One of the hottest topics on my Twitter timeline is biased media coverage of federal and state politics. I will confess that I have occasionally thrown a bit of wood on the raging fires of discontent myself, especially during this year’s federal election campaign. However, I do part company with some of my social media peers in relation to how politics is covered by the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, our independent, non-commercial, electronic media institution (for my non-Australian readers)).
Firstly, it is a given that the local outposts of the Murdoch media empire will be anti-Labor and anti-anything-progressive close to 100% of the time. And, yes, the former Fairfax publications – The Age et al – sometimes seem to less independent and impartial since they became part of the Nine Media group. However, I am very confident that these ‘legacy media’ wield much less influence on public opinion than was the case, say, 20 years ago. Activity on social media such as Twitter is a significant factor in that declining influence. Another is that the audience for some sections of the legacy media – The Australian newspaper is the exemplar – has shrivelled to the point where it largely comprises persons who already hold the same views as the biased journalists.
I have some friends who browse conservative media to keep up to date with what ‘the enemy’ is up to but not because they’re too worried about their impact. I’m sure there are still those who feel agitated by the latest brazen distortion of something a Labor government has done or said but, from what I read on Twitter, there are many more who ‘laugh in the face of danger’.
Now, back to the ABC’s political coverage.
First of all, I suspect a lot of people whose paths I cross have an expectation, a hope at the very least, that the ABC’s political coverage will somehow make up for all the bias spewed out by the Murdochs and their ilk. Well, that’s not going to fly because the ABC is obliged, within reason, to try to cater for Australians of all persuasions. And, in my limited experience to date, social media activists, taken as a whole, do a pretty good job of correcting the worst effects of the blatant bias of other media.
Then there is a view that, now we have a new government and, in our opinion, it’s a pretty good one, the ABC shouldn’t give representatives of the federal opposition anything like as much airtime as it gives to government members. Well, Australia is a democracy and, outside of Western Australia, is not a one-party state. So, the ABC is never going to behave like the government-controlled media in, say, Russia and China. Besides, on any given subject, the ABC can, and often does, bring in one or more expert commentators who are not politically aligned
And finally, there is the position which was expressed in this example from my timeline this morning:
“Michael Rowland says he can’t understand the reaction of social media to opposition ministers being interviewed on the ABC. I’ll tell you why, because they are never asked about the shocking damage they did to this country, never asked about rorts which may see some at ICAC.“
Well, at some point after the last election, some questions that seemed so important, say, four months ago, must lose their currency. Besides, we the voters retain our memory of the failings of the Morrison government and we use social media to keep those memories alive. And, soon enough, an independent national anti-corruption body will come into existence, with powers to probe that will far exceed those of even the most diligent investigative journalist.
My last word on this topic is this. I am more than happy for opposition shadow ministers to be interviewed by ABC journalists quite often. Why? Because the opposition has been reduced to a rabid rabble and pretty much every time one of their number speaks publicly, they remind us of how lucky we are that they’re no longer in power.
Cheers for now