Those ‘accidental’ senators

  1. David Holmes

    Senior Lecturer, Communications and Media Studies at Monash University

Australia elected a truly ‘mixed bag’ of new senators on Saturday. How will the media respond? AAP/Lukas Coch

Now that all Senate seats are looking settled, we are left to ponder what the addition of the five new “accidental” senators means for our parliamentary system. We now have senators representing an odd assortment of microparties, which collectively will move the Senate to the right of centre from July 1 next year.

The five - David Leyonhjelm (Liberal-Democratic Party), Glenn Lazarus (Palmer United Party), Ricky Muir (Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party), Wayne Dropulich (Australian Sports Party) and Bob Day (Family First) - have each expressed the surprise or fortune of their election, while exposing personal…

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The election that completely failed the children of today and tomorrow

  1. Brad Farrant

    Adjunct Research Fellow in Early Childhood Development at University of Western Australia

poor, sad little child girl sitting against the concrete wall

Most of the mainstream media reported the election as if the contest between Labor and the Coalition actually represented different sides on the important issues of the day. However, most of the issues and ‘crises’ that were reported were entirely created for the purpose of distracting the public from the real crises we are facing.

Despite what the Coalition and much of the media kept telling us, there was no debt and deficit emergency – fact checks and the Coalition’s…

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Election over: Next election campaign begins

  1. Michael Wilmore

    Head, Discipline of Media at University of Adelaide

The new Coalition administration hasn’t even been sworn in yet and South Australians will no doubt be happy that local media are already turning their attention to the next state election. SA goes to the polls in just over six months time with the incumbent Labor administration warned by The Advertiser that it’s ‘on notice’ following Tony Abbott’s federal election victory.

The usual caveats about the separation of state and federal politics apply, but it’s likely that the polls in SA and Tasmania will still be regarded as the first major tests of the Coalition’s popularity. It will also be a test of the independence of the local press given the issues likely to define the state election.

Support for the car industry and Murray River water management are both issues where the Coalition’s national…

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Heads still firmly buried in the sand: Media’s denial of reality dominates election

  1. Brad Farrant

    Adjunct Research Fellow in Early Childhood Development at University of Western Australia

head-in-sand

How would you characterise the mainstream media’s performance during the election campaign?

At a time when our leading scientists are continually spelling out the massive and urgent threats that climate change, biodiversity loss and other aspects of the global sustainability crisis pose to the future of human civilisation the most charitable thing I can say is that quality journalism was almost completely missing during the election campaign

Instead of detailed analysis of the climate change and environmental policies put forward by the various parties we had…

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FAIL: Why memes were not the key to Election 2013

  1. Sean Rintel

    Postdoctoral researcher at The University of Queensland

Internet memes (Twitter hashtags, image macros, viral videos, joke websites) appear to have failed to significantly influence the 2013 Election because they did not target a policy issue for a marginal demographic.

I have updated my “Electio-meme-ing” collection of 2013 Election memes at the bottom of this article. As you look through them knowing the result of the election, you may wonder at how such an obvious anti-LNP trend lacked obvious influence. To answer this question, put aside the argument that social media users are an unrepresentative sample of the population. That is true but not really the point of this piece given that traditional media report significant social media trends.

The better argument, in one sense, is that memes failed because they are mere trivialities, a form…

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Final thoughts on a boring election

  1. Sinclair Davidson

    Professor of Institutional Economics at RMIT University

People have been shocked to read that a brawl broke out after the football on the weekend. Yet after 33 days of snarling at each other Australians lined up and cast their votes on Saturday with no reports (that I have seen) of any brawling.

It was all rather boring - especially given that the sitting government lost and was expected to lose. Boring is good. A centre-left government got tossed out and a centre-right government installed. If the new government doesn’t perform, they’ll get tossed out sooner rather than later. That is how our system is supposed to work, and it works well.

To be sure there is also a lot of disappointment. I’ve had to explain to my children that even though the (now former) government promised that Mr Abbott was going to cut spending on schools, they still had…

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Why didn’t we know enough about Senate candidates?

  1. Matthew Ricketson

    Professor of Journalism at University of Canberra

As the nation woke up to a new Coalition government on Sunday morning, it has also gradually dawned on many of us the uncertain nature of the final vote in the Senate. Of greater concern from a media coverage perspective, however, is how much exactly do we all know about the many different candidates who stood for the Senate around the country. And why wasn’t there more focus on this during the election campaign?

This is especially so since it was clear from early in the campaign – if not from the beginning of the year when the former prime minister Julia Gillard announced a fixed election date – that the government was going to struggle to win another term.

How, exactly, the Senate was going to be made up after the election was unclear, to be sure. But how much coverage was there of preferential…

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For whom the polls toll … with a little help from the media

  1. David Holmes

    Senior Lecturer, Communications and Media Studies at Monash University

Well, the polls were always going to be right, but they were also completely wrong.

The Coalition have seen in a comfortable victory, but with a seat swing not as great as had been predicted, for which Labor can supposedly be grateful to Kevin Rudd.

But where does this sense that the victory for the LNP and the loss for the ALP is not as great as it could have been, come from? Well, from the polls of course, not from the campaigns themselves.

So let’s look at how accurate the polls were in relation to how the reportage of them may have influenced the actual outcome of the election. To do this, I will look at the polls taken in the marginal seats where the tabloid reporting of those polls was most concentration. And what we find is the polls that News Ltd reported were substantially inaccurate…

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Election night - the people’s choice on FTA TV

  1. Barbara Alysen

    Senior Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Communication at University of Western Sydney

The nights on which federal elections are decided are some of the rare occasions on which all of Australia’s main free-to-air networks suspend their normal programming and engage in a common endeavour.

Since everyone is working with essentially the same narrative the differences must be created in the packaging and the speed with which outcomes are conveyed.

This year, for the first time, the stations generated their election night coverage without the common backdrop of the Australian Electoral Commission’s Canberra Tally Room, now retired due to cost.

Although the Tally Room had ceased to be technically necessary to the stations some years ago it provided a lively background and contributed to the ‘buzz’ of the live broadcasts. The common areas of the Tally Room were open to the public…

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Election night speeches show Caesar triumphant, the rambler in defeat

  1. Tom Clark

    Associate Professor in Writing Commuication and Culture at Victoria University

It was a night that confirmed Australia’s political expectations, by and large, and the two leading protagonists certainly performed their parts.

Tony Abbott gave the speech that this campaign has taught Australians to expect from him these days. He claimed victory, of course. He did it in a way that encouraged and rewarded his supporters. It was not particularly generous to his opponents — but not overtly spiky either.

The attitude towards adversaries was one of the most interesting features, really. As of now, Abbott seems resolved to say the very least about them that he needs to: thank Rudd for his public service; acknowledge the 54% or so of voters who gave their first preferences to non-Coalition candidates; then get back to rolling out the new governing agenda.

In the last few days…

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Vale the Tally Room

  1. Libby Lester

    Professor of Journalism, Media and Communications at University of Tasmania

Election campaigns can bring on nostalgia in journalism academics and other exiles from the old country; this one more so as made-for-television-and-social-media visits to cheering schools and industrious workplaces, doorstops and studio interviews have brought a new level and type of control to the spaces of politics.

So a melancholic moment on election day for the national tally room. Tally rooms have been a place where cracks in the façade of control occasionally appeared, where the politics of the Australian states and nation played out with a raw physicality – exposed to anyone who bothered making the journey out on election night.

My local tally room, at Hobart’s Wrest Point Casino, is always worth a visit after a state election. In the early evening, after the polls close, it shuffles…

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‘The only poll that counts…’ - or is it?

  1. David Holmes

    Senior Lecturer, Communications and Media Studies at Monash University

Tracking the polls. Wikimedia Commons

The polls published in this election campaign may well be Kevin Rudd’s best friend. But to explain what looks like an absurd statement requires some background on the politics of polling itself. Any commentary or conversation that might inform us about polls rather than by them may help us understand what kind of democracy we are living in.

I am proposing to open this conversation here, as I don’t think we are having it.

And who better to start this conversation than the arch-populist of Australian politics: Clive Palmer himself.

On ABC Lateline on August 27, Palmer declared:

Of course the polls are rigged: Rupert Murdoch owns Newspoll and Galaxy Research, and the media set the agenda and try…

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Costings row torpedoes the media

  1. Marcus O'Donnell

    Senior Lecturer, Journalism at University of Wollongong

The ABC’s economics correspondent Stephen Long has delivered a scathing assessment of the Coalition’s costings statement this morning but just as significantly he also delivered a harsh judgment on his own colleagues. He pointed to perhaps the most egregious error in the media’s reporting of election 2013.

When Rudd, Bowen and Wong announced last week that they had found a $10 billion black hole in the coalition’s costings the story quickly became about them rather than the coalition. Shortly after the Labor statement, the heads of Finance and Treasury came out with their own statement about some of the government documents Labor had used to back their sums. Next day, almost across the board, the media went into a frenzy:

“Rudd’s $10b hole claim blown apart,” said Mark Kenny’s report in The…

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Sports journos declare the election

  1. Sinclair Davidson

    Professor of Institutional Economics at RMIT University

Last night on the AFL 360 show Gerard Whateley and Mark Robinson summed up the election: “It’s been a crap election campaign”. I think that’s right - it has been very difficult to maintain interest in the campaign.

The media have given it a red-hot go - after all they have to cover the election but still attract eye-balls. The team at Sky News have done a magnificent job in covering the election. That a small under-resourced organisation could maintain coverage of such a high standard for so long is a credit to them.

For the rest of the media election coverage has fallen off somewhat. The election does seem to have fallen off the front pages and moved ever further into the papers. I don’t blame them - one side of politics has not been competitive.

In time we might look back and wonder what…

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Fixing the fulcrum on the freedom of speech seesaw: the government’s work is cut out

  1. Joseph Fernandez

    Head of Department, Journalism at Curtin University

Coalition leader Tony Abbott, in an eleventh-hour election campaign pitch, pledged to “roll back Labor’s laws that limit free speech” and to require the Australian Human Rights Commission to champion, instead of restrict, the right of free speech in Australia. Mr Abbott said:

Any suggestion you can have free speech as long as it doesn’t hurt people’s feelings is ridiculous. If we are going to be a robust democracy, if we are going to be a strong civil society, if we are going to maintain that great spirit of inquiry, which is the spark that has made our civilisation so strong, then we’ve got to allow people to say things that are unsayable in polite company.

Freedom of speech took centre-stage from Day One of the campaign with the Daily Telegraph’s front-page editorial bluntly exhorting…

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Time to stop pretending that we really care about our kids and grandkids futures

  1. Brad Farrant

    Adjunct Research Fellow in Early Childhood Development at University of Western Australia

The Global Climate Wake-Up Call, Maldives

We are about to show the children of today and tomorrow and the rest of the world that we don’t really care about them.

Australians are about to elect the Coalition into federal government. A Coalition that is not fair dinkum about doing our fair share to prevent dangerous climate change.

Our existing emission reduction targets are completely inadequate yet even before he gets into government Tony Abbott is already preparing to abandon them.

At a time when we need the people of the world to urgently come together and…

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Tweeting the election: from gaffe gags to breaking news

  1. Marcus O'Donnell

    Senior Lecturer, Journalism at University of Wollongong

The next 24 hours will still bring heavy campaigning, but as election 2013 begins to warp it is time to look over various aspects of the campaign. The Storify below is an overview of some of the ways Twitter has been used in the campaign by journalists, voters and political players.

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Kitchen kitsch

  1. Brian McNair

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

In between the transmission of Kitchen Cabinet’s special editions featuring the competing party leaders in the 2013 election, it’s an opportune moment to ask: what is it about these human interest-oriented, infotainment-based political media formats that engages us (if indeed we are engaged)?

Many people aren’t, of course. The rise of political infotainment has often been associated with the ‘dumbing down’ of the public sphere lamented by Lindsay Tanner in his Sideshow book, alongside the growing prominence of scandal and sleaze in political journalism, the dominance of spin and the ‘announceable’.

And yet, these hybrids are popular. More popular than most of the more ‘serious’ political media outlets, in which politicians are grilled adversarially by grim-faced interviewers, and so-called…

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News Corp: it’s not a conspiracy … it’s just business

  1. David Holmes

    Senior Lecturer, Communications and Media Studies at Monash University

The Australian, along with its News Corp sister tabloids, have been noted for their strong campaigning journalism. But what is their agenda? AAP/Dean Lewins

An editorial in yesterday’s Australian entitled Independent and Irrelevant was the latest in a trilogy where it has attacked just about every conceivable competitor to News Corp’s operations in Australia for being biased.

It follows an Oz story of “a private experiment” by a “technologist”, who found that:

…headlines for election stories on websites published by The Guardian’s Australian arm and Fairfax Media are more biased than those of News Corporation sites.

But the story fails to mention that the survey methodology is based on a self-selecting poll, where the researcher…

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Treat your audience with respect

  1. Sinclair Davidson

    Professor of Institutional Economics at RMIT University

Media is a tough business. Everyday starts from scratch and, in the broadcast media every second of the day has to be filled with content. Consumers are fickle - if they don’t like what they hear or see they’ll flip channels and once gone, there is no guarantee they’ll come back.

That translates into a simple maxim: don’t abuse your customer. For mass media that means have somewhat bland offerings that will appeal to large audiences. To be sure, the broadcast media don’t always get it right - shows get cancelled, or moved around around all the time. The principle remains the same: the media don’t go out of their way to annoy or antagonise their audience.

That brings me to the Get Up advert that is causing so much fuss.

This is not a free speech issue at all - the government hasn’t prohibited…

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Commercial TV, Murdoch and censorship

  1. Denis Muller

    Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Advancing Journalism at University of Melbourne

Such an irony: the commercial television channels, which ran a landmark free-speech case in the High Court to protect their advertising revenue during election campaigns, have now censored an advertisement criticising the coverage of the election by Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers.

The ad, by the campaigning group Get Up Australia, shows a man opening a copy of Murdoch’s Brisbane Courier-Mail. The front page has a picture of Kevin Rudd’s face and a big headline quoting Tony Abbott: “Does this guy ever shut up?”

GetUp’s anti-Murdoch ad.

The man says to the camera:

It was great when you could pick up a paper and get – well, news. Recently the Courier-Mail and the Daily Tele and have been using their front pages to run a political…

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ABC misses an important opportunity

  1. Folker Hanusch

    Vice-Chancellor's Research Fellow at Queensland University of Technology

In a decision that has stunned many observers, Leigh Sales, anchor of the ABC’s prime news and current affairs program 7.30, will not host Saturday night’s election panel on the public broadcaster.

And it turns out Sales will not even be on our screens on Saturday night at all.

Instead, Kerry O'Brien, who hosted the 7.30 Report for 15 years until his retirement a few years ago, will be the host, joined by Annabel Crabb, Antony Green, the ALP’s Stephen Smith and Liberals Senator Arthur Sinodinos.

This morning, The Australian reports that Sales turned down an offer to be on the panel after she was told it would be anchored by O'Brien. She did so, according to the Oz, on the basis that the role should be filled by the 7.30 host, as had been tradition.

While we don’t know all the details…

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Requiem … for climate change journalism

  1. David Holmes

    Senior Lecturer, Communications and Media Studies at Monash University

For refusing to ask the hard questions on climate change, journalists are also to blame for the issue’s absence in this election campaign. ToniFish

Well, what has changed? The Earth’s atmosphere and oceans continue to take in heat equivalent to four Hiroshima bombs per second; humans are forcing climate change 10,000 times faster than orbital forcings; Australia has just had its hottest 12 month period confirmed, but we are having “the election that forgot the environment”.

With this update of the newspaper reporting of climate change, we have seen next to no journalism that is going to call politicians to account for action against dangerous climate change, as politicians themselves have turned their backs on climate, and thrown…

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Never too late for policy debate

  1. Brian McNair

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

The great challenge for the Australian political media this week will not be that of accurately predicting the outcome of Saturday’s election. Rather, it will be to maintain public interest in what has become one of the most one-sided races in the nation’s history. Following the brief honeymoon spanning Kevin Rudd’s return to the premiership and the judgment of most observers that Tony Abbott had won the first leader’s debate, the outcome of the campaign has been beyond reasonable doubt.

Competing explanations for that fact will occupy politicians, publics and journalists for weeks and months to come, but for the next five days media organisations have to fill the expanded space a digital environment gives them with content which keeps audiences engaged.

So this Monday morning we see the…

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Fact checking is in fashion

  1. Usha Rodrigues

    Lecturer in Multimedia Journalism at Deakin University

One of the new phenomena of the 2013 federal election campaign has been the Australian news media’s whole-hearted adoption of the idea of “fact checking”. Everyone is checking facts – PolitiFact Australia has a partnership with Fairfax to publish Fact Checker; the ABC has Fact Check; The Conversation has Election Factcheck; and Crikey site has Get Fact.

But does verifying facts really matter to their audiences? Do readers actually bother to read these news stories? Upon reading, do they change their mind about the party they are inclined towards? And how is fact checking different from accurate, fair and well-investigated news stories about the relevant issues covered by the news media? Or, is it just a fad for the moment?

The role and power of journalism has been based on its ability to…

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Meme trends are decidedly anti-LNP

  1. Sean Rintel

    Postdoctoral researcher at The University of Queensland

Updated: Includes negative reaction to Kevin Rudd’s Reddit AMA.

In all four of the five weeks of the 2013 Federal election campaign the trends in memes - Twitter hashtags, image macros, viral videos, joke websites - are decidedly anti-LNP. There are very few right wing memes, and those that have started have often been co-opted (e.g. #ImVotingLiberal). This ‘people’s comment’ is counter to what both sides might claim about bias in media reportage, and apparently counter to poll trends–at least in terms of visibility, although of course the visibility of memes is unlikely to be an accurate indicator of electoral sentiment.

This left-wing trend in Australian election memes mimics the trends in the United States Federal elections (as I have noted in a prior post about who generates election…

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Election reporting as horse race coverage contributes to voter disenchantment

  1. Folker Hanusch

    Vice-Chancellor's Research Fellow at Queensland University of Technology

I don’t know about you, but almost a week out from the election, I’ve become quite bored with it all.

It had all begun promisingly, with a newly reinstated Prime Minister polling surprisingly well among the electorate in July and the prospect of a tight contest and - hopefully - a robust battle of ideas.

Then, when the election campaign started in earnest, the Opposition’s lead began to widen, to the stage where it now looks like Tony Abbott may lead a government with a 20 seat majority.

The debates have been uninspiring, with neither of the two main candidates willing to risk something, perhaps partly because in a highly mediatized political environment it’s best not to put anyone offside.

The media coverage has - with some exceptions - been quite predictable, with its extensive coverage…

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Cultural politics: who cares about the arts?

  1. Marcus O'Donnell

    Senior Lecturer, Journalism at University of Wollongong

The fact that the arts haven’t starred in this election and its media coverage is perhaps no big surprise. But it sends a disturbing signal about the place of the arts in our public discourse.

When Arts Minister Tony Burke and shadow arts spokesperson George Brandis addressed an arts forum in Western Sydney last week it was one of the few moments when the arts got a focus in media reporting, but even then coverage was scant. A single story appeared in the Fairfax papers, The Australian followed up their debate story with a Brandis profile and this week the debate was recapped on the ABC’s Arts Quarter with commentary from Griffith Review’s Julianne Schultz.

Although sparks flew over whether Brandis would censor Australia Council funding decisions after his attempt to introduce a Ministerial…

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Tom Watson muddying the waters

  1. Sinclair Davidson

    Professor of Institutional Economics at RMIT University

British MP and anti-Murdoch campaigner Tom Watson is visiting Australia. Apparently he was so incensed by the Murdoch press coverage of the election that he cleared his schedule, packed his bags, and came to warn us of the Murdoch scourge.

It is a bit hard to get excited by all this. An opposition backbencher from the UK coming to tell us that the Australian tabloid media have taken a dislike to the Australian government? Like we hadn’t noticed? Like the Murdoch press wasn’t just reflecting a broad consensus amongst Australians that a change in government might be in order?

Never mind the Murdoch press - on day one of the election campaign the Fairfax owned Australian Financial Review called for a change in government on its front page. Just like the Daily Telegraph. That didn’t stop the…

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Coalition launch goes national in the tabloids

  1. David Holmes

    Senior Lecturer, Communications and Media Studies at Monash University

Today’s News Corp tabloid front pages.

There has been a change in the front pages of the east coast News Corp tabloids in the last few days. The campaign for the Coalition has become much more homogenous: for the first time, the same images and storylines adorn all three front pages of the Herald Sun, the Daily Telegraph and the Courier Mail - this time of Abbott and not Rudd.

Up until now, there has been diversity in the actual same-day stories in these publications, but no negative treatments of Abbott and the Coalition and none positive of Rudd and the ALP.

In each publication, the trend has been to run 3-4 days of election front pages, followed by a totally apolitical front page, that takes our minds off the election altogether. This pattern…

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Shock: Sour Suzie is an actress

  1. Sinclair Davidson

    Professor of Institutional Economics at RMIT University

We’ve all seen it: A mum preparing lunch stares down the camera and asks, “What are you hiding Mr Abbott?”. It is an election advert - we see them every election.

It turns out that the mum in the advert is a professional actress - some are claiming to be shocked by this revelation.

When I first saw that advert it never occurred to me that Susannah Hardy was anything other than a professional doing a job of work. It is a good advert and the lines are fluent. A professional job done by professionals.

The objective of the advert is to raise a question pertinent in an election - not to provide a window into what a particular person may be thinking. Rather to suggest that voters' ponder a particular question.

On the other hand, it could be argued that “real” Australians aren’t asking that…

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If the polls are right the older generations will further endanger the younger

  1. Brad Farrant

    Adjunct Research Fellow in Early Childhood Development at University of Western Australia

Recent polling shows that the majority of younger voters intend to vote for the parties on the “left” (ALP and Greens) whereas the majority of older voters intend to vote for the parties on the “right” (Liberals and Nationals). On a two party preferred basis this difference in voting intention is greatest between the youngest (18-24) and oldest (65+) age groups. This polling indicates that if the Coalition wins the election it will be the older generations that disproportionately hand them the victory.

One of the few big policy differences between the parties is their response to climate change. Climate change is the biggest global health threat to the young people of today and tomorrow.

The Coalition’s Direct Action plan is a dud. As Malcolm Turnbull…

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Truth, fibs and pants on fire: is there an epidemic and are we immune to it?

  1. Joseph Fernandez

    Head of Department, Journalism at Curtin University

“Lord, Lord. How this world is given to lying!” cries Falstaff in King Henry IV. Quoting these words in a 1991 Harvard University public lecture, the then-executive editor of the Washington Post, Benjamin Bradlee, observed that lying has become just another tool for making deals, for selling beer or war, soap or candidates and that it has reached such epidemic proportions in recent years “that we’ve all become immunised to it".

Writing more recently, Professor Charles Lewis - who founded the US-based Center for Public Integrity - noted that lying “seems to have got noticeably worse in recent years". Lewis cited lies by Democratic and Republican presidents in relation to the Vietnam War and Watergate.

Lewis also cited academic research showing that in the two years following September 11…

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We need to talk about Kevin

  1. Brian McNair

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

The prime minister did better in Wednesday’s people’s forum than in the first debate, but failed to deliver the game changing performance he needed. On the contrary, negative media coverage of his alleged rudeness towards a make-up artist who was preparing him for the broadcast has dominated the last couple of days, and reinforced his reputation as a rather bad-tempered bully with poor people skills. Mr Rudd’s opponents in the media have been able to play the personality card against him with renewed vigour, reminding the public of why his own party colleagues dumped him in 2010.

In return, he has been crying foul about the tone and content of media coverage, accusing News press titles of dirty fighting, and of giving Mr Abbott an easy ride. The ALP campaign has been working hard on the ‘aggressive…

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‘Mr Rude’: the make-up, then the wipeout

  1. David Holmes

    Senior Lecturer, Communications and Media Studies at Monash University

Today’s Daily Telegraph front page.

Having walked straight into a News Corp net on Wednesday, the assault on Kevin Rudd continues in the tabloids. First, the Courier Mail applauds Tony Abbott’s question of the night, and today, an “exclusive”, reporting an electoral wipeout for Rudd in Western Sydney.

As observed yesterday, when a media conglomerate dominates political communication in this country, an electoral target can quickly find themselves surrounded.

The Daily Telegraph has fired up this time linking Rudd’s alleged behaviour toward a make-up artist to a forecast wipeout in Western Sydney. The make-up artist, Lily Fontana told her story on Facebook of how:

One of them was absolutely lovely, engaged in genuine conversation with me, acknowledge…

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Shuddup your face

  1. Sinclair Davidson

    Professor of Institutional Economics at RMIT University

Who doesn’t remember, with some fondness, Joe Dolce’s song Shaddap You Face? We might cringe now, but that song went to number 1 on the charts all around the world.

Last night Tony Abbott told the PM to Shaddup you face - strictly he asked a rhetorical question: “Does this guy ever shut up?”

CM Day

We know the line was effective - the audience laughed and clapped. It reminds us of Ronald Reagan’s great line “There you go again”. But I don’t think the “shut up” line was nearly as good as the original.

There is some debate as to whether Tony Abbott’s line was spontaneous or rehearsed. I suspect the latter. Kevin Rudd does have the habit of talking on and on and on. Clearly focus groups have indicated that voters tune out and the Coalition are…

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Abbott’s Murdoch moment

  1. David Holmes

    Senior Lecturer, Communications and Media Studies at Monash University

Today’s Courier Mail front page

In the talk show it is called “the money shot”. That unscripted moment in the show when something genuinely unexpected happens, breaking out from banality, and into genuine confrontation.

It is this moment that the program exists for. It is why people watch: to connect with something that, because it is not staged, resonates as the truth. But usually this moment is delivered by an audience member, or non-celebrity invited on stage.

Last night, at the Courier Mail-sponsored people’s forum, it was not the audience but Tony Abbott who provided this moment, and predictably, this is the moment that has had the most attention since the debate.

Was this moment genuinely uncontrolled? Some have suggested Abbott has anger…

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Data Journalism: Where’s the wonderful digital wizardry in the media’s coverage of this Oz election?

  1. Michael Wilmore

    Head, Discipline of Media at University of Adelaide

Like Dorothy landing in Oz, every three years I awake to discover I’m not living in Campbelltown, South Australia, any more. Now I’ve been transported to the land of Sturt, where things appear to be very different.

Just how different I hope to discover using some of the funky data journalism tools our established media have developed in the past few weeks. These are designed to help voters get acquainted with the strange places they’re now living since being whisked away to the La-La Land of the Federal Election.

Over at The Australian’s ‘Seats To Watch’ interactive guide I discover that median weekly household income in my constituency is $1,141. However, I convince myself that things really are getting better under Labor by hopping over to The Age’s ‘Federal Election Map’ where I’m now…

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For whom the new newspaper readership data tolls

  1. David Maguire

    Associate Professor of Journalism and Media Management at Murdoch University

There’s nothing like a vigorous national election campaign to bring out the best in Australia’s mainstream newspapers. Some would say it also brings out the worst, but these remain subjective judgements.

Front page treatments with headings like “Send in the Clown,” “Kick This Mob Out,” and “I Know Nuthink’” sparked a polarised debate in the early stages about the role of media and its reduction, even trivialisation, of the fundamental democratic process.

These works of newspaper “art” sustained a short life of their own beyond the standard 24-hour news cycle. And, yes, witnessing PM Rudd’s “Murdoch media” reaction, they lured at least him into a vortex.

They also helped newspapers to gain the early high ground advantage, instigating multi-media debate and swatting down any semblance of a…

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Will the media convince Australians to sacrifice their kids' futures on a false economic altar?

  1. Brad Farrant

    Adjunct Research Fellow in Early Childhood Development at University of Western Australia

Drexel School of Public Health--Child Artwork, Global Climate Change

Most parents will tell you that they would do anything to protect their children. Many would go as far as to sacrifice their own life to save their child’s. This is said to be part of ‘human nature’.

Climate change is the biggest global threat to the health and wellbeing of our kids and grandkids. It is the biggest global health threat of this century.

Current national and international emission reduction commitments are nowhere near enough…

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Abbott to give Aunty a haircut

  1. Jill Singer

    Lecturer in Journalism at RMIT University

Those who have listened to the recent podcast I took part in will be aware of my concern that the ABC would face cuts under an Abbott government.

Is the risk that I speak of real? The answer is almost certainly, yes.

Too bad then that journalists are approaching this important public issue as though it’s some kind of joke.

The matter finally gained some attention last night on ABCTV’s QandA when shadow treasurer Joe Hockey was asked by a viewer if the coalition had plans to privatise the ABC. Bizarrely, the question was treated with something bordering on hilarity.

ABC & SBS “waste” to be cut - scroll to 54:20

The tone only become serious when treasurer Chris Bowen pointed out that the Coalition refuses to promise that…

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Bread and circuses?

  1. David Holmes

    Senior Lecturer, Communications and Media Studies at Monash University

In ancient Rome, the people were said to be appeased by bread and circuses. In the election campaign, is the media giving people what they want? EPA/Ettore Ferrari

It remains to be seen whether this Wednesday’s “people’s forum” will make it to on to free-to-air television. If it doesn’t it will represent an extraordinary closure of access to a debate and a cross-selling device for News Corp. It will be on Foxtel that is part owned by News Corporation, Sky is part owned by News Corp’s BSkyB, and the event is now being marketed as a sponsored event: “Sky News/The Courier-Mail People’s Forum” (to be followed by a “Sky News/Daily Telegraph People’s Forum” at Rooty Hill planned for Aug 28).

An article by Steven Scott in the Courier Mail…

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Is this election being reported less comprehensively than in the past?

  1. Sally Young

    Associate Professor at University of Melbourne

I spent over four years researching Australian election reporting, culminating in a book I called How Australia Decides (Cambridge Uni Press, 2011). As part of my research I read, watched and listened to thousands of news, current affairs and even light entertainment reports on the 2001, 2004 and 2007 elections. By the time I finished the book, the 2010 election had also been held and I was able to write about some of the changes I’d noticed over a decade of federal elections.

This election, one of the biggest differences I have noticed from earlier elections is the lack of prominence accorded the election in reporting. Just focusing on TV for a moment (because that is still where most voters get their election news from), it seems to me that stories on the election broadcast on TV nightly…

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Polls are about keeping score

  1. Sinclair Davidson

    Professor of Institutional Economics at RMIT University

At election time we’re swamped with polling information - it seems there is a new poll, or variation of a poll, every other day. But is this a poor reflection on our democracy? A lot of people are uncomfortable with all the polling.

This morning Paula Matthewson writing at The Drum makes the argument that the polls are something of a distraction. Worse - she describes polls as being “insidious, brain-numbing and soul-destroying”.

Her argument being that polls do not add value to the decision making process voters undertake doing an election campaign. Polls don’t contribute to voters making an informed choice. I’m not convinced that view is correct, but even if it were true, are the media at fault for commissioning and reporting polls?

Media compete to attract eyeballs. As Paula Matthewson…

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Labor in trouble in the marginals?

  1. David Holmes

    Senior Lecturer, Communications and Media Studies at Monash University

As we commence week three of the campaign, it is clear that a week is a long time in the polling cycle. The polls had labor diving in marginal seats last week, with a slide from its high of 50% aggregate polling just 4 weeks before the election was called down to 47.8% compared to the Coalition’s 52.2% on a two party preferred basis (averaging out all of the national polls)

ABC Insiders poll summary on the weekend showed Labor-held marginal seats being lost around the country to the Coalition.

In NSW, these included predominantly western Sydney seats of Lindsay, Banks, Kingsford-Smith, McMahon, Dobell and Robertson. In the electorates of Forde (contested by Peter Beattie) and Brisbane in Queensland, the coalition are now well in front. But more significant is Tony Abbott’s rise in the polls…

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Defeat and critique amidst the boredom

  1. Tom Clark

    Associate Professor in Writing Commuication and Culture at Victoria University

A week of denouement has seen a broad consensus emerge on how the two most powerful parties are faring in their opposed quests. Labor is losing, and it is not likely the Liberals will let them stop that soon.

In a campaign that appears to be boring many, some interesting dynamics of the media coverage have become clearer in the last week, too. They became even clearer once we had some time to look past the bald News Corp attack on Labor.

One feature is that the media generally has taken a couple of steps away from the vapidity of 2010. There has been more media discussion of policy in the last two weeks than in any equivalent period during the 2010 campaign.

The Conversation’s ‘factcheck’ site has been met with similar forms of policy scrutiny from other outlets. And several news reports…

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Rudd agrees to participate in Sky’s people’s forum

  1. Brian McNair

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

The prime minister was right to finally agree to participate in Sky News' ‘people’s forum’ televised debate, scheduled for this coming Wednesday. It’s good for the media campaign, and voters' engagement with the issues, and essential for Rudd and the ALP if they are to have any chance of winning on September 7.

Like his unexpectedly weak performance in the first debate, a strong performance on Wednesday could be another game changer, positive for the ALP this time. It could reboot Rudd’s campaign, and put Abbott back on the defensive. Conversely, another failure for Rudd in the live debate arena would mean that the election is indeed over, its outcome certain, as the majority of the media have been suggesting in recent days.The remaining two and a bit weeks of campaigning will then be a formality…

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Southern lights in a gloomy winter

  1. Libby Lester

    Professor of Journalism, Media and Communications at University of Tasmania

There are many things that Andrew Wilkie has brought to us over the last three years, but “razzle dazzle” is not the thing that immediately springs to mind.

Moreover, yesterday’s description of the Independent Denison MHR in Crikey as the “closest thing to razzle dazzle in Hobart this winter” seems a little unfair on Hobart.

We’ve had some excellent Aurora sightings to the south, and the fairy lights at Salamanca sparkle kind of prettily. MONA is chock full of Melbourne types, who spill over on weekends into Henry Jones Hotel or the Sidecar bar, which boasts an impressively large and bright Italian small goods slicer.

The ice skating rink at Sullivan’s Cove might have been a little disappointing (no ice and a shipping container as ticket booth) but on a clear Sunday afternoon, even its…

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I hope the Australians love their children too

  1. Brad Farrant

    Adjunct Research Fellow in Early Childhood Development at University of Western Australia

Earth Day Network Climate Rally, Washington DC

Faced with the existential threat of a nuclear war between the USA and USSR in the mid 1980s Sting sang “I hope the Russians love their children too.”

Today as a father and child advocate I am just as troubled and worried by the fact that most Australians don’t seem to understand the scale and urgency of the threat that climate change poses to the health and wellbeing of our children and future generations.

Climate change is widely acknowledged within the health professions as the biggest global threat…

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Electoral silence on digital rights from both politicians and journalists

  1. Sean Rintel

    Postdoctoral researcher at The University of Queensland

Where is the election reporting on digital rights? Flickr: g4ll4is

Updated: Clarification of the main point about the lack of MSM reportage of digital rights; reference to Greens Senator Scott Ludlum’s leadership in the area; mention of the upcoming EFA Electoral Scorecard.

We’ve had #stopthenotes, #suppositories, and #sexappeal to keep us amused, but since the election campaign period began there has been very limited reporting in the mainstream media (MSM) of the electoral relevance of the digital rights issues faced by Australian citizens. While there is continued reported argument over who has the better NBN and how much it will cost and mobile telephone black spots, the reported electoral significance of three major digital rights…

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Sex, gaffes and tits: is the media dumbing down the debate?

  1. Joseph Fernandez

    Head of Department, Journalism at Curtin University

Tony Abbott has made a series of gaffes this week. Hav the media over-reported them, and what does this say about news as ‘entertainment’? AAP/Alan Porritt

Almost a fortnight into the federal election campaign some are despairing about the superficiality of the overall debate. One could be forgiven for viewing the media focus as being gaffe-driven and tittle tattle-centric.

One Nation Stephanie Banister’s alleged misspeak on “haram”, Jews and Jesus went viral and evoked media castigation locally and abroad in spite of her claim that she was the victim of bad editing. Singapore’s Straits Times reported the story under the headline: ‘Australia’s Sarah Palin’ quits election race after Islam gaffe.

The Liberal Party’s Jaymes…

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It’s the policies, stupid!

  1. Brian McNair

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

Towards the end of Week 2 of the campaign the parties and their leaders have settled into a steady, stoic rhythm. After a spectacular first week which put the media at the forefront of the campaign, News Corp editorial bias under real scrutiny, and which culminated in the first live TV debate, the last few days have been less interesting from the media perspective. Apart from a Coalition verbal gaffe or two, which predictably took up much more journalistic effort than they warranted, there has been little to chew over.

Apart from a few policies - remember them? - dished out like fresh-baked Lamingtons to assembled locals and media packs around the country. Rudd declared the Northern Territory a special economic zone - something of an indictment of a couple of centuries of Australian history…

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Reporting that silly $4bn climate funding gaffe

  1. Marcus O'Donnell

    Senior Lecturer, Journalism at University of Wollongong

My colleague David Holmes pointed out that the reporting on climate issues has been scant during this election.

This could change after today’s release of a report from the Climate Institute, based on modelling from Sinclair Knight Merz/MMA and Monash University’s Centre of Policy Studies.

The report found that the coalition’s Direct Action Plan would not achieve its target of 5% reduction in emissions by 2020 unless they spent a further $4.07bn. Based on the coalition’s currently projected expenditure, the report estimated emissions would rise by 9%.

The Guardian’s Lenore Taylor led the reporting on the issue with a typically detailed and thoughtful analysis which called the report “devastating” for the Coalition.

Other reports by the ABC and in Fairfax papers also covered the report…

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Do weathervanes bleed?

  1. Philip Chubb

    Associate Professor at Monash University

When Tony Abbott chose to highlight his blood oath to rescind the Gillard government’s clean energy legislation on the first day of the election campaign it raised this question: do weathervanes bleed?

I was reminded of Malcolm Turnbull’s irritation revealed a week after Abbott defeated him in a leadership ballot on 1 December 2009: “Tony himself has, in just four or five months, publicly advocated the blocking of the [emissions trading scheme], the passing of the ETS, the amending of the ETS and, if the amendments were satisfactory, passing it, and now the blocking of it. His only redeeming virtue in this remarkable lack of conviction is that every time he announced a new position to me he would preface it with “Mate, mate, I know I am a bit of a weathervane on this, but … ”.

Abbott…

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Sex-appealgate favours the Coalition

  1. Sinclair Davidson

    Professor of Institutional Economics at RMIT University

The election is off the tabloid front pages. That is bad news for the incumbent - as I keep saying Kevin Rudd has to win the campaign to win the election.

This view isn’t just anti-Rudd propaganda.

To win, the government must engage the media and get back on the front pages - in a positive sense. “Sex-appealgate” is a distraction that the Coalition can afford, but not the government. The government must engage in a policy debate.

Surprisingly sex-appealgate actually benefits the Coalition. Far from demonstrating a problem with women, or latent sexism, or what-not it turns out that beauty matters in elections (pdf).

A paper by Amy King and Andrew Leigh found “a strong relationship between [estimates] of the attractiveness of a particular political candidate, and the share of the…

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Where is the scrutiny of ‘the greatest moral challenge of our time’?

  1. David Holmes

    Senior Lecturer, Communications and Media Studies at Monash University

Sunday night’s leaders' debate marked the first time climate change has been discussed in any depth during the campaign. Why is there no focus on it this time around? AAP/Alan Porritt

By David Holmes and Brad Farrant

As previously observed on this blog, the greatest area of neglect in the mainstream media’s coverage of the election is climate change.

The most coverage it has had was during Sunday evening’s debate between Rudd and Abbott, where just over 10% of the time was allocated to climate policy. Even then the quality of the climate change policy debate left a lot to be desired.

The importance of policies to prevent dangerous climate change has not been reflected in either the tabloids or the broadsheets.

A Factiva…

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In the eyes of the world: International coverage of the election focused on quirks and gaffes

  1. Folker Hanusch

    Vice-Chancellor's Research Fellow at Queensland University of Technology

Finally, Australia is in the news internationally about a serious event - our federal election campaign. Normally, the land down under seems to make the global news only in relation to the quirks of living here - shark attacks spring to mind.

Now, Australian politics is making headline news around the globe. It’s just that, well, it’s still mostly about the quirks and gaffes. Admittedly, there have been quite a few already in the past 10 days of the campaign - comic relief given the perceived lack of substance that has prevailed so far.

Yesterday, the Daily Show in the US even thought the gaffes were worth devoting an entire segment to. The parallels between Jaymes Diaz and Rick Perry, Peter Dowling and Anthony Weiner, as well as Stephanie Banister and Sarah Palin were just too good to…

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Is the election boring the media?

  1. Sinclair Davidson

    Professor of Institutional Economics at RMIT University

Last night Paul Murray made two interesting comments on Sky News. First he said the media were bored with the election. Then he said that Kevin Rudd was losing the election. These two observations are not unrelated.

As evidence he pointed to the media coverage of the day - misspoken words, kids having a cigar, photo shopped beards, and so on. This morning the outrage is whether women can have sex-appeal. Apparently not.

The point being that trivia is dominating the media coverage because the election outcome is fairly certain.

Paul Kelly, in The Australian, makes a similar point. He argues that, “Rudd’s campaign is manifestly flawed and underdone. Not even Kevin’s remarkable abilities can conceal the obvious.”

That is a polite way of saying that Kevin Rudd has nothing to say.

Mind you…

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Fallacy of ‘the view from nowhere’ in the election campaign

  1. Joseph Fernandez

    Head of Department, Journalism at Curtin University

Paul Barry this week asked on his Media Watch program: “who could forget the way the Tele kicked off the election campaign?”

The Daily Telegraph’s front-page Kick The Mob Out editorial drew positive reader comment but also triggered a firestorm of complaints, including 77 to the Press Council.

As Barry put it, the council “instantly rejected” the complaints “because it was marked editorial and newspapers have every right to express an opinion".

The extreme positions some newspapers have taken in the current federal election campaign have dominated media commentary although the gravamen of the complaints is not entirely clear.

Press Council chairman Professor Disney correctly said the council’s obligation was to complaints about “things that breach its principles” rather than with “things…

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All quiet on the election front

  1. Sinclair Davidson

    Professor of Institutional Economics at RMIT University

Maybe the leaders' debate wasn’t so boring after all. It’s Tuesday and ‘Notegate’ is still raging.

Troy Bramston has an op-ed in The Australian arguing that Kevin Rudd didn’t cheat. It’s hard to get too excited about the notes, because the more important point that Bramston points to is that, “having notes hardly did him many favours”.

Mr Rudd certainly didn’t do himself any favours when he pooh-poohed the second Sydney airport question. Unsurprisingly the Daily Telegraph is reporting a back-flip on that issue. I suspect 4 million Sydney voters wouldn’t have appreciated being told Sydney isn’t the only city with an airport.

Mr Rudd is couching his back-flip explanation in a “wanting to talk about productivity” type framework. But I think that’s too hard for most voters who, like politicians…

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Rudd rewrites playbook on wedge politics

  1. Marcus O'Donnell

    Senior Lecturer, Journalism at University of Wollongong

It’s Time For Marriage Equality…Labor social media campaign

It’s the end of day eight and Kevin Rudd’s surprise debate announcement on same-sex marriage is still making news - maybe he is the suppository of all wisdom.

SBS Evening News led with an exclusive from Karen Middleton that even Julia Gillard was thinking of changing her mind on the issue. The staunchly anti-marriage-equality, former PM was apparently seeking a meeting with Ellen Degeneres and her Australian born wife Portia de Rossi during their Australian visit in March. Middleton reported Gillard was considering using a photo-op with the stars to announce a change of heart. But it didn’t come off.

Rudd didn’t need lesbian star power as camouflage but his announcement was carefully…

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No longer must-see-TV

  1. Barbara Alysen

    Senior Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Communication at University of Western Sydney

Whatever its political importance, the first leaders’ debate was fairly bleak television. The set was basic and the National Press Club audience may as well not have been there, as far as the viewing audience was concerned. The broadcast was 23 minutes old before the panel of three journalists became involved. Kevin Rudd’s treating the debate as an open-book exam was really not its biggest problem.

To people outside television (and perhaps to some insiders) this might sound excessively shallow. Surely it’s the content that matters? (Though, as plenty of others have noted there was little new material from the two leaders.)

But content for television generally requires packaging for best effect. You only have to Google images from some of the more recent UK and US national election debates…

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The politics of performance

  1. Brian McNair

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

Brian McNair & Stephen Harrington

Audiences like spontaneity and accessibility in their politicians. They tell us this in the research we political communication scholars do, and one doesn’t need a Ph.D in psychology to understand why. The days of deference towards elites are well and truly over, and political leaders are subject to many of the same judgements and performance pressures as entertainers, sports men and women, and even Popes (go Franco, yeah baby!). Reverence towards one’s betters is no longer required, and respect for authority has to be earned.

One consequence of this cultural democratisation is the public expectation that competing politicians in an election should debate each other in conditions over which they don’t have complete control – a live TV debate, for example…

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First debate fails our kids

  1. Brad Farrant

    Adjunct Research Fellow in Early Childhood Development at University of Western Australia

At a time when conservative international organisations including the World Bank and the International Energy Agency are warning that we are heading for 4 degrees or more of warming and that this will have devastating impacts for our children and all of humanity you would think that this issue would dominate election debates.

When the Climate Commission is telling us that current greenhouse gas emission reduction targets are nowhere near enough and that around 80% of fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground if we are to avoid dangerous climate change you would think that our leaders would be taking this seriously and telling us how they intend to address the problem.

The Critical Decade Pathways

You would think so but you…

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Motown on the Torrens

  1. Michael Wilmore

    Head, Discipline of Media at University of Adelaide

Does the horrendous fate of bankrupt Detroit give us a glimpse of Adelaide’s future? The Sunday Mail brought week one of the election campaign to a doom-laden end in South Australia with this ominous question.

Two things Adelaide certainly does well are existential angst and self-deprecation. The Advertiser has already pitched in with some good examples of the latter to provide light relief from the election coverage.

We had Thirty ways you know you’re a South Australian on Friday, followed by South Australia’s greatest farces the following day. Laughs a plenty at our own expense in each, although reading between the lines the latter makes a few serious points about the election. For example, we’ll soon have a piece of communication infrastructure that’s fit for purpose when the Southern…

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What is an election promise when ‘promise’ bears different meanings?

  1. Joseph Fernandez

    Head of Department, Journalism at Curtin University

Can you trust politicians when they speak? AAP/Alan Porritt

In my August 8 article I asked: “Do election promises matter?”

It was prompted by Western Australian premier Colin Barnett saying he did not think “people study the promises” – in response to stinging criticism for breaking key promises in the WA March state election.

The question is beginning to raise ramifications in the current federal election campaign in WA.

The Sunday Times news site PerthNow has launched the Candidate Promises Tracker, allowing users to track what their candidates and the parties are promising and spending.

In announcing the Tracker’s launch ST/PerthNow said politicians:

…love to throw around promises worth millions and even billions of dollars…

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The not so ‘great’ debate: Beyond the ‘notes scandal’

  1. Sally Young

    Associate Professor at University of Melbourne

Kevin Rudd’s use of notes in last night’s debate was extraordinary and will probably be the most commented upon aspect of the debate. It demonstrated either nerves or a lack of understanding of the rules and neither is a good look. But, putting that howler aside, last night’s debate showed, yet again, why having a closed forum of journalists, politicians and party representatives makes for a pretty non-informative and, let’s be honest, dull debate.

I think debate moderator David Speers did a good job at pulling the leaders up when he thought they were going off topic or not answering a question. I thought his questions were reasonably good as well. But once the debate shifted to the panel of journalists and they began asking their questions, the debate became more like a limp, closed, press…

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The optics, not the policy, is important in debates

  1. Sinclair Davidson

    Professor of Institutional Economics at RMIT University

The optics are important. Nobody really believes that the leaders' debates are decisive in changing votes, but they do provide important visual cues to the eventual outcome.

As I’ve written before, prime minister Kevin Rudd has to win the campaign to win the election. On that basis he didn’t ‘win’ last nights encounter with Tony Abbott.

Irrespective of whether notes were against the rules or not - it isn’t a good look to be accused of cheating anyway - reading a prepared opening and closing statement made Kevin Rudd look contrived. Under-prepared. He looked nervous too.

In many respects it reminded me of the 2007 debate against John Howard. Then Mr Rudd looked calm and confident and Mr Howard was trying too hard - last night the roles were reversed. Kevin Rudd was the nervous office-holder…

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Same sex marriage ends the debate, leads the coverage

  1. Marcus O'Donnell

    Senior Lecturer, Journalism at University of Wollongong

Kevin Rudd’s promise to introduce legislation for “marriage equality” within the first 100 days of his government, if elected, was one of the few concrete new promises to emerge in the election debate.

This promise, which came at the end of the debate, led the news in a number of debate round-ups internationally and locally. Britain’s Independent had a story online within half an hour of the debate’s conclusion headlined: “Australia election debate: Kevin Rudd promises to legalise same-sex marriage” and news.com.au had a story: “Rudd commits to gay marriage”.

It is interesting that this issue, which hasn’t played large in the campaign so far, was an issue raised in a debate that had limited time and only explicitly tackled a handful of issues such as: the economy and taxes, asylum seekers…

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Rudd v Abbott - first impressions

  1. Brian McNair

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

If TV debates were won on the delivery of detail about policy, Kevin Rudd would have won this debate hands down. It poured out of him in long, wordy paragraphs, too fast to really take in.

But if presentation and style were the decisive thing, Tony Abbott took the prize. Where the prime minister read from notes, glancing repeatedly downwards and rarely meeting the viewer’s gaze, his opponent looked and sounded confident. Abbott spoke to his TV audience in simple and direct terms - ‘We will Stop the Boats’ - and skilfully avoided any major hits from Rudd on economic policy.

Rudd, meanwhile, spoke mechanically, without feeling or apparent empathy, as if giving opening remarks to a press pack and being in a bit of a hurry to get out of there. As a piece of political communication, this was…

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Who generates election memes?

  1. Sean Rintel

    Postdoctoral researcher at The University of Queensland

Tonight’s debate will be watched hawkishly by a range of ‘interested parties’ for material to generate image macro memes about the Prime Ministerial candidates.

Debates as sources for meme generation

Mitt Romney suffered in two of the three 2012 US Presidential debates due to gaffes made in response to questions.

In the first debate Romney argued for reduced spending. One measure of this austerity would be to reduce funding to PBS. Romney, then realising that he was speaking to Jim Lehrer, the host of PBS’s “NewsHour” said:

“I like PBS. I love Big Bird. Actually, I like you, too [referring to Lehrer] … But I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for.”

This lead to memes about Big Bird, a beloved character of the children television show…

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Dialing M is madness

  1. Philip Chubb

    Associate Professor at Monash University

Most Labor MPs remember vividly the impact of Kevin Rudd’s leadership shortcomings in 2009-2010. He is in charge again now only because he strapped on a suicide vest: you install me to my rightful place or I’ll destroy the government and many of you with it.

One of the defining features of Rudd’s first attempt at PM was his addiction to short-term media management. He appointed a chief of staff whose sole qualification appeared to be an enthusiasm to play the game with the Murdoch tabloids. Alister Jordan’s preoccupation with the spin cycle, gleefully stoked by his boss, came at the expense of well-considered and effective political strategy.

The first week of the campaign seemed to show that, just as MPs remember Rudd’s failures, so do the media. But to Rudd, of course, there was nothing…

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They can run, but today’s pollies can’t hide

  1. Brian McNair

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

I wake to the promise of blue skies and 26 degrees in Brisbane this late winter Saturday, and a welcome day of R&R. No rest for our election candidates, however, as they go into the first full weekend of the campaign with a packed schedule of pseudo events and photo opps. This will be a crucial 48 hours in winning voters' hearts and minds.

Deputy PM Antony Albanese set the tone at a media conference in Victoria this a.m. by accusing Coalition leader Tony Abbott of ‘running away’ from public scrutiny of his policies. Mr Abbott, said Albo, had run away from multiple challenges to a live media debate with Kevin. Unlike Kevin, he had run away from ABC’s 7.30 show.

This is a very potent line of attack for a political party, especially when combined with the Coalition’s hesitation thus far to…

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Resisting the evil empire

  1. Marcus O'Donnell

    Senior Lecturer, Journalism at University of Wollongong

Given it has been discussed so much, I am a little loath to add further to talk about The Daily Telegraph’s “Kick this mob out” cover. But it is such an instructive example.

As some of my colleagues have suggested such a display of swagger always has the potential to backfire.

There are now numerous signs of resistance, apart from discussion by politicians and media commentators, they include boycott attempts and a string of creative parodies.

Who needs the kick? Facebook Brendan Fitzpatrick

A newsagent in northern New South Wales instituted a boycott at their shop but seem to have been cajoled into changing their minds and appearing on page five of yesterday’s Telegraph. We are told they changed their mind after a “charm offensive…

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Protest, newspapers and the internet

  1. Libby Lester

    Professor of Journalism, Media and Communications at University of Tasmania

Protest is largely symbolic; an act of disagreement and dissent, but one to which the attention of others must explicitly be drawn if it is to have any impact.

So when an image of a hand-written sign outside a Brisbane café announcing a boycott of Murdoch newspapers goes a little bit viral, it is an interesting moment in the evolution of protest, engagement and the role of the new networks of communication.

Given that newspapers and their journalists have controlled or carried many protest and dissenting messages of the past, we might wonder how it feels to lose that control to a smart phone and the internet.

But, more likely, we’re wondering why bother boycotting a product that so many have already abandoned.

Small protests can now grab our attention and from further afield than ever before…

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What is really happening at the Tele, indeed at News Corp?

  1. David Holmes

    Senior Lecturer, Communications and Media Studies at Monash University

Could the unthinkable be happening? That there is actually a conversation going on about the election, and that it is happening between the Media Panel right here at The Conversation and Col Allan himself? There are too many coincidences. Since Monday our articles have been characterising Col as a Lieutenant, Five Star General, Col Pot, and Murdoch’s hard hitter. Could the Hogan’s Heroes front page in the Daily Telegraph, depicting Kevin Rudd as Col. Clink be a gesture of externalising his own image and not a parody at all?

Daily Telegraph front page, August 9

Yesterday, I suggested that Col Allan’s strategy of going really hard against Labor in Western Sydney might backfire. Readers might not buy into such a blatant offensive…

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Throwing Anna Bligh to the wolves

  1. Sinclair Davidson

    Professor of Institutional Economics at RMIT University

I have written elsewhere that the way that Kevin Rudd can win the election - and I think he’s in it to win, not that he will win mind you - is by generating political turbulence. Preferably by creating policy splashes, but media splashes might do too. Rudd is better at media than policy so expect to see more media than policy.

Yesterday we saw some of that turbulence. The return of Peter Beattie is either a potential game changer in Queensland, at least, or a clanger. Here is the Courier Mail’s take on the announcement.

CM Day

Peter Beattie was a magnificent retail politician and something of a media tart too. Not that there is anything wrong with that - he won four elections and his successor, Anna Bligh, went on to win another.

But - and this…

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Thanks for your support: Tony Abbott on Facebook

  1. Stephanie Brookes

    Lecturer, School of Journalism, Australian and Indigenous Studies at Monash University

Scrolling through the Opposition Leader’s Facebook page in the last few days, I was struck by two images in particular. The first thanks Australians for “giving us over 60,000 likes” (updated from an earlier “50,000 likes” image). The other shows Tony Abbott on his iPad, uploading a previous post in which he opts-in to the election debate now set for Sunday.

These are nestled among pictures of Abbott meeting ‘ordinary’ voters, links to campaign ads and a pledge to ‘abolish the carbon tax’.

Screen shot of Tony Abbott’s Facebook post, “Thank you for giving us over 60,000 likes.” Screen shot taken by the author from https://www.facebook.com/TonyAbbottMP, Friday 9 August, 7:45am.

Social media…

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Do election promises matter?

  1. Joseph Fernandez

    Head of Department, Journalism at Curtin University

WA premier Colin Barnett has been accused of breaking many promises made during his last election campaign. AAP/Tony McDonough

Following stinging criticism for breaking key promises made in the Western Australia March state election, premier Colin Barnett recently remarked on Perth’s Radio 6PR: “I don’t think people study the promises”.

A Labor-authorised site has identified 15 broken promises, including those on electricity prices, hospital completion and public sector job cuts.

In response to Mr Barnett’s remarks, one individual asked on the 6PR blog site: what would happen if a person relying on a politician’s promise “walked into a police station and made a complaint of fraud?”

Criminal codes usually provide that a person who…

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He says, she says: so the journalists say on asylum policy

  1. Usha Rodrigues

    Lecturer in Multimedia Journalism at Deakin University

Media commentary on asylum policy has tended to focus on the ‘he said / she said’ style of reporting. AAP/Dean Lewins

I have been meaning to write this post for a couple of days, but hesitated because the asylum seeker issue for once has been taken over by whether Rupert Murdoch likes Kevin Rudd or not.

Or, perhaps it is the lack of daylight between the two major parties’ policies on the issue of asylum seeker or border protection policy that there is nothing to talk about?

In the past two weeks, a strange calm has descended in the political and media spheres. There is a consensus between Labor and Coalition policies – Australia cannot allow asylum seekers coming by boat to this country to settle here even if they…

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Spot the trends not monthly variation

  1. Sinclair Davidson

    Professor of Institutional Economics at RMIT University

So the employment figures for July have been published by the ABS today. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 5.7 per cent and the participation rate is 65.1 per cent. By historical standards the 65.1 per cent figure is pretty good, but it is down from 65.3 per cent the previous month.

Is this good or bad for the government? Well that is how the (print) media have largely covered the issue today.

It isn’t at all good for those people who have lost their jobs, or are looking for jobs, or have dropped out entirely of the job market. How unemployment figures impact on the spin we hear from politicians is a secondary concern to the human cost of unemployment.

Rather than focus on a single month we should look at the trends. So I grabbed some data from the ABS and graphed the unemployment…

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Go hard or go home: best practice partisanship for journos

  1. Tom Clark

    Associate Professor in Writing Commuication and Culture at Victoria University

This is true for political campaigns as it is for invasion games like chess or football. If you can commit to a strategic line early, then press it for all it is worth, you have a good chance of winning. If you cannot, you do not.

It is also the genius behind Marx’s ‘Thesis 11’: ‘The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.’

Karl Marx’s Thesis 11

Most times I read Marx’s line, I find myself siding with philosophers. A political campaigner’s obsession with ‘change’ is hostile to intellectual reflection — not to mention it denies that most campaigners spend most of their efforts trying to live and succeed in the world we already have.

Academics are deluded by our own fantasies too…

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When did the tabloid ‘front page’ election campaign begin?

  1. David Holmes

    Senior Lecturer, Communications and Media Studies at Monash University

As my fellow panellist, Sinclair Davidson, filed yesterday, we are still talking about that front page of the Daily Telegraph on August 5. It is now widely viewed as the first shot in not just an election campaign, but a newspaper campaign. Well we were, until today’s Daily Telegraph front page depicting the PM as Colonel Clink and his deputy Anthony Albanese as Sergeant Schultz.

But in the tabloids, the newspaper campaign had a decisive jump on the election campaign.

We know that soon after Col Allan, Murdoch’s “loyal lieutenant, arrived in Australia on July 29, a pattern of editorialising emerged where the offensive against Labor really began in Melbourne and Brisbane on August 1. The Herald Sun ran a quadrella of front pages blasting Labor policy after Labor policy. August 1: “Rudd's…

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Anglo-Saxon worldviews in the media do little to reflect Australia’s diverse ethnic make-up

  1. Folker Hanusch

    Vice-Chancellor's Research Fellow at Queensland University of Technology

So the Daily Telegraph is at it again today, featuring Kevin Rudd, Anthony Albanese and Craig Thomson in German World War 2 uniforms, playing the main characters of the popular 1960s TV show Hogan’s Heroes. The image is in reference to Albanese’s ill-advised beer with Thomson at a German beer house in Sydney and the headline reads: “Albo’s explanation for German beers with Thomson: I KNOW NUTHINK!”

Today’s front page in the Daily Telegraph

It’s classic tabloid work, and clearly someone at the Tele has a fetish for uniforms, given the image in March of Senator Stephen Conroy dressed as Joseph Stalin. I don’t have an issue with what it implies, and can understand how some see it as a humorous front page.

But I do want to look at an…

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How to solve a problem like Tasmania?

  1. Libby Lester

    Professor of Journalism, Media and Communications at University of Tasmania

According to a RN interview this morning, businesses would prefer the Greens to govern alone than in a minority government led by Labor or Liberals. This interesting shift in normal Greens-industry relations slipped past Fran Kelly with little comment or follow up. But then, it was an interview about Tasmania.

Michael Bailey, chief executive of the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was speaking from the side of the road in Ross, a picturesque if chilly village on the crumbling highway between Launceston and Hobart. Early morning birdsong accompanied his comments:

‘We certainly support majority government. We don’t mind whether its Labor, Liberal or Greens. What we want to happen is a majority government so we can know what framework we’re working on [for] the future.’

On earlier…

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Tele front page is bread and butter journalism

  1. Sinclair Davidson

    Professor of Institutional Economics at RMIT University

The Daily Telegraph has another ‘controversial’ front page.

DT Day

I suspect they would have run this picture irrespective of there being an election on. Everyone love a ‘pollies are hypocrites’ story - especially the tabloids and their readers.

Everybody knows this - Trade Minister Richard Marles was asked about it on Sky News this morning and he had to put a brave face on saying that it was humorous and Australia had a free press blah, blah, blah. He couldn’t go in hard because he knew full well he’d be on a hiding to nothing.

He is the first ALP person I’ve seen handle something like this well. Of course, the original incident was bungled.

There is a perfectly good explanation that Anthony Albanese could have used to explain why he was…

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Objective journalism cannot hold politicians to account

  1. Marcus O'Donnell

    Senior Lecturer, Journalism at University of Wollongong

The major story of day three of the election campaign was the coalition’s announcement of a 1.5% cut in the rate of company tax.

The way this story was covered by The Australian and The Guardian represent two completely different views of the role of journalism in an election campaign.

It was an unfolding story throughout the day as the ALP demanded to know how the cut would be paid for.

Treasurer, Chris Bowen rejected Tony Abbott’s claim that the cut could be paid for by previously announced spending cuts as: “magic pudding economics” and double-counting.

Although both sides were strong on rhetoric neither party was keen to put detail to their claims.

The Australian’s report by Lauren Wilson and Ben Packham: “Coalition pressed on how it will pay for company tax cut,” sounds like it might…

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Political Tweets: Damaged goods?

  1. Michael Wilmore

    Head, Discipline of Media at University of Adelaide

Adelaide has had its first taste of political dirty tricks involving social media during election 2013. A State Ministerial advisor has been outed as the source of mendacious Tweets apparently designed to smear Andrew Southcott, the Liberal MP in SA’s most marginal seat, Boothby.

In a tightly fought contest campaigners from all sides are bound to seek advantage by using social media. Twitter looks like it’s often the weapon of choice. But they may need to act with caution to avoid alienating the very people they’re trying to persuade.

Australian’s Twitter use has certainly increased with the rising tide of social media popularity in recent years. This doesn’t mean that it’s a universally loved platform though. The Australian Interactive Media Industry Association’s (AIMIA) latest report on…

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Still talking about that front page

  1. Sinclair Davidson

    Professor of Institutional Economics at RMIT University

Day three of the campaign and we’re still talking about the front page of the Daily Telegraph from day one.

DT Day

Tim Dunlop writing at new media outlet The Drum weighs in: “The Tele’s front page was a very ‘old media’ approach, one that failed to recognise that the audience is no longer a passive recipient of news from on high but an active participant in what is now a thriving news ecosystem. … Twitter has over two million Australian users, while Facebook has more than 11 million. These are not small numbers, especially when compared to the (approx) 350,000 daily sales of The Telegraph or the 123,000 The Australian manages to eke out.

I mean, who exactly is the irrelevant echo chamber here?"

Tim Dunlop’s argument being that the old media…

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Richo calls it like it is

  1. Brian McNair

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

Two developments this late afternoon of Day 3 - Richo, as his Sky News fans know him (Graham Richardson to the rest of us) tells David Speers on PM Agenda that no commercial media will scrutinise or challenge Coalition tax cut announcements. This is not good, says Richo, and we have to agree. Here’s hoping his own show can do some proper Fourth Estate journalism on the Coalition pitch.

Development number two - Anthony Albanese caught supping beer with Craig Thomson last night. Nothing to it, claims Anthony, looking guilty as sin; merely a parliamentarian associating with another parliamentarian, as you do.

In normal times maybe, but appearances are important in election campaigns, and the taint of ALP corruption hangs high over the government. Deputy prime ministers really should not be…

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The Murdoch media continues to campaign against our children’s futures

  1. Brad Farrant

    Adjunct Research Fellow in Early Childhood Development at University of Western Australia

Gillard Climate Change Protest

Over the last few days there has been much discussion here and elsewhere about the Murdoch media bias against the government as well as its push to get the Coalition elected.

A much bigger problem for the children of today and tomorrow is the continuing efforts of the Murdoch media in Australia to undermine the scientific consensus regarding climate change and oppose more serious policies aimed at preventing dangerous climate change. The Murdoch media in the USA is notorious for adopting a similar stance.

This…

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Abbott does Adelaide

  1. Brian McNair

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

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…

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Political speeches and the illusion of perfect pitch

  1. Marcus O'Donnell

    Senior Lecturer, Journalism at University of Wollongong

Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott’s speechifying at the opening of the Australian War memorial’s Afghanistan Gallery has been reported as a kind of momentary cease-fire between the rival leaders. But it was unmistakably part of the election campaign.

I happened to catch it live on ABC News 24.

Like any ceremony that marks Australian military involvement in America’s wars on terror it was a fundamentally dishonest display hyping “our” sacrifice with barely a mention of the horrific sacrifices of the Afghan civilians. That aside it was instructive.

Mostly it showed quite clearly why Kevin Rudd is popular and Tony Abbott isn’t.

Rudd speaks to his audience. Abbott reads to them.

Rudd stumbles and engages in folksy references. Abbott quotes Dr Johnson.

Rudd looked moved. Abbot looked awkward.

Again…

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Confusing voters: Is there a doctor’s wife in the house?

  1. Michael Wilmore

    Head, Discipline of Media at University of Adelaide

The team at 891 ABC Adelaide provided a moment on Monday morning that showed one of the challenges radio broadcasters will face explaining this election to their listeners. How do you find adequate language to describe what’s happening in the key constituencies?

Once they had got past the inevitable SA angst about relevance on the national stage, presenters Matthew Abraham and David Bevan moved on to a more forensic discussion of the marginal constituencies in Adelaide that could go either way on polling day, along with the ABC’s resident pollster, Anthony Green.

Amidst much apologising for the use of the term Matt and Dave introduced a group of voters who they felt could confuse the picture in Adelaide where Kate Ellis has a majority of 7.5% for Labor: doctors' wives. Apparently they're…

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Have rumours of Rupert Murdoch’s declining influence been greatly exaggerated?

  1. Matthew Ricketson

    Professor of Journalism at University of Canberra

The Media Panel’s co-chair, Professor Brian McNair, says the days of Rupert Murdoch’s influence on election results are gone, with the company weakened and today’s citizenry no longer passive consumers of everything they’re dished up. Perhaps; I’m not so sure. To re-phrase a line uttered by Woody Allen in Love and Death after Diane Keaton tells him “But Boris Grushenko, sex without love is an empty experience”, he replies: “Yes, but as empty experiences go it’s one of the best”.

Murdoch’s global media empire may have been shaken like never before in its long history thanks to the still unfolding News of the World phone hacking scandal and the crumbling of the business model that has long sustained print-based media companies, but it still wields substantial power and influence; it’s still…

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Be prepared to answer tough questions

  1. Sinclair Davidson

    Professor of Institutional Economics at RMIT University

Mark Twain is reputed to have said that you should never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel. In modern terms that should include never pick a fight with people who can rebroadcast what you say. Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury made that mistake this morning and an extraordinary exchange with Glenn Daniel is being replayed across Sydney radio and the print media.

Elections are stressful events to be sure, but accusing journalists of partisan bias and then demanding their names - for what purpose? - is an unusual style. It guarantees that the exchange and not the message becomes the story.

Glenn Daniel should be congratulated - rather than simply accepting on face value what he was being told, he asked the tough questions. As Minister Bradbury admitted, “This is extraordinary…

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Ennui and disengagement: how will ‘The West’ be won?

  1. Joseph Fernandez

    Head of Department, Journalism at Curtin University

An election “is also a contest between media outlets”, my fellow panellist Professor Sinclair Davidson observed in his blog yesterday.

Not quite so in Western Australia, where The West Australian remains the dominant daily newspaper.

The West Australian’s front page on Day 1 of the election campaign.

This, however, does not mean a lack of diversity in media voices given the online presence that most media outlets have across the nation and the substantial audiences that they attract. On one count, 30% of people said the internet was their main source of news, only slightly behind television (31%) and with newspapers in third place (13%).

“The West” entered the election coverage cycle yesterday nicely summing up public ennui…

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The outcry over ‘that’ front page – decline of objectivity or a way to get media coverage?

  1. Folker Hanusch

    Vice-Chancellor's Research Fellow at Queensland University of Technology

The uproar in some circles over the Daily Telegraph’s front page, telling voters in no uncertain terms to dump the Rudd government, has focused attention once more on the issue of objectivity in journalism.

It would have hardly come as a surprise to anyone that News Corp’s flagship tabloid would favour an Abbott government. And by saying so right from the start, at least the paper was open about its editorial leaning. As, of course, was the Australian Financial Review, albeit in a slightly less dramatic – and less noticed – way.

Recently, independent journalist Antony Loewenstein called for journalists to display their political biases openly, in an effort for more transparency in the media and to regain people’s trust. He argued that objectivity is a construct impossible to achieve.

In…

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The good news about News Corp

  1. Brian McNair

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

It was a long day, Day 1 of this five week marathon, most of it spent in front of my TV, flipping between Sky News and ABC 24. In the evening I wound down with some trash reality TV - Married To Medicine is big in my house right now - then back to Sky for Paul Murray Live, and his ‘down, dirty and nasty’ coverage of the election campaign (and he wasn’t kidding).

Mr Murray’s anti-ALP venting reminded me of the UK Sun in the old days - overtly ideological tabloid punditry transferred to TV, with no holds barred. There’s no mistaking this guy’s opinions, entertainingly articulated as they are. More evidence that Sky News and other News Corp outlets are fully signed up for propaganda duty on behalf of the Coalition.

Indeed, Day 1 of the election coverage agenda was dominated by that issue. Apparently…

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The media and the Coalition are not fair dinkum about climate change

  1. Brad Farrant

    Adjunct Research Fellow in Early Childhood Development at University of Western Australia

Price the Polluters Rally - Price on pollution our kids are worth it

Despite a capacity crowd and a stellar cast neither the media nor the Coalition turned up to the climate change election forum in Perth last night. Liberal MP Dr Dennis Jensen who refutes the scientific consensus was booked in to attend but pulled out. A concerted effort by the organisers failed to find a single Coalition politician or candidate willing to attend and present their policies. The mainstream media was also conspicuously absent. Unfortunately this is…

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What we shared: Diaz confused

  1. Jenna Price

    Senior lecturer at University of Technology, Sydney

Yawn. Scratch.

The joys of our own curation during this election mean we can shun the mainstream media doing its usual thing of picking sides for us.

And pick our own.

For years mainstream media has manipulated readership numbers and circulation figures but now we get to see exactly how many shares, how many likes and how many views.

So while the Daily Telegraph and the Australian Financial review can’t even wait for the usual practice of at least pretending to wait until the week of the election, we are sharing our own content which highlights the inadequacies of the candidates. And it’s a Liberal this time but it won’t be long before it’s a Labor candidate. A Green candidate. A Katter candidate.

Are those edicts from legacy media having the same effect as they used to?

Not if the…

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An unpredictable panel is a good panel

  1. Jenna Price

    Senior lecturer at University of Technology, Sydney

Could the producers of the ABC’s Q&A have predicted that the election would be called last Sunday?

Yes. So could they have predicted that you’d need a little more, well, balance on the first election Q&A? Well, yes.

So, heavy-hitter for heavy-hitter. And experience for experience. Labor senator Doug Cameron accounts for Liberal MP Greg Hunt (one for each major party).

But then the panel was like one of those seesaws with three kids on one side and the toddler on the other, stuck in the air.

  • Grahame Morris, federal director of Barton Deakin, famous for letting us know: “Well, Leigh [Sales] can be a real cow sometimes when she is doing her interviews.”

  • Pam Williams, whose book Killing Fairfax has had prime coverage in mainstream media since its launch; and whose employer excerpted the…

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They’re off in the Canberra Cup

  1. Marcus O'Donnell

    Senior Lecturer, Journalism at University of Wollongong

The media’s focus on opinion polls, who’s in front, how close the election result will be and what the odds are in an election campaign is often criticized as horse race journalism.

The NT News took this to a new level yesterday with their cover equating the election with the Darwin Cup.

NT News…off to the races NT News

The NT News weren’t the only ones to go with a sporting metaphor. The Advertiser in Adelaide went with a split cover contrasting the “showdown” between two local AFL teams and the upcoming showdown of the election.

The Advertiser…the showdown The Advertiser

My media panel colleague Sinclair Davidson speculated that local imperatives – speaking to the perceived…

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So little time to develop social media strategy

  1. David Maguire

    Associate Professor of Journalism and Media Management at Murdoch University

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd set out from the election announcement to goad Opposition Leader Tony Abbott into a-debate-a-week schedule during the 33-day campaign.

The media-savvy PM and self-admitted “underdog” understands it is important to seize every opportunity to help the electorate to compare-and-contrast him directly with the main opponent.

He also understands these traditional, one-on-one debates provide spin-off fodder for the social media Twitter and Facebook platforms on which he comfortably roams.

The 2013 federal election campaign will be the first truly digital campaign in Australia to fully integrate social media into party messaging, through both advertising and direct messaging.

Since the nascent social media platforms started to be used effectively in political campaigning…

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Another election contest - the pitch for viewers

  1. Barbara Alysen

    Senior Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Communication at University of Western Sydney

Politics aside, there are other contests going on during this election, including those for circulation and ratings.

On the night when Kevin Rudd wrested the Labor leadership back from Julia Gillard Nine won the TV ratings for its coverage. It will probably do the same for the period of the campaign.

But the different techniques being used by TV news to package the election for viewers make an interesting footnote to the poll itself.

For content and delivery, the first night belonged to the ABC. It extended its bulletin and went national for 15 minutes (twice the length of the coverage at Nine) before switching back to the states.

That allowed it to include a live interview with Tony Abbott (the PM having apparently declined a similar offer). The opposition leader took the chance to pitch…

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It’s all about the context

  1. Philip Chubb

    Associate Professor at Monash University

If you come from the school that believes provision of context is a defining characteristic of good journalism, then you will have been disappointed by the coverage of day one of the election campaign.

Let’s look at some quotes from yesterday in the context that was not provided. Abbott would not do a deal for power. “There’s a commitment that I want to give you…there will not be deals done with independents and minor parties under any political movement that I lead,” he said. But in the aftermath of the 2010 campaign he told rural independent Tony Windsor that while he was unwilling to part with his most precious gift everything else was on the table. “I would do anything to get that job, Tony, the only thing I wouldn’t do is sell my arse.“ Has he changed his mind?

Rudd’s comments also…

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What should Rupert do?

  1. Brian McNair

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

Paul Sheehan’s assertion that Col ‘Pot’ Allan has returned to Australia to put an end to the Rudd government is probably true, but misses the point. I read The Australian. I subscribe to the app. It is without doubt the best press outlet in the country, reflecting the old man’s genuine love for quality journalism, and his readiness to invest in good journalists. It’s lively, and provocative, and it often challenges my comfortable assumptions.

But as with the Sunday Times in the UK, to which I also subscribe, I pay my hard earned dollars to Rupert in the full knowledge that he hates the left, the liberal, the humane, seeing all these as barriers to his global domination. In short, I discount the obvious bias of his titles, and so I imagine do the ALP at this point.

The present government…

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How much can the electorate bear?

  1. Jenna Price

    Senior lecturer at University of Technology, Sydney

ALP senator and candidate for the seat of Batman David Feeney’s ‘offending’ tweet from last night. twitter

The women of Australia scrutinised ALP numbers man David Feeney when he wrenched the Labor candidacy for the seat of Batman from the warm hand of beloved local Mary-Anne Thomas.

But that may be nothing compared to the scrutiny of his first off-message…

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First impressions from the tabloids

  1. Sinclair Davidson

    Professor of Institutional Economics at RMIT University

Day one of the election campaign and the tabloids have got some great front pages. The Daily Telegraph leaves us in no doubt what it thinks.

DT Day

To a large extent this must reflect the views of its Sydney based audience - we’ve been hearing a lot about the anger directed towards Labor over issues such as boat arrivals and corruption at the State level.

The Brisbane based Courier Mail has a neutral front page.

CM Day

This is an accurate and very concise summary of each of the speeches we heard late yesterday. If Rudd’s blurb appears weak that’s because he is starting from a position of weakness - to win the election he must win the campaign. He said as much yesterday.

The difference between…

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The changing media landscape in an election campaign

  1. Brian McNair

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

While the way we consume media is changing, the public will still look to the mainstream commentariat for news and analysis this election campaign. AAP/Dean Lewins

This election will be one of the most interesting and unpredictable in Australia’s history, and also one of the most important. Two very different approaches to meeting the challenges of the Asian century are on offer, each with different winners and losers both at home and abroad. And just when it seemed that the result was going to be a foregone conclusion, with Julia Gillard leading a dysfunctional ALP into electoral oblivion for a generation, now there are two credible candidates for prime minister, leading two credible parties.

Regardless of the bizarre circumstances…

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Shooty PM starts by enjoying himself

  1. Tom Clark

    Associate Professor in Writing Commuication and Culture at Victoria University

Kevin Rudd clearly enjoyed announcing the election date to a waiting press pack. AAP/Lukas Coch

Announcing the 7 September federal election, prime minister Kevin Rudd consciously reprised an opening move that worked well for John Howard opening his 2004 reelection campaign, when he declared this election would come down to a question of ‘trust.’

As Barrie Cassidy noted on ABC News 24, calling out trust prompts voters to focus on the respective leaders’ reliability. Coming from Rudd, it implies that opposition leader Tony Abbott is a Liberal Party reprise of Mark Latham: lots of clever criticisms, but without a coherent positive agenda — and personally aggressive to an unclear extent. If Abbott cannot avoid his own monster handshake…

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Is Rupert out to get Kevin?

  1. Sinclair Davidson

    Professor of Institutional Economics at RMIT University

An election isn’t just a contest between political parties, it is also a contest between media outlets. Over time it’ll also become a contest between media platforms. In the meantime, however, there will be strong competition between the various newspapers to provide the better coverage, to have the better interviews, to break the scoops first, and so on.

Competition will occur at a corporate level too. It started even before the election was called - observe this piece by the usually sensible Paul Sheehan.

It turns out that Colin Allan has returned to Australia, from New York, to provide “extra editorial leadership” at Australia’s News Corp papers. That sounds quite ominous. But for whom?

Sheehan suggests that Rupert Murdoch is out to destroy the NBN and to do that needs to destroy Kevin…

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The Conversation’s Media Panel: an introduction

  1. David Holmes

    Senior Lecturer, Communications and Media Studies at Monash University

The role played by the Fourth Estate is even more vital in the rough and tumble of the election campaign. AAP/Lukas Coch

Welcome to a new initiative by The Conversation - a “media watch” blog that will bring analysis and accountability to the coverage of this year’s federal election.

As the CEOs of all of the major media outlets in Australia told us in March when they visited Canberra for the Senate hearings into media reforms being proposed by then-communications minister Stephen Conroy, the news media in this country play an absolutely pivotal role in delivering democracy and “good government”.

Indeed, as media scholars also told us in submissions to the Independent Inquiry into Media and Media Regulation (2011), this role is…

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