Something weird is going on today. News Ltd websites are all running the same Herald Sun story (standard practice at News) about how, gasp, there are more visa overstayers and “illegal immigrants” (their words) who arrive by plane than there are asylum seekers who arrive by boat.
At News.com.au it’s the biggest story on the site (by editorial decision and most read, which is, frankly, bizarre, considering their audience):
At the Herald Sun, where the story originated, it’s also in the top spot, but quietly, without shouting at the reader:
At perthnow.com.au, it’s in the top spot:
And at adelaidenow.com.au:
At couriermail.com.au, it’s in the next spot, under the big main pic:
The story is not on the Daily Telegraph‘s homepage at all. I guess it’s because if you run this story – and run it large – then you look stupid the next time you breathlessly report ANOTHERBOATHASBEENINTERCEPTED and ABBOTTSAYSWE’VELOSTCONTROLOFOURBORDERS.
It’s not on the Mercury‘s website either.
Sure, each site running exactly the same story is just web pollution. When I worked at News, the editor’s mantra was the “do what you do best and then link to the rest” line from Jeff Jarvis, while demonstrating that he had no real understanding of Jarvis’ point because he still insisted that we had our own version of exactly the same story. (This is, after all, a guy who insists that the Drudge Report is essential reading for Australian journalists.) But for News Ltd sites to be running this story is a highly unusual situation. It’s got, you know, facts. Of course, it still has inflammatory language: “hiding illegally among us” and “Illegal immigrants have also been involved in drug cartels, sexual slavery, and fraud” (derr, so have many Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi’s). And there’s this:
“Another misconception is that people who arrive by boat are illegal immigrants. Australia is obliged to assess asylum seekers’ claims,” [said Australian Human Rights Commission president Catherine Branson].
There were 10,600 more illegals at June 30 last year than in 2005.
Clearly, the point about using the word “illegal” went over the journalist’s head.
But back to that rip in the space-time continuum. Miranda Devine’s column on women being whistleblowers even mentions feminism in a vaguely positive way. We’ve clearly slipped into an alternative news reality. Or are news editors at News starting to shit themselves because their audience is increasingly pointing out their flawed journalism and laughing at them?
Update: Here’s a quick summary of this post: News Ltd websites, which always pick up AAP copy about every single boat arrival, are running a major story across the network about how boat arrivals aren’t a problem. And Miranda Devine almost said a nice thing about feminism. Cue spooky music, we must be in a different reality. That is all this post is about.