Talking Points: The Australian’s cosy little club of groupthinkers

May 25, 2012

If you get to the bottom there is a topical easter egg surprise for loyal readers.

Over recent months many of my colleagues in the Journalism Education Association of Australia (JEAA) have attempted to get responses to The Australian’s attacks on us (over many months) published. We have had very little luck. One open letter that was sent from the association with more than 50 signatures was made available as a PDF from a deep recess of The Australian’s website,but not easily searchable and just last week I received this response from editor of Media Diary Nick Leys.

A right-of-reply @leysie style

Some of the attacks have centred on Dr Matthew Ricketson who was engaged to assist with the Independent Media Inquiry. The Australian‘s coverage of this issue has been appalling and one-sided, but when Matthew tried to defend himself he was not given space, instead Nick Leys cobbled together a piece from second-hand sources. It is what The Australian‘s editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell would call “four or five out of 10” journalism.

Editor in chief of The Australian Chris Mitchell questions the journalistic credentials of those passing judgment on the industry. “Ricketson, Simons and their mate Andrew Dodd (Crikey contributor and Swinburne University of Technology journalism course convener) all worked for The Australian and you would give them barely a pass mark as journalists,” he says.

“Seriously. People who I would score four or five out of 10 are trying to determine the future of media regulation in Australia. Everyone in the business knows it is a self-serving joke and these people are dupes for Conroy.”

Chris Mitchell quoted approvingly and at length in his own newspaper. A cosy club Chris – you’re the patron

As the national association representing journalism educators and academics, you might think that the JEAA would be given some space to respond to criticisms and abuse hurled at us. For some reason, we are not considered worthy of space in the paper’s letters pages, let alone to write a column.

We have been accused of being a “cosy club” prone to  “groupthink” even though there are many disagreements among us. It is a puzzling charge and one that The Australian rejects when it is levelled against them.

It is puzzling because the op-ed pages of The Australian display a remarkable and consistent commitment to groupthink. Its columnists all sing off the same conservative songsheet with the libertarian soloists taking center stage all too often.

However, it might come as a surprise to readers of our national broadsheet that this same groupthink is also displayed in the letters pages.

For example, Mr Brenton Minge, of suburban Bulimba in Brisbane, must be one of the luckiest writers of letters to the editor in Australia. A Google search shows up a Brenton Minge who it seems has a  bent for letter writing, particularly on topics of religion, science and the “Leftist” ABC.  Maybe this is why he so popular with The Australian‘s letters editor.

Mr Minge has had nine letters published in The Australian’s Talking Points column since May 2011, for a total of around 1400 words. He is not the only one.

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The rhetoric of chattering classes disguises anti-worker bias in limited news

August 30, 2011

When the ruling class feels strong and the political leadership of the labour movement is corrupt to the core, a political paralysis descends on the parliamentary wing of the working class intelligentsia.
The constant chattering about the so-called “chattering classes” deafens us to the hardline surge now underway in Australian public life.

One of the worst offenders is the new enfante terrible in the Murdoch stable – imported stable bully-boy Brendan O’Neill. He is a serial offender when it comes to to trash-mouthing the so-called chattering classes. In harness with the dreadful Bolter, O’Neill is gung-ho for intellectual-bashing, public sector trashing, culture wars scorched-earth pollicy-wielding plonker.

O’Neill is even described as an “ex-Trotskyist” on The Australian’s website. Fuck-that-for-a-fucking-joke. The Murdoch mandarins love to dress up their tame spouters as ex-lefities. It plays to their prejudice and their perceived audience. It also silences any idea that the op-ed pages are not Foxified – that is “fair and balanced”.

The Australian's new "ex-left" attack dog

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Four interesting items in the New York Times

September 12, 2008

I picked up the New York Times yesterday, it’s a thinsheet too, like the LA Times.I ripped out four pages from the newspaper, only one of them was a piece of journalism.

Columnist Bob Herbert wrote a great piece about the proud achievements of what Americans coyly call “liberals”. That is US citizens with a modicum of intelligence and a social conscience.  I put that last bit in there to distinguish them from intelligent conservatives-they’re the ones who know they’re f&8k9nG the rest of us over and get sadistic pleasure from it. They’re the ones who know it’s torture, think it’s OK and actually enjoy it being done to “terrrrists”.

Herbert’s column’s called “Hold your heads up” and it argues well that American liberals should be proud of who they are and not ashamed to be identified as liberals, even though it’s a swear word in the red states.

The other stuff I pulled was a series of interesting display ads.

[dribblejaws alert-you should go here]

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NRA hiding behind a conservative smokescreen

April 27, 2007

NRA-ILA :: In The News

I’ve been keeping an eye on the National Rifle Association’s website in an attempt to find some argument from them in the wake of the Virginia Tech killings a week ago. So far nothing. I’ve mentioned this before and you can trackback to see the history of this post.
This evening I found this (link above) and a couple of others like it on the NRA “news” website. Basically an aggregation of the pro-gun defences and a series of attacks on everyone except the gun-owners.

It doesn’t cut it. The NRA has not itself put out any kind of meaningful statement. And the one they did post, essentially saying “no comment” until all the “facts” are known about VT has been taken down.

Instead they’re letting the right-wing columnists and bloggers do their dirty work. If I had a gun, I’d…
Well, in the words of the Barenaked Ladies, “there’d be no tomorrow”.

I wonder if those bright sparks over at “shoot-em up central” have any idea how ironic and stupid this kind of promotion actually looks now.

Here’s one of the NRA’s “happy snap” images of what a well-armed college kid might want to carry to their next biology class.


NRA lost voice?

April 24, 2007

NRA news website
The National Rifle Association has still not broken its silence on the Blacksburg killings. But perhaps we can distill something about what it might be saying from these media releases and commentary from “gun-owners”
Here’s the Gun-Owners of America Executive Director, the well-monikered Larry Pratt:

“The latest school shooting demands an immediate end to the gun-free zone law which leaves the nation’s schools at the mercy of madmen. It is irresponsibly dangerous to tell citizens that they may not have guns at schools. The Virginia Tech shooting shows that killers have no concern about a gun ban when murder is in their hearts.”

Pratt’s comments were picked up by Ed Isler who blogs at The Conservative Voice.
I can only assume that the NRA is happy to let these politically aligned individuals speak on their behalf.

Let’s explore this “guns at school” argument. Pratt cites and Isler repeats a story about either the Application School of Law (Pratt) or the Appalachian School of Law (Isler) where a “madman” was stopped by students who fetched their own guns from cars and subdued the suspect.
We can put this scenario to the test and we end up with…32 dead.
Person A goes into a dorm and shoots two people. Person B, hearing the gunshots, pulls out their concealed weapon and runs in the direction of the gunfire. B sees A running down the stairs and cracks off a couple of shots, but misses. Persons C & D, hearing these retorts, grab their own pistols and run in search of the action.
A runs outside, pursued by B. They crouch in defensive positions and open fire on each other. C comes around the corner and can see B firing at A. C opens up at B, thinking that B is the shooter. D comes round the other side and can see A firing at B. D opens up at A. We now have four guns in operation with confusing cross-fire.
E, F, G (you can add as many more as you like because in this upside down world if you don’t carry a gun you’re in real danger from those who do). Pretty soon you’ve got a wild west “OK corral” type situation going on. A friend of mine likened it to a bar brawl where, once the first punch is thrown everyone kicks in and no one can figure out who started it or where “fault” might lie.
In the emotional and adrenalin fueled atmosphere of a campus gun battle who knows where it might end. No one apart from A and B know what went down in the first instance and they’re too busy firing back (or more likely already dead). Any newcomers into the scene are likely to shoot first and ask questions later, if they survive.
This way real madness lies, but not according to the distorted logic of the gun lobby. These are the last people in the world who should be allowed to have guns.


Don’t these right-wingers get enough air time?

April 23, 2007

Shock-jock Melanie Morgan: Media Matters like Virginia Tech gunman

I’m sick and tired of right-wing shock-jocks like KSFO’s (San Fancisco) Melanie Morgan complaining about attempts by ordinary people, activists and concerned journalists to add a little left-wing ballast to the rightward drifting daily media flagship the SS “Tub-o-lies”.
These highly-paid, emotionally-crippled, talking chimps get paid buckets of cash to rant and rave about their favourite topics, day after day. They are not the organ-grinders, but they have a nasty bite when irritated. Yet when one small organisation, in this case MediaMatters for America, takes them on and argues against their neo-con whining, they spit the dummy and call us names.
Get over it, you’re winning (for now).
The reason why people like me (and fellow bloggers) give up our precious spare time is because, unlike the mouthpiece machines, we don’t get paid to have our own soapbox. We do it for love (and political commitment).
Here’s a grab of what Ms Morgan thinks of democratic advocates of media change:

Like that mentally unbalanced and angry gunman at Virginia Tech, they’ll methodically march through the domiciles of the conservative movement, targeting the movement’s leaders for career elimination — until and unless we stand up and fight back against their campaign of mayhem against conservative leaders and causes.

If you can’t play nicely with the other kids Melanie: “GET OUT OF THE SANDBOX!” When you actually analyse (in a sober way) what caused Cho Seung-Hui to kill 32 fellow Americans, it was not the nice, soft left-liberal side of America, but the gun-totin’, Bush votin’ rednecks who dogwhistlers like Morgan appeal too with her well-supported conservative opinions. The stuff that’s now emerging is of a disturbed young man who was bullied and hounded. I’m not excusing what he did, but hey Melanie, take a cold shower in the reality stalls.
Oh, if only the tide would turn and the SS “Tub-o-lies” would founder on the reefs of sanity and sensibility.
And finally, speaking of “career elimination”, who exactly was Joseph McCarthy?