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The ongoing News Limited ‘reality show’

By James Moylan

We all know that the Queensland Government just ‘OK’d’ the largest coal mine ever to be built, which will employ oodles and oodles of workers. Hooray!

Everyone has seen footage of cheerful politicians, in hardhats, in a forest, being conspicuously happy. Lucky for us, when they made this announcement our politicians just happened to be surrounded by a squad of journalists and cameramen representing virtually every one our two giant-integrated-corporate-news-agencies.

And the footage was terrific. It was obvious that everyone had a good time.

Happy politicians. Happy miners. Happy Australia.

Unfortunately for the Australian public, Adani then immediately announced that they were proactively and excitingly putting the whole project back on ice (again). It seems odd that this part of the story just whizzed past all of our professional journalists without their even noticing. After all, it was widely covered online in some of the less reputable ‘new-age media’ outlets. Perhaps our Press Corps have ethical concerns about worrying the Australian population?

This is despite it taking only a couple of moments of online research (using a few of the dozens of news outlets available in India and the UK) to immediately understand why Adani would put such an enterprise on hold. Apparently they have no marketplace to sell coal into. Apparently, despite all of the Qld and Federal governments’ rhetoric about starving villagers being deprived of Plasma Screens – the Indian government is, at this very moment, drowning in coal. Hmmm?

It seems the Indian Government stockpile just keeps growing despite their refusal to enter into any new contracts for the foreseeable future. (The stockpile currently weighs in at 94 million tons, or one-fifth of India’s annual domestic coal production). Apparently a senior official of Coal India even commented recently (as was reported in the Economic Times) that this would certainly lead to dramatic reductions in production at several local coal mines and would also likely have dramatic implications for any company seeking to import more coal into India. Hmmm hmmm? Yes –well worth a double ‘hmmm’.

But not necessarily! If you want to substitute a much nicer reality for all of this nasty ‘real’ news then you, like hundreds of thousands of Aussies, can simply consume News Limited products. After all it’s just like ‘real’ news in almost every way. Just minus the nasty and disagreeable ‘facty’ bits.

Try this quick parlour game. First do a Google search for all ‘UK Press’ articles during the last week relating to ‘coal’ and you will see lots of scary stories like ‘World’s largest coal producer files for bankruptcy’ (Reuters), ‘A bloodbath in the coal business’ (The Daily Reckoning), ‘Poland feels the pain of its love affair with coal’ (Daily Mail). Etc.

But it can be a so much nicer world!

Now Google for News Limited articles about ‘coal’ during the same period, then settle back and read some ‘balanced’ commentary. Articles like: ‘Rio Tinto not backing away from Australian coal’ (The Australian Financial Review), ‘Whitehaven defies coal slump’ (The Australian), and today’s remarkable effort ‘Coal’s future burns bright despite shift to renewable energy’. (It almost makes one proud to burn fossil fuels on behalf of Australia).

This latest work in particular displays the sort of creative flair that most Environmental reports seem to entirely lack. Apparently, because someone, somewhere, has proposed that one day in the future, high-capacity, high-voltage, cable connections between China and Germany may be viable, Australia should immediately stop: ‘importing millions of solar panels and batteries from China to deliver the Turnbull government’s solar and storage revolution’. Got that?

Certainly the people responding in the threads beneath the article understood exactly what was meant by ‘whatever the hell it was that the author was saying’. Dozens of simply horrified citizens expressing their outrage over inflated electricity prices, chopped up birds, scientists, greenies, unemployed miners, poor starving Indian children, and greedy unions. Oh the humanity!

In the Fairfax press you do at least sometimes get some reporting about the possible impacts of things like the Peabody collapse. You also get the occasional piece that looks at the claims of the politicians in a rather quizzical fashion, but they all seem rather desultory and half-hearted. After all; why linger on bad news when anyone who is actually interested in all that that sort of stuff can just read the international press?

[Anyway it’s all about how the coal industry is in real trouble all across the globe. How share prices are plummeting and large fossil fuel concerns are going broke at an alarming rate. How the Peabody disaster takes the tally of large corporate bankruptcies in the US in this market segment, in the space of five years, to fifty. Pretty bleak stuff. So let’s concentrate on the latest celebrity scandal].

After all, if you live in Australia you deserve the right to be able to remain blissfully ignorant. In fact, it might be said that News Limited is simply standing up for the right of any Aussie to remain entirely unaware of many things that most of the rest of the citizens of the globe spend so much time fretting about. It’s handy if you are not absolutely wedded to things like ‘facts’ or ‘the future of the planet’. By simply choosing the right newspaper, television and/or radio outlet any Aussie can successfully ignore just about anything they want to ignore. (Except perhaps all the inevitable stories about grubby union thugs, criminals, and financial shark attacks).

So welcome to the brave new information age where ‘news’ is just another commodity. If you want to live in a world where climate change remains ‘just a theory’ and any response is likely a ‘boondoggle’ designed to allow a group of Marxist communist scientists to live a jet-setting life of ease and comfort at the expense of ‘hard working parents’ and struggling taxpayers; then go ahead. The Australian press has got your back.

If you feel the need to imagine China and Germany being linked with an imaginary high capacity electrical cable, so you can rail about communist wind turbines murdering hard working endangered Australian birds; then the media has a space just for you.

Meanwhile the forces of goodness and niceness are currently working on abolishing the CSIRO and Met Office since these old institutions are obviously far too ‘fact’ based to be of much use in the modern age. So stay tuned for more selective reporting on some of the important news from limited parts of the globe.

Or maybe just settle back in air-conditioned comfort and watch a ‘reality’ show instead?

Also by James Moylan:

Likely arguments in Day v Regina

Why we need to be intolerant of climate science fools

Campaign coping strategies

‘The modern and wonderfully diverse 21st century Australian democracy®’

Yes, we do need to talk about the spurious nonsense being taught to children in our schools

Election 2016: Media Groundhog Day

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13 comments

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  1. Möbius Ecko

    The “it hasn’t warmed in … insert number here years” meme is circulating the social media rounds again. It’s now up to 23 years despite the exact same shonky graph that showed 9, 12, 16 and 19 years being used.

    The deniers are anything if not flexible. Being able to use the same unaltered or updated graph for years now to show an ever increasing number is a feat worthy of an award.

  2. ImagiNation

    but but… everything is fine according to Rupert. Payroll figures are up, unemployment is down and the world’s economy is on track for recovery. The article below must be wrong. Our government couldn’t possibly have known about the decline in coal before announcing the new Qld mine, especially with Malcolm’s connections with Goldman Sachs. It must be just more proof you cannot trust that pesky alt media. Why, they’re so pesky it’s even dated 2 months ago…

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-02-18/decline-coal-industry-long-term-and-irreversible

  3. Roswell

    Hello everyone.

    Mobius, I’m fairly certain it’s been cooling for 16 years. Andrew Bolt said it, so it must be true.

    It’s only mid April but already the days and nights a freezing. A long, harsh winter is coming.

  4. michaelattoowoomba

    Frightening articleJames.More scary,is the fact,our supposed great liabril past treasure Costello,as head of Future Fund,has suggested funding Carmichael with OUR F Fund.Great future that sounds like,funding public service super and pensions from sales of scrap metal from disused drag lines, useless raillines and ports. M F.

  5. paul walter

    Thank God for Andrew Bolt!!

    That was a crafty each way from Palaszczchuk, soothing the ruffled feathers of the coal lobby whilst gambling that the issue itself dies a lingering quiet death with the passing of time. She is “new to it”, as Prospero might say, but learning fast..

  6. paul walter

    Remembers, I haven’t complimented AIMN on including the delightful study of Shannahan, Bolt and Albrechtsen at the beach.

  7. ImagiNation

    James News Limited just might be correct in simply standing up for the right of any Aussie to remain entirely unaware of many things that most of the rest of the citizens of the globe spend so much time fretting about. As you said previously, ignorance is bliss.

  8. ImagiNation

    Wow. The thought News Limited may be more on the ball than first thought is a scary proposition.

  9. Mercurial

    But, but, but… you can’t see what’s left when coal is burned. Therefore it cannot be harmful!

    And if there is anything produced, why it’s plant food! Hooray!

    News Corp logic.

  10. JohnI

    A minor correction: the Australian Financial Review is a Fairfax publication. But: given that its editor is Michael Stuchbury, former economics editor of The Australian, it might as well be a News Ltd outlet.

  11. diannaart

    Good that our media has finally cleansed itself from all those pesky, confusing facts, allowing all Aussies to rest in ignorance; the blissful state.

  12. Michael Taylor

    I must admit, John, that Stuchbury’s appointment was an ‘interesting’ one. Back in 2001 he was one of the only ones critical of Howard’s ‘children overboard’ lie. Then, as if by magic, he suddenly became a mouthpiece for Howard. Odd, that.

  13. Bronte ALLAN

    Poor old mudrake! His “excellent quality papers”–NOT!!–almost always seem to get the sporting scores etc correct, the same with the X-lotto results, come on people, give them some credit! Having worked (many years ago) for the defunct Adelaide News & then The Advertiser, i can attest to all mudrake’s foibles. When he visited Adelaide, which he did at least once a year for the AGM, ALL the top brass would fly into a blind panic! After all, his word was God! It refreshing to read the Fairfax press, & find out that, yes, there is such a thing as “climate change”, coal mining is not the be all & end all for “decent” living, there is another Political party in Australia, besides the Libs, there are even some “decent” un-bigoted, un-biased columnists here in Australia–to name but a few differences between what mudrake’s lot prints & the “rest” do not!

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