Nov 29, 2012

Richard Farmer’s chunky bits: Gillard needs to stop talking

Forgetting that is the mistake Julia Gillard has kept making as her opponents probe away at her dealings with an old boyfriend.

Richard Farmer

Crikey political commentator

The more you say ... There can be no argument when only one side talks. Forgetting that is the mistake Julia Gillard has kept making as her opponents probe away at her dealings with an old boyfriend. The more she says, the greater the opportunities presented to keep the issue alive. For a politician silence really can sometimes be golden and this is one of those occasions. No ifs, buts or maybes. There was no holding back on the accusations when Alan Jones interviewed the chief stirrer Michael Smith on 2GB this morning. Hatred, ridicule and contempt barely suffice to describe what listeners who believed what they were hearing would have thought about their Prime Minister. Surely it can not be long before the Australian equivalent of Private Eye's Messrs Sue, Grabbitt & Run are brought out to intervene legally on Gillard's behalf. If she really does have nothing to hide she could end up when she retires as a politician owning a radio station! Not a very readable lot. A bit of a reality check for me this morning when I stumbled across a just-published academic study showing that stories about politics and the environment are the least readable parts of news websites. As Media Patterns explains:
"The study, led by academics at the University of Bristol's Intelligent Systems Laboratory and the School of Journalism at Cardiff University, used Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms to analyse 2.5 million articles from 498 different English-language online news outlets over ten months. As expected they found readability measures showing that online tabloid newspapers are more readable than broadsheets and use more sentimental language. Among 15 US and UK newspapers, the Sun is the easiest to read, comparable to the BBC's children's news programme, Newsround, while The Guardian is the most difficult to read. 'Sport' and 'Arts' were the most readable topics while 'Politics' and 'Environment' were the least readable.

The study found that men dominated the content of newspapers during the period analysed. The ranking of topics based on the gender bias of the articles found 'Sport' and 'Financial' articles were the most male biased, with sports news mentioning men eight times more often than women. 'Fashion' and 'Arts' were the least biased, with 'Fashion' articles being one the few topics featuring equal proportions of men and women. The most appealing topics to online readers were 'Disasters', 'Crime', and the 'Environment' while the least appealing topics were 'Fashion', 'Markets' and 'Prices'. The researchers also found that the popular articles tend to be more readable and more linguistically subjective.
A budget savings opportunity. The severing of links between Qantas and Tourism Australia presents the government with a wonderful opportunity to save $130 million or so a year and put an end to the tourism industry's rent-seeking forever. As the biggest beneficiary opts out of this government financed body, taxpayers should do likewise. A better educated country. The proportion of people aged 15–64 years with a non-school qualification increased from 47% in May 2001 to 59% in May 2012, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported this morning. The proportion of people with a Bachelor Degree or above increased from 17% in May 2001 to 25% in May 2012.

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