An old friend, Nick, recently said that what was once news has now been replaced with a journalist’s view on the world. The journalist’s opinion is no longer secondary; today their opinions are the news.
Having spent many years in the USA and retaining an interest in their politics and their media, he commented that what he is starting to see creep into our media and presentation is this impression that the opinion of journalists is not only something nice to have for politicians, but is somehow more important to the public than the politicians and policies themselves. “Where have I seen that before?” he asked. Yes, FOX News, that world-renowned bastion of journalistic integrity known for it’s fair & balanced review of subjects. Where it is more important to know what a journalist (or more correctly, an “opinion entertainer“) thinks about a subject than it is to know about the subject itself. When that occurs, you start getting people carrying placards to political rallies, not about the policies they object to or want to see enacted, but bearing the name of journalists and thanking the heavens for their opinion.
His best guess is that it occurred when investigative journalism became too expensive compared to paying peanuts for the opinions of journalists, who then began to believe their own rubbish, and whose sense of their own importance grew to an unreasonable level not at all commensurate with their actual talent.
He summed it up:
You’d be excused for thinking today – going by a number of newspaper front pages, headlines and political commentary – that Australia had descended into Mad Magazine hell.
He cited, as an example, Julia Gillard. Rather than being hailed for her expert negotiating tactics and creating one of the most diverse governments in Australian history, we get instead from much of our media the type of reporting and imagery you’d expect from a bunch of attention-seeking, spotty misogynists, beer swilling and word wanking themselves into a fury in some American frat house … or a bunch of smart-arse UK toffs scoffing their ivory towered arses off by way of tabloid drivel. Again, his words.
The idea that Julia Gillard has become more than just a paragraph in the history books, Nick added, has really annoyed and frustrated plenty in our self-serving Fourth Estate … where public interest has fallen to the wayside as sensationalism, gossip and snarling have become the main courses served to the readers/viewers throughout the day.
He had often suspected that the MSM (mainstream media) in this country – much like the USA – have asserted as much influence as possible on Joe Citizen to have Joe vote for the party of their choice. They do this by ‘front paging’ the issues which support their cause. They don’t tell Joe who to vote for, but instead, what to base his/her vote on.
To test out Nick’s hypothesis I took a look at the musings of The Daily Telegraph’s much adored journalist, Piers Akerman. Musings is an appropriate word, however, I think “opinionated rubbish” would be more ideal. Here is a journalist who clearly is unable to write any article without lacing it with unsubstantiated opinion. He fits the bill of what Nick said earlier and which I’ll repeat again: “Where it is more important to know what a journalist (or more correctly, an “opinion entertainer“) thinks about a subject than it is to know about the subject itself“.
I started with Akerman’s “I watched a political show so comical it was a tragedy”. So was his journalism, a comical tragedy, that is. In his opinion, for example, the splashing across the front pages of our newspapers of the drug scandal rocking the major football codes was orchestrated by the Federal Government. Without any embarrassment he sloppily writes:
While real characters appeared in the Obeid Family and Julia’s Disintegrating Party, stars of the new sports-based show have yet to be revealed.
Writers for the Dopiest Sports must name some key players if the series is to build on initial ratings.
Few viewers could resist a show which began with the boast of “the blackest day in Aussie sport”, but without some substance to support the claims, interest could fall rapidly.
Scriptwriters include the Australian Crime Commission, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and the Therapeutic Goods Administration. The focus is on the AFL and NRL but main cast members remain shadowy.
As compelling as these programs are, there is the suggestion that the sports show has been rushed to air as a spoiler to woo viewers from the very successful Canberra saga.
Note his conclusion that “there is a suggestion …” without any indication of who might have suggested it. Note too, his earlier comment in the quote that “… without some substance to support the claims, interest could fall rapidly”. He wants substance, yet provides none himself. He is nothing more than a gossip columnist.
The next article I looked at was simply the same baseless opinion with the words re-arranged. Plus he was able to create some imaginary Labor figures to add some grand delusion to his opinion entertainment:
A number of senior Labor figures have compared the Gillard government’s performance over the past week with the dying days of the Whitlam government in 1975, marred by distrust.
Did he name those Labor figures? No. If they existed they could only be chased down for some facts, and facts conflict with opinions. But good old Piers, those Labor figures keep running to him. More appeared here:
Around the nation Labor politicians are shaking their heads and offering their critique of Julia Gillard’s decision to nominate an election date 226 days away.
Many are paraphrasing the catchphrase devastatingly used by slapstick comics Laurel and Hardy: “Well, here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into!”
I’d like to hear who those Labor politicians are and how many and who are paraphrasing the old comics. Again, those facts might get in the way of Akerman’s opinions. After all, he is the news. His opinions are greater than any worthwhile news event, any policy, or any politician.
Where there are no imaginary politicians on call to add credibility to an opinion piece one can rely on an un-named ‘distinguished eye surgeon’ to add support:
But Gillard’s new eyewear is straight out of central casting via focus group testing.
A distinguished eye surgeon told me that the new glasses were designed to mask Gillard’s heavy eyelids and give her the appearance or sense of a presbyopic school headmistress/grandparent and convey a knowledge/security/comfort/safety to the most primitive part of the brain stem.
That is, they were designed to create an image totally at odds with the Australian experience of her leadership and the nation’s knowledge of her character.
Goodness. I might phone a friend as well. Or I might bother half of the distinguished eye surgeons in the country and hopefully they won’t respond like a modelling agency. Akerman was ever so lucky to stumble across one who speaks his language. Or simply, shares his opinion.
Piers Akerman’s opinions are highly sought after. We see him on ABC Insiders most Sunday morning offering us nothing worthwhile. Just opinions. He well represents the mainstream media in this country. Like Nick said, a journalist’s opinion are no longer secondary in the news these days. Their opinions have replaced the news.
But there is hope and it comes from Akerman himself. He asks his readers this:
Please send all further examples of media stupidity to this site so they, too, can be entered in the judging to be held on the Saturday of the election or as soon as possible thereafter.
Perhaps he should read his own articles. There he will find a goldmine of data.
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