Labor’s support among marginal seat voters has crashed in Queensland and Western Australia to levels similar to NSW, exposing it to the loss of all 24 marginal seats it holds across Australia and risking up to 15 more semi-marginal electorates.For a start, Coorey failed to report that this latest dropping of pollshit was commissioned by Peter Costello and two of his former staff. It covered fewer than one in a thousand voters, a cheap and nasty effort statistically as well as politically. JWS risks becoming the WHK Horvath of polling, even though Coorey's reputation remains strangely intact.
The poll by JWS Research also finds that, despite the bleak outlook for Labor, most marginal seat voters would prefer it to win the election than Tony Abbott’s Coalition.
Previous generations of Chief Political Reporters would have a) noticed that it was doubtful and b) considered it a duty to pass on to their readers that a bunch of self-interested players were attempting to play them. Even Michael Stutchbury would have noticed that back when he was a journalist - but not Coorey, merely rephrasing the summary page from the pollshitters and dishing it up to AFR readers as though it were considered reporting on matters of significance.
More broadly, the fact that the government's policies are popular should give pause to fatalists who believe it is doomed. Doomed governments either have no policies to speak of, like the last Labor government in NSW, or have policies that are unpopular and from which there is no getting away, like the last Labor government in Queensland. Neither of those situations apply to the current federal government.
What Coorey is describing is a failure of journalism. It is the same failure he and his colleagues practiced three years ago, in a syllogism that goes like this:
- Journos write articles claiming PM can't communicate policy achievements.
- PM stages events where she communicates policy achievements, invites journos. After having thus communicated, journos ask PM if she is frustrated that she is not getting her message out.
- Go to step 1 and repeat until made redundant. Act all surprised and hurt when people who follow the news closely insist that political journalism is a joke. Give yourself a gong.
The great irony is that some of those most responsible for Labor’s present woes are likely to survive the coming rout, while much of the rising talent – among both Rudd and Gillard backers – will fall.I still disagree that a Labor rout is inevitable in 2013, but otherwise Tingle is spot on: she, the Verbal Dickhead, forgotten-but-not-gone Michelle Grattan, and the two hundred or so other clowns in the press gallery will be just fine whatever happens.
This brings us to Gay Alcorn's latest. It is far better than her previous effort, but she still calls for sweeping change while wrongly praising the very behaviour that might usefully disappear if a better and more sustainable journalism is to be achieved.
The verdict from the parliamentary press gallery is in: the Prime Minister's government is dysfunctional, with lousy judgment and a fixation with polls ... Turn that around. What if this was the worst political reporting Australians have endured in history? Dysfunctional, with lousy judgment, fixated with polls, feigning concern about the toxicity of political discourse. And the public? They've stopped listening.Wonderful, air-punching stuff. Then came the confusion:
Too harsh? I'm not so sure.
... the culmination of more than a year of "sources say" stories speculating or predicting (or even advocating) the imminent demise of Gillard. As it turned out, they were wrong.So the press gallery has predicted fifty of the past two leadership contests, and they don't make things up? The Verbal Dickhead not only avoided the sack but got a promotion on the very basis that Ruddmentum was so tangible that he could taste it, and carve it into 600-word chunks every single day.
It is not a simple story. Some bloggers and twitter tragics interpret every event as a giant media conspiracy, but journalists do not make up leadership tensions in my experience and they didn't last week.
Look also at Alcorn's word "tragics". John Howard described himself as a "cricket tragic" to mean that he had wished to have represented Australia in cricket. Alcorn is implying here that people who criticise journalists want to be journalists, and that their criticism is diminished due to their failure to secure a job in a profession they criticise.
There is no evidence at all that those who criticise journalists have ever wanted to join their ranks. When you go to a restaurant and are served a poorly-cooked meal, and you complain about it, this does not make you a "chef tragic". If the Australian cricket team were to fob off their many critics as "tragics", it would be a sign that their problems go far deeper than mere batting, bowling and fielding.
It's also a straw man: show me the bloggers and tweeps who "interpret every event as a giant media conspiracy". Every event? This is the sort of sweeping statement for which social media users are looked down upon by just-the-facts journos, particularly the ones who don't really do professional self-reflection at all well.
The defence of unnamed sources is bullshit, especially now that we know who they are. Those ministers and other office-bearers who resigned the week before last are the "senior Labor sources" who were once both so murky and so indispensible to the press gallery. The same ones who have been carping away at Gillard for three years are the same ones behind the events of last week, that Alcorn would sheet home to Labor.
Which seer predicted in 2010 that Julia Gillard would thrash Rudd if he ever stood for the leadership again, that the Australian economy would be the best in the world, and that the minority government would prove to be about as stable as other governments with clear majorities? If you breathlessly predict every single day that Julia Gillard will cease to be Prime Minister, one day you might be right; but don't be surprised if people have stopped listening long beforehand.
There have been plenty of journalists who have misled us poor hapless readers over the years over the fate of the Prime Minister: shame on you if you fool me once, and all that. The real tragedy in many ways is that the journalists have lied to themselves. Can people who lie to themselves be relied upon to tell you the truth?
The nature of the politico-media complex is that it is not Labor's "shemozzle" only, but also that of the media. The fact that Joel Fitzgibbon gets national media coverage over even the most idle pronouncements shows the journosphere just can't let it go. It's why they don't believe Labor people when they say they're over it.
What are the sales figures for broadcast media like in marginal seats? What about the take-up of social media to get political information in those seats? Thought so.
Never send to know for whom the polls toll, journalists; they toll for thee. There is no way that the same organisations that produce such crap journalism can produce polls that you could take to the bank (even a Cypriot one). Every poll, and every journalist who writes the same article that everyone else writes, diminishes journalism. It's creepy and weird to be told by people who don't know you what you are thinking, or what you should be thinking, or what simply everybody is thinking and saying these days.
It is an old saw of media that stories get sensationalised in order to sell papers. As a former editor, Gay Alcorn may even have been guilty of that herself. My question is: who the hell buys a paper on the basis of "... senior Labor sources claim Rudd has the numbers this time for sure, no wait we're serious, come back ...". Shame on you if you fool me once, but if you fool me every day for years and years then give me a press gallery pass and a Walkley as substitutes for, rather than recognition of, credibility.
Journalists used to strike over outrages like this, or all those random redundancies, but not any more. They have lost pride in their profession. Nobody would notice when any such strike would begin, or end. The most concerted action they are taking in support of Ferguson is the very sort of action they have spent half a decade sneering at: knocking up an online petition.
What if someone like Verbal Dickhead really did stumble across a scoop that rendered the Gillard government unelectable, would you believe him? If you were dazzled by the glinting from his trophy room you might.
What if someone like Gay Alcorn promised a whole new way of covering federal politics, or of doing journalism more broadly? Well, so long as there was no change to any of the personnel and we all accepted their best intentions on the way they went about things, I'm sure she could really affect far-reaching change: yeah, right.
Journalists can be an insular bunch and few of them would read this blog. To get a reality check, members and defenders of the press gallery could do worse than consult their colleagues in the sports department. The AFL and NRL will hold their finals in late September/early October, in a schedule that was announced well before January. Ask them today who will win the respective grand finals this year. Study every tic that takes place on the field this weekend, fluff all your anonymous sources, and then declare Team X is inevitable, Team Y is doomed. When the laughter dies down, maybe you could deride them as press gallery tragics.
I recommend this. Latham is right in saying that the broadcast media has proven its need to be regulated, we do not need to wait until dead children here have their phones hacked in order to act.
He should have given more credit to Conroy. By insisting on no amendments and a limited timeframe, Conroy made himself the lightning-rod for the broadcasters rather than have them pick on an already jittery backbench. By defeating that legislation, the broadcast media have only ensured that moderate reform is off the table. The only options now are stasis or far-reaching regulatory reform, neither of which the dills who run our media organisations will cope with at all well.
Instead of renting out press gallery space to bloggers, the rule against recording devices in the public galleries should be abolished. Journalists would be better informed by sitting in public galleries rather than being corralled with other journalists. This would be a boon for freelance journalists, particularly those who don't cover politics per se but do cover issues that are occasionally subject to deliberations of Parliament. It would also force broadcast media to lift the quality of its coverage - and by expanding, not imperilling, free speech.
It's a general rule that those of us who don't watch Sky are better informed than those who watch nothing else, unless you want an insight into the thinking of the Liberals:
- Kieran Gilbert reminds me of those big dumb dogs who lopes over to you, plants his paws on your crotch and then tries to lick your face.
- David Speers is, aside from this not very recent interview, a muppet.
- Chris Kenny is the enforcer of groupthink, rounding up rightwing stragglers and dispatching straw men in much the same way that Gerard Henderson heroically slew all those 'brigades' back in his day.
- The various Van Onselens (Macca Pacca van Onselen, Upsy Daisy van Onselen etc.) are the sorts of fearless and savvy investigators who get done over by Julie Bishop. Because they have big mortgages so they will all go on telly and do whatever they are told: smile and think of the new bathroom fittings.
* There are two things to realise about Phillip Coorey.
The first is that he can't respond effectively to mild criticism or even questioning on social media. He's a broadcaster, not a communicator. He ramps it up even the most innocuous exchanges to a personal assault, hoping vehemence will give his arguments more force than they have, flinging his signature phrase from straight outta Fairfax Charm School: "Don't verbal me dickhead" (thus the term by which he's referred to on this blog, the Verbal Dickhead). This propensity in no way prevents him complaining about online incivility from others, or maintaining a self-image as someone who gives as good as he gets.
The second is that he's the President of the Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery. His output as a journalist used to be quite good, but it plunged in quality at around the time of last year's Midwinter Ball when he began to be showered with journosphere encomia and busywork titles. In terms of understanding how we are governed, he is a problem to be overcome rather than someone who illustrates where we are politically, where we've been and where we are going. The fact that he's their President belies any notion of self-awareness or a need to change on the part of the parliamentary press gallery.