Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Australian newspaper's move to the right

In The ABC versus The Australian - and the winner is ... Alan Stokes writes:
As mad as it might make the independents feel, the Murdoch press simply pitches confirmation journalism to conservatives who are perfectly legitimate consumers of media products.

How would I know?

Because I have split my three-decade working life roughly between Fairfax Media and Rupert Murdoch.
There was a time when The Oz was less extreme. Then the powers that be made a survival decision. I sat at meetings where News Corp executives stressed that The Australian should aim to become a conservative newspaper with story decisions seen through that prism.

More than a decade on it remains a great newspaper. The Australian has many very talented reporters.  Hedley Thomas's dogged pursuit of Clive Palmer has been laudable, as have campaigns to improve indigenous health and utilise freedom of information laws.

But too often the good journalism gets lost in the polemics.

The Abbott government gives The Oz more exclusives because they will be given less critical treatment and, usually, more space. Myriad news reports quote like-minded lobbyists, think-tanks, fellow staff and even editors at length. As noted American sociologist Charles Tilly might say, sometimes journalists just seek "a quotable bit that will reinforce the point they already want to make".

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