Poor Prince Harry has been withdrawn from Afghanistan. New Idea
has been flooded with angry website messages complaining that by
breaking the embargo, they put Harry and other British troops in
danger. What nonsense. Firstly, the troops are in danger there anyway -
two critically injured soldiers were flown home on the same flight as
Harry (who gave them that all-purpose accolade of “heroes”. Funny how
civilians - especially women and children - who are blown up in these
wars aren’t automatically “heroes”.)
I borrowed this meme a long time ago from the Perth librarian! (And I can't seem to stop the font being bold.)
Web: Daily, I read a friend's online diary; The Guardian, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, my Google Reader blog feed, Larvatus Prodeo (and of course email). That's often just the beginning, depending on my circumstances for the day.
This was the headline at the bottom of the front page of the weekend Sydney Morning Herald. It was accompanied by pictures of a woman who died in the Minneapolis (USA) bridge collapse and a woman whose husband died.
Sorry to keep harping on about being an LP blogger (not that I'm blogging there much at all, it's all in the head), but one of the side effects of my new status is that I now feel obliged to read the Australian media more consistently than I had been in the habit of doing. And it's depressing.
I work in the media, so it's not as if I'm completely out of touch with it - in fact, I'm more in touch with some sections of it than I'd like to be. But without being very aware of doing this, I'd found myself narrowing my reading (and viewing) more and more in the past few years. Maybe I should say I've been widening one part of my reading and narrowing the other. I continue to read a lot online - political news and analyses from the best places on the Web (such as the Mainly Political links on my blogroll) and many links from other blogs. I read The Guardian online most days. As for Australian media, I usually watch (or at least have the tv on in the background) the main ABC news broadcast each night. I listen to ABC radio when I'm in the car, but that's not very often these days. I read a lot of commercial Australian news and 'lifestyle' content at work. In the past couple of years, I've virtually stopped reading any Australian newspapers, except at work. I do regularly look at the Sydney Morning Herald website but find that it's becoming more and more tabloid. Co-parent gets the weekend papers and I can barely bring myself to glance at them these days, except for the weekend magazines.
I now feel obliged, however, to take a closer look at The Australian, the Telegraph and the paper edition of the SMH most days. And it's depressing.
What do I find depressing? Both the media and the message, the message and the news (which are inextricably entwined, especially in the Murdoch media). The Australian in particular takes an active role in Australian politics, hectoring and bullying various politicians (usually Labor) and often acting as a government mouthpiece. The Sydney Morning Herald, on the other hand, is regularly as disappointing as the Labor Party in its wishy-washy approach to the main stories of the day. And as I said, its website seeks more and more to be a tabloid crowd-pleaser.
I don't know which is worse - the heavily reactionary nature of most of the Murdoch news and opinion or the shallow silliness which passes for content in much of the media. I suppose by blogging I try to provide a small antidote to both, but it can feel like a hopeless enterprise.
If the BBC headlined a report about German horses winning the Derby, "Foreign invaders take Derby", there would be uproar. It would be seen as jingoistic, bellicose, xenophobic... Of course, it wouldn't happen at the BBC. They're far too culturally sensitive for that.
Not so the ABC, who seemed to think they were being hilariously clever in describing the Melborune Cup first and second placegetters as "foreign invaders" on the 7pm TV news. (They were the first Japanese horses - in fact, the first Asian-trained horses - to win and come second.) And I seem to have been the only person to blink - well, I actually gaped in disbelief. I wonder how Japanese viewers reacted.
[We once knew, in Sydney, a German woman who was married to a Japanese man. She joked that they kept a low profile on Anzac Day.]
Martin Place was almost full of people, which by my estimate (I'm an experienced demonstrater!) meant there were about 50,000 people present. It took us at least 20 minutes to move out of Martin Place into Castlereagh Street for the walk. At the end, I heard an organiser announce a crowd of about 50,000 too.
Bob Brown was the first speaker and a bit disappointing except in his closing remarks. I don't know what I expected - something a bit more complex. He was followed by John Robinson of the NSW trades union movement, who was okay, not especially inspiring. A woman from the Uniting Church activist wing who spoke about the Pacific islands which are disappearing under rising sea levels was the most moving (the compere, a woman from the Nature Conservation Council, whose name I didn't get, was very effective too). And Anthony Albanese wasn't bad - it was a relief to hear something strong and positive about Labor's policies on global warming.
The friends I walked with, who'd brought their 7 and 5 year olds, had been worried about scaring the children with apocalyptic visions of global collapse - but the speeches weren't pessimistic; in fact, they made it clear that there is a lot that can be done, now, to turn things around.
So what did we get on the ABC 7pm news? First item was a press release from the government about the supposed feasibility of a nuclear industry in Australia [with government subsidy!], John Howard telling us that Australian attitudes to nuclear power* are changing, we shouldn't panic about global warming (remain 'relaxed and comfortable, kids') and nuclear power along with clean coal (I presume he means sequestration) will solve the problem. They've released the key findings of the so-called enquiry into nuclear power two weeks early - to combat the walk against warming and the Stern report. It's a scandal that they should have been given pride of place in the main news buletin with this sordid political tactic.
There followed a report on all the protest walks across Australia today, with the Sydney walk measured as only 12,000 people. ______________________________
*"Nuclear power plants use large quantities of water for steam production and for cooling". So an I right in thinking that all nuclear power plants in Australia would have to be right on the coast and take water from the ocean (hey, a possible solution to rising sea waters!) , as we don't exactly have water to spare? The idea of nuclear energy as the solution is such a folly. And such a sop to big business. Why, why, why is this government not interested in solar power?
Why does the ABC refer to North Korea as "the rogue state" in their TV news? It's yet another instance of editorial creep. I gave up hope of them prefacing 'war on terror' with 'so-called' years ago, but is it too much to expect they might use it in this case - or better yet, stop saying "rogue state" entirely, just give us the facts and bring us comment and analysis from people who are clearly labelled as commenters and analysts.
I thought about linking to Miranda Devine's ludicrous attack on the 'vegan cyclists' who are 'responsible' for Sydney's traffic gridlock. Then I saw that it was one of the most-viewed articles on today's SMH. And I certainly don't want to give her any more oxygen (or indeed any more polluted air.)
I'm trying to ignore the Commonwealth Games. I'm essentially uninterested in them, but beyond that, I'm irked by the attention they garner from the media - the amount and type.
Listening to Vega on the car radio the other day [since someone snapped off my car aerial, it's the only station I can get], I was highly irritated when even the news reader, in news bulletins, repeatedly referred to "our team" and "our weightlifters" etc. This isn't news, it's propaganda.
However, Olle and I were home alone this evening and there was nothing else on TV so we watched the Games for awhile. The Channel 9 coverage switched between many events - swimming, sprints, hammerthrowing, medal ceremonies.
We saw Australian swimmer Leisl Jones break her own recent world record in the 100m breaststroke final. Wrapping up the five minutes of coverage that followed, the announcer exclaimed, "Words cannot express what people right across the country are feeling at this moment".
Oh for goodness sake.
A couple of hours later, having put Olle to bed and puttered around for awhile, co-parent and I were sitting talking with the TV on. A male announcer, probably the same one, came on to summarise the evening thus: "This has been an evening that many people will never forget".
Words cannot express how ridiculous I thought that statement was.