Yawning at the press gallery

FFS – the next federal election is at least a year away, and they can’t stop touting their predictions of what might happen then. What about reporting something that’s actually happening now for a change?

I’m with news with nipples: every time a senior journo is assigned to rewrite a polling company’s press release and is rewarded by having that substance-free story on minuscule poll shifts hit the front page of a big newspaper, the whole nation’s political discourse is further degraded. When blog after poliblog faithfully opines on those stories, and people tweet and retweet all the links to those stories, the effect is further amplified and the newspaper editors are reinforced in the bad idea that poll report after meaningless poll report on the front page month after month is a damn good idea. Then the TV hacks follow suit.

And that gets the press gallery asking the same old boringly useless questions for day after day.

Journos keep asking about leadership, MPs keep replying, and then journos keep reporting that MPs are talking about leadership. With the press gallery impatiently waiting for MPs to finish announcing whatever it is they’re announcing that no one is paying attention to, so they can ask the same irrelevant leadership questions over and over again, they are failing at their basic role of scrutinising those in power. It means they don’t have to read anything other than the first few pars of each other’s 300-word news stories. And it means they don’t have to do any research that would lead to informed, intelligent questions that might actually result in answers that are useful for their audience.

The joke’s on them because the more they write about this meaningless stuff, the more news junkies like me stop reading, and if they can’t even get the news junkies to be interested, they’re really fucked.

She’s absolutely right. I didn’t read, listen to or watch a thing over the weekend about the oh so crucial Labor caucus that was supposedly set to challenge Gillard seriously on her fitness to lead the party etc etc etc etc. It all smelled of such desperate hype, recycled hype at that. I don’t want to read reams of speculation based on sly insinuations from partisan shit-stirrers that journos don’t even bother to do a basic fact-check on. I’ve got better things to do, because what I’m interested in is what’s going on in the land of policy decisions and new legislation, so that’s what I go looking for information about, and if the MSM won’t give me that information, I’ll find it from other places that will.

Today my Twitter feed was full of schadenfreude directed at press gallery types who were expressing some bemused surprise that nothing of the sort actually happened at that Labor caucus. Aren’t they even a little bit embarrassed that hardly anybody else was surprised at all?

The election is at least a year away, journos! Probably more! Anything could happen in that time! Tony Abbot could be eaten by a shark while surfing! Julia Gillard’s Prime Ministerial vehicle could be hit by a runaway train! Kevin Rudd could expire in a plane crash! Aren’t exclamation marks exciting!

So in the meantime, given the parliamentary landscape we’ve actually got rather than some Fantasy Parliament League gaming table, how about actually scrutinising a bit more deeply than just profiling the contenders for a leadership spill that might never happen?

Categories: media, parties and factions

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7 replies


  2. The journalists create the speculation, then report on the speculation, then ask MPs to comment on the speculation, then report that there’s ongoing speculation and DEAR GOD PLEASE MAKE IT STOP.

  3. Yes. I wish reporters would report and not editorialise on bugger all. Stuff is actually happening.

  4. The Failed Estate weighs in:

    And on and on it goes. Gillard proposes reform, is criticised as being foolish and reckless, gets reform through, poll numbers don’t turn, media whips her with the chosen narrative, fuelled by loose lipped, unnamed MPs. In the meantime, the real business of government goes barely reported.

  5. This needed to be said. And it’s much more obvious when I’m outside the country too- the big stories on Australian websites are about small changes in polls (sometimes within the margin of error!). Yawn.
    On the plus side, Bob Brown’s comments on sexist media coverage were a fresh breath of air.

  6. Ross Solly on 666ABC apparently made a right dill of himself yesterday interviewing a Labor pollie and asking incessantly about a leadership spill. Apparently the pollie got fed up in the end and blasted him, and the media in general, for making it up reporting on it and ignoring everything the government was actually doing. Of the ten text messages Solly read out after the segment 9 of them told him to get over it already and actually report something. I guess we will find out if he listens. But when it is happening on 666 in Canberra you know the rot has gone deep.

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