Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Problems with Australian News-Media

The Australian news media love a good tale. Not unlike other news services, the australian New stations like a story that captures and engages their target audience. But how often do they actually report the news that matters.
The last month has seen some big news around the world. The furore over alleged voting irregularities in Iran, the upcoming elections in Afganistan, the continuing wars in Afganistan and Iraq, the world-wide spread of Swine-flu, the response to the Global Financial Crisis, and of course the seemingly out-of sight,out-of-mind human rights abuse in Dafur.
In Australia, the government has been making news with its attempts to get an Emmisions Trading scheme through both houses of Parliament, coupled with an equally controversial Clean/Solar Energy Bill. Indian students have been making their presence left over the last few weeks, after being a string of allegedly racially motivated assaults in Victoria and New South Wales.

But the news media, on TV, radio and the interent don't ever do any real analysis of the underlying issues. Why bother when you can lift a piece for a news scource like Reuters or AAP, and make bold headlines that attract attention without accurately representing the story. I'll give you an example. On Friday, the reported under its breaking news header,"Australia's First Swine-Flu Death". Without a doubt, it grabbed my attention, i was pretty relaxed about swine flu, as all the reports i had read from Mexico and the USA said that the people who had died from Swine Flu had died because of other illnesses and that the strain of influenza known as Swine Flu was virulent but had mild symptoms and was overall, not very dangerous. The story took some time unfolding on the Age's website, and after 10 or so minutes, it revealed that the person who had died, had Swine Flu as one of many other chronic illnesses, which caused complications leading to his demise. IN summary, a poor bloke living out in the middle of desert in Western Australia, miles away from any decent health care, had died from complications to his various chronic ailments, and he so happened to be diagnosed with a disease that's currently a buzz-word for news paper editors!

Another grievance i have with Australian News outlets is their lack of detailed analysis of the GFC, and what the world's governments are doing to try and reduce the severity, longevity and impact of Recession. Last night, World News Australia(SBS) ran a story on how the American Senate are complaining that Barack Obama is trying to "make a grab for power". They included a short clip of a senator addressing the House, using a strange analogy to question why Obama either needed the power to pass those reforms, without actually mentioning what those reforms are, why they are needed nor why Obama needs executive power to get those reformns passed.
Do they think the Australian public don't care? Or are we simply not smart enough to understand the complicated world of politics, finance and economics?
Isn't it the media's duty to make the complex understandable? To inform the population as to what is being done by governments to make the world a better place?

If the media can't do their job, how are the people of the nation going to inform themselves of the issues that matter. Especially in a year that may end up being an election year, after Rudd and Co's inability to bow to the overwhelming tide of logical arguement presented by the Coalition and the greens in against their "packaged" Emmisions trading scheme, the media should be presenting all sides of these highly politized stories. Portraying either side of politics in a negative light is wrong, and clouds the judgment of the population, who must be kept aware of the dealings of the Government, immaterial of the nature of the story. Developments should be analysed by correspondents, giving the viewer the neccesary background information to contextualize the incidents, and in time form their own opinions.

The current media coverage of politics in Australia is playing into the LAbor government's hands, the media is potraying the Turnbull and his Liberals in a bad light, and although they are demanding what is right for the country, the propaganda machine that is Kevin Ruddis spinning a great yarn to the media to cast himself as the victim. Watching the news, it seems like he's getting away with daylight robbery, and the population are none the wiser.

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