Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Personality based rabid, ratbag, abusive, activist journalism? Is there a tabloid ratbag like Miranda the Devine in the house to show it's done ?

There's some great splashes today in the whirling, rotating splash of doom at the top of the digital page in the lizard Oz.

The pond particularly loved this one featuring Greg Craven: I demand to be believed!

Only a fatuous fop of the first water could offer a sub the chance to splash that line at the start of the story.

Though at least it's not quite as bizarre as a line like I demand to be relieved ...

By golly, he really did have the urge to tinkle ... and he spent more than a penny on words designed to suggest he's more than a Poodle lover ...

But the pond couldn't dally with Craven cravenly dallying with the Poodle Pyne, because right away another splash caught the eye and took the pond's attention:

Sadly it seems that the reptiles couldn't be bothered drumming up a photo of the Devine, who might henceforth be noted as """.

But it was passing strange. Why have the reptiles called on someone from the Terror to cover the bases for Sharri? Isn't Sharri big enough and old enough to stand up for herself?

No, sob, you see poor Sharri has been a victim of a Twitter assault of the most vile kind:

The Twitter hit squad of journalism academics and cranks rounded on one of their favourite targets this week, The Australian’s media editor Sharri Markson. 
 “POOR Shaari (sic). Doesn’t realise the difference between a columnist and a reporter,” wrote University of Technology, Sydney, journalism academic Jenna Price. 
“@SharriMarkson activist non-journalism by used-to-be-a-newspaper”, wrote former Fairfax political reporter turned “citizen journalist” Margo Kingston. 
 “@SharriMarkson so remarkably lacking in selfreflection on your activism & understanding of Journalism & it’s (sic) history. People laugh at you,” wrote Wendy Bacon, a retired UTS journalism professor. 
People laugh at you. Bacon deliberately chose those words to wound, to exclude. Later she corrected the tweet, without apology, to, “People laugh”. So what prompted this bitchy put-down of a younger colleague by baby boomer feminist journos? The truth. Markson had written a news story in which three media executives decried the rise in activism and opinion in journalism.

No actually people do laugh at Markson, and not just behind her back, but right in front of her, right at her.

The pond has to declare an interest here. The pond took time out to laugh at Markson in a recent post here.

But the pond pleads an excellent defence. That's because Markson's Activism a threat to journalism (behind the paywall to help keep the world sane) was both inane and silly, and coming from the certified home of activist journalism, a home which routinely conducts jihads on all sorts of people, verifiably hypocritical as well as stupid and absurd.

Or if you like, worth a good laugh.

And as if to prove the point, the reptiles don't publish Markson arguing a defence for her piece. Instead they drag in a rabid tabloid heavy hitter to kneecap the opposition.

Never mind the arguments about Markson's piece, just label her foes academics and communists. Here's how it's done. First a few vague lines in defence:

Crikey publisher Eric Beecher, former News Corp Australia chief executive Kim Williams and The Australian’s editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell all warned of the threat of activists and academics who hijacked journalism for ideological causes and who drove the news agenda through social media.

Yes there you go, the Devine saying with a straight face and not a hint of laughter how great it was of Chris Mitchell to warn of the dangers of journalism hijacked for ideological causes, and never mind that the likeliest explanation of why The Australian wallows, with small, loss-making circulation figures is its embrace of activist journalism of the most ideological kind.

It certainly helps explain the nausea readers experience when noting the way the reptiles have hijacked journalism for sundry assaults and vendettas, from hapless figures like Julian Disney through to Clive Palmer, and from the NBN through to climate science. Usually personal, rarely about the issues ...

For example, the poor old APC has presented rebuttals and corrections, here, but when the reptiles are on a jihad, Julian Disney better watch out.

Media Watch provided a pdf here, but the show is worth watching again here to discern one of the key complaints about the reptiles.

You see it can't be said often enough.

One of the main ways the reptiles have hijacked their journalism for ideological causes is reflected in the way that they always assault individuals. It might be dubbed the Chris Mitchell Manning Clark school of journalism, which is to say never let the facts get in the way of a personal assault.

Got a problem with the APC? Assault Julian Disney? Got a problem with climate science? Don't argue the science, assault the climate scientists ...

And so on and so on and sure enough, the Devine shows exactly how it's done. It's defence of Markson by personal assault. The Devine doesn't even bother to contemplate that Markson might have written something ineffably twittish. Instead she aims all guns on the bearers of that bad news:

Step forward, Bacon, Price and Kingston. Kingston at least isn’t in charge of training a generation of journalists at one of the country’s most sought-after communications faculties. She just camps out with anti-coal-seam gas protesters. But Price is the undergraduate co-ordinator of journalism at UTS. I know her as an amiable former Sydney Morning Herald letters editor. She sees no conflict between her work as an educator and her online activism, most notably her Destroy the Joint campaign to scare advertisers away from conservative broadcaster Alan Jones. 
Bacon is her mentor, the poster child for old school left-wing activist journalism, and proud of it. “I am an investigative journalist who is also a political activist,” she once wrote. “This means that I want my journalism to be useful to those who resist abuses of power and seek social justice rather than supporting existing power structures.” 
She is a respected elder stateswoman of academe and she sees journalism as a means to achieve leftist ends. For more than 20 years she moulded young journalists in her image as head of department and professor of journalism. 
She retired two years ago but remains a professorial fellow at UTS’s Australian Centre for Independent Journalism. Or as its website puts it: “independant journalism”. There was a period in Bacon’s heyday when News refused to hire UTS journalism graduates because they had been brainwashed so successfully into left-wing activism they were useless as reporters for any successful mainstream publication. 
For Bacon, 67, the world has not changed since her days as a student editor at Tharunka and a junior member of the Sydney Push, a group of intellectuals of the 1950s and 60s who believed in free love and hard drinking. She now focuses her energies on the echo chamber of Twitter, firing off a dozen frenetic tweets an hour at times. 
Since Markson raised her ire this week, she has been busy tweeting against The Australian, Rupert Murdoch and the Abbott government’s humanitarian mission against the Islamic State. 
“Might feel differently about claims of ‘pure evil’ if AusGov hadn’t covered up war crimes in SriLanka and Israel; killed1000s on Iraqi WMD lie”. 
“As LibLabs close down debate on military action, we are reminded of why we need @Greens and independents in parliament.” She also enthusiastically re­tweets anything about #refugees: “Morrison and Abbott named in International Criminal Court submission”. Of course, she’s anti-Israel, with retweets this week such as: “ICC Chief Prosecutor says #Palestine can file war crime ­charges against Israel.” 
She retweets stories about police brutality, especially if there’s a racial angle: “Police taser black man who was sitting on a chair while waiting to pick up his kids”. Perfect. Her Twitter feed couldn’t be better if it were a spoof account sending up lefties. This is the world view of Bacon, which she and her colleagues have foisted on a generation of students. It’s their contribution to Gramsci’s long march through the institutions.

So there you have it, they're all deviants and radicals and leftists and perverts and they have the dangerous tendency to point out that it's passing strange what is going on in the United States.

Yes in the bizarre world of the Devine if you tweet a link to a hot story in the United States you're doing a lefty spoof account, and never mind that the story can find a home in The Atlantic under the header Man Arrested While Picking Up His Kids: 'The Problem Is I'm Black'.

There's a big debate going on in the United States right at this moment, for all sorts of reasons, not least shootings and imprisonments, and yet a perfectly legitimate story is dismissed as a spoof account designed to send up lefties?

There's something seriously, profoundly stupid in all this. First of all why did the reptiles feel the need to drag in the tabloid Devine to defend Markson? It creates the feeling of the bunker and the sense that we're in the final days of News Corp, with all hands to the pump to defend its activist journalism and its conflation of opinion with news (Markson dressed up her story as an EXCLUSIVE, one of the more risibly stupid marketing devices at the lizard Oz).

There seems to be only one explanation. Apparently Markson hasn't got the intellect or even the true grit to defend herself.

But if you were going to mount a defence, why allow the Devine to indulge in the usual rabid political personal abuse, which precisely illustrates why the Oz is the home to the most wretched conflations of news and opinion - especially as the Devine reaches a kind of absurdist perfection in proposing stories about the police should be avoided, especially if there's a racial angle.

Oh well there goes the pond twittering about the Cabramatta robbery attempt, and 7.30 doing a report on the doings of a former Queensland police detective. (Forget it Jake, it's Queensland, hold your nose and dream of white shoes).

I mean, just by linking to stories of police corruption, the pond could be targeted by the reptiles for having dangerous anti-police tendencies of a leftist kind ...

And there's the essential point. The pond makes no claim to leftism and has never consorted with political parties called leftist, but even if that was the case, that's not enough of an argument - unless you happen to think that Manning Clark's six volume history can be undone by telling a yarn about a Soviet medal.

You only have to read Markson for a nanosecond to realise she's a bear with very little brain, and she has also supped too deeply of the Chris Mitchell kool aid, and being said deprived bear, she doesn't know how to deal with the heat in the kitchen.

So they sent her outside, and send in the Devine as a sub and in that process, they've proved the very point about Markson the twitterers were making.

There's an even deeper problem here for the Oz. Mitchell has dumbed the paper down into a tabloid rag, where a tabloid writer is wheeled out to defend one of its writers, but while the personal wars and vendettas and jihads might have sold papers in the old days, the formula has lately gone missing. It's too tedious, too tiring to read of all the fussing and the feuding and the fighting, especially if you're interested in the facts of the matter.

Unless you happen to be the pond, always in search of a laugh, in which case every day is comedy day at the lizard Oz.

This day is pure comedy gold, and no doubt some will get the same amount of laughs out of reading Craven, but enough already, the pond is done for the day ...

Oh wait, there's one more thing, but presumably it means that Alan Moir went to a University of Cartooning, and so was born to Gramsci's long march through the institutions.

But if you substitute Chris Mitchell for that Abbott figure in the cartoon below,  and create a text saying Seal of Chairman Rupert, you get a good idea of the desperate plight of intelligent journalism in The Australian at the present moment (never mind there's more Moir here).


  1. I never quite understood why Fairfax had once employed Ms Devine, and at what seemed to me a fabulous salary package. I assume it was along the lines of Paul Sheehan: a provocative right-winger aimed at stirring up the beehive of leftist readers. But it never made much sense given the audience Fairfax aimed at, and similar type of choices might help explain why Fairfax has declined so rapidly as a profitable and credible news group.

    Devine's natural home was always going to be News Ltd, following in father Frank's footsteps. Frank, a stalwart at The Australian even in the days when it was a good journal, was a neanderthal reactionary. His one redeeming feature was a flair and aptitude for the English language, making him at times entertaining.

    Miranda is a real chip off the old block in reactionary views, with an added measure of spite. She is also good with language, as her SIC corrections above show but unlike Frank she is prepared to lead with her chin and her prejudices before checking things out.

    After the Black Saturday Fires, before even the body count was in, she rushed to print saying it was all the fault of the Greens for opposing forestry burning-off strategies. It exceeded the bounds of respect and good taste in its spiteful opportunism. And it was totally wrong into the bargain. It was as bad as Bolt rushing to blame the Norway Massacre on Islamic Terrorists before discovering that the culprit was a blue-eyed blonde with Nazi tendencies.

    But then Devine and Bolt are pretty well interchangeable on these matters, as are a lot of the News Ltd hacks.

    1. No argument here GD, measured as always, and with memories of Frank to boot. It was reading the Devine suggesting that greenies should be hung from the nearest lamp post that got the pond thinking that the Devine might call herself a Catholic, but Christ himself wouldn't recognise her as a Christian ... in thought that's what crazed Islamic fundamentalists do in deed ... and we all know what Matthew 5:28 said about looking as opposed to doing ...

  2. Heavens Dot, you must have needed a peppermint tea and a lie down after that laudable effort. The gags just keep rolling at The Lizard of Oz.
    In Cut & Paste today, one of the 34 activist attacks on Clive Palmer goes thus:
    "But it's the same old, same old in the rest of Palmerland. Tim Arvier visits the Palmer Coolum Resort for Nine's A CURRENT AFFAIR on Monday: "There are far more dinosaurs than guests...The big question for locals is how long can this go on for? Even at $30 a pop for pad thai, it's hard to see how Clive is turning much of a profit."
    Now I'm no writer, no such thing, but just a few names changed and we have this:
    "There are far more knob polishers than readers...The big question for the media market is: how long can this go on for? Even at an average wage of $187,000 p.a. for knob polishing, it's hard to see how Rupert is turning much of a profit."

    1. You've just made the pond's day via collins. What a hoot. Loved it, still cackling ...

    2. Lord knows you've earnt a few decent cackles Dot. Keep it up. Once the aged and cranky twitterer pops his clogs, the cackles are going to be in short supply when the Knob Polishers are out on the street, looking up at the stars. Where else in the world can one be paid so handsomely to rant at such a tiny readership?

  3. First Dog for sainthood! "lesbian aborigimuslims!" and "chastity fantapants"!

  4. With sales down, Devine and the rest must be getting a bit squirmy about their jobs. With coal prices down now too, well, jumping to a right wing think tank job hardly seems to be a better prospect, does it?

  5. GlenH, with ciggie sales down, price of coal down that only leaves the booze and gambling lobby to fund the alternative think tank employment. Probably explains why Roskam is running for Baillieu's seat (Hawthorn).

    1. Ah, sweet booze, it always comes through in a crisis....


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