Colour trumps news. Again

The biggest political story today is whether Julia Gillard got enough sleep last night. Yep, the Prime Minister is in Brussels for the 8th Asia-Europe Meeting – the first time Australia has been invited – to talk global economic governance, banking regulation, trade imbalances, sustainable development and reform, and Australia’s journos are asking her if she got her beauty sleep.

Sure, there’s nothing wrong with the question itself. Journos and politicians do know each other and so a friendly question about sleep – Gillard arrived in Brussels via a visit to troops in Oruzgan province in Afghanistan and then Zurich to lobby FIFA for the 2022 World Cup – is fine. But unless the answer is particularly interesting (for example, if she said she doesn’t need to sleep because she’s got a really good dealer, or that she didn’t get any sleep because she was shagging all night), it shouldn’t be the most important part of the story.

ABC radion has been running two grabs from Gillard all morning:

“No I slept very well last night. I’ll let Mr Abbott work out his own sleeping patterns, for myself obviously as you know I went to Afghanistan, then to Zurich, then came here and did manage to get eight hours sleep last night and that prepared me for a very long day.”

And this:

“Thanks for the opportunity to speak, perhaps I should start by saying that with my broad Australian accent, even the English speakers in the room may wanna access, may want to access, the translation to make sure that they’re understanding my words.”

The leader of one of the few Western countries to come out of the global financial crisis unscathed is in Europe to talk to world leaders about financial reform and regulation, yet all the news we’re getting is about humour and sleep. Nothing about what she actually said to these world leaders.

Tony Abbott is in the UK for the Conservative Party conference and his comment about not going to Afghanistan with Gillard because he didn’t want to be jetlagged is the most important party of the story about him: leading the The Australian website: Tony Abbott says he missed Afghanistan trip because he didn’t want to be jetlagged; and the Sydney Morning Herald: Abbott cites jetlag for turning down Afghanistan trip.

Having colour in a story is good, but over the last few years all we’ve been getting is colour. When Kevin Rudd was PM, we all knew that he didn’t sleep very much, but we didn’t know the details of the ETS. He accepted the blame for that, for not selling it to us, but the mainstream media should also cop the blame for not demanding details about it. We failed in our role of informing the public. So it’s no surprise that all it took was Tony Abbott to call it a tax for us to dump action over climate change for greedy self-interest.

When Gillard answered the sleep question, you could hear the resignation in her voice over being asked – yet again – about trivial shit and knowing that it will be the biggest political story of the day. I saw her speak at a women in the public service conference a few years ago, and she’s got a wicked sense of humour. It must be hard not to answer questions about whether she got her beauty sleep with a sarcastic remark about getting the shade of lipstick or brand of jacket she’s wearing out of the way first so journalists can ask her some real questions. But if she did, the headline would be ‘Gillard talks clothes, make-up at global financial summit’.

12 responses to “Colour trumps news. Again

  1. And MSM wonders why blogs like Jericho’s gain such popularity.
    What a waste of journalistic talent. Lets send them to Brussels for the Asia-Europe meeting and have them ask such insightful questions as to whether or not our PM is suitably rested. *head desk*

  2. point of order: did any of the articles actually refer to ‘beauty sleep’ – I didn’t see that phrase in the ones I read. If they used that expression that makes the issue more gendered and patronising. If not, I think it is just low brow journalism on a slow news day perhaps.

    Although I think the main rationale for writing it was less about her sleep and more to beef up the galdatorial thing the press want to hype between Abbott and Gillard (in the Aussie tradition of bring back the biff). In this case that she’s a go getter and he’s a bit of a pansy scared of a bit of flying.

    What I did take away from the articles though, was a sense that she is quite relaxed and at ease playing with the ‘big boys’ and ALP should rightly take this is a good outcome for her and them vis a vis the world stage and all that!

    • Beauty sleep was my term, but would they have been asking Kevin Rudd if he got enough sleep?

      My point about the sleep question is that Gillard is at a pretty fucking important meeting, yet the Australian journos aren’t asking her about it. I have no idea what she talked about at this meeting. But I do know that she got eight hours sleep and made a joke about her accent. And today, jetlag and sleep is still the main story of the day. I don’t know what Abbott said to the British conservatives, but I’d like to know. Pity I won’t find out from the Australian news media.

      • I’m actually having trouble finding anything about Abbott’s trip to the UK in UK news sources as well. (Not that I have gone further than searching the BBC thus far….) I do wonder if it has something to do with the Conservative Conference there at present? Perhaps? (I haven’t looked for Gillard’s trip to the Asia-Euro meeting yet) you would think though that the Media might actually tell us WHY they are there and what they are doing. This is public interest. It makes me both sad and pissed off really. How have we ended up with these types of stories qualifying as news?

  3. We hear very little of politics over there, as you say, the colour pieces are focal, and apparently they travel better.

  4. Pingback: Could we have some real news, please? | the news with nipples

  5. Pingback: When you’re losing, just call her a bitch | the news with nipples

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