All the better to see pointless journalism

Why do I get the feeling that I’m going to be blogging a lot about stooopid journalism between now and September 14? I kinda feel bad for the Sydney Morning Herald because I always focus on them, but I don’t read News Ltd rubbish so I don’t blog about their nonsense.


Today’s example of pointless journalism is All the better to see the opposition with, by Judith Ireland and Shelly Horton.

Here’s the story in the paper, on page three:

Story about Julia Gillard's glasses in the Sydney Morning Herald

The large blue photo holds the story

Page three is important real estate. Yet almost half of page three is taken up by this story about the Prime Minister’s glasses. Specifically – ooh, it’s a glasses pun – what people on twitter said about the Prime Minister’s glasses.

It took two journalists.

To write 306 words.

About what three people said on twitter.

As the Adelaide writer and “vampire hunter” Michael Scott Hand posted: “I don’t remember seeing Julia Gillard wearing glasses before. Is it because THIS TIME SHE MEANS BUSINESS?”

Some punters hypothesised that the member for Lalor was courting the youth market with the trendy new accessory. “It seems @JuliaGillard is already campaigning to the hipster voters with those new glasses. Well played,” wrote Kath McLellan of Sydney.

Then again, the glasses were suspiciously similar to the pair sported by the outgoing US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. How hipster could that be?

Justin Colee (who describes himself as pro-carbon tax) had other ideas: “did @JuliaGillard borrow her glasses from Greg Combet?”

But they must be three influential people, right? People with thousands of followers, like @GrogsGamut or @HelenRazer? Nope. Michael Scott Hand has 215 followers. Kath McLellan has 29. And Justin Colee has 19 followers on twitter. Only the tweet by Kath McLellan was retweeted, and that was once. Now, I’m not trying to poo on their sandwiches. I’m just questioning the editorial judgement of using two journalists to write a piss-arse story about what three people said on twitter, and then filling almost half of page three with that piss-arse story.

I’d also like to know if Julia Gillard said anything else during her address to the National Press Club on Wednesday. Because the coverage would indicate that she rocked up, said “Election’s on September 14, bitches” and left.

Here’s how the story is promoted on the homepage: makes a big deal out of the PM's glasses

It’s a pair of glasses. Get over it.

The caption under the photo of Julia Gillard reads: “What’s with the glasses? Election announcement plays second fiddle to PM’s specs.”

If a pair of regular, everyday glasses has played second fiddle to the Prime Minister’s address to the National Press Club, then it’s your fault, journalists. So what if a few people tweeted about her glasses? THOSE PEOPLE ARE NOT THE NATIONAL PRESS GALLERY. If you thought the coverage of the last election was bad – and pretty much everyone did – then just wait to see the rubbish the mainstream media will call “news” this time.

As I’ve said before, I don’t think news has to be stuffy and serious all the time. If it’s stuffy and serious then you’re not thinking enough about how you can tell stories. But honestly, this?

26 responses to “All the better to see pointless journalism

  1. The wide reporting of Malcolm Turnbull’s tweet re: the election date being Yom Kippur was equally vapid. You’ve got to hand it to Malcolm though – brilliant IRL viral lift!

    I’m just wondering what happened to all the earnest objections to the fact that EVERY SINGLE SUSTAIN ELECTION IS HELD ON THE SABBATH! Maybe that’s why the Americans do it on a Tuesday?

    • Turnbull definitely knows – and milks – the fact that every tweet will be reported.

      As I replied to Turnbull on twitter (I don’t follow him, his tweet was retweeted into my timeline), you can’t please everyone with election dates: some people have to work, some have weddings, some have other stuff. Also, only 0.5 per cent of the population identified as Jewish at the last census. Keep in mind that 0.3 per cent wrote “Jedi”.

  2. Totally agree with your analysis, but have to admit tweeting : gillard with glasses – shit just got serious!

    Crikey gave a fairly good report on the rest of the speech, at least it listed the major points she made and some discussion of the budget implications.

  3. The embedded media seem to really not know their job. These two clowns have basically reported Three Tweeters Reckon Joolya wears Glasses. What, couldn`t they chase down and catch Mr-Rabbit to get some answers to questions. Next week, they will probably go back to that favorite theme of evil, pajama-clad, trolls with blogs not realizing any random blog-post would be better than that clap-trap. lt wouldn`t have taken two pajama-clads to do it either.
    ln other news today, rumors of random out-breaks of journalism may occur.

  4. As soon as I saw she was wearing glasses, I knew there were going to be a bajillion stupid stories about them. It’s a pity that the media is predictably shit.

  5. Wearing glasses or not has no effect on the countries future, idiot lazy journalists will effect the future. The opportunity to give citizens information and analysis that helps us choose how we wish to be governed should give a journalist bloody goosebumps from excitement , you would think, at their contribution to society. Instead we have a four eyes on the future joke in mudochs rag and SMH behaving as you posted.
    Maybe that’s why there are so many adds for booze in the papers, to help cope with the inane journalism.

    • If you ask a journalist why they became a journalist – particularly after a few drinks – the majority will say “to make a difference” or “to change the world”. And then they write stories about what three people said on twitter about the Prime Minister’s glasses. That’s so sad.

  6. The West Australian ran an article that quoted a Perth stylist (who, as far as I know, had nothing to do with styling Ms Gillard) as saying Julia Gillard wore those glasses to make her look more intellectual. Also, her make up was softer or some rubbish to make her look more maternal and nurturing.

    This is paraphrased because I didn’t buy the thing, and I can’t find it online, but it was authoritative “this IS why she presented this way” not “she may have made these choices because…”

    • It’s ridiculous that we even HAVE articles about what she looks like. This is going to be one of the worst election campaigns ever, in terms of media dumbness.

      Welcome to the News with Nipples.

  7. Leaving aside the fact that the PM donning a new pair of glasses is not news, who are these three people around whom a story was based? Do they hold any influential position in society? Are they political scientists? Perhaps they they are social scientists. I doubt they are any of these things, so why would we pay any attention at all to what they think? I don’t get Twitter (just could not be bothered), but the followers they have could just as easily be friends and family. If this is the tone for the coming election, I’m moving to New Zealand…or the Cook Islands…or Easter Island…anywhere!!

    • Twitter’s great – I love an audience for my stupidity. In seriousness, I follow loads of interesting, smart, rude, and funny people that I enjoy having conversations with. In only 140 characters, you really have to think about what your point is. But, it only makes sense once you use it, and it’s not for everyone. ManFriend uses it differently, as a way to find interesting things to read.

      Anyway. I intend to be very vocal about shit journalism this year, blogging, tweeting, contacting editors and saying this just isn’t good enough. Because I love the news but I hate what journalists are doing to it.

  8. I intend to be very vocal about shit journalism this year,
    Good, and l don`t think you will be alone. Since Joolya`s announced the election time-table, there does seem to be an out-break of awareness across the blogs, of crap reporting and Mr-Rabbit not being properly challenged on his bullshit.

  9. Agree. I definitely feel that Fairfax’s journalism standards have slipped – there are far too many articles using people’s tweets for “news”. On top of which, I am pleased to see another article about Julia Gillard’s appearance, which is far more important than what she actually had to announce.

    At least the Herald Sun (scum which I never read) had the courtesy to go with a disdainful headline about the election date rather than the accessories on our Prime Minister’s face.

  10. I agree, rather pointless. Personally, I just can’t “See” it. Sorry.

  11. I can feel the anxst in what has been written and I think righfully so no matter what political party you support all need to be aware that the media could soon be trivialising your something you feel is important and should be fully examined and discussed. There seems to be little examined detail and discussed except trivia or a beat up of a rumour. A merrigo round of theatrics labelled a scoop or beaking news.

  12. Huge difference in reporting in Aus compared to where I am living currently (Dubai, UAE). Readers in big numbers love the little “quirky” stories like the above and editors/journos want to please. Over here, it’s the serious stuff, although there is absolutely NO bad press about any govt member here. Just a thought.

    • That’s interesting. Do you think it’s better or worse? What other differences in reporting have you noticed? (I almost moved to Dubai about 7 years ago, to work on a magazine.)

      365daysindubai, welcome to the News with Nipples.

      • Gosh, where should I start?! Well the fact being that articles like the current one your discussing would NEVER make it out alive (journo included ha!) There’s regular “thank you you’re wonderful” articles written about current rulers and then there’s the “news”. More focus on the amazing (its never not amazing in Dubai, ofvcurse- this drummed in our heads constantly) things happening in the country like infrastructure and jobs and ZERO focus on what melb would deem imp: weather, football and the recent star that’s given birth. Open up the papers here and there’s also indirect reminders about non-marital relations being a no no and then the rest of the paper detailing sad affairs of the middle east’s war. (And of course an inclusion as to how the UAE is helping etc) … Oh and advertising is a bare minimal.

        • How does the audience feel about it? Do they roll their eyes that everything is so positive, or is it not something that’s discussed?

          • I get the general feel that it’s just put up with. It turns into a bit of a joke, but ofcourse nothing is verbally said in fear of reprimands! In all fairness though, it is so refreshing to read a paper here without the gossipy crap the HS or The Age (sort of) might provide. I must say, the middle east and Africa’s problems readily occupy the general public and the whole America loves Israel etc etc

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