Wednesday, February 4, 2015

To engage or diss engagement

Every night as I'm going to bed I grab my tablet and go through a supper list of American poliblogs, in what has now become a firm order. First comes Booman Tribune and No More Mr Nice Blog for a bit of leftist ranting, followed by Hullabaloo as the (relative) voice of reason by main blogger Heather "digby" Parton, then Balloon Juice and Lawyers, Guns and Money for the policy/law wonk substance. Afterwards for dessert, I read Paul Krugman and then maybe Brad Delong, then if I'm still awake a bit of Daily Kos. Of these, I probably enjoy LGM the most as it's got the meatiest material, and Hullabaloo can seem a bit like the vegetables you have to endure for your own fibrous good. Nevertheless, digby comes up with some crackers now and then that remind me of why I read her, and this one on the journey of Joe Klein is one such.

Are there any Australian journos who have embarked on the Joe Klein experience, where through the needs of the new digital age they have been forced to engage with online agitants and been browbeaten into changing their own tune as a consequence? People like Andrew Elder are crying out to be listened to by such people, and he has much the same sort of message to be delivered to the closed workshop of the mainstream media. His entreaties seem to go on deaf ears, unfortunately. Whoever it is behind the Dorothy Parker pseudonym at Loon Pond comes at the same problem from the angle of lampoonery, which can have a similar effect if anyone was reading him, which it appears few are. But it only takes one.

If there are two mainstream journos who I think may have already had the humility and intelligence to see where the wind is blowing and take on the concerns of the online community, they are Katherine Murphy and Lenore Taylor. They weren't ever really part of The Machine like Klein was, though, as they were not really spruikers for the political class and its increasingly bipartisan neoliberal hegemony. The equivalent here would be someone like Peter Hartcher or Barry Cassidy, veteran "insiders" who sorely need a dose of non-Canberra reality to jolt them out of the cosiness of their relationships with the elite apparatchiks.

I'm not necessarily blaming the journos themselves for being so unapproachable. It's a long way from Davos to Damascus, especially if you're stuck in Canberra stuffing the constantly ravenous political news hole with "content". Someone like Murphy is flat out trying to produce enough to satisfy her employer, let alone waste time feeding the social media maw.

The smallness of the Australian market, and its lack of competition, mean that many journos don't have to pay all that much direct attention to the "punters", never mind the online left, such as it is. It's not only the ABC which lacks a commercial imperative, but also News Ltd which is allowed to lose money hand over fist if it stays true to its proprietors' ideology. For the Joe Klein scenario to happen in Australia, it would probably take a cataclysmic collapse of Fairfax and/or News for their journos to be forced into much less well paid jobs at new media startups where contact with the hoi polloi was much more a function of the business model. I'm not holding my breath for that eventuality.

Millennials' response to this situation has been to turn off from the mainstream media almost completely, and it's hard not to agree with their conclusion. The media don't talk to them or speak their truth to power, so why should they donate their precious eyeballs? This is where I have immense respect for Elder and Parker, but I couldn't do what they do in fisking entire MSM articles line by line. To me, it seems better not to play their game, because it's rigged and you always lose.

UPDATE: Taylor and Murphy respond, like the professionals they are.

1 comment:

  1. Insiders is boring and has been for a long time because they are frightfully ignorant for insiders!