conducted polling on important issues, carried out mostly by newspapers or research houses.  Sometimes focus group studies or party polling inform journalists’ opinions.  These are at least supported by verifiable data, but when the opinion is not based on polling, on what is it based?   Is it based on any intimate knowledge of what the electorate thinks?  Not likely.  How would they ascertain public opinion other than through polling?  More likely it is based on chatter inside the Press Gallery bubble where groupthink operates so strongly, where expressing a contrary view is inimical to all except the most self-assured, where only the egotistical will go out on a limb to be the most macho journo around, and where what the editor thinks or what the proprietor wants influences what is reported.

When journalists’ opinions are so disconnected from public opinion, what value are they?  It is only on those rare occasions where journalists are sent out to sample, albeit unscientifically, the opinion of the man in the street such as in the ‘Your Shout’ segment on the ABC’s Insiders, that the people’s views are actually heard, and even then the poor sampling and the way the questions are posed influences the answers, sometimes rendering them worthless.

My assertion is that much of the opinion expressed by Press Gallery journalists reflects their own idiosyncratic views, and although sometimes based on substantial experience, does not accurately reflect the view of the people.  

Let me give an example.  In Chris Uhlmann's Apologetic PM: absurd or genius? on The Drum on 5 March, he lists the ‘fixes’ the PM promised: grocery prices, petrol prices, the hospital system and education, climate change and environmental improvements, and goes on to opine: “Judged against those marks it's easier to see how a focus group or two might be toting up the scorecard now and marking the Prime Minister down. On almost all of the benchmarks he set - and the ones that matter to punters - he is in the red.  It's also possible that the PM had atomised his message across so many fronts, and had become so hard to understand, that he left the impression of saying nothing much at all.”  From where has that opinion come if not from Uhlmann’s thoughts?  Was it based on a careful collection of punters’ opinions such as in focus groups?  Not likely.  He seems to be guessing what focus groups might be thinking.  It is this style of journalism that sounds so well-informed and plausible that it is regarded by many as worthwhile opinion, which it is not.

A commenter on Uhlmann’s blog, James Mahoney, tellingly responded: “There's been quite a frisson this week over this apology and lots of puzzled frowning and beard pulling and pondering about why he did it. And over-reaction....Perhaps electors will view the apology differently from the commentariat and actually say, 'Goodonya Kevin for having the guts to admit you have been a bit dodgy on the performance thing.' Imagine the angle had he not said sorry: Rudd's too arrogant to admit it when he makes a mistake.  All part of the news cycle really, isn't it? Can't win if you don't; can't win if you do. The only certainty in the news cycle is that whatever you do (or say) will be beaten into this day's angle. What is really needed is some real in-depth analysis and maybe even a break-out from the dominant paradigm of the Parliamentary Press Gallery that ensures reporters and commentators don't stray too far from what they think the competition will write. That is, whatever politicians do or say needs to be bagged. Maybe it does - but not all the time.” 

That is just what this piece is asserting. 

Predicting
Press Gallery journalists have assumed the mantle of making predictions.  Although this is the most hazardous of all their roles, they enjoy it most.  It gives them a feeling of being sage, or being kingmakers or destroyers of political careers.  They enjoy nothing more than having their wise predictions come true.

Yet it is in the dangerous field of prediction that they are most likely to be relying on mediocre data or none at all, hearsay, whispered asides in corridors, the ‘good oil’ from insiders, or just their gut feelings.  How often have you seen Glenn Milne, who would die for a prescient prediction, declaring the Rudd Government will be a ‘oncer’?  Now Fran Kelly has likewise chanced her arm.  To be able to say – ‘you heard it first from me’ is a glorious feather in the journalistic cap.  Dennis Shanahan declared that Peter Garrett was ‘finished’ and predicted his sacking – wrong on both counts.  Several others insisted ‘Garrett must go!” no doubt confident in their prediction that his career was over. 

When such predictions are made by known anti-Government journalists it’s hard to know whether these are well-based predictions or just wishful thinking.

In any case, this piece asserts that predictions by the Canberra Press Gallery are too often not based on hard and verifiable data, not based on an intimate knowledge of the voters’ opinions, but on hunches, on hearsay, on groupthink, on what suits their political or ideological position.  It is ironic that the journalists who are the most self-opinionated, most judgemental, seem to be the ones who rely less on evidence than their own idiosyncratic viewpoint.

Holding the Government to account
This role has been taken on with enthusiasm by the Press Gallery.  They seem to feel entitled to question everything the Government and the Opposition does and says, as if we the people have appointed them to act on our behalf.  We haven’t, they just assume that is so.  So we see aggressive, at time belligerent and discourteous questioning of our political leaders, especially if they are antagonistic to them generally, or over the issue under consideration.  3AW’s Neil Mitchell and the ABC’s Jon Faine are classic examples on radio, and Kerry O’Brien and Tony Jones on ABC TV.  At the recent National Press Club meeting when the PM announced the hospitals and health reform plan, we saw two of our better journalists asking questions inappropriate to the occasion.  In the midst of the most important announcement about health for decades, Paul Bongiorno asked how the Government could administer the health reforms if it couldn’t run an insulation program, and Karen Middleton asked Rudd a question about his communication style.  Did they imagine members of the public wanted them to ask such silly questions that distracted from the purpose of the event, or was this just journalistic bravado?

In holding to account, do they work from verifiable information?  Sometimes, but sometimes they have little hard data to back their questioning.  Do they seek the public’s opinion before pressing their points?  No, they just assume we want them to pursue the line they take.  We don’t.  They have drifted away from what the people really think and feel, confined as they are in the Press Gallery glass house where they hear echoes reverberating around the walls and interpret them as public opinion.  It is not.

In summary, what this piece proposes is that the Canberra Press Gallery has lost touch with the man in the street, and because it has limited means of communicating effectively with the public, it has limited ways of validly representing the public’s views, hopes and aspirations, their desire for change, and their opinion of the Government’s and the Opposition’s policies and actions.  In my view the chasm between the people and the Canberra Press Gallery is widening, and that is why we get such mediocre and unrepresentative journalism from so many of them. 

By all means feed us the facts, and give us your considered opinion.  But when you do, make it clear it is your opinion, and tell us on what it is based.  If you feel inclined to predict, please make it clear that’s what it is and not divine inspiration, and do tell us how you came to your prediction.  Finally, if you feel compelled to ‘hold the Government or the Opposition to account’, show us how they are meeting or not meeting expectations, and whose expectations they are.  But please do not assume they are the public’s expectations unless you have evidence that this is so.  We want to be informed, but not indoctrinated by your ideology, your unsupported opinions or your uninformed predictions.

Visitors, what do you think?

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mick smetafor

11/03/2010not sure i agree with you aa on their limited means of communication with the public,they only need to spend 5 minutes on the web to find out how they are percieved.i don't think many have much choice as they have to dance to the dirty diggers tune,like or not.on your point about making predictions, they then have a vested interest in helping their prediction occur so out goes impartiality.

Bushfire Bill

11/03/2010There's probably a bit more sourcing from focus groups than the opinionistas let on. They like to put it about that they are in tune with the pulse of the nation, when actually their "understanding" comes from a focus group survey thrust under their door by a party hack. As to predictions, the common technique is to make the prediction and then forget it when it doesn't come to fruition. We only get the highlights, not the own-goals. Milne is a classic at this. Incidentally, the article of his that you referred to was quite unprofessional. It looked more like a blog post than anything else: gloating, overly personal and poorly sourced. And what point did it make? That the Insulation Stimulus was more about economics than the environment. Wow! What a revelation!

adelaidegirl

11/03/2010I'm new to this blog and thank god for it! I've loved reading back over the articles and the bloggers' responses - so considered, so erudite, so intimidating! I'm so very vexed about the quality of news in this country, and more so in the last couple of years. I've steadfastly refused to watch TT and ACA for years, knowing that they are laden with bias and bull**it. I've become angry at the obvious advertising of "product" that goes on in news bulletins. And I stopped reading The Australian years ago - although I thought the quality of the writing was above some other papers, the constant unfair vilification of the left wing, whether in government or not, sickened me. Now, even ABC2 morning news allows people to accuse the PM of "phone stalking" on national television! This occured yesterday during the "lets reference the newspapers to fill some time" segment of the show with a young man as the guest. Apparently, PM gave SBY a call the day before his visit to us. Shock! Horror! The young man's identity has been wiped from my mind by the incendiary rage I felt towards Our ABC, although his obvious right-wingery was written all over his face. Phew. There's a bit off my chest. I sometimes watch Jim Lehrer's Newshour, when I get a chance. It is sober reporting without hyperbole. I've always been interested in opinion - I read mostly letters to the editor and blogs - and Mark Shields and David Brooks (journos) are regulars on the show. They seem to be from opposite ends of the political spectrum but it's a bit hard to tell because their discussions are so mature and measured and a pleasure to watch. It the Yanks can produce such quality news and comment, why can't we?????

lyn1

11/03/2010Hi Ad Hello adelaidegirl welcome to Ad Astra's blogg. Here you will find excellent opinions by our regular commenters, well thought out quality writing , we hope you will keep putting up your comments each for us all to read. Adelaidegirl I agree with what you have said thoroughly. Some good pieces for you to read, if you haven't already done so, are out of Ad Astra's archive, I am sending you a couple but they are all good, also highly recommend reading of Bushfire Bill's pieces. Enjoy: http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/post/2009/09/15/Should-mainstream-journalists-be-political-cheerleaders.aspx http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/post/2009/06/13/The-media-to-the-PM-e28093-we-have-a-problem.aspx http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/post/2009/05/21/How-do-you-rate-our-political-journalists.aspx The newspapers are driving us all mad, more so since they began a campaign to bring down our Government it is getting so obvious, distorted headlines, twisted facts, and as Ad said poltical journalists with their never named sources and leaked emails

lyn1

11/03/2010Hi Ad Thankyou for another excellent piece this morning. Ad isn't it wonderful all these nice new people commenting on my favourite blogg I have not found a political journalist that supports the Government, not one. Some reading for everyone, enjoy http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/10/battle-of-the-narratives-makes-for-distracting-viewing-or-maybe-not/ http://www.ntnews.com.au/article/2010/03/11/130701_ntnews.html http://www.echonews.com.au/story/2010/03/11/when-a-problem-comes-along-you-must-whip-it-whip-i/ http://www.menzieshouse.com.au/2010/03/latest-media-roundup.html http://blogs.crikey.com.au/purepoison/ http://theorstrahyun.blogspot.com/ http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/blogs/episodes/the-adventures-of-tony-the-unbelievable/20100310-pz28.html http://guttertrash.wordpress.com/2010/03/11/the-uninsulation-program/ http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/abbotts-parent-tax-as-costly-as-carbon-for-big-polluters-20100310-pzdz.html

You must be kidding

11/03/2010Ahhh Lyn It's now the newspaper headlines and their distorted facts fault. So add that 'fact'to the right wing bias of the ABC; the inconsequence of the Opposition Leader; the twisted media and we now find the reasons for the Government becoming on the nose if we are to believe the trends. Mind you it has nothing to do with their attitude to the ETS; the failure of the insulation program ... even now more money going into to it to solve the problems and still no personal responsibility taken ... except of course from Combet; the health policy which has the premiers asking questions; the Henry tax review which we are still waiting for and other minor points that come to us each day from jounalists paid to report. As I have said many many times ... Politics: the manipulation of perceptions. What you are seeing is politics at work. The fourth estate play a role and rather than just report the news they sometimes create the news which then drives the story. Why do you think the PM is so good at driving the news of the day ea ch day ... well he has in the past but now issues are in the news in front of him. Why for instance did the PM announce two significant policies within days of each other rather than wait a week for the second one. Clearly he wanted to change the news story. Why then did Abbott raise his "policy"? Clearly it was to do many things; centre the news back to him; break the Unions campaign on workchoices which had begun (Strange to have Burrows criticising a policy she has advocated for many years and in defence of businesses she criticised recently ... such a paradox) and to get health off the front page and the Opposition back on it for the demographic that would read it going to work that it was directed towards. The reason is clearly to manipulate the news ... politics. It has nothing to do with reality and no amount of blaming or complaining will change a process that has endured the years and indeed both governments and oppositions have suffered from. The issue then becomes ... will the message cut through to those that don't pay attention. Those that don't listen to the news or read politics. The Union campaign did prior to the last election as did the message from the government in 2004. Were they true ... debatable, but the fact is the voters believed the messages. The question to ponder is will voters catch the change of media and if they do will they change their vote. This point I think has the PM advisers thinking that perhaps it will and thus he has changed his focus to domestic issues ... just to kill the negative percpetion of Kevin 747. So if you want to consider pure politics then watch how the debate focuses over this next period ... fasinating time.

BH

11/03/2010Adelaidegirl - I feel your pain and frustration. AA has put it succinctly in his last paragraph above and wouldn't it be great if this were followed by the MSM. [We want to be informed, but not indoctrinated by your ideology, your unsupported opinions or your uninformed predictions.]

Ad astra reply

11/03/2010adelaidegirl Welcome to [i]TPS[/i] and thank you for your kind remarks. I hope you will return and comment. I share your feelings about the media, and curiously even those in the media have misgivings about the conduct of their colleagues. In today’s [i]Australian[/i] Greg Sheridan in his piece on the Yudhoyono visit [i]Feel-good show lacked depth[/i] commenting on the joint Rudd-Yudhoyono press conference before the parliament convened said, [i]inter alia: “However, the good grace of the visit should not obscure the general lack of substance. Take the disgraceful performance of the Canberra press gallery. With the opportunity to ask the president of the biggest Muslim nation in the world just two questions, the gallery chose to ignore history and demonstrate its own dismal provincialism by using one of those to ask Rudd about Abbott’s parental leave scheme.[/i] This is just what I bemoan in this piece. Did the journalist asking that question (I don’t know who it was) believe that the people of Australia wanted that issue raised when Australia-Indonesia relations were forefront in the press conference? Surely not! I’ve seen Michelle Grattan and other experienced journalists as asking similarly inappropriate domestic questions of Kevin Rudd when he was overseas on G20 or other important missions. I feel as angry as you do about the state on our media and frustrated with the reality of being able to do so little about it. I guess the best we can do is to keep hammering them in blogs such as this and hope that our concerns and despair might effect a change for the better. It’s a David and Goliath struggle but David did win.

Ad astra reply

11/03/2010mick Journalists might ascertain public opinion via the Internet if they read political blogs where opinions are freely expressed, albeit the opinions of a select group that is probably unrepresentative of the electorate. How else might they? You are close to the mark when you say that they ‘dance to the dirty diggers tune.’ BB is right when he suggests that journalists have access to focus groups that might be fed to them by vested interests, but they must suffer from bias as no one is likely to leak results that are adverse to the leaker’s cause. BB You’re spot-on when you point out that predictions that come off are the subject of gloating, whereas those that don’t are quietly neutralized or dropped, only to be dragged up subsequently by those intent on holding journalists to account. This is the bane of journalists’ life.

bilgedigger

11/03/2010Ad Astra - Your post needs a more considered approach than I have time for at present. Suffice to say you are spot on but we also need to consider how salaries and advertising revenues are related and interrelated with journalists' comments and opinions. The lifestyles adopted by journalists require ready cash and ample time to pursue, so it's easier to fall in line and print off what you think the editor would be thinking as well as the direction the proprietor directs the editor to take. Lyn1 - I enjoy your posts and links. Just a comment on your statement "I have not found a political journalist that supports the Goverment". I would rejoice if that was a reflection of the reality in most countries because it could mean that the media was even-handed, but it's not. What bothers me in Australia is that rather than journalists supporting or not supporting Governments or Oppositions we appear to have a majority of journalists opposing a Labor Government and barracking vociferously for an Opposition which is hellbent on providing stunts and childish games in lieu of doing what they are paid to do. Ymbk - Your claim that the Government is on the nose does not appear to be borne out by the evidence in front of us through polls and focus groups, including the approval rate of Mr. Rudd. You state that "politics is the manipulation of perceptions" and in your post proceed to show how this might be done, so perhaps you have been manipulated yourself to think as you do?

Ad astra reply

11/03/2010Lyn1 Another great collection of links. I particularly enjoyed Mungo MacCallum’s [i] When a problem comes along, whip it[/i] http://www.echonews.com.au/story/2010/03/11/when-a-problem-comes-along-you-must-whip-it-whip-i/ I see groupthink is alive and well at the ABC, according to its chairman Maurice Newman. Who would have thought it! I enjoyed the conclusion of Michael Epis in [i]National Times[/i] in[i] The Adventures of Tony the Unbelievable[/i] http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/blogs/episodes/the-adventures-of-tony-the-unbelievable/20100310-pz28.html [i]“This one action has shown Tony Abbott to be dumb, foolish, impetuous, capricious, unprincipled and irresponsible. He will be Liberal leader at this year's election - a fourth would destroy the party's credibility. Watching him walk the tightrope between now and then is going to be entertaining stuff, in a car-crash kind of way. And that's the problem - he really just likes the attention. A few of his colleagues might well be wishing he got permanently lost in the desert.”[/i]

Ad astra reply

11/03/2010YMBK While taking your points, your conclusion seems nihilistic: [i] “The reason is clearly to manipulate the news ... politics. It has nothing to do with reality and no amount of blaming or complaining will change a process that has endured the years and indeed both governments and oppositions have suffered from.”[/i] If that is true why would we bother protesting about the manipulation? Do we really have to suffer this without complaint? I agree with you when you say: [i]“The question to ponder is will voters catch the change of media and if they do will they change their vote.”[/i] That is the agonizing question. While there’s still breath in my body, I’m not prepared to toss it in.

Ad astra reply

11/03/2010bilgedigger I fear you are right – what pleases the editor or proprietor likely plays on the minds of lesser journalists clawing their way upwards. It probably has less effect on accomplished journalists, most of whom are insistent that they would never tolerate editorial interference.

monica

11/03/2010Haven't commented for a while, Ad, but have been reading. Just wanted to say this piece echoes what I have been thinking for a while now, and was astounded to read Maurice Newman's speech.

lyn1

11/03/2010Hi Ad and everybody bilgedigger Thankyou for your kind comment, I enjoy all your commments too. Grogs fantastic column on todays question time has been posted, a must read for everybody. http://grogsgamut.blogspot.com/ Everybody will enjoy these: http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/11/abbotts-parental-leave-scheme-takes-aim-at-his-own-party-base/ http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/11/2843403.htm http://blogs.crikey.com.au/purepoison/2010/03/11/new-comment-policy/#more-5387 This is funny http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/blogs/rocco-bloggo/tony-abbotts-baby-moment/20100311-q0j6.html Interesting http://alp.org.au/facts-tony-abbotts-record-health-minister

Ad astra reply

11/03/2010Thanks again Lyn1. Grog's Gamut is excellent. I missed QT today, so I was pleased to read his account. The news services give a very distorted picture. Fran Kelly's arrogance knows no bounds. All she's doing is echoing Bob Brown and Nick Xenophon's urging of Rudd to 'talk to them'. No doubt they feel ignored and like children will turn on a tantrum to get attention.

HillbillySkeleton

11/03/2010Ad Astra, Another thought-provoking piece...so here are my thoughts... I think it illustrative, to use as a starting point, John Hartigan's(CEO of News Ltd. in Australia) desire, espressed at the National Press Club last year, to take the News Ltd. Press Gallery offices out of Parliament House to a location where the journos would be beyond the smothering groupthink, as my starting point for undertaking an exploration by way of leading to an attempted explanation of the phenomenon of a Press gallery in general, and in Australia in particular. It was Hartigan's aim, which I note he hasn't been able to achieve yet(and there's no prizes for guessing why the task has been nigh on impossible to effect), to get the News Ltd. groupers to only go into Parliament House for Question Time, and to conduct interviews, then leave to go back to a Canberra 'bunker' and meditate on the story for a while before writing it. No doubt he also had ideas about inculcating a pure News Ltd. mindset among the coterie of News' columnists, which would be easier to oversee & direct if untainted by 'outside influences' amongst the other denizens of the rabbit warren of offices at the back of the Chambers of Parliament, which the Gallery uses, upon returning from either the House or the Senate, to write up their stories. As I said, that appears to have been a hard habit for Hartigan to break on behalf of his employees. Which goes to, why? Could it be that the Press Gallery sees themselves as members of a modern-day Courtier Class, crossed with Delphic Oracles, crossed with ciphers, crossed withDoomsayers? And Parliament House is the Palace? They obviously relish their role, otherwise they wouldn't devote as much of their lives to it as they seem to do. Tho' palace intrigue has always been intoxicating, and hard to divorce oneself from once you are 'in the loop'. Which also contributes to the lack of objectivity that we know so well from reading the work, over a long period of time, of these people. It is always thus, at the end of the day, going to be just a glorified 'Circle Jerk', as the journos get their Press Releases, provided by Press Secretaries, who always write them with an eye to the story that they want written. The journos also try and do a bit of lurking around offices and corridors, in order to try and circumvent the spin doctors and get at the truth of a matter(well, the best ones do)., In fact, on occasion, I have even observed the best of them researching a story in the Parliamentary Library! The worst of them simply 'Bootstrap' a story to their favoured Party's line. It's an incredibly symbiotic relationship, to be sure, and one which can see someone in this maelstrom easily lose touch with the Average Joe's reality, as they go from Parliamentary Sittings, to Media Caravan, following the leaders into unreal situations & cynically organised Photo Ops, not leaving much time for a 'normal' life of their own. Their down time appears to consist of establishing relationships with the self-same pollies, at restaurants and watering holes around Canberra, after Parliament is over for the day. I guess this is why you find journos married to PR hacks and hackettes, and MPs and staffers, in their own little semi-incestuous way. Which, of course, only reinforces the reality of the fact that they lose touch with the average person in the street except when they Vox Pop them. Thus it is the strangest anomaly that it is these exact same people that that we trust to interpret politics faithfully for us back out here on the streets where we live. And we generally believe what they tell us, what's more! I guess it's hard not to. Many of them have been in the Press Gallery for so long we assume they must know what they are talking about. I, however, prefer to remain a Press Gallery Sceptic. Long live the Blog!

Ad astra reply

11/03/2010Folks Apropos the idiotic question asked by a journo at the Rudd-Yudhoyono press conference yeaterday, do read Possum's piece on [i]Pollytics: Perspective[/i] http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2010/03/11/perspective/#more-7364

Ad astra reply

11/03/2010HillbillySkeleton What an insightful analysis of Press Gallery behaviour. It reinforces the view that groupthink operates strongly there. You obviously know more than most of us about the goings-on in Canberra. Thank you.

monica

11/03/2010Well done, hillbilly bouyo

lyn1

11/03/2010Hi Ad I think we need not worry about wasting our time watching Question Time, because Grog http://grogsgamut.blogspot.com/ gives us such a fantasic exactly as happened report of the proceedings in a nutshell. Ad thankyou for the link to Possum, how clever is Possum . Hillbilly skeleton I have been waiting all day for your comments, and you certainly never disappoint. Fantastic piece you have posted. The Press Gallery think they are so above everybody, so so elite. I see Tony Abbott is on 4 corners on Monday night at 8.30pm, judging by the clips advertising the show, how much more of the budgie smuggler, speedo wearing Abbott do we need, too much information.

Daisey May

11/03/2010Bravo. This is a beautifully put and long overdue article. It's not the Emperor who is naked but the tacky courtiers and hangers on. Punters are watching the watchers and don't like what they see. I don't think people mind if the Government or the Opposition are taken to task fairly. When journos start to barrack openly we have a problem. For me personally it's a shit as I try to weigh up arguments based on the facts. I've been raised on shows like Media Watch so all the filthy little tricks reporters employ to colour a piece frankly disgust me. To illustrate how farcical things have become we now have the tabloid termagent Tracy Grimcrack being nominated as journalist of the year. Just because large swathes of the population no longer accept the slops bucketed out to consumers via the MSM, it doesn't mean we haven't noticed how dire things have become. Increasingly my first click goes to Blogwatch and if it were humanly possible to chart such a thing then I'd love to see Possum do it. Not Newspoll or Neilson or Essential or the overly pimpled Galaxy but real people with talent, skill and enough integrity to publish favourable and adverse findings dispassionately. In 20 years time I hope to look back at this very missive and smile. It will take at least that long to wean the great bulk of the news reading public off this god awful diet of third hand tripe and unmitigated hogwash.

Amos Keeto

11/03/2010Damn that was good Shame that it wont make one iota of difference to a pack of ex-hard-men and one or two recently promoted skanks.

HillbillySkeleton

11/03/2010Thank you, one and all! Here's some light relief to end the day(I think I saw it hanging on Tony Abbott's office wall): http://www.myspaceantics.com/image-Insanity.jpg.html

Rx

12/03/2010What we need is a Citizens News Site. Give the "professional" hacks some competition on "their own" turf. Volunteer reporters could contact the politicians direct, ask the questions, publish the answers. No editorialisation, no spin, no groupthink, no angles adopted to please the boss, just the facts, ma'am. Would sure be a more reliable source than what we're currently presented by the "mainstream".

lyn1

12/03/2010Hi Ad and everybody Looks like a bad news day today, but have found a couple of interesting links for you all. http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/12/plumbing-new-depths-in-the-senate/ http://newmatilda.com/2010/03/11/abbott-flip-flopper http://mumble.com.au/

Bushfire Bill

12/03/2010[i]What we need is a Citizens News Site. Give the "professional" hacks some competition on "their own" turf. [/i] [i]Talking Points Memo[/i] (TPM) is a good realization of this basic idea in America. http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/ It started out about 8 years or so ago as a freelance journalist (Josh Marshall) running a left-of-center blog. After a year or so he started hiring interns and now has a healthy-sized staff of permanents, a video news gathering service and has broken some quite big political stories. Marshall invites reader contributions and has lively discussion areas where the exchanges are quite intelligent (for a change!). TPM breaks news, hires staff and makes money. As the old [i]Harry S. Baggs[/i] discount store TV ad said, "[i]It's [b]just[/b] like a proper shop.[/i]" From Marshall's own "About TPM" blurb: [i][b]Talking Points Memo[/b] is the flagship blog of TPM Media LLC, which also publishes TPMmuckraker, TPMDC, TPMtv and TPMCafe. Founder and editor Josh Marshall began publishing Talking Points Memo during the 2000 Florida vote recount. The site specializes in original reporting on government and politics and offers breaking news coverage, investigative reporting, high profile guest bloggers and a book club. [b]Talking Points Memo[/b] is one of the most innovative political news organizations in the country. Media watchers consider TPM the site to watch as the news business transforms from the old world of print to the online digital future. In March 2009 TPM topped TIME Magazine's list of 25 Best Blogs of 2009. "Talking Points," wrote Time's editors, "has become the prototype of what a successful Web-based news organization is likely to be in the future." And in September of 2009 The Atlantic listed founder Josh Marshall among the nation's 50 most influential commentators. Its combination of breaking news, investigative reporting and smart analysis have made it a must-read for DC insiders, the media who cover them and politically engaged people everywhere.[/i] http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/about.php

Ad astra reply

12/03/2010monica Welcome back. I see we are on the same page about the Press Gallery. Maurice Newman’s comment might have a superficial ring of authenticity about it, but surely he can’t believe that on the matter of climate change all opinions are equal and therefore deserve similar exposure. Why should we give the same credence, and exposure, to opinions based on inadequate or misleading data and illogically drawn conclusions as we do to those based on solid verifiable data rationally reasoned to a logical conclusion and subject to critical peer review? The former is not just worthless but deceptive, the latter is what sound science is based upon. Lyn1 It will be interesting to see how the ABC handles the Tony Abbott story on [i]Four Corners[/i]. It may give us some insight into its idea of ‘balance’. In your last post you talk of a ‘bad news day’. The insulation story is being flogged to death because it’s all the Coalition and the media have. Tony Abbott’s PPL idea has run its course, the health reforms are of little interest to him or the media, except to highlight the difficulties, and the Senate obstruction story is not great gear for the Coalition although the media beat-up is that it’s all Rudd’s fault for not sucking up to the Greens and the cross bench Senators – what an unpleasant prospect! We can expect some respite from the media onslaught over the weekend – it has a poor attention span unless something new crops up. Then there are just four days for the Coalition to hammer the Government in QT before parliament recesses until May when the budget comes down. We can expect stunts galore as the Opposition and the media try to inflict as much damage as possible on the Government while the opportunity presents. So much for good governance – obstruction, opposition and vitriolic criticism is all that counts for them. Daisey May Thank you for your supportive comment. I was gratified to see that you use Blog Watch, which I update several times a day as new items pop up. Effecting change in the MSM is a long term project. I’m not expecting much change soon. News Limited seems to have set its sights to bringing down the Rudd Government, so we ought not to expect them to change tack until they succeed or fail, in which case they will mark time until the 2013 election when we’ll see the campaign all over again. Amos Keeto You may be right when you say we will make no difference, but I suspect at least some journos take a peek at this site and similar others to pick up the dialogue going on in the blogosphere. While the also-rans are probably too lazy to bother, the better ones may. Whether what we say influences their thinking and writing is debateable, but I often hark back to the Shanahan episode in the dying days of the Howard Government where the blogosphere so roundly criticized his interpretation of [i]Newspoll[/i] results that he responded with annoyance, as did his editor, at the impertinence of we bloggers. But his [i]Newspoll[/i] analysis did become more rational thereafter. Rx The idea of a Citizens News Site is appealing. BB provides us with details of a very successful site of this nature in the US. He points to [i]“Talking Points Memo (TPM)[/i] http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/ which is worth a look. It would take quite a lot of effort to sustain such a site. [i]TPM[/i] engages staff and has correspondents. We should think about how this idea might be realized here. Any ideas?

Ostermann

12/03/2010Hi All I thought you might like this piece by John Pilger http://www.newstatesman.com/international-politics/2010/03/pilger-australia-murdoch-media

lyn1

12/03/2010Hi Ad Ostermann thankyou for the link to Welcome to the first murdochracy it's excellent Murdochs army :- http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/Murdochs-army-marches-on-pd20100312-3FTX8?OpenDocument&src=kgb

Ad astra reply

12/03/2010Ostermann, Lyn1 Thank you for the Murdoch links - both very interesting reading.

Rx

12/03/2010AA wrote: "We should think about how this idea might be realized here." I wholeheartedly agree! I believe that to get the accurate story (in politics), it's essential to bypass the clouds of distortion generated by the Canberra groupthink sheep. So, a Citizen Reporter would go directly to the source - in this case, the politician/s at the heart of the story. They could call them, ask them the questions, then transcribe the text of the interview for publication. Here's where you differentiate from the "professional" hacks: I mean a complete and accurate transcription, no "creative editing" for rhetorical or ideological advantage - a straight word-for-word record of what the pollie said. In fact, I can even imagine the interviews being recorded and converted to .mp3 sound file for download by the audience. Using a PC with the benefits these days of integrated on-board sound processing, it surely wouldn't be too technically difficult to record a phone interview and make a file of same available for distribution to the audience. Just toying here with some ideas of what could be put together by amateur political enthusiasts at home with little difficulty or expense.

Ad astra reply

12/03/2010Folks The [i]Morgan[/i] poll today shows [i]"ALP down slightly again but still holds big lead - ALP 55.5% (down 1%) - L-NP 44.5% (up 1%)"[/i] http://www.roymorgan.com/news/polls/2010/4476/ Gary Morgan comments: [i]“If a Federal Election were held today the ALP would still win easily...The latest Morgan Poll conducted over the past two weekends shows further tightening between the Rudd Government (55.5%, down 1%) and the L-NP Opposition (44.5%, up 1%) — the closest Face-to-Face Morgan Poll Two-Party preferred result since June 20/21, 2009 when “Ute-gate” first emerged as an issue for the Rudd Government."[/i] As expected Labour is down a little but it still enjoys a healthy lead over the Coalition. If that is the best the Coalition can do with the insulation saga and it's highly touted paid parental leave plan, it does not auger well for the time when the tide is running in Labor's favour

Ad astra reply

12/03/2010Rx Good ideas. Let's reflect on how your idea might be implemented. Any suggestions from anyone else?

Ad astra reply

12/03/2010Folks Correction - today's [i]Morgan[/i] poll concluded before the Abbott PPL announcement. The next one will cover the pluses and minuses of that policy. Morgan say it covers [i]inter alia: "Labor deserves whacking, says Prime Minister Rudd Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says his Government deserves to get a "whacking" from voters in the next round of opinion polls. "Peter Garrett under siege over insulation fiasco The pressure on Environment Minister Peter Garrett intensified this morning after he admitted he had not seen a key report into the safety of the scrapped home insulation scheme until 11 days ago. "Insulation compo could cost $1 billion: Hockey Opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey says the Government's botched insulation scheme has left it open to "massive compensation" claims that could cost it up to $1 billion."[/i]

lyn1

12/03/2010Hi Ad Ad you said to Rx lets reflect on how your idea might be implemented. I went reading and searching and have found: Talking Points makes good use of crowdsourcing, soliciting news tips from readers and even giving them assignments to sift through government documents. The biggest difference between Talking Points and most traditional news organizations is that Marshall assumes some of his readers might actually know more than he does, which makes him very smart indeed. copied from http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1879276_1879279,00.html http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/about.ph Rx you need to tell us more lots more , Your words Rx In fact, I can even imagine the interviews being recorded and converted to .mp3 sound file for download by the audience Rx And Ad have you read anthing about the Tea Party Movement in America? To start with, the Tea Partiers have adopted the tactics of the New Left. They go in for street theater, mass rallies, marches and Extreme statements that are designed to shock polite society out of its stupor. This mimicry is no accident. They believe in mass action and the politics of barricades, not in structure and organization. Does EXTREME STATEMENTS, remind you of anyone?, very important for everyone to read. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/05/opinion/05brooks.html I have read somewhere and can't find it, but it was about the Senate blocking everything the Obama Government tries to do in other words obstructing the senate, but I have to find out more about the Tea Party. This is important because our Senate is suspicious and there have been numerous suspicious statements made by the Opposition Leader

HillbillySkeleton

12/03/2010Ad Astra, I subscribe to the AlterNet daily e-mail. They have recently introduced a Citizen's Journalism page. I have included the latest one for you to peruse for ideas: http://blogs.alternet.org/

Ad astra reply

12/03/2010Lyn1, HillbillySkeleton Going out for the evening - will respond tomorrow.

lyn1

12/03/2010Hi Ad Hillbilly Skeleton thanks for the link to AlterNet daily e-mail. I am sure Ad will find AlterNet very useful. I really like the site at a quick glance, have copied a paragraph from their about tab the whole page is worth reading:- STRATEGIC JOURNALISM AlterNet has developed a unique model of journalism to confront the failures of corporate media, as well as the vitriol and disinformation of right wing media, especially “hate talk” media.

Ad astra reply

13/03/2010HillbillySkeleton, Lyn1 Thank you for your comments and the links. The AlterNet site SoapBox http://blogs.alternet.org/ is most interesting. Click the ‘about’ tag to read an explanation of its [i]modus operandi[/i]. It is obviously a massive site with 1.5 million unique monthly visitors, and is 40% funded by ads and donations. It gives the opportunity to citizens to place thoughtful pieces on a variety of topics. I presume there is some editing process and a monitoring procedure to ensure the posted pieces meet suitable standards. A site such as that is beyond the capacity of [i]TPS[/i], but already many of the contributions currently posted by visitors to [i]TPS[/i] resemble the posts on AlterNet. I am impressed with the many thoughtful, substantial comments that visitors make. These are as interesting to read as the original article. [i]TPS[/i] is somewhat unique in this regard. So in a way [i]TPS[/i] does, in a very, very modest way, what AlterNet is doing. Perhaps we should attempt to make comments that go beyond a short response stand out by including a headline. There are many such comprehensive comments made on [i]TPS[/i]. Lyn1 has given us a lead with her capitalized STRATEGIC JOURNALISM; if that was bolded by including the words inside square brackets using ‘b’ for bolding and ‘/b’ to turn it off, those words would appear even more prominently as: [b] STRATEGIC JOURNALISM[/b]. That would have the effect of making a comment stand out and give its subject matter more prominence. Do you feel that this simple device would make [i]TPS[/i] more akin to the style of AlterNet, and thereby give visitors additional freedom to express opinions more formally, in the style of an online current affairs outlet? Initially it would be wise to stick to the theme of the original article, but in time a wider range of contributions could be tried. Please tell me what you think.

Ad astra reply

13/03/2010Lyn1 Thank you for the links to [i]Talking Points Memo[/i] and the [i]Time[/i] appraisal of it. It shows how influential such blogs can become. I’m told this took many years to become viable enough to get even one intern to assist with writing. [i]TPS[/i] would not be able to match that, but the suggestions I made in the post above might give more prominence to substantial comments. What do you think? Your regular contributions of links to relevant articles is a most valuable addition to [i]TPS[/i]. I hope you have time to keep it up. It would be good if your list of links had a bolded capitalized headline to make it stand out even more, such as [b]TODAY’S LINKS[/b]. You may be able to suggest a header that is somewhat more inviting. What do you think? Going out for a while now – will respond this afternoon.

lyn1

13/03/2010Hi Ad Ad thankyou for your kind comments. I think TODAYS LINKS sounds like an excellent idea. Maybe we can wait and see if anyone else posts a better idea, HillbillySkeleton might tell us. I started of just doing links relating to your topic, but then there are so many interesting political bloggs out there, you are happy so I will just keep going like I have been. There is such a wonderful range of comments with an excellent variety of views being posted on The Political Sword. Ad I have got heaps of time and I get so much enjoyment out of posting the links. The Political Sword has become my favourite hobby, I will try anything to keep the commenters coming back and back and back they are wonderful. Ad, I am not sure what you mean here (bolded by including the words inside square brackets using ‘b’ for bolding and ‘/b’ to turn it off. Ad is it possible for you to have registration option on the Political Sword, so that people can get alert emails when a new post goes up, I get them from Gutter Trash, Loon Pond, Crikey, New Matilda and Business Spectator

HillbillySkeleton

13/03/2010lyn1, Crikey also had a shout out the other week for subscribers to do some data mining for them. It is true that that is one very important facet of Citizen Journalism...good quality research to provide the evidence to support your assertions. Otherwise, your just spouting bilgewater. Which leads me to say that, if we are to take an expansion of TPS seriously, we will have to ascertain what are the strengths and weaknesses of those who wish to contribute on a regular basis. We need to have editorial meetings, an agenda, flexible but concrete timelines, and assigned duties, flexibly implemented, of course. Editing can be at the pleasure of the contributor. I know from my own assessment of my own strengths and weaknesses, that creative and consistent output is not a problem, but getting that output into a well-formed end product is where I fall down. Whereas, on the other hand, AA and BB's work comes out the other end as polished product. It is thus that I would love to have someone volunteer their time as an editor for those of us who have little faith, whether justified or not, in their ability to produce work that is fit for general consumption, as opposed to the standard required for general commenting and discussion, which is basically, the ability to basically spell and the ability to basically string a few sentences and thoughts together. So you can see that there would thus become manifest a difference in quality between the blog contributors, and the respondents, as is pretty much the case now, but which, with the expansion, become more obvious. I also think it the opportune time to put my 2c-worth in about blog length. I have never been one to be able to fit my work within an arbitrary framework, of say, 1500 words. That's for the 'professional' journos in my books, and I would really appreciate if those that agree to become contributors are allowed to let their thoughts roam free on a topic without artificial constraint. Of course, we shouldn't allow ourselves to accept diatribes, poorly-organised thought, or, what should seem obvious to the editors, reguritated Press Releases or Talking Points from one Party or the other. I think we could all agree that our Editor-In-Chief is the site's founder, Ad Astra, and our Deputy Editor must also be, Bushfire Bill. They seem to make a good working team, whose philosophical guidance is always appreciated. I really do think that lyn1 should be given the job of Head of the Research Unit. Rx seems to me to be capable and willing to put in in some way, and I hope they reply to this missive with a suggestion. Which leaves me, I guess. Well, all I know is that I like the idea of being a Citizen Journalist. I can follow a subject, if it is given to me, do a bit of my own research, but hopefully collaborating with others who know how to find things which I cannot, and then coming to what I believe is a thoughtfully reasoned conclusion, but with being a Progressive Social Democrat as my foundation stone. Might I finally say that, with Murdoch Inc. about to spring a Paywall around his media empire, "Carpe diem!". Now is the time to set up shop outside the wall and get in on the ground floor of what will become an alternative universe to the profit-oriented, Pay-per-view, models that the big media companies want to intriduce to keep their bottom lines strong and healthy. I must also observe, while I am at it, that each of Australia's dominant media companies are starting to lassoo their internet eyes into the totality of the internet experience, with links to their radio stations and Pay TV networks, so as to, obviously, feed them what they want them to see and hear. It is therefore also of paramount importance that committed media minnows, such as ourselves, stake out territory in order to be the thorns in the side that these information giants need to constantly niggle them and hold them accountable. So there, that's my 2c-worth. Make of it what you will.

Sir Ian Crisp

13/03/2010Ad Astra, I read your latest missive ‘So you think you’re a good journalist’ and it wasn’t long before I ran across that disgusting word ‘groupthink’. Groupthink, with its pernicious overtones is gradually taking over our lives. Then, I stopped to think upon it. It wasn’t long before I realised that groupthink has stealthily worked its way into the hallowed blog known as The Political Sword (TPS). Ad Astra, it arrived like a fog: eerily quiet. Perhaps you were distracted while you were reading ALP press releases or dusting off your gold-framed 5metre x 5metre portrait of Kevin Rudd. The proof of groupthink is from your own hand. From time to time we are invited to look in on Crikey to see what the girls and boys over there are saying and you guessed it…Crikey is in lockstep with TPS. So close are Crikey and TPS in thought that I pray nightly that both Crikey and TPS have a defence ready in case a charge of plagiarism is laid. It also occurred to me that when the ALP or Lib-NP has a party meeting it comes under the heading of groupthink. As those stodgy ladies and gentlemen shuffle into the party meeting some of them are disgruntled and cantankerous and they express opposition to a policy position or some other issue. However, when they emerge all opposition has evaporated. Everyone is smiling broadly. They are in thrall to groupthink. I think certain groups and bodies should be subjected to a thoroughgoing overhaul with the aim of excising groupthink. It is the only way forward. *Someone at TPS (who wants to import people smugglers and those who are a security risk to our country because they are industrious) questioned my figure of an audit of 160,000 homes that had roof insulation installed. From the mouth of Greg Combet (not yet a living treasure like Bob Hawke but there’s still time) who now joins the growing list of ALP MPs overseeing the roof insulation fiasco: “Mr Combet, the new Assistant Minister for Energy Efficiency, told parliament this afternoon the government would remove foil insulation or install safety switches in more than 50,000. The taxpayer would pay for safety inspections in at least another 150,000 homes. “Let me assure all those who may have participated in non-compliant or fraudulent behaviour in connection with the Home Insulation Program, that we will track you down,” Mr Combet said. While Mr Combet sought to reassure homeowners that the government was “acting to mitigate safety and fire hazard risks”, he said the inspections could not “guarantee that all risk will be eliminated”. The above is from The Australian, home of groupthink.

Enduring Power Of Attorney

13/03/2010Why then did Abbott raise his "policy"? Clearly it was to do many things; centre the news back to him; break the Unions campaign on workchoices which had begun (Strange to have Burrows criticising a policy she has advocated for many years and in defence of businesses she criticised recently ... such a paradox) and to get health off the front page and the Opposition back on it for the demographic that would read it going to work that it was directed towards.

HillbillySkeleton

13/03/2010Sir Ian Crisp, If you feel strongly enough about perceived 'Groupthink' on TPS, contribute something here from your perspective!

lyn1

13/03/2010TODAY'S LINKS http://petermartin.blogspot.com/ http://loonpond.blogspot.com/2010/03/peter-van-onselen-paul-kelly-tony.html http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/abbott-slams-Rudd-teams-robotic-lipservice/ http://newmatilda.com/2010/03/12/ah-2003-good-old-days http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/seasons-bleatings-before-the-poll-20100312-q40s.html http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/hockey-takes-a-stand-muzzling-the-loose-cannons-20100312-q4f2.html http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/abbott-gives-business-mates-a-bout-of-postnatal-depression-20100312-q3za.html http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/national/kevin-rudds-a-fake-queenslander-says-tony-abbott/story-e6freooo-1225840201191 Some will be interested in reading this small extract from Tom Switzer's book, "John Howard and the Media" http://207.57.117.110/blogs/qed/2010/02/john-howard-and-the-media/page:printable

Paul of Berwick

13/03/2010A couple of thoughts: - not only is the Tea Party alive in the USA, but also the Coffee Party (http://coffeepartyusa.com/). They believe that done right, Government is good. - revenue for such a site could come from book sites - ie, biographies of politicians, & other politically-related writings - and a different style of delivery could (ie, audio & video podcasts) be beneficial (see http://twit.tv) - and I think the "product differentiation" of the site could be analysis of the primary data (ie, Senate Committee transcripts), and not just analysis of secondary data (ie, MSM journalist opinion pieces) - is the aim to be another Crikey site, or a site like Fact Check (http://www.factcheck.org/)? - could it also say host papers & thoughts of final year & honours students in political science, international relations, journalism, etc - would the site invite comment from academics & non-partisan political professionals (people like Antony Green & Dean Jaensch come to mind) - is the aim to analyse political utterances in the light of some "Third Way"? Should the site be to de-bolt ill-informed comment "Ideas are a dime a dozen, people who implement them are priceless", Mary Kay Ash (founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics)

Ad astra reply

13/03/2010Lyn1 Another great set of links; I particularly enjoyed the ones to Loon Pond, New Matilda and the Tom Switzer piece, all of which I’ve filed. You ask about how to bold. The easiest way is to type the words you want to bold, highlight them, then click the ‘b’ in ‘biuquote’ which you will see in red just above ‘Comment’ which is just above the comment box. That will insert a ‘b’ in square brackets before the words, and a ‘/b’ in square brackets after the words. The result after you click ‘Save comment’ is that the words highlighted will be in bold. Because the ‘b’, ’i’, ‘u’ and ‘quote’ options are clustered together, you will need to be accurate in selecting just the ‘b’. Try it and see how you go. TODAY'S LINKS does define nicely what you are offering - bolding will make those words stand out a little better.

lyn1

13/03/2010Hi Paul of Berwick Sorry but none of your links work, would you be kind enough to put them up again.

lyn1

13/03/2010[quote]Hi Ad Astra[/quote] Glad you enjoyed that extract from Tom Switzer book. Thankyou Ad [quote]wow[/quote] I learn something new everyday, I have used biuquote on your name. Here goes going to press save comment now

Ad astra reply

13/03/2010Lyn1 You've got it!

lyn1

13/03/2010Hi Ad AStra[b][/b] [u]Trying [/u]again I clicked the whole word instead of just b.

Paul of Berwick

13/03/2010Ad Astra, By putting in your email address like that, "site scrapers" are sure to harvest the address - thus assuring you of a plentiful supply of spam. May I suggest you quickly change that particular entry to something like "addotastra5atbigponddotcom" or even "ad astra5 bigpond com". Regards, Paul

Ad astra reply

13/03/2010Sir Ian Are we on the same page when referring to ‘groupthink’? If not, that may explain what seems like dissonance between us over the concept. Wikipedia has this to say about groupthink: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink [i]”Groupthink is a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. Individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking are lost in the pursuit of group cohesiveness, as are the advantages of reasonable balance in choice and thought that might normally be obtained by making decisions as a group. During groupthink, members of the group avoid promoting viewpoints outside the comfort zone of consensus thinking. A variety of motives for this may exist such as a desire to avoid being seen as foolish, or a desire to avoid embarrassing or angering other members of the group. Groupthink may cause groups to make hasty, irrational decisions, where individual doubts are set aside, for fear of upsetting the group’s balance. The term is frequently used pejoratively, with hindsight.”[/i] Wikipedia goes on to say: [i]”William H. Whyte coined the term in 1952, in Fortune magazine: ‘Groupthink being a coinage – and, admittedly, a loaded one – a working definition is in order. We are not talking about mere instinctive conformity – it is, after all, a perennial failing of mankind. What we are talking about is a rationalized conformity – an open, articulate philosophy which holds that group values are not only expedient but right and good as well." “Irving Janis, who did extensive work on the subject, defined it as: ‘A mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members' strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.’"[/i] That people having similar views, especially when embracing the same philosophy, is commonplace and understandable, and does not fall within the definition of ‘groupthink’. Groupthink arises when there is an imperative to conform for fear of being the odd man out, or to express similar views to please some higher authority, such as the group itself, or the editor or proprietor of the news outlet. It is where individuals express a view similar to other group members when they do not genuinely hold those views. I do not believe that [i]TPS[/i] is afflicted with groupthink, although you may consider me too biased to recognize groupthink if it occurred. [i]TPS[/i] has no connection with [i]Crikey[/i]. As I admire and agree with much of what is written there, readers of [i]TPS[/i] are often referred to the [i]Crikey[/i] site. I have no need to conform to [i]Crikey[/i] thinking, and thus am not subject to the forces of [i]Crikey[/i] groupthink, if it indeed exists at all. That groupthink exists in our MSM seems obvious. I note that recently ABC chairman Maurice Newman used the word to demean the consensus among climate change scientists about global warming. If we are going to use the word, let’s use it in the sense that Whyte and Janis defined it, rather than using it simply to mean agreement amongst like-minded people. For the second time, I’m going through Bob Woodward’s [i]State of Denial: Bush at War III[/i]. He makes a major point that it was groupthink operating strongly among the Bush team, especially Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and their sidekicks, that resulted in an irrational decision to go to war in Iraq. Groupthink is alive and thriving; I hope it will not afflict [i]TPS[/i].

Paul of Berwick

13/03/2010Lyn1, The links are: - The Coffee party: http://coffeepartyusa.com/ - The Twit network: http://twit.tv/ - Fact Check: http://www.factcheck.org/ My apologies for not checking. Regards, Paul

Ad astra reply

13/03/2010HillbillySkeleton Thank you for your comments. Although 1,500 words is commonly used in newspaper articles where there are space restrictions, we are not so constrained here at [i]TPS[/i], so going over that is not a problem so long as the additional words are necessary to round off the piece. However, I get a little uneasy when my pieces exceed 2,000 words as I fear they will not all be read. So I suppose up to 2,000 words is a useful guideline. Of course pieces shorter than 1,500 words are quite acceptable, when that is all the words that are needed. You write well. If you have a particular subject (other than responding to the current piece on [i]TPS[/i]) about which you feel you have something you wish to say, email me the piece in Notepad format, and I’ll critique it for you. I have had 40 years of experience as an editor, an exercise I enjoy. The email address is to be found under the tab ‘contact me’ at the top of the page.

Paul of Berwick

13/03/2010Gravatar icon test!

Ad astra reply

13/03/2010Paul Many thanks - I should have thought of the spammers. I've deleted the comment and substituted an alternative path to the email address that I trust will be beyond automatic spammers' reach.

Ad astra reply

13/03/2010Lyn1 It is difficult to click just the one letter, but if you've been effective the 'b' and '/b' in square brackets will appear either side of the highlighted words. You can of course put the 'b' and '/b' in square brackets manually.

lyn1

13/03/2010Hi Ad Thanks so much for yor help with the biuquote, I see clearly now. Thankyou Paul of Berwick for the links love your Gravatar who is he.

Ad astra reply

13/03/2010Paul Thank you for your helpful suggestions and the interesting links. BTW the brackets got caught up in the links, thus rendering them inoperative, but they work OK without the brackets. There is no intention to turn [i]TPS[/i] into another [i]Crikey[/i], or the sites to which you provided links. It really started as just a one man band, and recently Bushfire Bill has joined as an original contributor, for which I’m very grateful. It takes quite a lot of time feeding and servicing [i]TPS[/i] and I don’t have many more spare hours. The site has been enhanced immeasurably by the thoughtful comments that so many contributors now make. It may be that there is now the possibility of posting contributors’ original pieces rather than just via the comments facility. I’m cautious about this though as it could get out of hand and quickly become beyond my limited resources. What [i]TPS[/i] was intended to do was to challenge the disingenuous material that abounds in the MSM, and also the utterances and actions of federal politicians – thus the name: [i]The Political Sword[/i] and the strapline: “For putting politicians and commentators to the verbal sword.” I’ll stick to that objective for the time being as there is plenty to work on there.

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13/03/2010Enduring Power Of Attorney Welcome to [i]TPS[/i] I imagine Tony Abbott put up his PPL policy to attract women voters, to upstage the Government’s PPL policy, to cause disruption to the Government’s PPL legislation when it’s presented to Parliament, to be generally obstructive, to get the headlines, and to distract from other Government initiatives. This is consistent with his now clear [i]modus operandi[/i]. He has partly succeeded but in the process has shot himself in the foot over ‘no new taxes’, blunted his attack on the ‘great big new tax’ of Rudd’s ETS, has upset part of his constituency from whom he derives campaign funds, has angered his party room by pulling off a Turnbull ‘leaders call’ stunt, has dented his party’s credibility as responsible economic managers, and has allowed all except the most sycophantic columnists to condemn him for his economic ineptitude. I wonder how he sees all this on his ledger of political accomplishment?

bilgedigger

13/03/2010Re the comments about the Tea Party in the U.S., The New York Times has a useful section (under the heading U.S. - Times Topics - Subjects - T - Tea Party Movement) which gives a lead to some understanding of origins of the modern day "Tea Party" and its possible links to the conservative wing of the Republican Party. It is interesting that this was established at or about the same time as HBO Films made the series "John Adams", which centred on events surrounding the Boston Tea Party, but now appears to have vastly different motivation. There are also links to other articles about the Tea Party Movement. Catchy name but bad news for democracy I think.

Paul of Berwick

13/03/2010Lyn1, Dunno who it is - just found it somewehere, someday. Says it all really - Ozzie, computers, a bit bookish, like to be in the lab, etc, etc

Sir Ian Crisp

14/03/2010HillbillySkeleton, I don't feel strongly about groupthink. I was just putting into words my observations and thoughts on groupthink and where it might strike next. Until a cure is found it will continue to spread like an insidious disease. Some of us are immune and have no fear of groupthink but some are not immune and will surely become victims.

Sir Ian Crisp

14/03/2010Ad Astra, words and meanings morph over the years. Take the word 'gay' as an example and you will understand what I mean. From the Urban dictionary we find that groupthink is: Groupthink is a flaccid substitute for actual thought, as practiced by all good liberals. A groupthought originates deep in the arse of a liberal “leader.” The liberal leader pulls the groupthought out of her arse and dispenses it to the hordes of waiting liberals. The liberals gratefully accept the groupthought from the liberal “leader,” then they kiss her obsequiously on the arse, then they all mouth their little groupthink platitude as if it were actually true. It is far easier to use groupthink and let sissy-pants liberal “leaders” do your thinking for you. I think the above definition is a bit harsh but it is along the lines of what I was saying. You need only to think of the AGW 'religion' and how like minds gravitate in one direction. Fear not, there are no prison terms to be served if one dabbles in groupthink.

HillbillySkeleton

14/03/2010On our general theme of tracking the changing winds of journalism, I found this article from The Washington Post a clarion call to all like us who wish to hold News Ltd. to account: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/11/AR2010031102523.html

janice

14/03/2010Thank you for that link HillbillySkeleton. The question "Why don't honest journalists take on Roger Ailes and Fox News...?" is a good one and the whole article should be mandatory reading for all Australian journalists and the public at large. Rupert Murdoch's evil rampage on media ownership in the UK, USA and Australia has gone on relatively unmolested for decades and he has so contaminated the 4th estate that there are too few "honest journalists" left to put up any sort of fight. There can be no accountability when integrity is compromised and honesty is suppressed into silence. Unfortunately I see no solution until the end of the Rupert Murdoch reign which is unlikely to come very soon given that he appears to have inherited the longevity gene.

janice

14/03/2010 It seems such a short time ago that you launched The Political Sword, Ad astra. Having been one of its first "fans" I am so proud to be able to bask in the reflected glory of its success which is largely due to your pieces and Bushfire Bill's, as well as the interaction between both of you and those of us who post a comment. It is important, I think, that people who take the time to post a comment are acknowledged with a reply as all opinions are necessary for debate. IMO there is no doubt that TPS attracts sensible and rational views rather than the political rants we see in most other blogs. I read with interest the idea of a Citizens' News Site put forward by Rx. Lots of other ideas followed which are all worthy of consideration but it all sounds like a lot of hard yakka to me! I find it easy to be lazy in the autumn of my life which is why I am so enamoured with our Tweety Bird Lyn1 and her energy in providing the list of links. The ideas put up are all appealing but for me I like TPS as it is right now.

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14/03/2010HillbillySkeleton Thank you for this link, so strident in its criticism of the US Fox News and the Murdoch establishment there, so damning of the profession of journalism for not speaking up against the peverted journalistic standards seen on US Fox News. I agree with janice that it should be compulsory reading for Australian journalists.

Michael

14/03/2010There's not only a widening gap in professionalism and bias, there's a morality, common sense one, too. Although, when discussing Glenn Milne... This morning on Insiders, after declaring himself not one to breach confidences, "but here I go", he promptly confided in us that Tony Abbott's feeling "threatened" by homosexuality was a personal issue based on what he saw decades ago when he was in a seminary as part of training to be a priest of the Roman Catholic Church. Did Glenn Milne, grabbing at his chance to display real(???) insider credentials, think for a minute about what he was saying here in terms of Abbott's private history, and his subsequent decades-streching hypocrisy in sitting on what we are assured he saw in terms of his say-nothing-about-this-issue continuing closeness to the men of the Roman Catholic Church in Sydney? Did Milne even think for a second about what this comment means beyond any consideration of Tony Abbott's ongoing silence? That years ago homosexuality as an element of one student's experience at an Australian Roman Catholic seminary led to a lifetime-held opinion of 'threat', while not making clear at all in breaching the confidence the power relationships involved within the seminary. Did Abbott witness consenting adult behaviour between fellow aspirants to the priesthood? Or did he witness the pressuring of young men by older men they trusted and may well have considered icons of religious-life behaviour, to participate in sexual acts? Did Milne think at all, or did he simply want to create another entry in his CV of 'what I know that you don't' oneupmanship? Should anyone at all confide in Glenn Milne about anything? No brainer, like the man himself, it seems.

Bilko

14/03/2010Thank you for that link HillbillySkeleton, I feel Murdoch is trying the same campaign here, at least we have the ABC, which still needs a shake up to return to what its charter states. Pity the USA no ABC/BBC national broadcaster to give any sort of unbiased reportage. Roll on the NBN

lyn1

14/03/2010[b]TODAY'S LINKS[/b] [b]Everybody please note at the bottom of the column on the Insiders Blogg they have put a link [b]from Grog [/b]to The Political Sword description an excellent article[/b] http://blogs.theinsiders.net.au/category/liberals/ http://blogs.theinsiders.net.au/2010/03/is-tony-abbott-doing-a-latham/ http://theorstrahyun.blogspot.com/ http://mumble.com.au/ http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/abbott-is-all-at-sea-with-maternity-leave/story-e6frezz0-1225840381732 http://www.nationaltimes.com.au/opinion/politics/abbott-goes-on-an-agenda-bender-20100313-q51n.html http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/abbott-show-needs-less-clowning-more-action-20100313-q559.html http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/the-writing-on-the-kitchen-wall-20100313-q51h.html http://www.google.com/url?sa=X&q=http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/abbott-goes-on-an-agenda-bender-20100313-q51n.html&ct=ga&cd=95qMD6syl18&usg=AFQjCNF8ddNlB64ij2BfpPdXOqX2cy4BCQ http://www.theage.com.au/national/the-abc-goes-forth-into-a-brave-new-world-20100312-q4g6.html

lyn1

14/03/2010Hi Ad You mentioned a while back that you had listened to The Power of One, I thought you might be interested in this link http://www.audiobooksdownload.com/Authors/Mungo-MacCallum.htm [b]LINKS JUST COME IN[/b] http://australia.to/2010/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1508:laurie-oakes-sunday-transcript-with-julie-bishop&catid=100:just-in http://truepolitik.blogspot.com/2010/03/its-not-tax-libs.html Michael your comments are always measured and enjoyable. (confide in Glenn Milne about anything? No brainer, like the man himself, it seems). Why would anyone believe anything Milne says or writes. Thankyou Janice for your kind comments (The ideas put up are all appealing but for me I like TPS as it is right now) that is exactly what I think too Janice.

Ad astra reply

14/03/2010janice Thank you for your kind remarks. Indeed you have been associated with the precursor of [i]TPS[/i]; you made a comment within minutes of the posting of my first piece [i]Is the media in Australia suffering from groupthink?[/i] in Possum Box on the Pollytics web-site on June 14 2008. http://thepossumbox.wordpress.com/2008/06/14/is-the-media-in-australia-suffering-from-groupthink/ Your continued interest and support over the nearly two years since then is warmly appreciated. I agree that a Citizens News Site is an attractive concept, but one difficult to sustain along the lines suggested. With just Bushfire Bill and myself as original contributors at present, it would be beyond us. But there is the possibility of expanding the editorial pool if some who comment so thoughtfully and comprehensively here were inclined to submit an original piece. In the meantime we will continue as before, posting original pieces about twice a week and allowing several days for comment. So much of the value of [i]TPS[/i] now comes from the comments and the interaction between those who comment, as well as between them and the original authors. Lyn1 has added a vibrant new dimension to [i]TPS[/i]with her [b]TODAY’S LINKS[/b], containing as they often do links to out-of-the-way sites that contain such useful material, so relevant to the contemporary discourse on [i]TPS[/i]. Let’s see how the next period unfolds; we may be surprised at what eventuates. Lyn1 Your first link to the blog site [i]The Insiders[/i] is most gratifying with its link on February 14 to BB’s [i]A sparrow farts in Queensland...[/i]. I couldn’t work out the [i]Google[/i] link, which took me to ‘page not found’. I borrowed the audio book [i]The Power of One[/i] from the local library. It’s interesting that audio books are now downloadable. I couldn’t get the links to work on the page that Mungo MacCallum’s Audio Books is advertised – maybe the server is down. Audio books are great on long road journeys, and I imagine for commuters stuck in traffic for hours.

Ad astra reply

14/03/2010Michael I agree with what you’ve said about Glenn Milne. I too thought that comment about Tony Abbott on [i]Insiders[/i] this morning was appalling. Milne is the master of scuttlebutt, but why anyone would trust him with confidential and personal information is a mystery to me. Of course he’s the go-to man for anyone with some dirt that wants it publicized. He’ll do anything for a story, particularly in Sunday tabloids, where salacious material seems to find an outlet for the titillation of their readers lounging by the barbie. Why do they keep bringing Milne back on [i]Insiders[/i] and [i]Meet the Press[/i]? Today he scarcely made anything other than anti-Government, anti-Rudd comments. Even when the others were making positive remarks about the Government (they did make a few), he would come up with a ‘but’, a negative. He is nothing more than a Liberal Party spokesman, and today he sat in the ‘neutral’ chair, not even the ‘right’ chair. It that Our ABC’s idea of balance? Bilko We have the ABC, but after [i]Insiders[/i] this morning where the most balanced comments came from just one panellist, Dennis Atkins, the usual spiel from Fran Kelly, and the characteristic malice from Milne, where is the hope of balanced debate about important matters? I have complained about [i]Insiders[/i] becoming tabloid directly to the ABC on two occasions and got the usual courteous by stereotypical reply, then last Sunday with Laura Tingle, Brian Toohey and Phil Coorey as panellists and Chris Uhlmann as moderator, [i]Insiders[/i] suddenly looked less tabloid. Today it has slipped back again. Pity.

HillbillySkeleton

14/03/2010Ad Astra, Your comments about Insiders today were spot on. The conclusion that comes to my mind is, it's the fault of the moderator, in this instance and usually, it was Barrie Cassidy. That stance from Cassidy suggests to me that he has been 'got at' by other journalists in the Press Gallery for his previous association with Bob Hawke's Press Office, and so he overcompensates by allowing the News Ltd. journalists to have their head. It's a shame, really, but goes to the gist of the WashPo article cited above, whereby journalists who should have authority in the Press Gallery are hamstrung by past associations with liberal governments. Which is all part of the News Ltd. Groupthink mentality, whereby they tend to alienate and cast aspersions against journalists outside the 'News' sphere, and intimidate them until they become submissive. Whereas, those journalists who do identify with the Centre Left, should instead stand up to these Murdoch bullies and fight for the ground they believe in. They are instead vacating the field, afraid of being labelled with any or all of the florid epithets that the Right has developed for their political opposition. In this new era of highly partisan politics, it is no longer good enough for journalists who support, essentially, Progressive Social Democracy, to 'go along to get along', for the purpose of striving for some Olympian concept of 'Balance', because it's never going to come from the other end of the journalistic political spectrum, so they should just give up too. The Murdochians will inexorably and forever move the goalposts to suit them, and never concede a philosophical inch, despite some examples of what I consider to be sham concessions to balance, such as awarding the Prime Minister The Australian's 'Australian of the Year' Award, and the retention on the journalistic roster of good, old, reliable Lefty Phillip Adams, and his ilk. It seems to me that the new strategy by News Ltd., with respect to seeking to dominate as much of the (seemingly) rational discourse of politics as possible, is that of a "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em' policy. So we see them insinuating their journalists on ABC panel shows, such as Q&A and Insiders. Also, we get the Liberal PR flacks, such as Graeme Morris, popping up on Lateline and The 7.30 Report, as 'expert commentators'. They're having a big whack at the BBC in the UK, too. However, there seems little we can do about it. Whilesoever Maurice Newman is Chairman of the Board of the ABC(I wonder if anyone knows how long he has to go on his contract?), nothing much about this will change. I would say that in the battle of wills between Mark Scott and Maurice Newman, over the 'direction' of the ABC, Maurice Newman would win, hands down. Nevertheless, I think we need to think outside the square, therefore, to devise a way to try and subvert them. Maybe we could get 'Get Up' to run a campaign amongst their members, and in the Public generally, to keep the ABC News Ltd.-free, in the run-up to the election, at least? Or, could we organise an e-mail campaign to write to the ABC a letter that praises the conduct of 'Insiders' with Chris Uhlmann in the chair? Other than that, I guess, 'The Price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance' here on TPS.

janice

14/03/2010I almost didn't watch The Insiders programme this morning because I knew Glen Milne would be on the panel. He is without doubt the lowest scumbag one could find in the 4th Estate and the ABC, our national broadcaster, should hang its head in shame for allowing him to sully its programme. I don't know about anyone else, but I thought Fran Kelly lowered herself to Milne's standard this morning. I've written her off as a journalist of any worth as I watched her get into the gutter with Milne this morning. Dennis Atkins at least showed himself as a person who is capable of thinking for himself and making balanced comments.

HillbillySkeleton

14/03/2010Fran Kelly should just go the whole hog and go work for a commercial media organisation. She's become worse than useless wrt impartiality and measured responses.

Ad astra reply

14/03/2010HillbillySkeleton, janice I agree with your comments about [i]Insiders[/i] today. In particular Glenn MIlne's comments about Tony Abbott were both inappropriate and unacceptable. It was another tabloid show; if Barrie Cassidy invites the likes of Milne on as panellists it will remain so. I have just emailed the following comment to the ABC: [b]ABC goes tabloid again[/b] I have written to the ABC’s [i]Insiders[/i] twice before complaining about the way it was becoming tabloid, and have received courteous but stereotypical replies indicating how hard the ABC strives for ‘balance’. It might well be trying for balance, but how well is it succeeding is the question. I know I am not alone in my concern about lack of balance as bloggers on several blog sites say just the same. So please do not set aside our concerns. Last week Chris Uhlmann moderated [i]Insiders[/i] and with the panellists gave us as balanced a show as we have seen for ages. Several bloggers commented favourably on the change from tabloid to authoritative journalism. Then today our perception that [i]Insiders[/i] had taken a turn for the better was crushed by the performance of Glenn Milne, whose comments about Tony Abbott’s apprehension about homosexuality were quite out of place on national television. I know Barrie Cassidy can’t control what comes out of people’s mouth, but he should know that if he engages Milne such comments are likely to occur. Milne was consistently negative about the PM and the Rudd Government; no matter what positive things the others said he would always have a ‘but’ and a negative take. Engaging him will not achieve balance; Barrie should know that. Fran Kelly tried her best to appear balanced but her attitudes are now so well known that it is hard for her to be perceived as balanced. Dennis Atkins was his usual balanced self. One could criticize other aspects of [i]Insiders[/i], such as the frequent flashbacks, but my criticism is the calibre of the panellists. If poor panellists, if panellists with a known and intractable bias are engaged, the show cannot be balanced. If one can judge from bloggers’ comments, many have given up on [i]Insiders[/i], preferring to watch something else. If the ABC wants to retain its thinking and well informed viewers, it will have to do better. Although I have always had a soft spot for Barrie Cassidy, last week’s show with Chris Uhlmann in the chair was so superior to many of Barrie’s shows, that I wonder is it time for the ABC to give Chris a regular role as moderator, perhaps alternating with Barrie. If he were to do as well as he did last week, you may find the ratings for [i]Insiders[/i] rising as those who have previously abandoned it return.

HillbillySkeleton

14/03/2010Ad Astra, Thank you for taking the time to write to the ABC. Good luck getting more than an anodyne response of any real substance. I'm beginning to think that corporations like the ABC have Complaints procedures, and departments to attend to them, as a diversionary tactic and facade approximating engagement with their constituency. You go through the door marked 'Complaints', and step into thin air! No one, to my knowledge, has ever disciplined an ABC journalist, or guest commentator, for outrageous bias or impropriety. In fact, the ABC appears to be actively courting controversy, in a vain aim to get its numbers up there with the dominant tabloid media. Thus, to do something about these loose-lipped journalists would be to kill the fatted calf, as it were, in their eyes. Tho' it is my opinion that it is much more exciting to watch the battle of ideas that Chris Uhlmann presided over. Anyway, has anyone thought of e-mailing Barrie himself? Let's call it, 'Direct Action'. ;) Maybe he might grow a pair as a result.

lyn1

14/03/2010Hi Ad I wrote to the Abc complaining about Andrew Bolt and Piers Ackermann being blatantly biased. Copy of their reply on 3rd March 2010: The aim of the Insiders panel discussion is to canvas a range of ideas and allow the panellists to challenge and debate each other. Panellists are chosen to reflect a diverse range of views and to generate a lively discussion. Most of the Insiders panellists hold a range of views on political matters and the ABC is satisfied that a balanced range of perspectives are provided and that its audience is perfectly capable of considering these views and drawing their own conclusions. This approach is in keeping with the provisions of the ABC Code of Practice. http://abc.net.au/corp/pubs/edpols.htm The contributions of Mr Ackerman and Mr Bolt are valued by the program, and form just two perspectives from a wide range of views on that program. Please be assured that your general comments are noted. Yours sincerely Kieran Doyle Audience and Consumer Affairs

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14/03/2010HillbillySkeleton I don't know how to target Barrie Cassidy directly. I used the 'Contact us' tab on the [i]Insiders[/i] page http://www.abc.net.au/insiders/contact.htm If a number of people hit them at the same time it might have some impact. As they say apocryphally - if politicians receive one letter on a subject they reply but largely ignore it; if they receive two they become concerned; if they receive three they panic! Maybe the ABC is similar. Lyn1 Except for the last paragraph but one, the letter you received is almost identical to the ones I received. They obviously have bits of boilerplate to reply to us troublesome complainants.

lyn1

14/03/2010Hi Ad You will be interested in reading this: http://www.thewrap.com/ind-column/reuters-doesnt-want-its-reporters-breaking-news-twitter-15175 The links of the Wrap page are interesting too. I put my complaint into Bassie Cassidy, thanyou for the link.

lyn1

14/03/2010Hi Ad Look what I just found,did you know about this blogg, we have a few Australian bloggers on here, Mungo Maccullum, Club Troppo, Leo Shanahan (Punch) Catallaxy files, Piping Shrike, very interesting for everybody: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2010/02/11/australia-climate-change-election-a-step-closer/ http://globalvoicesonline.org/for-media/ [b][b]THIS IS EXCELLENT TOO[/b][/b] http://www.thewrap.com/ind-column/reuters-doesnt-want-its-reporters-breaking-news-twitter-15175 [b]HAVE JUST ENJOYED READING THIS VERY MUCH[/b] http://web.archive.org/web/20071204022454/http://eherald.alp.org.au/articles/0306/magopine23-01.php

Ad astra reply

14/03/2010Lyn1 Isn't it interesting how the social networks are invading regular news coverage. I think the MSM is worried. Any loss of control over its content and distribution network is considered threatening. Glad you have emailed Barrie Csssidy - the more who do the better the effect.

Rx

14/03/2010[i]I have been in contact with the office of Senator Stephen Conroy about political bias on the ABC. Below I've pasted the text of the written reply I received...[/i] Thank you for your email dated 20 January 2010 to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy concerning the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) coverage of news and current affairs. The Minister has asked the Department to respond on his behalf. The Australian Government provides an overall level of funding for the ABC, but has no power to direct the ABC in relation to operational matters. Parliament has guaranteed this independence to ensure that what is broadcast is free of political interference. Internal ABC programming and editorial decisions are the responsibility of the ABC Board and Executive. Under the ABC's Editorial Policies, all news and current affairs content is required to be accurate, impartial and objective and, thereby, free of bias. The policies are available on the ABC website at http://abc.net.au/corp/pubs/edpols.htm You may wish to write about your concerns directly to the ABC. This can be done by writing to Audience and Consumer Affairs, GPO Box 9994 in your capital city, or by lodging the complaint through the ABC's website at http://abc.net.au/corp/audience/complaints.htm This will ensure that the ABC is directly aware of your concerns and has an opportunity to respond to them. If you are not satisfied with the ABC's response, you may refer the matter to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for investigation. ACMA can be contacted as follows: Australian Communications and Media Authority PO Box Q500 QUEEN VICTORIA BUILDING NSW 1230 The ABC Board is required to develop codes of practice relating to programming matters and to lodge these codes with ACMA. ABC programming must be in line with its codes. Complaints made to ACMA must relate to its Codes of Practice. Thank you for bringing your concerns to the Minister's attention. I trust this information will be of assistance. [i] If other concerned Political Swordsmen join me in following the advice in this letter we might just make someone take notice of the bias pervading the ABC.[/i]

Ad astra reply

14/03/2010Rx Thank you. Now we have the contact address for complaints. If we say nothing, nothing will change.

lyn1

14/03/2010Hi Ad Rx thankyou, brilliant information for us all. Editorial Policy http://abc.net.au/corp/pubs/edpols.htm they are not abiding by their policy are they most definately not. Ad looks like whatever happened while I was posting, must have been only on my computer and not on your blog page.

Paul of Berwick

14/03/2010Is Pru Goward Fran Kelly's "guiding light"? Pru Goward made a path from Radio National Breakfast, through shooting an ABC-TV series on the Liberal party to becoming a Liberal-party appointee to the Sex Discrimination Council & finally a Liberal MP. Wasn't Fran Kelly Pru Goward's "Michelle Grattan" of the early 1990's? Also, I seem to remember Fran Kelly being off the air for 3 months doing an ABC-TV series on the Liberal party recently. What is Fran's next step? Interesting! Fran: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/breakfast/about/default.htm Pru: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pru_Goward mmm...

Acerbic Conehead

14/03/2010AA, I reckon that chasm you’re talking about needs a fence around it. Sounds bloody dangerous to me. In fact, it’s just been reported that Glenn Milne has just started his sabbatical this afternoon. His employers reckoned he is doing such a good job, they sent him on an all-expenses-paid trip to...Woop Woop. Anyway, he was going for a little constitutional and came across a massive chasm. However, as he bent over to see how far it was to the bottom (about 200 metres, he estimated), he lost his footing and fell over the edge. Luckily, a small bush broke his fall, and Glenn held on to it for dear life, knowing if he let go, he was a goner. Having gained a modicum of composure, Glenn calls out for help. A few minutes later, he hears a voice above him, recognising it immediately as belonging to Stephen Mayne. Stephen: Hallo...who’s there? Do you need any help? Glenn: Oh, thank god it’s you, Stephen...it’s Glenn Milne...can you get a bit of rope or something and help me up? Stephen: Well, well, well...if it isn’t my old sparing partner from the Walkleys...What happened Glenn – get pissed again and fall over...heh...heh... Glenn: No, no, Stephen...I’m off it for Lent, actually... Stephen: Well, in that case I’ll be coming back this way at Easter – so I’ll see if I can resurrect you then...hee...hee... [Stephen saunters off nonchalantly. Meanwhile, Glenn is still hanging on by his fingertips and doesn’t think he will last much longer. Suddenly, however, he hears a vehicle stopping above him. It sounds like a bit of an old jalopy – backfiring and rattling so much, like its big-end is just about to fall off. The driver looks out over the edge and calls out] Driver: Hallo there...luckily I came along in my ute...need any help...I’m Kevin and I used to be from Queensland and I’m here to help... [Glenn couldn’t think of anyone he would less like to see at this particular moment. But, hey, beggars can’t be choosers] Glenn: Yes, it’s me, Prime Minister...do you have a length of rope in your ute? Kev: Oh, I think I just might have a piece – but I’m not sure if its long enough – I’ll have to programmatically specificate it – back in two shakes of a sauce bottle... [Glenn can’t believe his destiny is in the hands of this dork. Then, he hears the sound of another vehicle approaching. He asks Kev what it is and is told its a quad bike. It comes to a stop and the rider alights. Menacingly, he stands directly above where Glenn is still hanging on for dear life] Quad Bike rider: Right...where is the little bastard...I’ll soon teach him to break confidences...when I get my hands on him, he’s gonna get a seminary special – but on this occasion there’ll be no Vaseline on offer... Glenn: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh... [splat] Kev: Hmmm...I don’t think there’ll be much left of him after that – at any rates, I don’t think he would have been interested in my Health policy anyway...

lyn1

14/03/2010Hi Ad Acerbic Conehead how enjoyably brilliant. Ad there is an incredible amount of talent on The Political Sword, they are all just wonderful.

monica

14/03/2010Acerbic Conehead, that was just laugh aloud brilliant.

Ad astra reply

15/03/2010Acerbic Conehaed Brilliant satire. Just for a moment I fell for the Milne sabbatical story. That would have been such a relief for us all.

HillbillySkeleton

15/03/2010Acerbic Conehead, You wag! Keep it up!

Bushfire Bill

15/03/2010[i]"Why don't honest journalists take on Roger Ailes and Fox News...?"[/i] The article answered it: they see Murdoch as a future employer. Same situation in Australia, I think. Murdoch owns 70%-80% of news outlets here and nobody wants to cruel their chances of a job later on in their careers. We already see mostly News Ltd. journalists on ABC as "expert commentators" (not just on Insiders, but on many of the radio "What the journos say" segments), and it may get worse. But just on Insiders at the moment... AA received his reply talking about a "range of views". When was the last time a rabid anti-Liberal critic was on? Someone like, say, Bob Ellis to provide a "range of views" contrary to Milne, Bolt and most particularly Piers Akerman? Just doesn't happen, ever, not once. Who does Tony Delroy have on his show to discuss political polling in general? Dennis Shanahan from the Australian and Martin O'Shannessy from Newspoll. Working for Murdoch, or [i]worrying about what Murdoch can do to one's career[/i] (whether or not the journalist actually applies for a job with one of his organizations) seems to be an overriding concern. Who does Tony Delroy have on his show to discuss political polling in general? Dennis Shanahan from the Australian and Martin O'Shannessy from Newspoll.

HillbillySkeleton

15/03/2010I found this factoid from 'The Poll Bludger' this morning interesting and informative, so I thought I'd pass it along: Cuppa Posted Monday, March 15, 2010 at 11:11 am | Permalink 'I agree that bias at the ABC would be bad, but I’m not persuaded that it exists.' Surely the numbers tell the story? Five times as much access to the Coalition than to Labor. Whatever the reasons may be for the lopsided composition of input, the OUTPUT, a s published articles, is what counts (literally, if one does the counting).

lyn1

15/03/2010[b]TODAYS LINKS[/b] http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollbludger/ http://blogs.crikey.com.au/croakey/2010/03/15/get-ready-for-a-rant-on-paid-parental-leave/ http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/media/its-catching-but-groupthinks-bad-for-all-of-us/story-e6frg996-1225840647376 http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/ http://www.pipingshrike.com/ http://www.pamorama.net/2010/03/03/35-great-social-media-infographics/ http://www.thepunch.com.au/ http://blogs.crikey.com.au/purepoison/2010/03/15/open-thread-march-15-19/#more-5410 http://guttertrash.wordpress.com/ http://www.theaustralian.com.au/politics/tony-abbott-reopens-culture-wars-over-nods-to-aborigines/story-e6frgczf-1225840660428 http://www.theaustralian.com.au/politics/howard-tips-authentic-abbott-for-election-battle/story-e6frgczf-1225840651853 http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/will-no-one-rid-me-of-this-obstructionist-senate/story-e6frg6zo-1225840646482 http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/opinion/kevin-rudds-a-nerd-but-queenslanders-should-embrace-him-anyway/story-e6frerff-1225840644847 http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/opinion/kevin-rudd-anna-blighs-political-posturing-finally-send-me-over-the-edge/story-e6frerex-1225840583627 http://www.news.com.au/national/young-voters-will-decide-kevin-rudds-fate/story-e6frfkvr-1225840693886 http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/rudd-has-done-nothing-in-govt-howard-20100315-q6av.html http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/15/2845484.htm?section=justin http://loonpond.blogspot.com/ http://www.theaustralian.com.au/politics/tony-abbott-reopens-culture-wars-over-nods-to-aborigines/story-e6frgczf-1225840660428

lyn1

15/03/2010Hi Ad Sorry everyone 2 of my links to the Australian are broken. Checking what happened now

Kim

15/03/2010Just walked past today's copy of 'The Oz' (which I no longer read because it has degenerated into nothing but propaganda). Against my better judgement, I glanced at the front page. The first article on the front page was more rot about the installation scheme, this time about installers selling customer lists (like this didn't happen before, and doesn't happen in many other industries). This is front page news?! Also there was a headline along the lines of 'Abbott reopens culture wars'. Ugh. This isn't news. It's rabid opinion. It belongs in Quadrant magazine. Why do these wingnuts always think everything is a war? Liars and fools, the lot of them.

Bushfire Bill

15/03/2010I doubt whether Abbott will win the election. He is too flaky and subject to whimsical change. If you were to ask yourself the question of where he stands on climate Change, what would be your answer? Is the science crap or genuine? Ditto for PPL... Which principles apply: "over his dead body", "no more taxes" or "a naughty boy's got the right to change his mind, hasn't he"? Health? Does Abbott think we need reform or don't we? If we need it, what is his policy (besides village hospital boards)? Is Work Choices dead or not? The list goes on... should we have made stimulus payments? If so how much? What would we do if there is a double-dip recession? Are ministers responsible for any injury that occurs as a result of the injection of government money? Does this apply to Health? Defence? Social Security? Will he ban RU486 and similar "lifestyle" drugs? The man just spouts the first thing that comes into his head. He does it to stir things up. But is he serious? Can we even [i]know[/i] what his policies are? How he is going to fund them? There is a lot of differnece between the bloke in the center of the photograph with the policies, the reasearch and the consultation and the brat who gets behind him and makes rabbit ears (or should that be "Abbott ears"?). Thought bubbles are no way to run a country.

Helena Handcart

15/03/2010Thought bubbles? They are brainfarts, surely Bushfire Bill

Ethistan

15/03/2010I personally am getting sick of seeing the media parrot the liberals talking points in their introductions to everything. Whenever the insulation scheme is mentioned on the ABC, whether it be the news, Lateline or anything else I've seen it is referred to as the "bungled" insulation scheme, or the "failed" home insulation scheme, etc. I cannot recall it happening before Abbott started leading the Liberals (I am willing to be proved wrong on that, but I do know that it has really started to bug me lately), but I find the whole practice to be highly prejudicial. Whatever happened to just reporting the facts and letting the viewer make up their own mind rather than insert highly evocative words in front of program names to skew everything subsequent the viewer hears? I mean, the auditor general hasn't released his report yet, and there is no info from the coroners office yet regarding the deaths. It may well be the case that what the liberals allege is true, but all we have at the moment is their word on it, and they have shown themselves to be willing to push and bend the truth to gain political advantage that I am not willing to rely on that solely. I understand that politicians do it, both sides, and its whole point is to prejudice what we hear, but that is politics. You expect it from politicians and take it with a grain of salt, but reporters and journalists should not be engaging in this practice. They are able to quote someone saying it, they can say "the home insulation program has been called a 'bungled nightmare' by the opposition" or whatever, but I find them engaging in that practice themselves to be duplicitous at best.

lyn1

15/03/2010[b]TODAY'S LINKS (LATEST COLLECTION)[/b] http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/15/over-half-your-news-is-spin/ http://catallaxyfiles.com/blogging-as-a-fine-art/ http://www.abc.net.au/thedrum/twitter/ http://blogs.crikey.com.au/purepoison/ http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=10168 http://blogs.theage.com.au/executive-style/managementline/2010/03/15/abbotsparental.html http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/indigenous-tokenism-an-empty-gesture-says-tony-abbott/story-e6frf7l6-1225840824762 http://catallaxyfiles.com/2010/03/15/the-classical-liberal-agenda/ [b]THIS IS VERY FUNNY AND COULD BE USED BY THE GOVERNMENT LATER IN THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN[/b] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7cry-4pyy8&feature=related

lyn1

15/03/2010Hi Ad Ethistan you are spot on. This has only happened since Tony Abbott became leader and has been more evident this last month. David Spears on Sky Agenda asks questions everyday straight out of Tony Abbott's and the Liberal's mouth. Night time TV political reporters, repeating what Tony Abbott says on every news channel. media parrot the liberals absolutely correct.

Colen

15/03/2010Hi Lyn1, 2 3, or 4 Your little youtube excerpt is fantastic. Just remember it could be used by both parties. So don't be upset if you see the Libs use it first and change the hair color to blonde and the characters sitting in the back row to nodding pretty damsels.

Ad astra reply

15/03/2010Folks Thank you for your comments. BB, Ethistan, I echo your comments. You will be interested in the piece I’ve just posted [i]News Limited’s undeclared war on the Rudd Government[/i] http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/post/2010/03/15/News-Limitede28099s-undeclared-war-on-the-Rudd-Government.aspx Lyn1 another great batch of links. [i]Welcome to the world’s first murdochracy[/i] http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=10168 is so germane to the piece just posted.
I have two politicians and add 2 more; how many are there?