19 July 2011

News and non-News

Both Phillip Coorey and Peter Hartcher know that Gillard will not be believed over the carbon tax and the compensation that flows from it until the money starts to flow, from people's accounts and to them. Hysterical nonsense following the release of a poll should be beyond these guys.

Polls are released all the time. The fact that a poll is released is not news, especially when it says basically the same thing that other recent polls have said. These guys should know better - especially when those self-same guys have said, time and again, that an announcement wouldn't matter much by itself, that people would judge the carbon tax price thing when it's in place and affecting the way we work and live (remember all that coverage on he day the carbon thing was announced: "proof is in the pudding ... devil is in the detail"). Instead of this hysterical nonsense, why not back off and see what happens and find something else to write about in the meantime?

Tonight they and other journos will be glued to the Bek, Jimmy & Rupe Show live from London. The House of Commons Culture, Media & Sport Committee had better have some members who can actually conduct a thorough examination of slippery witnesses; it doesn't sound promising. Any half-witted bloviators like Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Doug Cameron or Michael Ronaldson will see those characters get off scot-free or even attract sympathy. This is the very period when real news will get lost.

Almost all the coverage in tomorrow's media will add nothing to the story: most people will ignore it and those who don't won't learn anything new by reading the commentary ("proof is in the pudding ... devil is in the detail"). Worse, any press secretary and PR dolly who has bad news to announce will be throwing it out there as we speak, knowing that the journosphere won't be paying attention and won't pick it up later.

This article has a point, but coming from a media outlet known for its jowl-wobbling outrage it will be interesting to see whether it finds itself in breach of the Practice What You Preach Act. Besides, all frenzies, by their very nature, are out of control. Is there any journalist who will be content to have Bek, Jimmy & Rupe burbling away in the background while looking for interesting announcements (assuming that journalists are only allowed to follow a story once a press release has been put out) and applying actual journalism to non-Murdoch-related issues?

Elsewhere: The Referral on what is or isn't news.


  1. Thank you for The Referral referral, Andrew. Bloodily and brilliantly gut-wrenching.

  2. I always enjoy your comments

  3. Lachlan Ridge20/7/11 2:01 pm

    Re the impact of the compensation. I earn $500 a week and my compensation will be $8.60 per week, according tot he online calculator. The compensation is one off yet lord knows what will happen once the carbon price is thrown over to those community minded folk in the derivatives markets. And I'm supposed to think this package is a good thing?

    I realise the need to transition to a low carbon economy, but all I can see is the risk being shifted from the corporate sector to the long suffering household sector, which has borne the brunt of every "reform" since the eighties. I realise this may not stick with your politics Andrew, but this turkey is not going to vote for Christmas. Abbott is appalling, but I draw people's attention to the level of the informal vote in a string of southwest Sydney seats in the 2010 Federal election. If this is the only weapon we have left - deligitamising democracy - so be it. After all, we are coming late to the party given how the factional players and media have trashed it for the last thirty years.

    Meanwhile Australian living standards begin to look decidedly South American, especially in regional Australia. Is this because the corporate share of national income is at its highest level since records began to be kept?

    Thank god for Medicare, that's all I can say.

    But even that is dependent upon finding a, ahem, service provider*.


    * - Doctor

  4. Thank you Fiona & Marie.

    Lachlan: I think you're holding out for a solution which isn't available, and might not be if the polls hold. You seem to accept Medicare for all its faults yet you're holding out for utopia climate-wise?

  5. Lachlan Ridge25/7/11 8:05 pm

    Not utopia, but a tenner a week for those of us on less than $600 a week would be handy.

    But I take your point, and raise another: the household sector - especially the C-D demographic end of it - is woefully disorganised and has a pitifully small, almost nonexistent, voice in this and many other debates and thus is totrally expendable, in political terms. I do not see this situation changing in the forceable future. If ACOSS and the ACTU is all that stands between low-income earners and complete political bastadry then I suggest those of us in tight fiduciary straights may as well all bend over and drop our pants now.

    Mind you, watch the mortgagees - if they ever get their act together into some coherent and organised political voice the major parties are toast.

  6. Lachlan Ridge25/7/11 8:15 pm

    I used Medicare to point to a significant differential between Australia and, say, Chile, which with I have some experience. In a country of declining living standards for the bottom two or three income quintiles of the population, having access to health care is some comfort. Working poverty is a new normal for Australia - wasn't around when I was a kid. I think people in this group will largely vote against whoever is in power for the next three or four elections as their living situatioon certainly isn't improving, not that their condition is in any way a concern of our modern enlightened media of course. Those living in, say, Claymore may as well be living in different country to someone residing in Coogee. And for our media these nations of squalor on the fringes of our capital cities are like the past, no one from the fourth estate speaks the language.

  7. Interested in your thoughts on this Lachlan: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/to-stay-in-power-labor-must-give-it-back-to-generation-vexed-20110720-1hov9.html

  8. Lachlan Ridge26/7/11 6:01 pm

    Well, I'm no Marxist (which is what they all say, isn't it?), but the good Mr Tanveer is merely describing alienation of labour.

    In this age I think we've reached a sort of hyper-alienation with people being shut out of decisions not only about their labour - the lack of autonomy - but also where they can shop, where they can (afford to) live and even what they can do with their own bodies (smoking, drinking, fast food). This culture of command and control - a reason we both share a suspicion of the left - has been embraced by the post-Santamaria Liberal Party with its punitive attitude to welfare and justice and appeasement of its cousin, the downward envy amongst the comfortable middle class.

    I shall find the source, but I read an interesting thing recently which said that depression was over diagnosed and that what many people were suffering from was despair - being an entirely understandable and realistic reaction to the insurmountable problems and complete lack of agency people have over their lives.

    People suffering from this and mental illness are then stigmatised through "welfare reforms" that seek to drive them into the low-paid casualised service sector jobs the article describes that create the mental problems described in the first instance. It is a closed loop. The next phase will be hanging them out to dry - nineteen thirties style, which is well underway as any tour through an underground pathway in Sydney in winter will evidence. Why wouldn't they give up and sit with a cask of wine between their legs? No one else cares about the systematic entrenchment of their plight.

    Meanwhile, as George Monbiot has pointed out elsewhere, the very, very wealthy continue to accrue fantastic wealth on the back of rapacious policies endorsed by all major parties in the OECD. These are the same policies that cause working poverty, social displacement and anguish amongst the working poor and those not far from it.

    As the estimable Gary Trudeau pointed out in Doonesbury recently, with one percent of the United States population owning ninety percent of the wealth, ten percent is still in play, and there's a mad scramble for that.

    This is the age of corporate feudalism, and the new robber Barons have come for their pound of flesh. Reflect on that you with a mortgage as to whom your real masters are.

    But the real news is that the ASX has climbed a quarter of percent on the back of profit announcements by a company owned by less than point one of one percent of the population.

    And in the same breath they wonder why the concept of the outsider grows, and grows...