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Day to Day Politics: ‘Will Murdoch tell you how to vote?’

Thursday 7 September 2017

I haven’t been well for a few days so I thought I would take a short break. However, here is something I wrote in 2016.

Where Did All His Readers Go?

Recently I found myself without access to the internet. It only lasted a day and a bit, thankfully, but it did bring home to me just how reliant I am on it. The pause however, did give me reason to think about how very differently I consume information now as opposed to say 10 or so years ago. It also gave me reason to think about what influence old media, and in particular Murdoch newspapers, might have on the next election.

I have been a prolific reader all my life and not to fill my brain with a daily dose of anything newsworthy might lead to withdrawal symptoms. Habitually at 6am I would be awake waiting for the familiar thud of the Melbourne Age dropping onto the driveway. Together with a hot cup of green tea my day was put in perspective.

With the advent of the internet it all changed. Both the reader and the media proprietor now find themselves in a vastly different arena.

Whereas in my case I relied on The Age to provide the entirety of information about my many and varied interests I now find I have unlimited access to anything and everything I want to know. It is simply astonishing just how much the web has changed the world.

Now I wake at six (a lifelong habit) turn on the iPad, check the weather, my email, post some thoughts on Facebook and then peruse the newspapers, but not before seeing whose writing what on The AIMN. In fact my newspaper reading is now limited and specific. I hone in on what I want to read and move on. I don’t subscribe to pay sites because there is ample quality information available on free sites and blogs. For example I look with contemptible curiosity at the headlines on The Australian site just to see the outrageous unmasked bias. I can peruse any newspaper in the world.

The interesting thing about the decline in sales and influence of Australian newspapers has been how they have responded. On the one hand Fairfax decided to cut costs, lower its journalistic standards, change its size and be a little more tabloidish. On the other hand Murdoch, who had made his fortune on smut decided to prostitute his publications by becoming even more offensive and provocative. It hasn’t worked. They both now opine rather than report.

So in terms of political influence Labor has little to fear from the nefarious front pages and slanted editorials of his tabloids. The recent Labor victories in both Queensland and Victoria have highlighted News Limited’s growing irrelevance to the electoral process.
Last year, the total daily circulation of all Australian daily newspapers was a little over 2.1 million, fully one million lower than it was at the turn of the century. When you take into account the growth in population post Second World War the decline is even more spectacular. In 1947 two copies of daily newspapers were sold for every five people. In 2014 the figure was 1-14. So now, Murdoch with a 60% share of the Australian circulation can only attract 4% of the population to buy his rags.

And the point of course is that the readership is rapidly ageing and disproportionately Coalition. They are voters who are locked into their political preferences. If you analyse any poll you will find that 60% of the Coalitions support comes from those over 65 and 60% of Labor’s from the under 40s. Hence it’s unlikely that Murdoch is influencing the younger voters. The group that gives Labor the best chance of winning the next election. And with so much support coming from a rapidly ageing cohort the right must be concerned as to where their future voters will come from.

Recent surveys by Essential Research also suggest that even those who read the Murdoch tabloids have little trust in them. Of the major newspapers The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald constantly score 70% trust with The Australian on 60%. But the three Murdoch metropolitan tabloids are only trusted by a little over half of their readers. The Herald Sun 53%. The Courier Mail 54% The Daily Telegraph at times fell to 41%. This of course means that those who buy this tabloid filth must do so for entertainment or sports. Certainly not for reliable reporting on politics. Habit may be another factor of course.

So, if all the research is correct, Murdoch only reaches less than 10% of the voting population which is about half the reach they had when they so blatantly supported Howard in 2001.

There are a couple of things to remember when discussing Murdoch’s political influence. The first is the flow on effect. The Australian is the shock jocks first point of call every morning and whatever bias is on for the day is quickly absorbed by the presenters of untruth.

Whilst the shock jocks have substantial audiences the fact is that the average listener can be likened to the average Murdoch reader. Elderly and set in their ways.

The Australian loses around $30 million every year and it is difficult to imagine it continuing production after the mogul dies. It is also difficult to expect that it doesn’t exert some influence on television which still attracts a sizable audience of uncommitted voters. Again it must be said that television audiences are now older. The young have deserted it for the internet, games or streaming media.

The second factor in all this is that whilst there has been a dramatic decline in the sales of newspapers and readership there has been a corresponding rise in the readership of their websites. Tabloid newspapers however have not been able to successfully merge their image into the digital market. It may be a graphics thing where internet news demands some form of visual and quantifiable sophistication.

Research also shows that Australian newspaper web sites have high traffic rates but whereas we might assume the average readership of the print edition The Daily Telegraph might have a 15 minute duration. Visits to its website are a lot shorter. As little as thirty-seconds or so. So, its fair to assume these visits wouldn’t have much political impact at all.

There is no doubt that Labor can expect the full treatment from Murdoch at the next election. Anything from filth to fantasy. Everything will be magnified out of proportion, images crudely photoshoped to show leaders in the worst possible way together with lie after lie after lie. There is no doubt they will be as crass as is possible. But the big question is. Given all the evidence, what sway will they have?

There was a time when you would do nothing to offend the mogul but instead ingratiate oneself. Perhaps it’s time to call a spade a spade and tell the Australian people just how un-Australian this American citizen is. Tell them he should not be imposing his Republican Tea Party ideology on us and that it’s about time he started to pay some tax in Australia. In other words call the mongrel for what he is. A pathetic self-serving power-hungry bastard who believes you can control people with words calculated to gain favour with conservative governments.

The decay of traditional news media and the rise of digital media has meant that the young have not been touched by the Murdoch cancer. Instead they are forging opinion based on information sourced of themselves. And in doing so have dramatically reduced Murdoch’s sphere of influence.

He may preach from the high alter of propaganda but only reach the already converted but he is certainly not winning over any new adherents.

Some findings from the Essential survey

How much trust do you have in the following media commentators and journalists?:

Laurie Oakes 71%, Sarah Ferguson 51%, Tony Jones 51%, Mark Riley 51%, Michelle Gratton 49%, Neil Mitchell 49%, Chris Uhlmann 46%, Andrew Bolt 38%, Alan Jones 29%.

The most trusted newspapers were:

SMH (70% a lot/some trust) and The Age (66%). The least trusted were The Telegraph (46% a lot/some trust), the Herald Sun (48%) and the Courier Mail (48%). Overall, trust in media has fallen a little since this question was asked last year – however rankings remain much the same.

The most trusted media were ABC TV news and current affairs (63% a lot/some trust), SBS TV news and current affairs (61%) and ABC radio news and current affairs (58%).
The least trusted were internet blogs (20%) and commercial radio talkback programs (34%).

How much trust do you have in the following institutions and organisations?:

AFP were top with 68%, the ABC had 58%, religious organisations 25%.

Some thoughts for the day

“If a newspaper article is written in a manner to suggest objectivity but subjective words are scattered throughout it together with carefully phrased unsupported statements then dismiss the article as having no cogency.”

“Lying in the media is wrong at anytime however when they do it by deliberate omission it is even more so. Murdoch’s tabloids seem to do it with impunity.”

“We would be a much better society if we took the risk of thinking for ourselves unhindered by the unadulterated crap served up by the media and some self interest groups.”


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  1. Terry2

    Emma Albericic did a very professional job of dissecting the government’s fiction and delusions surrounding AGL and the Liddel power station, with Josh Frydenberg last night.

    Turnbull has said that AGL was “prepared to sell Liddel to a responsible party”, which would allow the power station to keep operating beyond the slated closure date.

    After Turnbull’s comments, AGL chief executive Andy Vesey wrote on Twitter that the company was “getting out of coal” and was committed to the closure date.
    It backed this up with a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange on yesterday, which said it has made no commitment to sell the Liddell power station nor to extend its life beyond 2022.

    Clearly the coalition are trying to back AGL into a corner by either forcing them into a commitment to keeping this power station open beyond 2022 or to selling the power station to a competitor (possibly with a taxpayer subsidy).

    Watch this space as it is becoming evident that the coalition don’t actually have any forward looking energy policy for Australia beyond bagging the states who are moving towards clean energy alternatives and wedging AGL.

  2. Don Kelly

    The coalition has been eroding away our hard won standards with the support of the Murdoch media and his shock jock supporters. There has been an endless supply of distractions, blame shifting, obfuscation and outright deceit.
    Pertinent statements are made, many highly specific, without any attempt to quantify or substantially support these with some form of evidence.
    Until such time as this is done, there is no reason to attach any weight to these comments.

  3. Joseph Carli

    The disproportional representation of coalition voters in the over 60’s could be put down to the Labor baby-boomers, being more political astute than conservative voters, have the unfortunate disadvantage of being ; A) from a poorer demographic and therefore less able to have niggling medical problems attended to and B) coming from an age of totally reckless drug/ boozing behaviour at those political “round-tables” down the favourite hostelry hang-out in the young years has led to an earlier demise after 60 yrs, leaving the field open to those crushing boors of the Liberal supporters so anal retentive that spending even an extra penny on partying would bring about an apoplexy of financial panic!

  4. wam

    keep fluless Lord and remember Darwin is a great place to convalesce.

    My my uhlmann replaceth oakes might give an idea why the ABC is not left?

    Good thinking, unfortunately half of society is below average and average rely on??? for our information.

    ps Terry2 ‘selling’/’possibly’ you are kind today. I would have expected ‘giving’ and ‘certainly’ as being more accurate?

  5. Harquebus

    “call the mongrel [Murdoch] for what he is. A pathetic self-serving power-hungry bastard who believes you can control people with words calculated to gain favour with conservative governments.” BRAVO!!!

    “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” – Abbott Joseph Liebling

  6. Roswell

    There are some truly evil people in America. Murdoch, Kissinger, Rothschild, and the worst of them all: the kid who lived next door to us.

  7. Ross

    Exactly John, why limit yourself to the extremely narrow view given by the Australian written media. Many foreign born people keep in touch with the old country via the internet to international news sites, this has a flow on effect to the free English versions of foreign news to a wider range of people.
    Why subscribe to the fluffy click bait of Fairfax or the bias of Murdoch when the entire world is only a mouse click away? The tech savvy young found this out years ago. The current management of the MSM have no clue on how to entice the young to their news sites, without them written news cannot survive.

  8. Terry2

    I see that the Murdoch family and Bruce Gordon of WIN want block the sale of Channel Ten to CBS : they seem to think that they are better for Australian media diversity than CBS.
    Having reflected deeply on this my considered opinion; Nupp !

  9. tanginitoo

    I think there must be something seriously wrong with me! I am in my mid 70’s and despise this feral Government. I wouldn’t vote for them if my life depended on it! I have not bought a Murdoch owned newspaper or magazine for over 20 years when I was so disgusted with the press obsession with Diana, Princess of Wales, I was probably the last person to know what had happened to her. I do not watch free to air TV unless it is something especially good, as in history/wildlife etc. on SBS or ABC. No wonder I watch with horror when, every Saturday morning I see a group of similar aged persons having breakfast together in a local food court, and thank the Lord that I am not like them! They feed off each other with their misinformation and downright garbage so called news. Thank goodness for AIMN!

  10. etnorb

    As a former employee of the Mudrake papers in Adelaide-the Adelaide News & the Advertiser–I find that despite the stupidity of his rags on the Eastern states, his local paper is much better. I have read newspapers all my life & I still do, the only news sites I visit on the computer are the ‘Tiser, In Daily & of course AIMN. I am over 70 & I would never vote for the Federal Liberal mob. State wise here in SA, the Labor lot are very much on the nose & so I hope they will get voted out at the next State elections.I do read the Age on Thursday,Friday & Saturday & I also get the Weekend Australian, but the only parts of the Australian I read are the Weekend Review & the glossy magazine. The rest of the rag is so full of anti Labor/pro Liberal crap it is often embarrassing to see what they print there!

  11. John Lord

    Thanks for your comments tenors.

  12. Joseph Carli

    etnorb!!!..SA Labor “on the nose”?? gotta be kidding..that Torrens precinct is bloody brilliant…a thouroughly modern city-scape..the Adelaide oval?..brilliant..the arts / SA film project at the old Glenside centre..and many other things..”hope they get voted out”??? what the FFFF!….I reckon you’ve got that infected Murdoch printing ink under your skin!

  13. Kyran

    Aahhhh, Murdoch. What a vile little creature he is.

    “On the other hand Murdoch, who had made his fortune on smut decided to prostitute his publications by becoming even more offensive and provocative. It hasn’t worked. They both now opine rather than report.”

    Back in High School, there was an exercise we did for Social Studies. It required ‘monitoring’ the media (pre-internet). Picking a ‘story’ and finding how it was reported differently in different media presentations (papers, radio, TV). We had to evaluate ‘what were the facts’ and what ‘biases’ did different media introduce to their reporting. For example, if there was a report of a crime, we were to differentiate between the facts of the matter (what, how, when, where) and the introduction of biases (gender, race, religion, etc, in describing the ‘perpetrator’ or the ‘victim’). It was informative and has effected the way I have viewed ‘news’ ever since. In over forty years, nothing has changed. Murdoch’s recipe has always been to tone down the facts and amplify the biases.
    Putting aside Murdoch’s obviously questionable credibility and his unconscionable methods, you have to admire his single minded pursuit of money. The power and influence he once wielded as the ‘king maker’ is now his only refuge against his waning influence.
    It has served him well. The ‘phone hacking’ scandal all but destroyed his attempt to take over ‘Sky’ in 2011. He used all the political influence he could muster to avoid being branded as unfit. The most recent development is informative. In a play from the Dutton play book, he has continuously settled out of court to avoid any scrutiny of the facts.

    “The settlement means that a high court trial due to hear the 17 cases in October will no longer go ahead. The trial would have aired allegations of phone hacking at the Sun – which News Group has always denied – and could have led to James Murdoch being forced to take the stand as his family try to secure a controversial £11.7bn takeover of Sky.”

    Sound familiar? He’s not out of the woods yet.

    “A court hearing for the next tranche of alleged victims is scheduled for January, when the Sky deal is still likely to be awaiting regulatory approval.”

    Anyone want a bet that it settles before the hearing date? His failing media, across the globe, is dependent on getting access to the cash buried in the Sky operation. He has changed the vehicle he wants to use to access it (from News Corpse to Fox), but is desperately in need of hiding the fact he is not a fit and proper person.

    “News Group is part of News Corp, which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his sons James and Lachlan. The Murdochs are trying to buy Sky through 21st Century Fox, which was split from their newspaper business after the phone-hacking scandal led to the collapse of their previous bid for Sky in 2011.”

    A rose, by any other name, still has pricks on its stalk. It is about the money. Always has been, always will be. At least for the likes of that vile little creature.
    Thank you Mr Lord and commenters. Take care

  14. Christian Marx

    Good article. Unfortunately at least 30% of the populace are selfish and evil.
    They will continue to support this war criminal, no matter how depraved his rags are. ;-(

  15. paul walter

    Etnorb is not wrong, but the Lib opposition in SA is pitiful.

    The ALP government has been in for a very,very long time and the “its time” factor could be coming into play.

  16. Kyran

    “I once asked Rupert Murdoch why he was so opposed to the European Union. ‘That’s easy,’ he replied. ‘When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice.’”

    Whilst schadenfreude is, in my experience, more often a self destructive bent, this vile creature is surely the exception that should prove the rule.

    “The British government will refer Twenty-First Century Fox’s bid for satellite broadcaster Sky to the country’s competition regulator for further examination, in a blow to Rupert Murdoch’s takeover plans.”

    “Murdoch’s media group is trying to buy the 61 per cent of Sky it doesn’t already own. The takeover values Sky, which broadcasts Premier League soccer and top film and television offerings, at GBP18.5 billion ($A30.6 billion).”

    “An earlier attempt to buy the remaining shares was scuttled by the 2011 phone-hacking scandal that rocked Murdoch’s British newspapers.
    Bradley’s announcement is a victory for Murdoch’s critics, who have been emboldened by scandals over alleged racial discrimination and sexual harassment at his US TV network Fox News. They say Murdoch does not meet the requirement that UK media owners be “fit and proper” people.”

    As always, his influence in Australia is every bit as evident, though not widely discussed in the media. It seems the bids by Murdoch/Gordon and CBS are off to the Supreme Court. 20th Century Fox is now listed as one of the party’s to the proceedings.

    All of this while our politicians discuss media ownership rules. Not ‘fit and proper people’ rules or ‘truth in reporting’ legislation. We have a long way to go.
    Thanks again. Take care

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