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Tuesday, 1 October 2013

An Open Letter to the Nation

I was watching Newsroom (not great but it has a couple of important ideas). The gist is, the news needs to go back to being ACTUAL news. Not voyeurism, not gossip, not entertainment. Actual important news. And the reason? So the viewers can be informed and educated, and make informed votes. Informed voters actually voting for real policies, not popular sound-bite media spin that means nothing. One of the characters, when demanding a change, says "I'm too old to be governed by the fear of dumb people."

Think back to the last election - all parties. What were the REAL policies? What was the media saying? Was there any connection? Or was our news just advertising?

In Fahrenheit 451 the genius Bradbury says “If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him, give him one. Better yet, give him none." He goes on to say, give them competitions, so they can feel like they're moving forward when they're actually going nowhere. That was written a long time ago but it's an apt description of our media today.

The news can do it, this fluff and human interest, because that's what the people want. I get news emailed to me - of the 4 lead stories today, one is an AFL drafting and one is about what Miranda Kerr wore. I find it hard to believe, in the great nation of ours, these are what I should be thinking about (and I love AFL, so it's not because it doesn't interest me). I have spent the last few months with what's happening on Big Brother or Masterchef being considered 'News Stories'. Why we have allowed this to happen is beyond me. However, as we let it slide, we are the ones responsible to demand a change.

We, the people of Australia, need to demand a change. We need to know the actual news - the 2 sides to every story, so we can make informed decisions. Maybe there are three sides to a story - lets see them all. We may not agree with each other, but we will be voting on the real issues. Not half baked catch phrases. We will understand the full impact of our choices.

Last election, we were voting on bullet points. They weren't backed up by facts or statistics. There were no sound numbers given to explain why we were choosing these policies. They were just words. Emotive, clever words, but words all the same. If you went seeking the facts and figures, the budget to achieve these policies, the how would they achieve these policies, it was very hard to find any sort of information on it. It certainly wasn't being broadcast to Joe Public in the nightly news. I'm referring to the policies of all parties, not just taking a swipe at the winning coalition. "Nothing is more important to a democracy than a well-informed electorate." We have four years to demand better information. We have four years to start to understand the impact all these promises will make. Give us the real facts. Give us both sides, in detail. Let us decide what we want.

To quote V, "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people".

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21 comments:

  1. So true!
    Today we access so much information but often, it's fluff instead of reality. Our society is drip fed through its mainstream media,tactics to keep us stupid I guess - to appeal to the lowest common denominator,
    I find that the best news is on ABC24 - only because it is just news. When I feel like fluff, I switch over.
    As for the last election - you hit the nail on the head. I walked into it blindly and cast my vote with hope that I was doing the right thing. With everything else going on in life and on TV for that matter, I was a very uninformed voter.
    I hope Jimmy Giggle does the right thing by Australia. ;o)

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  2. Great post. I do believe that we need some positive in the news to balance what would otherwise be the onslaught of negativity, but footballer gets tattoo? Some or other celebrity's 'miraculous' baby body transformation? Pass.

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  3. I hate the news. I don't read it. It's terrible to say, I know but there's such drivel and sensationalism and I hate it. SBS and ABC evening news would be the exception but I don't have a tv. Now I subscribe to 'real news' outfits via twitter and what do you know? NONE of them are Australian (except the Guardian but I still consider them an offshoot of the UK Guardian). I don't need to hear all the crappy Australian drama, sports, b-grade celebs, idiot politicians and the like.

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  4. I'm afraid I very rarely watch the news as a self preservation thing. I find it all too anxiety provoking. Still, I do agree that it should be reported responsibly, not sensationalised. And you're right, Big Brothel isn't news, unless you're a tragic bogan..*hangs head in shame*

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  5. One could read The Australian but alas it tends to specialise in one side of the news only. To be fair, if there is a story about scientists and climate change, The Australian does go to great lengths to cover the opposing view that it's all a bit alarmist.

    No wonder so many of us watch TV!

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  6. I agree. It's quite disturbing. I haven't watch TV news for the last few months. I switched off before the election. The news only makes me angry and dissapointed. There's only one thing worse than the news..... A Current Affair.

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  7. The only way to get actual news is to watch an actual news station, SBS or ABC2 - well sometimes. As a journo, the dumbing down of news shits me to tears! GRR. I have to say that Australia is very good at it, NZ is not quite as interested in who is on Dancing With The Stars! Em @ Have A Laugh

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  8. Excellent post Lydia. This last campaign had me tearing my hair out. I actually wanted to make an informed decision based on policy but found it really difficult to get any facts from the media. Rupert Murdoch's opinion, on the other hand was available by the truckload.

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  9. Well said, Lydia. I rarely watch the news these days, but remember in my days of watching the likes of morning tv in particular, real news items were few and far between.

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  10. Great post, Lydia. I hate the way the newsreaders tell us what to think about the news e.g. "Today, in a shocking display of ...." I'd prefer to just hear the news and then I'll decide whether to be shocked or not.

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  11. As a former media student in the days of old...I have to say I have officially abandoned papers and TV news for an indefinite period. I was so disgusted by the anal reporting in the 12 months leading up to the election that I have wiped my hands of it. There's no objectivity whatsoever, journos have gotten younger, less experienced and self perpetuating of total crap and lies. No-one seems capable of even asking a decent question anymore. I am saddened by it. Worried about the current government and quite frankly, would prefer to watch my toast cook than listen to any of the BS rife in my former industry.

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  12. THIS! Exactly this. Brilliant post. Every day our society gets dumber and more complacent- that's the only reason our government(s) and politicians can get away with such a lacklustre effort these days. We're all about tuning out and looking for scapegoats. Just like a big version of the crappiest, imbecilic office politics.

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  13. I don't remember the last time i actually saw the news so I have no idea what they put on it these days, but it does bother me how much power the media has. They have a huge influence and they don't always use it responsibly and that's not good enough

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  14. I want to stand up and applaud Lydia. This is so true. News isn't really news these days and it is aimed at the lowest common denominator. I get my news and opinions now via Twitter - you can get every side of a story there and it's usually more timely and relevant than any current news broadcaster. It's not perfect but it's better than Fairfax or News Ltd dribble....

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  15. In a past life, I used to work for Yahoo!7 and part of my job was pitching stories for front page space. The mind boggles at some of the stories they selected for front page versus the stories that got passed over. Colour me a 'news' skeptic. I'm with the previous commenters, ABC is the best hope we've got of any semblance of intelligent news, and that's a sad indictment on the state of our media.

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  16. This, this, a thousand times this! I actually yell at the tv now "THAT IS NOT NEWS". Especially when Angelina Jolie being in Australia is included in the scrolling news headlines. Please.
    You are quite right about the election reporting too - I felt it left a lot to be desired. We have a right to demand better!

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  17. Awesome post Lydia. Canb't tell you how much I agree. So tired of the fluff and no substance. It was hard to even vote in the election, based on nothing.

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  18. I love this! Mine own gripe is that Fairfax choses what it will publish and is so biased that it reports incorrectly and people lap it up. How many times do people watched ACA and tell it like it is fact, it is just a biased opinion, frustrates me. I turned off TV during the election because it was all just emotional crap, we voted out a party who's treasurer just won best economic advisor across the globe. We are a nation being told what to do and following one massive media organisation.

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  19. coming by from BlogsandPr ..
    Yes we do need to see news ..

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  20. I hate media hype and specualtion on the news, if it's not factual it's not news! They are good at making things into something they are not. With all the bad that goes on being reported, it is nice to have some feelgood or casual news breaking it up though.

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