5 September 2023

Are we still keeping the bastards honest?

| Ross Solly
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A man puts wooden blocks with the words Fact and fake

With an increasing reliance on social media for news, it’s harder to tell the difference between fact and fake. Photo: File.

Once upon a time, the media’s role was to keep the bastards honest.

It was our job to hold elected officials accountable, probe claims of corruption, and provide a record of fact on everyday activities. The media, be it newspapers, radio or television, was meant to be trusted, and there were serious laws put in place to ensure no one strayed from the facts.

Of course, it hasn’t been like that, probably forever.

Media, except in very rare cases, will always reflect the views and whims of their paymasters. Selective reporting, loose treatment of the facts, and in some cases, blatant fabrications, contribute to a muddying of the waters.

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The ABC has sent out a directive to its journalists and presenters directing them how to respond to claims the Uluru Statement from the Heart is 26 pages long. If we are to believe what we read and hear in some sections of the media, this is an area of dispute.

But the authors of the report themselves say the statement is only one page long. There are additional pages, but they are only background notes and minutes from previous meetings. It matters not to the No campaign, which is using the 26-page claim as a major reason why people should vote no to the Voice to Parliament.

The upshot is that trust is further eroded in the media. People are increasingly turning to social media as their source of ‘news’ and information. This is not going to end well. Social media is a putrid swirling cesspit of hate and fabrications and should not be relied upon to provide any guidance in any debate of substance.

Of course, distrust of the media works well for people in power and those who, in a normal world, would have something to fear from a rigorous, well-respected third estate.

Governments of all persuasion are quite happy to hide their decision-making processes from the public, knowing full well that complaints from the media are not likely to stir up a groundswell of support from the punters.

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In recent weeks, I’ve written for Region about the Albanese Government’s refusal to release information explaining its decision to block Qatar Airlines from accessing additional flights into Australia and the Andrews Government’s refusal to release the costings it relied upon in deciding to cancel the Commonwealth Games.

Closer to home, the ACT Government still has questions to answer over the full reasoning behind the Calvary takeover, the next stage of light rail, and the CIT scandal.

In all of the above cases, the various governments need to be reminded that it’s not their money being used or wasted. And it is the right, in fact, the responsibility, of the media to demand answers on behalf of Australian taxpayers.

But such is the low standing of media outlets in the eyes of many Australians that there is barely a whimper of support for those who still believe in frank and fearless reporting.

We don’t have decent whistleblower laws, and the media watchdogs have been neutered. How can this be good for us? Of course, the media has to earn back the trust of its readers, viewers and listeners. I’m just not sure in these days of the internet and ‘fake news’ how that is going to happen.

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How that is going to happen, Ross Solly, is more articles like this. More articles calling out any government that is hiding things they’re doing – no matter which party it is.
Instead, we’re seeing heavily biased articles that seem to either favor one party or the other, and that don’t ask for the government to justify its decision-making when it makes massive decisions with very little public evidence to show for it.

This piece seems to suggest enforcing a single chosen narrative on every issue, that all media must follow. The complaint by the author is that there’s currently a variety of opinion, and that’s unacceptable. Because of course, there’s the one correct bien-pensant opinion, and everything else is disinformation.

But I’m not surprised. Across the western world, the newly ascendant elite despises the old classical liberal order of viewpoint tolerance, favouring an emerging system that leans into totalitarianism where only they, those who hold the narrow range of uniform elite-approved opinion, call all the shots.

The problem with media is that it has become more opinion based than reporting what happened. Remove the soap box and stop opinion pieces and analysis. Let the reader make up their own mind.

HiddenDragon8:04 pm 04 Sep 23

Most of what is churned out by the Australian media – private and public – is very predictable and seems to be aimed at an audience with the critical faculties of a ten year old of middling intelligence (even if some of it is padded out with windy language which might require a high school or college education).

It generally only gets interesting, and possibly worth taking notice of, on the relatively uncommon occasions when it goes against the grain in the stories/issues covered and the approach it takes to them.

There has been precious little of the latter on the Voice debate, with the great bulk of the coverage looking very much like a propaganda campaign, rather than anything approaching a frank and fearless examination of the issues.

If there has been any reasoned scrutiny of exactly how a constitutionally enshrined consultative process will make a material difference to intractable problems which have defeated every other process, I have yet to see it. Likewise, on the other side of the debate, where is the thoughtful examination and detailed questioning (rather than just peremptory dismissal) of the “practical” approaches being suggested by opponents of the Voice?

If, as presently seems likely (absent a Farnham-induced miracle) the Voice referendum fails, the great majority of the Australian media will lose even more credibility due to their one-eyed coverage of the debate – and that is a great shame, with governments of all persuasions, and their lavishly funded media machines, becoming ever more arrogant.

Hey Ross two of the authors of the Uluru statement, Pat Anderson and Megan Davis, both very smart people, are on the record many times on video and in papers, very clearly stating that the Uluru Statement is not ‘just’ a one pager but at least 18 pages long. Now its not in their interest to say that they have recanted…

Balance needed2:25 pm 04 Sep 23

What’s your reply to this Ross?

I don’t know what Ross would say to that, but the ABC’s staff have been directed to state Document 14 is a vast conspiracy theory. Such is the sad state of progressive thought these days.

Buyers remorse, when Riotact realised their support of the Labor/Unions/Greens cabal was misplaced.

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