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Abbott does Adelaide

One of the most interesting issues in these first few days of the campaign is how News Corp reports the lack of detail and depth in Coalition policy. You know they want to back Tony to the hilt, but they don’t have that much to work with.

In Adelaide, this morning, Joe Hockey promised policies and costings, but not right now, and shame on the assembled press pack for asking. Given that they’ve had three years to work on it, some might view that as surprising, although there was space for an announcement of a hefty tax cut for business. Gina will be pleased.

Tony said ‘Stop the boats’ at least once in his comments, again without indicating how these boats would in fact be stopped.

You can see, watching Sky News efforts to present this stuff, that their hearts aren’t in it. Folker Hanusch’s recent research on the political affiliations of Australia’s journalists, reported not long ago in the Conversation, indicates that many News Corp employees are on the left of the political spectrum. Not that that should make a difference to their coverage, but you do wonder how they feel about the lack of policy substance coming from the Coalition camp, at least thus far.

I sympathise with the challenge News Corp journos face in this campaign, and wish them well in negotiating the conflicting demands of their proprietor versus the requirements of a reasonably objective journalism. All I’d say is, with a nod to the current legal problems of News Corp in the UK (where ordinary journalists are being prosecuted for crimes the senior managers deny all responsibility for) - do what you think is best for Australia.

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20 Comments sorted by

  1. David Arthur

    resistance gnome

    They don't need much to back the Coalition to the hilt, just the Coalition's undertaking to not threaten Foxtel's businesss model.

    To fill in the details, perhaps Lynton Crosby could help on Coalition funding of respiratory health care.

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    1. Brian McNair

      Professor of Journalism, Media and Communication at Queensland University of Technology

      In reply to David Arthur

      i wonder if it's as simple as that David. I don't doubt that Rupert always goes for business advantage, but it isn't at all clear that the Coalition can deliver on the economy, or on communications policy. Only because they are so evasive on the details. The suggestion that the NBN is not good for News Corp is nonsense - for just more than two years' worth of Gina Rinehart's profits, Australia gets a digital media infrastructure that will last a century, and News Corp can be a key player in that development.

      Many thanks for your comment.

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    2. George Michaelson

      Person

      In reply to Brian McNair

      I have commented elsewhere on this. News currently has a near monopoly of eyeballs on cable. Therefore its ad rate card reflects that. The net losers are FTA TV rights holders, the sports anti siphoning laws are a joke and the Foxtel cash machine is jingling.

      Its true that if you view this as a 'grow the market' model, Foxtel has much to see in any NBN model. But the Labor NBN is a competitively neutral platform, and will clearly invite OTHER IP-TV offerings including content owners like HBO who…

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  2. John Campbell

    farmer

    We don't need to be told the Coalitions policies it is unfortunately all too obvious.

    Crash and burn government spending and services while pandering to the big end of town by reducing taxes and increased deregulation. That fact that this sort of approach fueled the GFC is of course irrelevant as is the employment prospects for those displaced.

    Sell the next generation down the tubes by spin and disinformation and work on the principle that most young people think that politicians would not lie over such important matters. Pander to the likes of Rupert Murdoch and others who will unashamedly align their selfish requirements to your own whatever the ultimate cost.

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    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to John Campbell

      " Sell the next generation down the tubes "
      How do you reckon the next generation, the current one and the several more will handle paying off the humungus national debt John?
      The GFC started with a policy in the US over a number of decades with making housing finance available to those who did not have the capacity to repay and then there was all this bundling BS and selling on loans etc.

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  3. Blair Donaldson
    Blair Donaldson is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Researcher & Skeptic

    The obsequious Murdoch journalists and their pathetic journalism says a lot about their low regard for integrity, honesty and self-worth.

    The fact they would waste their days penning dross for the benefit of their employer rather than writing honest, insightful, thoughtful news stories says a lot.

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    1. Brian McNair

      Professor of Journalism, Media and Communication at Queensland University of Technology

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      I know many News Corp employees, in Australia and the UK, and I can vouch for their integrity and ability. Say what you like about the politics of News Corp titles, but the journalism is top notch.

      I think they are under huge pressure at a time like this, and those of us who wish to see a balanced media coverage of the campaign should acknowledge that. They have mortgages to pay and families to support, like the rest of us.

      Whether it makes any difference remains to be seen. Maybe the UK experience will demonstrate to News journos in Australia that they shouldn't be too subservient to the proprietor's instructions.

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    2. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to Brian McNair

      I'm curious how you can regard journalism a "top-notch" when it is clearly being self-censored to appease a rich and powerful owner. You can't have both.

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    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Brian McNair

      Brian, I think you nailed the real problem here: if they really were just dumb hacks they'd at least have a kind of de facto excuse for what comes out in the Murdoch press, but the fact that we're talking some of the most capable and well-resourced jouyrnalists in the country is precisely what makes the situation so depressing to me.

      But, as you say, mortgages to pay...

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    4. Brian McNair

      Professor of Journalism, Media and Communication at Queensland University of Technology

      In reply to Greg Young

      Greg, if you read News Corp publications, you will see that while the editorial is often irrational and downright loopy - Andrew Neil's denial that HIV causes AIDS, for example; The Australian's reluctance to concede that climate change is happening and needs some policy attention, for another - much of the content is great. Features, reviews, style and fashion, etc. I read a lot of News Corp content, while discounting the biased nonsense. You can't blame the lowly News Corp journalist for Rupert's biases. Many of them are great writers and thinkers.

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    5. Brian McNair

      Professor of Journalism, Media and Communication at Queensland University of Technology

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix, this is the great paradox of Murdoch's empire. He has done a lot to support quality journalism over the decades, and yet continues to miss the point on politics. His journalists, meanwhile, do a good job under difficult circumstances (as they say). Just look at the News Corp redundancies in the last year - from editors down to reporters. This is a brutal company, and I admire those who work within it to do the best journalism they can. I couldn't do that job.

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    6. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to Brian McNair

      Great writers and thinkers who suborn their talents to the demands of a wealthy proprieter - which you yourself imply above that they are doing - are not acting as great journalists.

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    7. Paul Felix

      Builder

      In reply to Brian McNair

      You know, continuing to assert that the world is flat doesn't make it so.
      I must concede I know nothing of the News Corp features, reviews, style and fashion, because they are of no interest to me - what I do know is the quality of their editorials, reporting and commentary, and that is in my opinion, and contrary to your view, crap.
      If the above are now the criteria for a good newspaper, then it is little wonder paper is being replaced by digital.
      They outright lie, they distort, they omit, they…

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    8. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Paul Felix

      Hear Hear Paul.

      Whilst I have some sympathies for journalists who have mortgages etc, and must be constantly afraid of losing their jobs as the size of the journalist pool shrinks with the shrinking of the 'old media', you would have to think that there comes a point in your life when integrity must take precedence and you stop selling your soul for 30 pieces of silver.

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    9. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Brian McNair

      Sorry, Professor McNair, but it's not just The Australian's editorial that misrepresents climate change - denialism pervades the paper's entire output, as set out by Robert Manne in Quarterly Essay 43. Have a read of Tim Lambert's account at http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/09/16/robert-manne-vs-the-australian/

      It's not that climate change is KRudd's "great moral challenge", it's more that "The Australian" is writing, on behalf of all of us and our children, the longest suicide note in history.

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    10. Blair Donaldson
      Blair Donaldson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Researcher & Skeptic

      In reply to Brian McNair

      Brian, maybe many News Corp employees are top-notch but the problem is, the results of their work are not.

      I along with two others submitted complaints to the Australian Press Council last year regarding a blatantly untrue and malicious article written by James Delingpole which broke just about every one of The Australian's own guidelines.

      Even accepting that Delingpole is not an employee, I cannot help but wonder why somebody didn't raise a few red flags regarding the blatant lies and intentionally…

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  4. Trevor Kerr

    ISTP

    Adelaide, Murdoch, and now I've opened my copy of Rohan Rivett's 'Behind Bamboo', signed by RR and dated Sept 20, 1946 (three weeks before I was born). Ken Inglis's ADB entry for Rivett tells a lot about Murdoch the Younger. They used headlines in the Adelaide News to force a Royal Commission into the conviction of R.M.Stuart. The Wiki on Stuart gives some interesting details about Murdoch, too.
    KRudd should have picked up the phone, or answered that DM.

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  5. Paul Felix

    Builder

    I must apologize, the article was fine and I particularly appreciate the writer's commitment to dialogue.
    My rant was only about the defense of educated, informed people. The survey you mention may indicate left wing sympathies but does not (in my reading of the results) demonstrate that. It was a generalization about political views by the jounos and editors who replied. The journo were left the editors were right, as I understood it.

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  6. Gerard Dean

    Managing Director

    I agree that Murdoch's media empire leans toward the conservative side of politics. Fairfax does lean toward the more 'liberal' side and our wonderful, delightful tax payer funded ABC and SBS definitely do their best to keep Labor in power.

    So, all in all, if we add it up and then get some news online, it is not a bad mix of views.

    Gerard Dean

    In

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  7. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    " One of the most interesting issues in these first few days of the campaign is how News Corp reports the lack of detail and depth in Coalition policy. You know they want to back Tony to the hilt, but they don’t have that much to work with. "
    Maybe the quality of reporting is indeed something to do with all that left leaning Brian.
    " " You can see, watching Sky News efforts to present this stuff, that their hearts aren’t in it. Folker Hanusch’s recent research on the political affiliations…

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