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Murdoch Media: Propaganda Or Proper Goose?

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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  1. Roy Edwards

    NO TABLE……

  2. Michael Taylor

    Sorry, Rossleigh, but the table wasn’t working.

  3. Canguro

    I don’t believe Musk is as silly as he sounds. Nobody can achieve what he’s managed to do without an extremely high capacity for getting things done; PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla along with many other ventures. He might be a jerk, he might have Aspergers, he might be a social misfit, be awkward, obnoxious, all of these quirks, and not that it’s necessarily the best marker of a man, but you don’t get to be the wealthiest hominid biped on the planet by being silly.

  4. New England Cocky

    Another Rossleigh gem …..NAPLAN = ”a series of snapshots taken by a blindfolded person.”

    Ask your favourite DoE Head Office desk jockey if they will/can explain the statistical shuffling of raw data that is twisted into the NAPLAN results for publication. Do NOT be surprised if they have a little difficulty explaining the procedures.

  5. RomeoCharlie29

    Spot on again Rossleigh. The Herald Sun, an amalgamation of two once almost-great people’s papers is now a slender shadow of its former two selves, filled with the ignorant musings of Murdoch bumboys. I don’t have a lot of faith in NAPLAN results because it is a non-teacher’s way of appeasing some ignorant critics of the best reporters of children’s academic progress: the teachers themselves. It attempts to shove a bunch of disparate learners into a box in the hope they will all come out the same shape, size and intellectual capacity. As knowledgeable critics of the HSC know, a one-off test is not a very good determinant of anything, well perhaps the ability to cram knowledge for short-term regurgitation. I think this is another in the short list of the sainted Julia’s misguided concessions to the intellectually bereft rabble.

  6. Winifred Jeavons

    Year 9 pupils are always the problem- ask any secondary teacher. They would probably take the greatest ‘ advantage’ of any lockdown – specially the boys.

  7. Andy56

    i think the problem is more endemic than murdoch rags. After 4 nights back in the country, i have been catching glimpses of channel 9 news and wow, what a slide to crap thats turned out. The AGE and the ABC have been thinned out markedly. News from Ukraine that is days out of date with no focus on accurate reporting. I can rattle off 10 youtube channels that have better news coverage these days.

    As for naplan, yes the stats are misused. It is information that is badly needed which unfortunately then gets repurposed. Governments need data, and they need good data sets but unfortunately that data can also feed into our own insecurities.

    Musk is a genius yes, but that doesnt mean he gets unconditional liberties to do as he pleases. He is a human with all our inbuilt behaviours. Yes praise when he is good but dont give him a free ride without some checks.

  8. Michael Taylor

    To me, Elon Musk seems like the type of guy who’d spend $50M in this week’s PowerBall. Not that he needs the win, but so it decreases the chances of someone else winning it.

  9. Phil Pryor

    The planet Musk will attract huge expenditures in a quest to assert the realities and possible stupidities of the planet Musk.

  10. wam

    When NAPLAN arrived I thought what a great education tool that would identify learning problems of individuals. This would unite parents teachers principals curriculum departments education departments and education ministers and focus on ‘kids’.
    My eldest had huge anomalies being years ahead in reading and behind in writing and arithmetic.
    I had been retiredfor years but took relieve teaching to help.
    There I found the great diagnostic theory I held was far from the practice of results.
    Put simply they kids who could were coached and those who couldn’t were hidden.
    Musk is a powerful aphrodisiac to an ox and money buys anything.

  11. Terence Mills

    I don’t use my twitter account and whilst I found it had novelty value at first, I have since found that it adds nothing to my lifestyle so I have abandoned it.

    When I heard that Musk had paid $US44 billion to buy twitter and was sacking thousands of employees AND wanted to charge $US20 a month for the privilege of using it (since reduced to $US8 a month) AND that he was going to re-admit Donald Trump as a user I thought NO WAY will I ever use it again.

    Some have likened Musk to Alan Bond of who Kerry Packer said ‘you only get one Alan Bond in a lifetime’ – Musk seems to fit the same mould.

  12. Terence Mills

    I don’t live in Victoria

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