Wednesday, May 16, 2012

And now to a chat about balance and poll-driven journalism ...

(Above: Chris Uhlmann).

What fun to watch Chris Uhlmann and 7.30 get done over by Media Watch, and flap and squawk about being hard done by Jonathan Holmes.

Sadly the pond sits firmly in viewer Bernie's camp:

I'd like to comment that I am unable to comment because I don't watch 7.30 anymore.

Perhaps Holmes started to feel the heat about his piece, because after several complaints about Uhlmann as presenter in the comments section, he felt compelled to add a note:

As program presenter, Chris Uhlmann would have very little input into the stories aired on the program, other than his own interviews. He would not be responsible for commissioning them, or for their detailed execution, and might not even see them before they air. So far as Media Watch is concerned this was not an item about Chris Uhlmann, whom we regard as a fair and accomplished presenter and political interviewer.

So Uhlmann's just a pretty boy show pony who fronts the cameras like all the other bubble headed blonde boobies who pretend to be journalists when all they have to do is read a cue sheet? Isn't this a job for a woman?

The 'blonde presenter', Leigh Sales, is on maternity leave and will no doubt return later this year.

Seems like it.

What a relief to discover Uhlmann is just a front of house talking head.

It seems however that Uhlmann somehow thought he was involved in the story, as he took to twitter to stand by it, as noted by Crikey here:
  • “730’s story on visa fraud was much less sloppy that episode of Media Watch … In the words of Jonathan Holmes “I disagree”“
  • “Some of the argument was incoherent. It seemed to boil down to “Marion Le was upset and we are too’. We stand by every word.”
And so on. Stand by your autocue and every word on it ...

Well if you want Uhlmann in depth, what better place to find him than twittering tweets at length @Chris Uhlmann.

140 characters full of insight, but sorry, the pond stands by its ban on Chris Uhlmann and 7.30.

Speaking of the media valiantly trying to engage with the new world of activist readers and viewers, the bizarre appearance of Judy Prisk in the Fairfax press with Striving for balance over gay marriage reminded the pond of another Media Watch demolition job which ran in April this year under the header The readers' friend or the paper's friend?

Back then Holmes and friends did over Prisk for being a friend of Fairfax journos, rather than performing any useful function in relation to readers and their concerns (especially their concern at having to read Peter FitzSimon's blatant ongoing self-serving self-promotional activities in the rag).

The show must have cut Prisk to the quick, because in her latest outing she takes seriously the concerns of a reader who keeps on writing letters - a dozen or so to date - about unbalanced coverage in Fairfax rags in relation to gay marriage, and quotes the demented soul thus:

''You and I know that the editors and subs on the Herald are either homosexuals or pro-homosexual and using the church as a sop to accusations of bias.''

Oh come on Prisk, that sort of level of argument makes him a prize, first-class loon. He belongs in the pond rather than being given serious attention by your august self:

''[The editors] have set up the church as the straw man, the only institution to object to homosexuality when, in fact, it was a latecomer to the argument and the original objection - that the behaviour is unnatural - remains obscured.''

Yes a rolled gold loon, and not just because (a) homosexual behaviour has been noted in other species in the natural world (and perhaps even the unnatural world), and (b) homosexual behaviour was considered natural in many societies, not least in ancient Greek and Roman circles, fonts of western civilisation, but because clearly he's a loon.

Strong stuff, and I agree with the readers that there is a big gap between the number of opinion pieces and stories which support gay marriage compared with those against it.

Strong stuff? More like stupid stuff. But it's amusing to see that Fairfax is now getting itself into the same kind of contortions involving balance as routinely perplexes the ABC.

The solution?

... the letters pages appear to give the two sides plenty of space to air their views.

The letters page (let's leave off the plural shall we). How quaint...

But back to that perplexing question of balance. How can it be achieved?

With an awareness of those leanings (an editorial and leading article in the Fairfax rags in favour of gay marriage), and the paucity of alternative pieces, the readers felt justified demanding equal time and space. But one editor argued that would not be appropriate because the community is not split down the middle. A Herald/Nielsen poll of 1400 voters in November, before the ALP conference, showed 62 per cent of voters supported legalising same-sex marriage; 31 per cent were against.

Poll-driven journalism! It seems coverage of an issue, and any position taken by the Fairfax rags should properly be determined by referencing poll results!

Given the current poll figures for the ALP, we look forward to the Fairfax rags transforming themselves into the wretched ratbag bias of The Australian and other Murdoch rags.

At the end of her piece, Prisk tries to get out of jail and offer some balance to her loon readership by offering up the opinions of Paul Sheehan!

That'd be Sheehan blathering on in his usual way about the human rights industry and the gay rights lobby and confected noise and moral outrage.

In a feeble attempt at balance on her own part, Prisk offers up a counter-balancing view from Paul McGeough in relation to Obama and changing public opinion in the United States on gay marriage, before coming to this prim conclusion:

Time will tell whether Sheehan or McGeough is right. I believe, however, that in the meantime, readers have made a case for more balance beyond the letters page.

More balance beyond the letters pages, presumably by running pieces arguing that homosexuality is unnatural, and revealing that the newspaper is being run by gays, and if not all gay, then gay friendly in the worst possible anti-church way.

Presumably the next step will be the sacking of all the gay and gay-friendly editors and subbies who run the place.

With a bit of luck the balanced Prisk is safe from this onslaught thanks to the insights in her column, but really is this a sensible response to her being chastised by Media Watch?

Back then Holmes quoted Prisk getting agitated about the readership getting agitated about the journos:

...last October she scolded readers who were convinced that for one conspiratorial reason or another, Herald journalists were deliberately deceiving them.
'Chasing moonbeams', she wrote.
...what possible benefit would news organisations gain by duping their readers, listeners and viewers?
Most base their whole ethos on their integrity, and the trust and faith placed in them.
Sydney Morning Herald, 19th October, 2011

Holmes urged her to get a bit of mongrel in her, by way of favouring readers and their complaints. But did he mean to include rolled-gold loons?

Well now she's gone mongrel, and her response is to endorse a loon babbling on about a conspiracy of gays at the top of Fairfax, to propose poll-driven journalism, and to quote Paul Sheehan in full foaming frothing rhetorical flight ...

Dearie me, and let's throw in a lordy lordy for balance.

It sounds like a nice gig, and we mean Prisk no harm, but really in this modern social media age does Fairfax or the ABC have the first clue about how to go about balance and engaging with the mythical "ordinary person" reader?

The ABC offers fifteen minutes of Media Watch a week, and more Chris Uhlmann on a daily basis than a koala could bear, while Fairfax offers Prisk brooding about balanced reporting of unnatural sexual activities ...

It seems to the pond that there's really only one upside, and that at least there's this comical, furtive, kindergarten attempt to respond to the world. Old media are having a hard time being responsive in a way that's even remotely sensible or less than half-baked.

But at least it's in contrast to the feral world of the Murdochians, who simply lather up the readership into a fine old frenzy about the impending end of the world as we know it, thanks either to unions, the Labor party, the Greens, gays, gay whales, and all the other usual cliches and baleful stereotypes they deploy on a daily basis.

Introspection isn't a virtue admired in the head-kicking world of News Corp, which might explain why their operatives are easily baffled:

Baffled? How easily The Australian's coverage strikes the right note.

So baffling ... bewildering, bamboozling, dumbfounding, disorienting, befuddling, bemusing, confounding, dazing, disconcerting, mystifying, perplexing, and perhaps even stupefying, and as usual you can read more about it in The Guardian's media section.

Yes, yes, it's all a conspiracy of gay and gay friendly editors, but at least it offers the chance to end today with another bit of Steve Bell.


Quick, call Judy Prisk. There's an imbalance in the force ...


  1. I wish I'd seen that Media Watch. It would've been great to see Uhlmann taken to task by one of his own. (And it's interesting that he seems to be as thin-skinned as any "journalist" working for The Australian.)

    I saw that story about the fake reffos, and my first thought was "bullshit." My second was "hmm ... disgruntled former employee of the Immigration Dept."

  2. This blog is so damn GOOD! I love the pond, but I must say, DP, I almost feel as though your talents are going to waste

  3. Remember David that catch-up TV is your friend:


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