Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Governments and the third-and-a-half star estate

Last night’s Media Watch on ABC TV made what I consider to be a very big call – that a Sydney tabloid’s trumped-up expose (of supposed five star hotel conditions at Australian refugee detention centres) was a calculated volleying of government (Commonwealth) propaganda.

Of course, it’s no secret that the Liberal government would like to minimise negative media coverage of refugee detention centres. Nor is it a secret that positive media coverage of the centres, “in the ordinary course of business” (as they say in tax law), is unlikely to be manifest. Conversely, it is near-axiomatic that a tabloid will, from time to time, run a trumped-up major feature that exposes some purported scandal.

While sometimes there will be a direct link between the tabloid’s crusade and outside forces and agendas (corporate or government), the more excursionary the crusade, the less absolute news value such a link will have – assuming also that it can be proven. The supposed fact of refugees living in five star luxury is so easily rebutted that, if indeed it is naked government propaganda, the real story is not of conspiracy, but of breathtaking amateurism by the government’s PR flacks.

That sheer amateurism can act as a particularly nasty smokescreen is shown by some blogs in response to another issue raised (in the sense of not being raised) on last night’s Media Watch:
http://abcwatch.blogspot.com and http://troppoarmadillo.blogspot.com

Again, a conspiracy has been wildly alleged, this time on the part of the ABC. In this case, the facts are exceptionally plain – an ABC news producer/sub-editor(/work experience kid?) reworked some news copy. The story resultantly broadcast thus was changed from the heard-it-before unremarkable – major Islamic groups in Indonesia viewed Australian participation in a war on Iraq as a war on Islam – to an unwitting scoop – the Indonesian government viewed Australian Iraq participation as a war on Islam:
http://theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,5995175%255E2702,00.html and

# posted by Paul Watson : 2:35 PM
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