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Hating the media

Reading the 'news'.

Reading the 'news'.

I hate the media.

Not so much journalists because I have many who are dear friends, relatives, siblings, cousins, parents, grandparents (and employers!)

I'm talking about the thing we now call the "meeja" - the ugly writhing ball of infotainment, give-the-people-what-they-want, play to the lowest, meanest, most cynically nostalgic, jejune, insipid impulses of the audience and reader - that it's mutated into. 

I can read a major news site from top to bottom and literally feel sick - not just because the endless horseshit that now passes for a "story" seems to be what people want to read, but that us - journalists and editors and news professionals, seem powerless or so lacking in imagination as to provide an engaging alternative.

I hate that some muppet with a Twitter account can become front page news for saying crap journos say every minute of the day in newsrooms, but we'll then self-righteously crusade for public apologies thinner than the stock our product is printed on.

I hate seeing drug dealers and gangsters turned into celebs in our social pages and that being born rich in this country somehow equates to being newsworthy.

I hate that photographers stalk teenage actors or brain-dead drunk drivers outside courthouses but we never see a camera crew parked outside the mansions of the multitudinous criminal corporate and political elite "because they deserve a private life".

I hate the rampant racism in our news coverage and we deny it's even there. I hate the parochialism of our "meeja" and that we do so little to educate people about the geopolitical realities that are shaping the world we live in.

I hate the lies that go unchallenged. I hate that "balanced coverage" means quoting some halfwit that "vaccination really does cause autism" or that "climate change isn't happening" despite 97 per cent of scientists agreeing it is.

I hate how some fame-whore bottom-feeder acting like an absolute dickhead on a reality TV show is deemed "news" the next day on breakfast TV and we're then given a 60-paragraph recap of their antics on a news website.

I hate the faux-feminism trotted out by women's mags after some tragic girl is raped in a third-world country (because we care so much about our black and brown and Asian sisters), then turn the page to find 87 skinny white chicks telling multicultural Australia this is how you should look.

I hate that if I click on a video of a story of some poor child being brutalised because of their gender, sexuality or religion, I first have to sit though a 15 second ad by some multinational clown factory without one board member of the brutalised child's gender, sexuality or nationality - yet they can change my life for the better with their product.

I hate that the "meeja" seems to revel in assuring us how bad and miserable a place Australia is, when we've got it better than any other country in the world. I hate, hate, hate that we actually believe it. 

I also hate some "meeja" brands more than others, even though I know the people who power those brands, shake their hands, drink with them at the pub, have grown up with them and understand the pressures they operate under.

And I don't hate alone.

I speak to people all the time who'll say how much they despise the "Murdoch Media" or "what they've done to Fairfax" or the "state of TV news".

I know blokes who couldn't name the leader of the state opposition who tell me they "hate" the sensationalism so many stories are treated with, the voyeurism dressed up as public interest whenever someone good-looking and white is killed, or a natural disaster (in Australia) delivers ratings manna from heaven.

I know mothers who hate being treated like milk trucks with stretch marks because they've had a kid - so now they're a "new demographic" who can't read a section unless it's filigreed with love hearts and rubber duckies and scare stories about kids who've choked on peanuts.

These are people who say things like "that's why I don't read the paper any more" or "I don't watch the news, it's too negative".

Most of all, I hate that the "meeja" has now become about "getting something" from the consumer - whether that's "engagement", their "buying habits", "demographics" or "aspirations" instead of giving them value: a good story, well told.

I earn my living in the "meeja" and too many days it leaves me angry, disillusioned and condescended to. So how do you reckon the general public feel?

I'll take a guess and quote a piece of graffiti that's being doing the rounds of the internet of late.

"NEWS: RICH PEOPLE PAYING RICH PEOPLE TO TELL MIDDLE-CLASS PEOPLE TO BLAME POOR PEOPLE."

I love that because it's direct truth - something I see less and less of in my industry.

You can follow Sam on Twitter here. His email address is here.

225 comments

  • Wow, first time I have read and agreed with every word.

    I shuddered this morning to see news that Telstra was 'axing' staff, right next to a photo of a man with bloodied hands holding an weapon he had just used to hack another man to death. For the first time my anger is turning to direct action - I emailed the 'scoop' email. Not much of a scoop perhaps but I bet I was one of hundreds who. combined, got the headline changed.

    Thank you for naming so many facets which feed by growing rage.

    Commenter
    nelly
    Date and time
    May 23, 2013, 5:48PM
    • i meant to type 'my growing rage', but ;by' works too I suppose.

      Commenter
      nelly
      Date and time
      May 23, 2013, 8:12PM
    • I'm just so BORED of having Fairfax force left wing ideology down my throat in article after article.
      - "the rich are criminals exploiting the poor" (we should emulate all those prosperous communist countries!)
      - "multinationals are evil" (forget the jobs, taxes and products they give us)
      - "97% of scientist believe in anthropogenic climate change" (thoroughly discredited claim - google it)

      Seriously a diatribe is just so Boring.

      Commenter
      Gatsby
      Date and time
      May 23, 2013, 11:52PM
    • @Gatsby - yeah, I did google it. Thanks. The search results included a Wikipedia article with full references. It left me with the unavoidable conclusion that those who gather and analyse climate-related data believe that humankind is contributing to global warming. Not that I was surprised by that.
      Even the Skeptical Science site that recently hit the headlines points out clearly that their review counted scientific papers not individuals' opinions. I.e. what the scientists write and discuss, rather than what some survey found that was knocked up by some 'think tank for truth' funded by fossil fuel companies.

      Commenter
      Bren
      Date and time
      May 24, 2013, 7:08AM
    • Well said, the bias in the media is becoming more disturbing with every year. The current tragedy at Ford was being spun a certain way from the moment the news broke. It was blamed on the carbon tax (all major automotive manufacturing countries have these mechanisms) workplace laws (oh yeah blame the little guy and bring back workchoices) and the high value of the dollar (the mining boom is NOT helping our economy). Maybe the executives at Ford would be scared if our media was not compliant to the wishes of the uber rich. Then they would be called to account as to why there were not well promoted turbo diesel Territories, or compact Falcon (think Camry size) or retooling their factories to produce a small car like the Focus (look at the Holden Cruze).

      Commenter
      The Fleecer
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      May 24, 2013, 7:37AM
    • Garbage @Gatsby. Surveys of the peer-reviewed scientific literature consistently show a 97–98% consensus that humans are causing global warming. Google it.

      - - -

      I agree with pretty well all of those manifestations of the meeja that you've listed Sam, but what are the causes?

      Somewhere along the line News shifted from a 1 hour window at 6pm to a 24/7 'news' cycle. And it shifted from having a service orientation to being just another consumer product with viewer ratings and a bottom line.

      Consequently, the meeja beast now has a voracious and insatiable appetite and it will quite happily consume any pap that is thrown its way ... McTwitter included.

      Commenter
      Farr
      Date and time
      May 24, 2013, 7:49AM
    • Bravo! Best thing I've read in meeja for absolute ages. How about we all do something about it and use these Comments Sections to actually democratically air concerns about the dumbing down, the lack of facts or actual 'reporting' ? I'm not interested in what Jen Anniston or some other twit is doing in the SMH....I'd like NEWS.

      Commenter
      graeme
      Location
      newtown
      Date and time
      May 24, 2013, 8:50AM
    • Is it any wonder that people like @Gatsby have issues with basic things like interpreting scientific data (its not that hard, even a muppet like ME has a BSc in Aquatic Biology) when they cannot even identify the correct articles to comment on?

      I'm personally very bored at being confronted by delusional rants like that of @Gatsby "Its all left wing propaganda!" no matter what the topic of the article itself is.

      Here is a thought - find a news outlet that suits YOUR views. I am certain that the Herald Sun will welcome you with open heads.

      Commenter
      martin
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      May 24, 2013, 9:30AM
    • Acknowledging the problem is the first step toward finding a solution.

      Commenter
      Spadeboy
      Date and time
      May 24, 2013, 9:30AM
    • @gatsby - you mean some half-wit climate skeptic came up with a "refuation" that didnt bear up to scrutiny (google that) but you like to live in an echo chamber of your own delusions so happy to claim it has been refuted. Saves you having to actually think. And I bet you even think you are a fiercely independent thinker.

      Commenter
      StBob
      Date and time
      May 24, 2013, 10:06AM

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