Politics is more than parties

Eamon Waterford of Youth Action writes: Re: “Why young people just, like, don’t care about politics” (yesterday). Essential Media asked the wrong questions and has got a false reading of the level of disengagement by young people. They do care about politics, but they’re switching off from party politics. Increasingly, young people are turning to issue-based organisations to express their beliefs around politics. You only need look at the fact that the Australian Youth Climate Coalition has 70,000 members and the Greens have only 9500 to see this disparity.

Clearly, the old institutions of party politics are failing to engage each subsequent generation to the level they engaged the last. And that’s why Essential’s research is showing such low levels of interest. And frankly, I’m not sure this is a bad thing. Rather than a monolithic choice between a few major parties to get politically active through, young people can pick the issues they’re passionate about and fight for that. However, if this passion doesn’t translate into actually getting out and voting, then we’ll be in trouble.

Hot water or hot air?

David Salter writes: Re. “Rundle: the trolling, parody genius of ‘Nick Cater’” (yesterday). Congratulations are in order for Guy Rundle after his brilliant piece exposing “Nick Cater” as a parody invention of the rearguard neo-cons at Holt Street. “Cater”‘s nonsensical journalists/plumbers commentary in Tuesday’s Australian included a complaint about how difficult it is these days for inner-city dwellers to find someone to fix their leaking taps. I immediately sent the editor the following letter:

“Could someone please show Nick Cater how to change a tap washer and thereby spare us any more of his tiresome blather about the ‘hacks-v-dunny-diver ratio’? It’s a simple 10-minute job that even a commentator for The Australian should be able to manage.”

Now, thanks to Rundle, I know why the newspaper didn’t publish my response. It’s not that they are sensitive to criticism (perish the thought), but anyone who came forward to show “Cater” the basics of plumbing would discover he is a fabrication. Still, who’s pocketing his Murdoch pay cheque and book royalties? More digging please, Mr Rundle!

Keeping score

Jonathan Brough writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s campaign bites” (yesterday). I just wanted to say that your “Journalists with stories worth reading” scoreboard is the sort of feature I think we need in this period of captured media and dumbing-down of content. It may indeed be the deciding factor, along with Bernard Keane’s analysis, that prompts me into taking up a subscription with my month’s trial coming to an end.

I wrote my master’s thesis on ways the web can be used to enable consumers to educate themselves via online services, working up from recognition and recall of topics, to understanding, application of knowledge, analysis and evaluation. It’s great to see features, such as yours, ABC’s Media Watch and Freedom and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) in the US, that provide a means to evaluate the quality of stories, authors and publishers.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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