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‘Obsession’ cuts both ways in The Australian‘s war on Media Watch

The Australian says Media Watch is obsessed with News Corp. But scarcely a week goes by without the paper taking a shot at the ABC program. Today is no exception.

Ever since Sharri Markson took over The Australian’s media section, it’s shown an obsession with Media Watch. So much so that a week hasn’t gone by without some piece criticising the show and host Paul Barry.

Today’s edition of the newspaper continues the trend, with a piece by Markson quoting several News Corp editors saying Barry wasn’t fit to host the program. According to editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell:

While the Oz had some disputes with [former host] Jonathon Holmes, mainly over his climate change obsessions, he was at least a fair journalist, and presented the program with humour and good grace. Paul Barry’s work is not fair.”

According to Daily Telegraph editor Paul Whittaker:

Barry, like his predecessor, appears to have an obsession with The Daily Telegraph… No perceived error in The Tele was too trivial for Media Watch while similar or worse examples in other publications, particularly Fairfax, were regularly ignored. Barry arrives at The Daily Telegraph’s coverage with a proven record of irrational hostility towards the paper and its parent company.”

And according to Queensland’s Sunday Mail editor Peter Gleeson:

It does seem a bit odd that the person who wrote a boom that essentially assassinates the character of News Corp is hosting a program that often looks at media bias.” [Last year saw the release of Barry’s book, Breaking News: Sex, Lies and the Murdoch Succession, which it appears News Corp believes makes him too conflicted to comment fairly on the company.]

There’s rigour, of a sort, to the Oz’s latest attack on Barry. The newspaper went through each of the Media Watch episodes since Barry took over to catalogue how many were about News Corp. It even commissioned iSentia to analyse Barry’s Twitter feed for “any perceived bias against News Corp”. (Barry tweeted 54 times in the past month — 30 of his tweets were about News Corp, mostly about the UK hacking trial). And the whole thing is even illustrated by a paparazzi shot of Barry, featuring him in a T-shirt with coffee outside the ABC on Friday …

I’m very happy to be pictured in a T-shirt,” the Media Watch host told Crikey this morning. “I was very happy to pose for them if that was what they wanted.”

He was, however, less happy about errors in The Oz’s story.

Firstly, the piece says Media Watch “has been forced to make three corrections in just seven 10-minute episodes”. Barry says he’s corrected the record only once. On Twitter, he also disputed the 500,000 figure given in the story as Media Watch’s audience, and the claim that it’s a 10-minute program (he says Media Watch is a 15-minute program).

There’s another weird thing about the story. In the iPad version of the story, Whittaker is quoted as saying Barry was ordered by ACMA to apologise in 2012 when he was filling in for Holmes as Media Watch host. The paper version has something different, quoting Whittaker saying it was Holmes who fought against having to apologise for not seeking comment from The Daily Telegraph (as the Oz’s own report on the matter reveals, that’s what happened). Barry, who must have read the iPad version, told us the Oz had got it wrong. We thought so too until checking the paper version when Markson disputed this on Twitter. We’re not sure why the two quotes don’t match up.

Barry told Crikey errors in stories are perhaps one reason News Corp’s papers get on Media Watch so often. “We’re obsessed with upholding high standards in the media,” he said. “If The Australian and Daily Telegraph want to stay off Media Watch, they should clean up their act.”

This morning, Barry and Markson were back at it on Twitter. This war is just getting started.

13
  • 1
    Will
    Posted Monday, 24 March 2014 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    What a bunch of hypocritical cry-babies. They’re happy to breach basic editorial standards on editorialising and making electoral endorsements; and they’re happy to floating professional ethics and disempower and subvert self-regulation; and they’re happy to bully and victimised perceived enemies real and imagined to create and reinforce a taboo on discussing their mendaciousness; and they regularly launch their own obsessive, repetitive campaigns. But don’t you dare mention it!

  • 2
    klewso
    Posted Monday, 24 March 2014 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    From the mountain of evidence, I reckon it seems to be a prerequisite that for a job with Murdoch, running any his Conservative PR publications, you have to be afflicted with spectrophobia - as well as a penchant for promoting partisan politics and entertainment over news?

  • 3
    klewso
    Posted Monday, 24 March 2014 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Murdoch Trolls running “70”% of our viewspapers/hate media - with their partisan edited agenda - why wouldn’t they attract a similar proportion of attention?

    With Blot’s penchant - given his ubiquitous access to Limited News resources to sell what he does - anyone catch the rancid anti-Left, branding, rant of Des Houghton on Saturday?

  • 4
    DiddyWrote
    Posted Monday, 24 March 2014 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    It’s amazing how the mentality of all News publications are so similar. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s a broadsheet like The Australian or a gutter rag like The Telegraph the same sense of grevience pervades them all.
    In the UK, The Sun and it’s now defunct sister publication The News of the World also considered themselves to be constantly under attack from forces elsewhere in the media and government. The revelations in the current Hacking Trial paint a picture of a bunker mentality amongst its workforce.
    In the US, The New York Post and in particular Fox News, the paranoia virtually drips from every report they make.
    Different countries and different styles of media but all of them reactionary, angry and paranoid.
    It can only come from the top and one has to wonder what fevered nightmares trouble the sleep of Rupert Murdoch. I wonder if he dreams of wolves biting his feet like Stalin?

  • 5
    Jeff
    Posted Monday, 24 March 2014 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Apparently a glass jaw is now the number 1 requirement for working at News Corp. A bunch of bullies who hate having their flaws pointed out.

  • 6
    leon knight
    Posted Monday, 24 March 2014 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Love your work Diddy - the thought of “fevered nightmares” infesting the unbalanced brains of Murdoch and his bleating minions is a wonderful one, and I thank you for it. More suffering to them, I say…..
    This is no time for Media Watch to back off, once you have found the point of weakness you have to exploit it to the best of your ability - If the News Corp hounds had any sense of fair play, they would respect the ABC for doing so.

  • 7
    GLJ
    Posted Monday, 24 March 2014 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    If you didn’t piss off the Tele.. well you wouldn’t be doing your job. News is entertainment is business. So jazzing uo the news with exaggerated porkies that attract numbers is good business.

    The ABC without being driven by business dollars is in a different position. That is a position that can report news without the need to sell cars and soft drinks along the way. That means journalist can tell a story as it is & leave out the sweeteners and the entertainment. THat means the ABC will have a different slant. That slant is hated by NEWS LTD et al.

    Vive Le différence
    Go Paul Barry & make em cranky … the weasels… Without media watch we would be in the thralls of Goose Morning Australia…. Barely Telegraph…& the quasi Austrailan.

    More analysis of the media please . Media watch is fine but not enough. Perhaps 9 or 7 or 10 could do it’s bit with self & others analysis and comment. WATCH THE FUR FLY…

  • 8
    kanooka
    Posted Monday, 24 March 2014 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Why would anyone take notice of claims made by a News Corp. outlet?

    This is the same organisation that denigrated our PM in an abusive way, published retouched photos of Cabinet Ministers as Nazis,and thought it was humour.

    Of course they hate Barry, he exposes them for what they are, one wonders if they have ever taken the time to survey the amount of right wing drivel that appears in their media.

  • 9
    rhwombat
    Posted Monday, 24 March 2014 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Diddy. Nice analogy. Rupert Jugashvili, lupus dreaming.

  • 10
    Electric Lardyland
    Posted Monday, 24 March 2014 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Diddy, his sleep is possibly disturbed, by thoughts of an internal coup being organised, by all the venal, amoral, self-righteous propagandists, that he has installed into positions of power over the years.

    But the News mentality is such a strange one though. Their publications are full to bursting with relentless criticism. But if somebody just happens to criticise them, it’s, oh the horror, how could people possibly be so unkind.

  • 11
    AR
    Posted Tuesday, 25 March 2014 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    If the output of Mudorc’s minions embarrasses even them then, as our PM-over-the-water said, “just don’t write crap; it can’t be that hard”.

  • 12
    Michael Kramer
    Posted Tuesday, 25 March 2014 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    If the shoe fits ! News Corp has lost all credibilty with the way it has conducted itself in recent years.

    How strange it is …. News corps government of choice gets in and starts attacking the ABC on behalf of Murdoch. Now Media Watch keeps exposing their poor quality in journalism and they cry !

    Give me a break !

  • 13
    Steve Finney
    Posted Friday, 28 March 2014 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Markson’s article just about made me laugh the company coffee out my nose.

    I found it particularly tasteless that they quoted Barry’s salary in the article. May I have the wage figures for the author and his editor for comparison? How does a journalist’s salary invalidate his opinion!?

    Consider alternative headline: “Media Critic criticized for history of Media Criticism”.

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