One of the things I’d like to do in this election campaign is to draw attention to all the (most egregious) cases where the press engage in the mindlessness of “he said – she said” journalism. That is where they report various sides accusations of the other as if that then finishes their job. Obviously us voters want information to help us tell which of the two sides stories is more plausible. And obviously enough sometimes even a hard working journalist can’t find out the information necessary to throw light on the subject. But often they can.
There’s always the next day of course, but I’m not after miracles here. Today there was a classic case of “he said – she said” journalism – well I expect there were endless cases of it, but the one I’m referring to is the situation where, one day after promising that a Liberal Government would not make any changes to the Fair Work Act until at least the return of Halley’s Comet Tony Abbott promised to – well change the Fair Work Act. He would do so by changing another act, and that would impliedly change the Fair Work Act as Ken has pointed out below.
The political stupidity or brazenness of this beggars belief, but there you go. Kerry O’Brien made a good fist of this in ripping into Joe Hockey on the first opportunity he was given. But ABC news reports confirmed to the standard ‘he said she said’ formula. Now there isn’t a clear cut right and wrong here – if the Coalition want to say that implied repeal of the Fair Work Act is consistent with yesterday’s pledge, then well and good – presumably any other part of the FWA can be likewise amended. But the ‘he said she said’ reporting didn’t really get to that point. It was as if the ALP’s lawyer and the Coalition’s lawyer were disagreeing. As Ken points out they weren’t. The Coalition’s lawyer just said that you can effect the change the Coalition wants without (expressly) changing the FWA. (How? by impliedly changing it!).
Why am I telling you all this? Because I’ve had enough. I’m mad as hell and I’m not taking it any more. Well I am taking it, but I’m hoping that maybe in this age of social media that it might be possible to mount a campaign against he said she said reporting. And though I’m flat out and so can’t give this the time I’d really like to, now is the time to have some impact. So I’m hoping that we can regularly publish articles shaming specific examples of ‘he said – she said’ journalism, and saying how the journalists in question could reasonably have actually given us information that would have enabled us to work out just a little more about whose story was more credible.
Why I’ve even been trying out a twitter hashtag – yes #hesaidshesaid. There is a small glitch, but it will only add a bit of spice and enjoyment to your day. Though largely unused, the hashtag gets a bit of a showing amongst people (Americans it seems) who want to relate particularly juicy and bitchy gossip and sniping such as this: “She said that you said to her that someone told you i was fckn thee btch, so u fkd him. Uhm, gtfo with that #hesaidshesaid”. Can’t really argue with that.
But these tweets only occur about once a day. So Troppodillians I’m hoping that you’ll email me (ngruen AT gmail) and tweet examples of #hesaidshesaid journalism using the hashtag. Of course it will take a while, but I really think if we can do a bit of consciousness raising on this one, we may be able to start making a difference.For reference, some other Troppo posts on this are here here here and here