Saturday, December 02, 2006

Journalists behaving badly

The strange thing, or so I thought, about Glenn Milne’s assault on Stephen Mayne the other night was the crowd’s – presumably dominated by journalists – laughing along with it. The herd/mob/pack instinct, caught off-guard in all its ugliness was thus observable for just a few moments.

One journo who fancies himself as having the common touch, George Megalogenis, writes today:

The Melbourne suburb of Bentleigh . . . has an interesting story to tell about the mind-set of middle Australia at the moment and why John Howard may be less entrenched than pundits think . . . Although there is an Ikea around the corner in Moorabbin, this is by no means Kath & Kim territory.

Umm, the Moorabbin Ikea actually closed in September 2005. Not that I live anywhere near it, or ever went there – but it was on SE Melbourne’s main highway, and so kind of hard to miss, whether seeing it or no longer seeing it. You really need to get out more, George.

In a rather different category of dodgy journo is Rebecca Weisser, also writing in today’s Oz.

She has a go at what looks like a self-indulgent drama of apology for an ancestor’s role in the 18th Century English slave trade, which is fair enough. But then she purrs:

In response to [the] shocking statistics, the contrast between practical assistance and self-aggrandising symbolism is striking . . . [An example of the former is] the Anti-Slavery Society . . . [which] is raising funds to purchase the emancipation of modern slaves and stamp out modern-day slavery.

My moral and practical compass is plainly very different from that of Rebecca Weisser and the Anti-Slavery Society. Alleviating slavery by buying slaves out of their “contracts” is like stopping/minimising the consumption of child pornography by buying up the negatives (if you’ll forgive the pre-digital photography anachronism here). Leaving aside the morality of so doing, it is short-sighted, in any event: today’s kind-hearted buy-out naturally creates a fresh market for tomorrow’s far-from-kind-hearted kidnapping/s.

Completing the trilogy of dodgy journos in today’s Oz is Stephen Matchett:

Both these books [Shelley Gare's The Triumph of the Airheads and Andrew West’s Inside the Lifestyles of the Rich and Tasteful] are about, and intended to appeal to, the same sort of audience. Literate, cosmopolitan people who believe ideas matter and who think theirs demonstrate they are in a state of social grace that sets them apart, or above, the rest of us.

But that's where it may seem the comparison ends. West is writing for winners, people who have done well at work, who have a quid in their pocket which they like to spend on sophisticated indulgence. Gare is addressing people who . . . don't have the money to pay for any of it.

And she is angry on their behalf about many, many things. In particular she is upset by the idiocy of powerful people, the way economic rationalists have stuffed up society and how academics have made a mess of the schools and universities . . . [S]he has caught the temper of the times for many Australians.

Amen to that, although I’d qualify the reference to sociopath “academics” by saying the word needs a B-adjective, or two. Unfortunately though, Matchett then pulls a Glenn Milne-style punch on any such ruminations:

Most important, [Gare’s] is a book for baby boomers who fear their social status is slipping in an economy where some of the old occupations, especially in education and public service, are not as admired, or as relatively well paid, as they once were.

Oh dear. However badly Australia’s worst-off baby boomer has been affected by economic rationalism, it pales in scope, if not also absolute degree, to/with the plight of the average GenXer. Xers had had no post-uni working life before the economic rationalist drawbridges started being raised, for starters. Xers also are much less likely to have the financial cushion that house-price inflation has provided for almost all boomers.

There's also the matter of what exactly boomers like Stephen Matchett have been doing in the last 23 years or so, since economic rationalism began scything through Australia. Quite predictably, of course, Matchett was in the cheer-squad for it, more or less. Here's him in 1996, speaking as a Monash University employee:

And education faces the same sort of problems, and in an environment of declining public resources, the Net, CD-ROMs, all sorts of interactive education, offer us the best opportunity we've got at the moment to compensate for the end of an era where public resources aren't as available as they've been in the past.

So there you have it, folks. In homage to the 1980s' “Land rights for gay whales” satirical catch-cry/put-down, I propose a new slogan, specifically for our out-of-touch journos: “Boomer compensation for phantom Ikeas, now!”.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?