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Is selective media distribution corrupt? [With poll]

By johnboy - 2 February 2012 18

On the Drum yesterday Greg Jericho was lamenting the lack of analytical rigour in the Canberra Press Gallery.

Abbott read out a speech he must have given at least 50 times by now. It contained nothing new.

Nothing. Not a thing.

Here’s the thing – why can’t the press gallery slaughter this chump? It’s not like they can use the excuse that they didn’t know what he was going to talk about. Nothing he said was new. Nothing.

Eight years in the Gallery left me wondering at the general ignorance of a high number of Gallery denizens. There certainly used to be a problem with groupthink from the uncertain junior ranks.

But Jericho finishes with a point I’d like to throw out to the broader public:

Where is the journalist who is sitting at his/her desk and is linking to reports and ABS data as Abbott speaks? Latika Bourke transcribes everything said at any press conference quite well. She is good to follow if you can’t watch it yourself. We don’t need two of her. Where is the person who has the knowledge of policies so that when Abbott (or Gillard, or Pyne or Swan or Hockey or Combet or Robb) says something in a press conference, he or she is known as the one to follow because he or she will find the evidence that either supports what they are saying, or the evidence to show its all bullshit?

No-one in the media that I am aware of.

For that you need to read blogs. Blogs written by folk who don’t give a damn that some minister’s press secretary might freeze them out.

When I’ve worked in PR I’ve always hated selective releases because every outlet left out takes it as a highly personal insult.

But many in the industry consider it to be normal practice and a way to make friends, ensure friendly reporting, and to punish those who have displeased them.

In the short and medium terms information loses value over time (even in the very long term you’ve really got to keep costs down to make it worthwhile). So the early release of information is most assuredly a thing of value.

I’ll concede we can’t expect every person in the world to publish media releases on everything they’ve ever told anyone. Mostly no one cares anyway.

But should we accept it from elected officials? Especially when it is used to buy silence and agreement from the media that’s supposed to be informing the public?

So, over to you rioters, what do you think about it?

Selective media distribution

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18 Responses to
Is selective media distribution corrupt? [With poll]
p1 7:14 pm 02 Feb 12

As a person who’s connection with the media is limited to reading it (and once or twice being reported on…), I want to tick both boxes in the survey.

dungfungus 6:23 pm 02 Feb 12

johnboy said :

Have you ever thought of following the many hyperlinks we provide for your edification?

I was being cynical. I see now how serious this is for some others so I will butt out as I am not licensed to give journalistic advice (I’m in enough strife elsewhere on this blog)

johnboy 6:16 pm 02 Feb 12

That’s why I run a blog and don’t do deals for exclusives (and they have been offered).

But I don’t have a wife and kids, and if I had 5 years ago I probably wouldn’t be doing this.

bikhet 6:10 pm 02 Feb 12

johnboy said :

Yes, dozens of smart people in a highly competitive industry are just lazy?

Or there’s a systemic issue?

Hey, never let information get in the way of your prejudices.

I don’t deny that there’s a systemic issue. There is, however, a choice – knuckle under or kick against the pricks. Knuckle under seems to be the popular one.

johnboy 5:02 pm 02 Feb 12

bikhet said :

Nice try at turning an opinion piece about slack-arsed journalists into a discussion on polies media releases. I’ll stick with the slack-arsed journos idea.

Yes, dozens of smart people in a highly competitive industry are just lazy?

Or there’s a systemic issue?

Hey, never let information get in the way of your prejudices.

bikhet 4:47 pm 02 Feb 12

Nice try at turning an opinion piece about slack-arsed journalists into a discussion on polies media releases. I’ll stick with the slack-arsed journos idea.

johnboy 3:57 pm 02 Feb 12

creative_canberran said :

Pigeon holes… apparently took 3 months for the gallery to grant one.
The security pass to get into DFAT events took even longer though AG.

Ahhh press boxes, someone has to die to get a new one (in fairness to the committee they are fixed carpentry). Put a cardboard box on the table next to the boxes with your organisations name on it and you’d be in business until a vacancy came up.

But you’ve got to be a local to know that I guess. I just wonder what efforts the guy made to learn the local customs.

An australian hack bombing into washington would get in some big trouble fast if they weren’t willing to learn the local ways.

creative_canberran 3:51 pm 02 Feb 12

johnboy said :

creative_canberran said :

I came across a Senate report not long ago, but it was from the late nineties. Not sure if things have changed but back then, a Washington Post correspondent in the Canberra Press Gallery was lamenting the tribal mentality and disdain local reporters showed to foreign journalists… or anyone they considered an “outsider.” They refused to give him work space, compacting all the foreign journalists into one desk in the corner and refused him a data connection, forcing him to go home to file reports (this we pre-WiFi).

So not sure how it stands now, but if they’re still all tribal and trying to avoid diversity in the gallery, that coupled with laziness swallowing PR tripe is a bad combination.

As I was working up there in that period it sounds as if he was trying to walk into someone’s office and use their company resources.

The press gallery in canberra doesn’t have pool space the way the washington press corp does. But it does have office space rented to particular news organisations.

Pigeon holes… apparently took 3 months for the gallery to grant one.
The security pass to get into DFAT events took even longer though AG.

johnboy 3:49 pm 02 Feb 12

Russ said :

As for witholding releases, as Evan says, I always thought it was the journo’s job to chase the story, not copy and paste it.

And while they’re doing that the guys with the inside juice gets all the good stories and your editor swears at the journo trying to be dilligent for a few days before sacking them and hiring someone who can get the access.

Russ 3:44 pm 02 Feb 12

Bernard Keane covered some of this the other week at Crikey:
http://www.crikey.com.au/2012/01/13/what-would-it-cost-to-end-he-said-she-said-journalism/

As for witholding releases, as Evan says, I always thought it was the journo’s job to chase the story, not copy and paste it.

johnboy 3:43 pm 02 Feb 12

creative_canberran said :

I came across a Senate report not long ago, but it was from the late nineties. Not sure if things have changed but back then, a Washington Post correspondent in the Canberra Press Gallery was lamenting the tribal mentality and disdain local reporters showed to foreign journalists… or anyone they considered an “outsider.” They refused to give him work space, compacting all the foreign journalists into one desk in the corner and refused him a data connection, forcing him to go home to file reports (this we pre-WiFi).

So not sure how it stands now, but if they’re still all tribal and trying to avoid diversity in the gallery, that coupled with laziness swallowing PR tripe is a bad combination.

As I was working up there in that period it sounds as if he was trying to walk into someone’s office and use their company resources.

The press gallery in canberra doesn’t have pool space the way the washington press corp does. But it does have office space rented to particular news organisations.

creative_canberran 3:41 pm 02 Feb 12

I came across a Senate report not long ago, but it was from the late nineties. Not sure if things have changed but back then, a Washington Post correspondent in the Canberra Press Gallery was lamenting the tribal mentality and disdain local reporters showed to foreign journalists… or anyone they considered an “outsider.” They refused to give him work space, compacting all the foreign journalists into one desk in the corner and refused him a data connection, forcing him to go home to file reports (this we pre-WiFi).

So not sure how it stands now, but if they’re still all tribal and trying to avoid diversity in the gallery, that coupled with laziness swallowing PR tripe is a bad combination.

johnboy 3:37 pm 02 Feb 12

Have you ever thought of following the many hyperlinks we provide for your edification?

dungfungus 3:36 pm 02 Feb 12

Who is Greg Jericho (what’s his real name) and what/where is “The Drum”?

EvanJames 2:40 pm 02 Feb 12

Used to be that an official release, from anyone (pollie, business, organisation) was a starting point, a trigger. Then it was up to the journo to take it up, and check it out. The presso gave them the official angle, and a contact to ring and ask questions of, but the assumption was that they’d check around and then build a story out of it. Nowadays it seems almost standard practice to just write the story based on the presso, and to use any “facts” in it as established facts, not suss facts to go and disprove or find context for.

Is getting pressos from media secretary so very important now? Or does a critical story mean that the press secretary and their boss will never speak to you again?

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