Journalists on a mission to mislead (not online) The “sanctimonious kicking” handed out to John Brogden last week by
the Australian media has obscured the fact that Australian journalism’s
real sickness is “comment masquerading as news,” and not gutter
trawling tabloid reporting, says Michael Baume. And last week the
Aussie media moved beyond taking people out of context to simply
“falsifying quotes” to make up a story they wanted to report. Peter
Costello’s comments last week that he feels, in a sense, that he does
“lead in this country,” were reported by both the SMH and The Australian
as if Costello had said he leads the country. Wrong. He didn’t say
that, but it didn’t stop two of Australia’s most respected broadsheets
deliberately distorting his comments. This “essay into fiction as news”
was compounded by the reaction to Howard’s comments regarding tax
reform that were nothing extraordinary, but were again distorted to
make it look as though there was a serious disagreement over tax reform
with Costello. This isn’t unusual, and it’s becoming more and more common
because in Australia, “the expression credible media is becoming an
oxymoron,” says Baume. Crikey Says: If it wasn’t immediately obvious that
Costello’s “I lead this country” story was an inaccurate beat up, then Baume spells
it out for us.

Barrie Cassidy

The Sunday Age

Public interest or titillation?

It’s pointless to sheet home blame when things
go terribly wrong – as with last week’s attempted suicide of former NSW leader of the opposition
John Brogden, says Barrie Cassidy. But it’s “surely
undeniable” that The Daily Telegraph didn’t
know when to give up on the Brogden story. By midday
Tuesday, Brogden had apologised and resigned. He’d paid the price, the story
had moved on, as had the public interest element. Any fresh material was
titillation only. Yet Wednesday’s first edition of the Tele carried the splash front page headline: “Brogden’s
sordid past”. The second – just hours later – “Brogden in suicide
bid.” Given Brogden was well aware of the contents of the first edition
when he locked himself in his electorate office late Tuesday night, it’s hard
to argue the two headlines were not intrinsically linked. “The first headline
probably created the second,” heralding, as it did, anonymous allegations that Brogden
had “propositioned women for group sex.” A beat up when fairness and
sensitivity was needed? Perhaps. But in the end, these will always be matters
for individual judgement. Daily Telegraph editor David Penberthy, take note. Crikey says: Barrie Cassidy doesn’t pull any punches here, with his suggestion The Daily Telegraph‘shandling
of the Brogden story was “intrinsically linked” with the latter’s
attempted suicide. An interesting addition to the debate on reporting
and public interest.

Michael Duffy

The Sydney Morning Herald

Empty lesson in flawed thinking

These are troubled times, says Michael
Duffy. Young Muslims have to be encouraged to respect Western traditions – such
as the separation of politics and religion. So what has federal Education
Minister Brendan Nelson done? Called for the concept of intelligent design
(also known as “creationism lite”) to be taught in schools. The man
is a security risk. If you were to ask a group of experts to draw up a list of
“what we are fighting for” in the war against terrorism, the theory
of evolution would be near the top. So it must have confused many to hear
Nelson throw the Government’s weight behind a vacuous conspiracy invented by fundamental
Christians to undermine the theory of evolution. Nelson has said intelligent
design should be available in schools because “it’s about choice.”
That is post-modern rubbish. Schools are not about choice, they’re about
discrimination, about using limited time and resources to teach children what
our society regards as most important. Crikey says: Duffy argues that Brendan Nelson’s proposal to teach “intelligent design” is a sop to Christian
fundamentalists and inimical to the values of secular free education.
He might be overstating the case when he adds that Nelson is a security
risk, but not by much.

Drivel Tries hard Worth reading Quality analysis Outstanding journalism

Peter Fray

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