Missing Link Friday – the trouble with talkback radio

In this week’s Missing Link Friday: bloggers complain about talkback radio; Andrew Bolt shares a bizarre political fantasy; and, tacked on the end, the usual list of other interesting stuff.

Angry radio

The whole point of talkback radio is to get the audience emotionally engaged. News and information might be the raw material, but if you think people are listening to stay informed, you’re missing the point. As American writer David Foster Wallace observed , it’s an industry "that manages to enjoy the authority and influence of journalism without the stodgy constraints of fairness, objectivity, and responsibility that make trying to tell the truth such a drag for everyone involved."

At the Failed Estate, Mr Denmore is shocked by what talkback has become:

Journalists of my generation were taught that to maintain a broadcasting licence and to meet one’s professional code of ethics, one was expected to observe laws concerning undisclosed paid comment, sub-judice, contempt of court, racial vilification, incitement to riot, defamation and just plain public decency. But apparently no longer.

He suggests boycotting advertisers and pressuring politicians to re-regulate the industry giving "proper teeth to those who police it and to take off air for good those who breach publicly agreed standards."

At Wild Woman-Crazy Crone, tarot reader and astrology aficionado GlitterGoddess blogs about Alan Jones’ recent interview with Prime Minister Julia Gillard . She writes: "The incivility is just unacceptable as is promoting hate as a way of winning the ratings games." She also suggests a boycott.

At Ethical Martini, University of Queensland lecturer Mark Hayes asks his students whether they enjoy being shouted at in the morning. Why then do they insist on listening to commercial radio?

When independent MP Tony Windsor started receiving death threats, he blamed the shock jocks at talkback radio. According to National Times columnist, Peter Hartcher: "The shock jocks are the volunteer sergeant-majors in the ‘people’s revolt’ summoned by the commanding general, Tony Abbott."

At Larvatus Prodeo, Kim writes: "so-called public debate has been debased by vicious and personalised abuse". She blames politicians:

The truth is that the vicious nature of what is wrongly represented as public opinion under all sorts of guises (“the talkback radio audience”, “Western Sydney”…) has gone too far, and those like Tony Abbott who stoke it, quite deliberately and with all intent, by – for instance – calling for a “people’s revolt” should be called for that.

Dr Wood Duck says: "The Tony Party appears to have entered the ugly drunk phase."

Martin Ferguson for PM?

The Australian’s Paul Kelly writes that Green’s leader Bob Brown has wedged the Labor Party with his bill for greater territorial democracy: "Half the party is a willing conscript to the Green social agenda while the other half rejects this agenda on grounds of conviction and politics."

This internal tension reminds some bloggers and commenters of the great Labor split of the 1950s. At Catallaxy, Samuel J writes:

The current embrace of Greens policy by the Labor Party makes me wonder whether the events of 1954/55 might recur. Back then, a number of Labor politicians became concerned at what they perceived was the growing influence of the Communist Party on the Labor Party. It led to the formation of the DLP and helped keep Labor in Opposition until Whitlam won in 1972.

Some of Andrew Bolt’s readers have had the same thought while Bolt publishes a fantasy by Ray Evans where Labor politicians join with Coalition MPs to form a new government headed by Martin Ferguson.

Other interesting stuff

Labor MP Andrew Leigh moves a motion on randomised trials.

Joshua Gans posts an update on toilet data

Matt Zwolinski has created a blog for academic philosophers who are attracted both to libertarianism and to ideals of social or distributive justice. It’s called Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

Lane Kenworthy argues that America’s political parties have become more divided but that the American public has not.

Vladimir M writes that macroeconomics shows signs of being a: "cargo-cult science: weaving complex and abstruse theories that can be made to predict everything and nothing".

Richard Posner argues that prevention doesn’t always reduce health costs.

At the Monkey Cage, Henry asks: What Drives Anti-Americanism in Muslim Countries?

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28 Responses to Missing Link Friday – the trouble with talkback radio

  1. Victor Trumper says:

    Hmm,

    I see Gans has been flushed out.

    Catallaxy apparently do not know the difference between a minister no longer being able to veto legislation in territories and the Parliament which can.
    not surprising really. Paul Kelly has caught the disease as well.

  2. W.G. Grace says:

    Homer,

    Please explain. Is this like your claim that the President of Senate gets a casting vote?

  3. C.L. says:

    At Larvatus Prodeo, Kim writes: “so-called public debate has been debased by vicious and personalised abuse”.

    That’s quite an indictment coming from the blog whose racist commenters called Noel Pearson a “coconut,” a “toad,” an “Uncle Tom” and a “half-tame blackfella.”

  4. Incurious and Unread (aka Dave) says:

    Does anybody here actually know who advertises on talkback radio? I suspect there are not many listeners amongst this blog’s readers.

  5. Patrick says:

    The first part could be subtitled many things, such as ‘sauce for the goose makes the gander sick’, or, ‘get over it already’, or ‘does anyone still read this whingeing?’.

  6. Ken Parish says:

    “Does anybody here actually know who advertises on talkback radio?”

    Yes I thought Mr Denmore’s suggestion for a boycott of businesses advertising on Alan Jones and similar shockjock programs was a good idea. I’d consider doing so, but I’m certainly not willing to listen to this sort of garbage to find out who they are.

  7. JC says:

    Does anybody here actually know who advertises on talkback radio?

    I think they’re “micro ads”… like particular car dealerships for Mercedes for instance. (No, i don’t listen to that swill).

    I don’t think calls for boycotting Geelong Mercedes is gunna work that well.

  8. C.L. says:

    Just to extend Windor’s ‘logic’, would Kim concede that her commenters’ race attacks on Noel Pearson endangered the lives of Aborigines, perhaps encouraging a mentally unbalanced person to emulate James Earl Ray?

  9. Mel says:

    Kim at LP deplores and encourages “nasty and vicious personal attacks” in equal measure, depending on the whether she approves or disapproves of the victim.

    On Tony Blair, who apparently must forever sit in the naughty chair:

    “An empty, hollow man who did so much wrong ”

    And quoting Rundle on same with eager approval:

    “But there is still the smooth alien head, the eyes stretched back to the side of his head, the mouth a rictus grin … a dead ringer for a B-movie serial killer … his face has the perennial tension of a man who is forever trying to stop his skull from breaking through his skin”

    http://larvatusprodeo.net/2010/09/02/tony-blair-a-tinkling-symbol/

    The yapping mongrels on the left are no different from those on the right, the only difference is the vastly different audience size, which presumably invokes rage and jealously in the red corner.

  10. murph the surf. says:

    Who thinks that talk back radio hosts are journalists anyway?
    The point of blaming politicians for the sins of others is just a necessary position for LP’s writers.
    They aren’t going to start expecting any individual to be responsible for their own actions are they?

  11. Pingback: Roundup 5 March at Catallaxy Files

  12. Yobbo says:

    Talkback radio isn’t journalism, it’s entertainment. Just like that drunk, racist uncle can make an otherwise boring family function much more mirth-filled, listening to a rant on the way to work is a good way to make an otherwise boring day more tolerable.

  13. Mr Denmore says:

    I’ve put a post with links to 2UE, 3AW and 2GB advertisers. So you don’t have to listen to those stations to make a protest. I’ve suggested people CC their letters to ACMA.

    Yes, talkback is entertainment, not journalism. But it’s not presented that way. And for a good chunk of the population, this is their main source of news and current affairs. It also seems fair for them to assume that the information they hear coming from the mouths of Alan Jones or Chris Smith is factual.

    We know that it isn’t. We know that the shockjocks distort information, tell outright lies and play on an ignorant audience’s fears to generate ratings points. I assume some here will reply that they are serving the needs of the market and so as long as there is demand for what they produce, well and good.

    But this ignores the fact the radio spectrum is a publicly owned and rare resource. Broadcasters are required to apply for licences before they go on air and those licences come with a commitment to meet certain standards. Otherwise, we end up with a society in which demagogues can slander and incite and defame at their whim; they privatise the profits of these endeavours, while society pays the costs.

    That ACMA is not acting to shut these clowns down suggests to me that the deregulation of the industry in the early 1990s went too far. So I’m proposing a market-based solution to get them to tidy up their act – a boycott of advertisers – and a tightening of regulation.

    Yes, many of the sponsors are very small businesses and in that case a boycott would be ineffective. But there are big names as well, including the likes of Challenger and Telstra and others – and it is there I suggest the campaign be focused.

  14. W.G. Grace says:

    Yes, talkback is entertainment, not journalism. But it’s not presented that way. And for a good chunk of the population, this is their main source of news and current affairs.

    Are you insinuating they are too dumb to realise the hourly news reports on the radio are news?

  15. Mr Denmore says:

    W.G. Grace the hourly reports on the radio are headlines generated by a network, usually separately to the station. They are the absolute minimum of the licence requirement and are generally rip-and-read off the wires.

    The only reason they appear at all is they are the absolute minimum required for the station to maintain its licence. This is a consequence of deregulation.

  16. Yobbo says:

    This is a consequence of deregulation.

    Because before “deregulation”, the news on each and every channel was fair and objective, amiright?

    Just like the fair and balanced ABC.

  17. Rafe says:

    In partial defence of Alan Jones, I listened to his show at the start of the day for a few weeks some years back, until I decided that I did not want to start the day with my head full of political dramas.

    Most of the time he was a fair and very interesting interviewer, giving time for people who he clearly did not agree with to explain their case. So far so good. He also asked the hard queations, which was good as well.

    The downside came in a minority of interviews (and I can’t say what proportion) when he just went way over the top. One episide which i did not actually hear happened when a woman had a miscarriage in the toilet at a public hosopital. Taking up the cause of a relative, he blasted the Iemma government as hopeless and incompetent on account of this regrettable accident. A health spokesman tried to explain that the woman was going to miscarry regardless of any intervention and it was just unfortuante that overworked nurses were not with her every minute.

    This kind of thing happens when some issue hit a Jones “hot button”. One of these buttons is tariff protection, he is livid about tariff reduction and he jumps down the throat of anyone who defends economic rationality in that respect.

    Maybe he has got worse lately, certainly there has been a lot of stuff under the Labor administration which justifies outrage but I can only judge on what I heard before that and I think for the most part that was quite acceptable, though no doubt galling to Labor supporters who don’t enjoy hard questions. Still, he was often equally hard on Coalition reps.

    He was certainly not in the same league of bias to compare with “our” ABC.

  18. Victor Trumper says:

    Apparently some people at Catallaxy still do not understand what is proposed despite devoting at least two posts to the topic.

    At present both the Minister and the Parliament can veto legislation of Territories. The proposed legislation will get rid of the Minister’s veto but not Parliaments.

  19. Mr Denmore says:

    I struggle to understand how some of you conservatives at Club Troppo think of the ABC as biased to the left.

    I’m a professional broadcaster and journalist by training and I have no doubt that the ABC was nobbled in the Howard years and now over-compensates on political issues – by stacking talkshows with extreme right-wingers like Andrew Bolt and other members of Rupert’s choir.

    But you go on believing that the ABC is a nest of lefties.

  20. W.G. Grace says:

    The only reason they appear at all is they are the absolute minimum required for the station to maintain its licence. This is a consequence of deregulation.

    Old dudes don’t tune in for the news only?

    I struggle to understand how some of you conservatives at Club Troppo think of the ABC as biased to the left.

    Because the appearance of token right wingers is usually in a 3:1 ratio as per “Insiders”.

    Go one believing having the odds stacked against you somehow rigs things in your favour.

    Homer: No one has made that mistake. Go find another windmill to charge.

  21. W.G. Grace says:

    Apparently some people at Catallaxy still do not understand what is proposed despite devoting at least two posts to the topic.

    Please explain. Is this like your claim that the President of Senate gets a casting vote?

  22. Victor Trumper says:

    Not my claim and it appears you still do not understand what the proposed legislation means.

  23. W.G. Grace says:

    Trumper appears to be stumped.

  24. jtfsoon says:

    Homer
    I do not have a horse in this race but I dare say if your knowledge of the Australian political system is anything like your knowledge of Germany during the second world war I wouldn’t take your word for anything.

  25. Geoff Honnor says:

    “But you go on believing that the ABC is a nest of lefties.”

    Yep and over at LP they go on believing that the place is infested with RWDB’s like Fran Kelly, Barry Cassidy and Chris Uhlmann. It is the most tedious discussion in the blogosphere and is utterly framed by ideological perspective. Basically, the unspoken narrative runs – “if people aren’t saying what I would prefer them to say, they are biased and should be silenced.” Whatever happened to the crazy idea that you might form your own judgment from a range of opinions? That you might actually listen to an alternative view and treat it as such? And spare me this tedious, infantile rubbish about Andrew Bolt’s appearances on Insiders amounting to ‘stacking’ the show. Do you really think that Andrew’s eminently predictable commentary is swaying anyone watching? Really? That Piers Akerman’s gigs are laying them in the ‘totally convinced’ aisles?

    I actually think that the ABC does a pretty good job on balance. It’s the audience devoid of critical reflection that’s letting them down.

  26. Victor Trumper says:

    Simon Crean explains the legislation.

    As usual People in Catallaxy world have no idea.

    Mt jtfsoon, you appear to be confused

  27. Rob says:

    Well said, Geoff. With you all the way. [If anyone can explain why this comment was moderated by Akismet, they get the Troppo Mercedes Sports for a whole month. NG]

  28. Pingback: Rafe’s Roundup March 19 at Catallaxy Files

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