A common claim by we of the superior intellect and a proper concern for the affairs of the nation is that television news, especially the commercial variety, neglects its duty to educate the masses by pandering to their ignorance.
Car crashes, crime, floods and fires, it often seems, dominate the coverage at the expense of earnest reports from Canberra on matters of real substance as TV news directors simply serve up what the public want to see rather than what they ought to know.
Studying in detail the coverage of this election by all forms of the media for Crikey has thus surprised me. I am finding that TV news devotes far more of its precious minutes to covering politics than people would choose if left to their own devices.
A comparison of last night’s television news coverage and this morning’s list of most read stories on the 10 media internet sites used for the Crikey Election Reality Check illustrates the point.
Only on the websites of the ABC, the Advertiser and The Australian was a political story top of the list. Yet on four of the five television networks federal election stories were what viewers were forced to look at first. Only on the Channel 7 was politics relegated to third – a position more in tune with where it is on the most read lists – and perhaps that explains the network’s ratings successes!
At the sites of the West Australian and the Courier Mail there was no political story in the top five and the entry at news.com.au about Ivan Milat’s sister seeking a Senate seat could perhaps better be described as a comedy story.
In this kind of environment, where people clearly do not have politics at the top of their interest list, it is going to be very hard going for John Howard and his team to pull back the lead which the opinion polls are showing that Labor holds.
Sydney Morning Herald
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- Charges brought against brothers for rapes
- More jeers for Howard
- Lohan’s out and down as Spears turns to Jacko
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The West Australian
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Melbourne Herald Sun
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