Another meltdown at the Australian

Last month the Australian mounted an over-the-top defence of one of their pundits after blogs criticised him for spinning as favourable to the government an opinion poll that showed the opposition way ahead and no change in its lead. So how do you think they reacted to Media Watch’s criticism?

With 4672 words blasting Media Watch, including the entire editorial, stories from Caroline Overington and Matthew Warren and an opinion piece from David Salter.

Check out the unbelievable arrogance of their editorial:

When Media Watch demanded we jump to an apology and correction, The Australian was still in communication with Dr Pachauri telling him in writing there had been no misrepresentation.

Pachauri had told the Australian in writing that they had misrepresented his position:

I did not even by remote implication endorse the policies of the Australian Government on climate change.

But who is Pachauri to dare to contradict the Australian about what his own position is?

The editorial also states:

As a newspaper, we welcome critical evaluation of our work

Only if by “welcome” you mean “respond with outraged denunciations of your critics”.

Caroline Overington goes on and on about the stories Media Watch should have done instead of the one about Pachauri, eventually coming to this:

I suggest to Palmer that if The Australian – a News Limited publication – had splashed the HMAS Sydney story all over its front page, Media Watch would have swung the baseball bat with all the ferocity it could muster.

Moreover, The Australian would have expected it and deserved it.

This appears right beside the Australian‘s refusal to concede that they misrepresented Pachauri’s position.

Then we have a lengthy piece by Matthew Warren defending his misrepresentation of Pachauri’s position. To recap, Warren asked:

As you would be aware, the Australian Government is proposing to set its emission target after it has conducted rigorous economic analysis. Do you support that?”

And Pachauri responded:

“I think so, otherwise one might come up with an emotional and political response which might not be the best, and I think in a democracy it’s important to see there is an informed debate in officialdom as well as within the public if one adopts a particular…

Pachauri was saying that he supported rigorous economic analysis, not that he supported the government’s policy of delay. Now maybe Warren misunderstood him, but in that case, since this was going to be his headline, a good reporter would have asked a follow up question to make sure that he had understood Pachauri correctly. And there is no excuse for the Australian‘s ongoing misrepresentation of Pachauri’s position.

The Australian‘s blast at Media Watch finishes with:

If standards do not improve, the program should be scrapped.

Well I think that if standards at the Australian don’t improve, they should sack the editorial staff and hire some grown-ups.

More comments from Brian Bahnisch and Madd McColl.

Comments

  1. #1 markg
    August 23, 2007

    I’ve been upset with The Australian and their horrible editorial style ever since returning to Australia a couple of years ago. I first sampled the local paper here, ‘The West Australian’ and let me tell you, while The Australian is pretty awful they have not even begun to plumb the depths of true awfulosity that is ‘The West Australian’ (I coined that word just now). I turned to The Australian due to a lack of alternatives. It took a while to really get to me; it seemed as if the editorial staff of the Wall Street Journal had taken over the The Washington Post and then dumbed it down a bit (ie: a lot).

    And while I agree that the editorial staff at The Australian are pretty hopeless, perhaps when they graduate from high school they’ll realize that grownups don’t behave like this. But that’s not why they should be fired. They should be fired because of this number:129,000.

    A circulation of 129,000 in a country of over 20 million? With no competitor national newspaper? On the one hand it’s gratifying that noone (except apparently Media Watch) is reading it, on the other, the newspaper business in Australia must be damned close to dying if this is the best they can do. Are they even trying to sell newspapers? A word to the editors: your bully pulpit is only ‘bully’ if people are actually reading your paper.

  2. #2 Ender
    August 23, 2007

    markg – “I first sampled the local paper here, ‘The West Australian’ and let me tell you, while The Australian is pretty awful they have not even begun to plumb the depths of true awfulosity that is ‘The West Australian”

    Our pet rat, when we line his cage with the West Australian, gets upset because it is so bad. The only reason it is usually bought is to line the rats cage I do not read it. The most exposure I get to it, and that is enough, is reading over people’s shoulder in the train.

    Needless to say I do not read newspapers. I am far more inclined to get news off the internet and TV. I do have a feeling that the newspapers are getting old and tired and the new generation of people that grew up with online news will just not read them anymore. Let us hope however that a paper somewhere continues so I always have lining for our rats cage.

  3. #3 ChrisC
    August 23, 2007

    I lived in Perth for a while, before returning east, and became quite familiar with the West Australian. I didn’t take long, because the WA is, more or less, a carbon copy of Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Melbourne’s Herald Sun, with some local news thrown in.

    The difference however, is that in Perth, the only alternative is the Oz (otherwise known as the Government Gazette), so you have the incredible choice of a Murdoch tabloid or a Murdoch Broadsheet. Alternative political rarely get an airing, and even then, editorials are very likely to drop 600kg of ranting and ridicule.

    The “reporting” in the Oz is a farce. Often it is opinion disguised as news. Australia desperatly needs some decent media.

  4. #4 Des Carroll
    August 24, 2007

    Congratulations! As I have a proclivity for discovering what the enemy is up to, I acquired Thursday’s copy of The Oz and read Salter’s piece. All it did was fortify my contempt for the pointless publication. Long may its circulation remain low.

  5. #5 Jc
    August 24, 2007

    Tim

    This was the question the scribe asked the dr.

    “As you would be aware, the Australian Government is proposing to set its emission target after it has conducted rigorous economic analysis. Do you support that?”

    this is doc’s reposnse:

    “I think so, otherwise one might come up with an emotional and political response which might not be the best, and I think in a democracy it’s important to see there is an informed debate in officialdom as well as within the public if one adopts a particular ..”

    Now I know I’m not the brighest globe in the solar system, but what exactly is wrong, leading or entrapping about this question?

    I assume the doc was here on very urgent AGW business and wasn’t spending his time in Canberra strip joints. So why would there be any issue with this question and answer. Both seem pretty reasonable to me?

    I really confused here.

    On it’s face the Oz does have a right to be pissed with the right wing headkickers at Media Watch.

    Is the question in doubt?

  6. #6 Tim Lambert
    August 24, 2007

    Err, JC, did you even read my post?

  7. #7 Jc
    August 24, 2007

    Sorry Tim, what part did I get wrong?

  8. #8 Verdurous
    August 25, 2007

    JC,

    The question is fine. But the write-up by the OZ twists Dr Pachauri’s position and bears little similarity to his response. It is grossly misleading.

  9. #9 Prott
    August 27, 2007

    I likewise buy a weekend paper (SMH) for alternate uses – only I can’t say lighting a wood fire is environmentally friendly. But I do get a lot of satisfaction burning bits of michael duffy..

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