Now I want to make it clear that I never buy “The Herald-Sun” but I often read it because it’s available for free at a lot of places. Yes, if you want something of quality, you need to pay but the best things in life are free.
Anyway, I was intrigued by a couple of front-page articles this week and, while they relate to Victoria, there’s a wider issue at play here.
The first was yesterday and it related to a ten-year-old incident involving an accident where Dan Andrews was in the car. Apparently, the cyclist involved has suddenly decided to consult a lawyer to investigate his legal claims so it’s front-page news. Why it’s taken him ten years to do so, I don’t wish to speculate and neither do I wish to speculate about the accident itself.
There have been rumours circulating about this for years. Most of them with the same level of evidence as rumours about Dan Andrews’ back injury. And while it is possible that a Victorian Premier might be able to wield some influence to hush up an incident, I think that people are forgetting that Andrews was leader of the Opposition at the time, so if people are suggesting that this would somehow protect him, one has to ask why Matt Guy threw Tim Smith to the wolves when all he was doing was emulating Liberal stalwart, Sir Henry Bolte’s driving habits.
But it’s not the accident itself that’s at issue here. The point I’m making is that for the issue to resurface in the midst of an election campaign is rather interesting timing. Coincidence? Of course, one couldn’t accuse the Murdoch paper of having an agenda. I’m sure that every ten-year-old incident where no new evidence has been produced is always worthy of a front page, so I’m sure we’ll have something about Matt Guy’s lobster lunch and how one of the guests was an Australian citizen thanks to the largesse of Amanda Vanstone and her compassionate granting of citizenship.
Then there was the story about NAPLAN. Again, a front page with the headline LOCKDOWN HITS HOME. The body of the article went on to tell us how Victorian students had posted the “biggest falls” in NAPLAN results and how this was all because of lockdowns and so on.
Now, I could go off on a long tangent here and talk about the pros and cons of a national test that tests all students in a short space of time and how that doesn’t really give you much more information than a series of snapshots taken by a blindfolded person. Sure, you’ll see some things and you’ll get some idea of what’s going on, but if you really want to get the real picture, you need to get a lot more photos, preferably with the blindfold off.
Anyway, reading the headline and the first few pages, you’d have the impression that somehow Victorian students were all slipping down the totem pole of results. However, if you did venture to pages 8 and 9, you would have also seen a little table (see below)..
And if you read that table closely you would have noticed that Victoria was best or second best in twelve of the twenty categories. And yes, there’s certainly room for improvement with Year 9, the fact remains that if Victoria’s results are a disaster because of the lockdowns, what was the problem in all the states that didn’t have them? I can’t help but wonder if the table was included by a subversive subeditor…
Let’s be clear, whatever the rights and wrongs of the Andrews Government, it’s clear that paper is little more than propaganda. While we all know this and it’s easy to dismiss it, the fact remains that it does help to set an agenda and to get people talking about particular issues. That’s why we’ve spent so long debating the existence of human-induced climate change instead of discussing how to reduce the consequences. That’s why we’re discussing nuclear power now, instead of ten years ago when it would have just been a distraction for the Coalition government and preventing them from getting on with their core business of ensuring that businesses have enough money to shovel some their way.
Which brings me to Elon Musk and his purchase of Twitter.
The real danger here is that Musk will turn Twitter into some kind of circus. At the moment, Twitter is very much like the rest of the media. Mostly crap but if you search you can find some gems. And when people find such gems they share them.
Twitter, like “The Herald-Sun” has the power to set an agenda, but unlike the Murdoch Muckraker, anyone can post anything on Twitter and if enough people discover it, then the story spreads until even the traditional media can’t ignore it.
The real question is whether Musk has an agenda too, or whether he really is as silly as he often sounds.
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