On page six of today’s Sydney Morning Herald you’ll find this story (it’s not even on their homepage, you have to dig to find it): Experts dismiss Treasury concerns over job cuts:
ECONOMISTS have rejected NSW Treasury estimates that the carbon tax would slash 31,000 jobs in the state.
Professor John Quiggin, from the School of Economics at the University of Queensland, said the job figures were ”meaningless” because they failed to take into account the larger number of jobs likely to be created in renewable energy industries.
Bill Mitchell, a professor of economics from the University of Newcastle, said the carbon tax would actually increase jobs.
Yet yesterday’s front page screamed this: Carbon tax ‘will cost’ 31,000 NSW jobs:
THE carbon tax will hit NSW harder than any other state on the mainland and cost at least 31,000 jobs, particularly in regional areas, a NSW Treasury review has found.
(Based on the number of jobs mentioned in the story, only 9850 will go, but maybe an economist could explain where the 31,000 figure comes from. In which case, bad reporting.)
Of the 459 words in this front page story, only 72 could be considered any sort of balance. Those 72 are on Greg Combet. The rest simply – and uncritically – report the Treasury modelling. What would actually be useful in this story, and what would make it a balanced and objective story, is someone who is not a politician commenting on the modelling.
We had to wait for today to get that. And we got a story with three economists saying the modelling is shit, plus comment from the Nature Conservation Council of NSW and Greens MP John Kaye. Buried on page six. You know, without balance, political reporting is just propaganda.
So, I counted the number of voices in every national story in today’s SMH from page one to page six. I excluded the Pulver bomb story because it’s not the usual reporting style, although, it must be said, 379 words on the fictional Dirk Struan and 267 words on the use of collar bombs in Hollywood movies is taking the piss.
Of the stories, seven have just one voice. Six have two voices, but half of these are really one voice stories: one is based on a media release with a quote from a different media release; another features a single quote from a second person at the very end; and another is about the asylum seekers being sent to Malaysia and features a meaningless quip from Scott Morrison, “It’s a catch-22 of the government’s own making”. Only two stories have three voices, but are not balanced because most of the voices belong to the Coalition. One story features no quotes but gives lot of information.
The majority of stories in today’s Sydney Morning Herald are just one person’s opinion. Where’s the fucking balance in that? Where’s the journalism? You know, the thing that journalists are supposed to do and the thing that we pay for? (Oh ok, that and the DA and diabolical sudoku.)
So here’s the bit where I go “Dear Sydney Morning Herald“.
Dear Sydney Morning Herald,
I read you every day. The newspaper version, because I’m not so keen on your website. But I don’t think “we’re not News Ltd” is a good enough business model.
It’s not the celebrity stories and endless pictures of Miranda Kerr that are making your audience lose respect for you. (If I want to see famous boobies, I know where to find them on the internet.) It’s the mediocre everyday journalism.
Maybe we can do a deal? If you publish balanced stories – and that’s true balance, not just one voice from the Government and one from the Opposition – I’ll keep my subscription. AND I’ll tell all my friends that you’re putting out a good newspaper again. A newspaper that’s worth buying. But somehow I don’t think you’ll care. After all, there’s no evidence in your current newspaper that you care about your readers.