Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Stephen Harrington, and how to be a Murdoch lackey in one easy step and one simple-minded column ...

(Above: as always, in case of media inquiry emergency, we break glass and trot out First Dog. More First Dog here).

And another thing:

Is there a more nauseating spectacle than to find a columnist joining in a conga line of self- congratulation and smarmy pandering, parroting the party line like it's nineteen ninety nine?

Not really, and if you want a prime example of how to make yourself a spectacular goose and a suck, look no further than Stephen Harrington's punch drunk effort for The Punch, in A pointless, political inquiry that misses the point.

How to tell you're being a suck?

I was going to say that the media inquiry then, for all its good intentions, is a largely symbolic but essentially pointless exercise. It was really precipitated by events that occurred overseas, and it really only seems to exist in order to appease the Greens.

But then David Penberthy got there first … the bastard.

Still, I would like to very much second his argument.

Yep, that's pretty fine suckery. But how can you tell if someone is determined to be a first class suck with bars and epaulets?

The people that create that news are also an increasingly diverse group.

From the re-tweets of Andy Carvin to the truly amazing, passionate work of Matt Taibbi, to Laurie Oakes’ insightful, measured analysis right here every Saturday we have a smorgasbord of amazing work literally at our fingertips.

Yep, never mind media ownership, Laurie Oakes will set things right, and in The Punch on a Saturday, when even the raving ratbags and bubbleheaded boobies in the comments section nod off to sleep.

And how do you know you're reading a pandering piece which deftly avoids all the issues?

Let’s be honest, the very high concentration of newspaper ownership in Australia isn’t exactly a new problem, is it?

The last time I checked, there weren’t a bunch of people queuing up to start a scarcely profitable daily newspaper.

Uh huh. But of course this ignores the favourite meme of News Ltd hacks, which is that if anyone's got a problem with the current situation and the activities of the Press Council, they should run off and set up their own newspaper.

But do go on:

And I don’t think John Hartigan sneaks out at night to personally sabotage the competition. (Note to editor: does he? Please check before publishing.) (Good of you to check. That’s a no. -Ed.)

Oh what a first class suck. There's nothing more painful than using really weak humour to become completely offensive.

Now don't get the pond wrong. There's nothing wrong with sucking or licking or any of the other activities you might conduct in the privacy of your bedroom, with or without the lights turned on, depending on your personal preferences (the pond prefers lights on). Even at the beach if you like ...

But sucking this way, in public, in an opinion piece, is a most bizarre spectacle, all the more astonishing because Stephen Harrington's brief profile assures us he is a Lecturer in Media and Communication at the Queensland University of Technology.

Dear sweet absent lord, won't you hear the pond's prayer for the students of Australia, or better still, the prayer that Harrington be given a job at News Ltd. so his inane prattle can become part of the hive mind ... without all this Penbo pandering and parroting of the Murdoch party line.

Of course the one thing you can reliably rely upon is that the minute someone announces an inquiry into something, the subjects of the inquiry will immediately announce that everything's fine, everything's hunky dory, there's no need for an inquiry, self-regulation and/or no regulation is working spiffingly well, and besides have you looked at the need for the commercial broadcasters to be the subject of an inquiry ... or the radio stations ... or the magazines ... or the unions ... or the Sydney Institute. Well anything or anybody, just not us at the moment please ...

Harrington perpetrates a perfect smokescreen of alternative issues, as you'd expect of someone intent on proclaiming everything is for the best in the best of all possible media worlds ... except in commercial television of course, which desperately needs fixing.

The result of adding this enfeebled cheerleader to the general media clamour?

Well it almost seems like when there's plenty of smoke there must be fire, the way the Fairfax and Murdoch hacks are howling and writhing and suffering in a hell of torment at the indignity of being subject to a review, the kind of review they hand out to everyone and any body on a daily basis (correction to be published on page sixty nine under the advertisements for massage parlours that fill up precious pages in the Daily Terror)

Who knows what the media inquiry will make of its brief.

If it's sensible, it will recommend fixing the funding and the effectiveness of the Press Council, and that'll be about it, but that will be a good outcome ...

Right now, if you're aggrieved about your treatment by the print media, see how you go about rectifying it, unless you happen to be able to use some specific clauses in a specific act, of the kind that nailed Andrew Bolt.

Defamation? How deep are your pockets?

Indignation and complaints to the Press Council? See how far that gets you ...

Complaints to the newspaper concerned? Well it helps to be the PM if you get on the blower, and want to be put through and mount a whinge ...

The notion that an inquiry ipso facto is simply pointless and political is a pre-emptive, judgmental bit of silliness that entirely misses the point, and in the process pointlessly abuses the integrity of the people conducting the inquiry.

Now the hare has been set loose, the way to judge it is when it arrives on the dinner table. All the shrieking and wailing and gnashing of teeth is not likely to change its path, but perhaps might make it more obvious to the people conducting the inquiry that the fix is in, and that in some areas the fix might well do with some fixing ...

And once that inquiry's done and dusted, let's hold another inquiry into the outrageous way Foxtel is sticking its paw into taxpayers dollars to fund shows that are then sent off behind the paywall, thereby excluding two thirds of said taxpayers from watching the fruits of their labours.

And then let's have an inquiry about commercial television, and the way it dismally fails on the matter of Australian content, and routinely treats its viewers as mugs, and scrapes the bottom of the barrel with sensationalist distortions called 'current affairs'.

And then let's have an inquiry into ACMA, perhaps the most useless and obfuscating regulatory body in the country.

Oh yes, we could have plenty of inquiries into the media in this country, one a month if you like.

Meanwhile, Harrington's cheerful idle contemptuous abuse of the current media inquiry is another example of why the pond considers calling for an inquiry into The Punch on a daily basis ...

(Below: and the rest of the First Dog musing. Remember anyone can start an international media conglomerate if they really want to. Click to enlarge).

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