Irrelevancy is back, I see

Media Watch is back to its nitpicky best, focusing on petty mistakes instead of real issues. Ooh, let’s all laugh at the silly thing this journo did. Har har har.

Last night, a tweet by freelance tech journo Adam Turner calling Tony Abbott an arsehole and a cocksucker was considered more important than this tweet by ABC radio’s Geoff Hutchison: Tony, why are you frightened of intercourse with Julia? Is it because we will be watching and measuring?

Turner does not interview politicians, so while his tweet is on the rude side – if you’re bothered by such things, which I’m clearly not, given my penchant for swearing – it’s not really a big deal. Hutchison does interview politicians, and although his tweet was minor, he works for the ABC where opinions are not allowed. Unless you’re writing for The Drum. It’s kinda like a bathhouse – the only place you’re allowed to be nude in public.

Now, including quote attribution from the transcript, Media Watch used 302 words on Turner, yet only 180 on Hutchison. Why?

But the main focus of Media Watch was Matthew Newton. As it went on and on, and on and on, recapping Newton’s life, I wondered where the hell they were going with it. As it turned out, not really anywhere. Eventually we got to this:

Now it may help you to know that New Idea is published by Pacific Magazines, which is part of the Seven Media Group.

Could that be why Newton got such soft treatment? Could it also be why there was no mention of that assault charge?

Holy crap, New Idea does a puff piece on a celebrity and doesn’t ask hard questions? You’re shitting me? How can we let them get away with that? ManFriend, hand me my protest shoes!

Now, I’m a big fan of naming and shaming arseholes who hit women. But there needs to be a point at which journos stop rehashing someone’s past in every single article. (I’m still waiting for the Daily Telegraph to mention Candice Falzon without the words “that photo” and a gratuitous link. Or any news outlet to mention Cheryl Kernot without also mentioning an affair she had in the 90s.) Three years ago, Newton was convicted of assaulting his then-girlfriend Brooke Satchwell, but the conviction was quashed. So, does it need to be mentioned in every single article on Newton? This is not a defence of Newton – because I don’t believe his actions can be defended – it is simply asking where that point is that journos let people move on. Had the “offending” New Idea article been written after Newton’s alleged assault on partner Rachael Taylor and failed to mention the assault, then it would be Media Watch-worthy, but it wasn’t, so the segment simply amounts to snark. As a viewer and journo, I expect more than that.

Mind you, it was a massive case of the pot calling the kettle black. A few weeks ago Jonathan Holmes conducted a fauxview with Mark Scott that was just a plug for ABC News24. No hard questions there:

Jonathan Holmes: Well that, but some people say that the problem is you’ve been so keen to save money in order to create the new things that you want to do, that you’ve actually been pushing these technologies too fast.

Mark Scott: And that’s a criticism that we consider. We don’t think we have pushed it too fast. This is a big change in technology and work processes. Our staff have worked very hard on it. I think we’ve got a good result in that for the same amount of taxpayers’ money, we’ve been able to give a new 24 hour news service.

11 responses to “Irrelevancy is back, I see

  1. Isn’t it funny the different perspectives people have watching the same thing? I watched the interview with Mark Scott and thought he WAS asked tough questions. For example, Holmes asked without leading to an excuse – a favourite technique of the soft interviewer – what justification a 24 hour news network could possibly have for not cutting live to a presser for Abbott in the middle of an election, and when Scott tried to spin it as a plus (saying they wanted to show it in it’s entirety to provide context) Holmes pinned him down and asked why Sky was able to cut to the presser (albeit it with sound only, for a minute or two) AND show the presser in it’s entirety lately, or why it couldn’t even mention that it HAD taken place and point to when.

    Taken in context with the fact that Holmes had previously highlighted the technical failures and odd editorial directions in previous Media Watch episodes (Including the fact that Paul Barry was initially fired for a too-firm interview with a previous ABC MD) it’s hard for me to view it as soft. Holmes’ over-arching position through that interview was the same as his previous shows – the ABC rushed 24, it was bound to be riddled with technical and editorial errors because it was cutting corners, and it’s mission statement was one it couldn’t hope to fulfill in the current format.

    Having said that, I did think yesterdays episode had moved away from some of the better work Holmes has been doing (expose’s on the expose’s and the like) to lame “oooh! look at who they’re owned by! Let’s speculate!”

    It’s disappointing, that’s for sure.

  2. MediaWatch has lost some of its pizazz for me! It used to be hardhitting and hurty. Journos who got the headsup that they had a spot on MediaWatch used to quake in their boots.

    Now its a badge of honour!
    Im sure journos wonder whether they will ever get the same amount of “hits” as Akerman or Devine..

    Surely Piers is bradmanesque in his MediaWatch average!

    • I don’t know if it’s a badge of honour, but the journos I know certainly don’t give a shit about being on Media Watch. Mainly because it’s for petty little things, so of course they don’t care. A little embarassed, sure, but hardly worried.

  3. Just curious ,as you are part of the media ,what should media watch be about what would make journos take notice and worry? I tend to agree with your opinion of last nights show, a bit gossipy itself.

    • I think Media Watch puts too much energy into trying to be clever and smug, pointing out the silly things we do (typos, dumb things radio hosts say) at the expense of bigger issues. A while back, MW had a go at News Ltd for running a photo of an anti-Scientology protest where they’d pixelated a sign in the background that called the religion a cult. There was much mocking about News Ltd for censoring the photo, rather than looking at how Scientology’s fondness for legal action affects media reporting. MW missed the real story. Again. They also rarely acknowledge their mistakes, so their credibility ain’t that great.

      Which kinda hasn’t really answered your question… but they can start with less mocking.

  4. Oh, I know Barry was hosting last night, I was referring to the last time he was sacked from MW, and that it was a change from what Holmes had largely focussed on.

    Obviously that wasn’t clear :). /writingfail

  5. Media watch watches media not religion. News is big enough to protect itself why not have the guts to show un pixelated photo, its not like they are adverse to having an opinion. Point taken on credibility and as a viewer I dont really give a bugger about typos etc but all media use filler. cheers.

    • Point taken about religion, but that was just the first example that popped into my head. Media companies aren’t keen to end up in the courts because the strategy when suing them is to keep them there as long as possible, ploughing through the money until they give up and settle. So you make little concessions along the way. A little bit of pixelation here, a bit more there, the decision made by someone near the bottom not to chase a story in case it causes legal trouble, or an editor a few rungs up deciding not to run a story because they know money’s tight and they don’t want legal trouble on their employment record, and the result is a self-censoring media. How does that help anyone?

  6. Fair enough ,you dont need that on your record and when you know most of the people higher up the tree probably wont back you why take the risk.But the result IS a self censoring media,how does that help anyone?

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