More Omega Journalism from the #mediacarcass

Here I cite this article by Annabel Crabb [fn1]. Here she defends the fact that all questions asked at press conferences are race calling in nature on the fact that policy literature isonly given to journalists at the beginning of the conference, and that the harried journos just don’t have time to digest it. Then follows a lengthy piece of discussion about press conferences.

The response is obvious. Was there no time for the journos to digest enough to even describe the policies before the nightly news/the morning paper or the self appointed flexible deadlines of the online world?

Was there no time to write a story that included any policy detail, only time enough to write vacuous race calling in the hours before the deadline?

Was there no space the day after to describe policies that will affect the country for years because they’re in a pointless race to nowhere against competitors to be the first with nothing?

Or was it because the space was needed for stories about the absence of a story, such as speculation about Lindsay Tanner leaking things?

It’s professional failure enough to be unable to ask a question on policy, but not to even be able to describe what the policies are in any detail (let alone critqueing them) based on demands of a self inflicted media cycle, and to fill papers/broadcasts invariably with race calling is abysmal.

What are they doing with all that time after the conference when they’re not reading the policy? Thankfully Annabel provides the answer. They seem to be thinking, and writing at great length on press conferences, the press gallery and self justification. Omega Journalism. They might be bored by policy, but my god, are they absolutely fascinated by themselves.

[fn1] I’d say Inaneable, but that’s the standard of wit that got her employed by the ABC. I have pretensions to something more.

About Richard Tsukamasa Green

Richard Tsukamasa Green is an economist. Public employment means he can't post on policy much anymore. Also found at @RHTGreen on twitter.
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Mobius Ecko
Mobius Ecko
11 years ago

Yes isn’t it something. They never have time to research and write on the facts and detail of any policy, government program or political incident but they have all the time in the world to research and write stories on defending themselves against plausible attacks on their lack of professionalism and obvious failure.

NMG
NMG
11 years ago

You forgot to mention the pressure journalists are under to write Twitter posts between articles too. I’m blown away by the workload!

Annabel managed to squeeze several tweets in a hour during a press conference yesterday; highlights include: “The PM is inside a QLD nursing home. Latham lurks outside like a hungry barracuda. Too bizarre” followed soon after by “Kim Beazley expected to arrive soon with pie cart”.

Ah, to be a member of the Press-Gallerati! Who would have time for policy?

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
11 years ago

Thx Richard, I read the article and thought it was extraordinary. Not the article, but what it described. A kind of dystopian fantasy. It didn’t shock me particularly, in the sense that one can imagine that it must be the way Crabb describes it for it to be spewing forth what it spews forth every day. But, a bit like the smallest, most commonplace details of Primo Levi being the bits that cut through the most, the description of what happens on a campaign is extraordinary.

It’s come to this. A kind of carnival of meaninglessness – at $20,000 a person. And this is so that journalists can capture the manufactured photo-opportunities, participate in them, hold up numbers from 1 to 10 for them like they do in Dancing with the Stars.

Why?

Mr Denmore
Mr Denmore
11 years ago

Things are this way because the media is incapable of imagining them any other way – so lacking imagination are they and so locked into their self-referencing and self-reinforcing production cycle.

The speed of modern technology has over-run their ability to say anything sensible or enlightening, so they run on the spot – blandly recycling claim and counter claim without checking against the facts or emitting ever shallower platitudes masquerading as “analysis”.

In the meantime, their lords and masters hold endless post-mortems of their busted business model, grimly holding onto a few shreds of relevance.

Geoff Robinson
11 years ago

Journalists seem to lack a bullshit detector, example the Murray-Darling basin on which Abbott promised action of an ill defined sort. Either you agree with irrigators and the Nats and deny the overallocation problem or you admit that there is an overallocation problem, yet Abbott will never be asked which side in the debate he agrees with. Labor leaders in the states have got away with similar evasions.

Doug Gilbert
Doug Gilbert
11 years ago

And how is citizen journalism/new media — if that’s what you think you do — any better? Where’s the instant analysis of policy? Where’s any analysis that’s not smug, self-obsessed or self-congratulatory?
Bloggrs and amateurs have a long way to go before they can halfway replace the media we have — flawed as it is.

Alex White
11 years ago

Richard – I completely and wholeheartedly agree. Every time I hear some so-called journalist complain that this is a boring election, or that there hasn’t been any policy announcements, I feel compelled to point out that in fact it’s the journalists’ obsession with each other that is the toxic problem.

There’s a really good discussion of this problem over at the Political Sword, which I’ve discussed here: http://alexwhite.org/2010/07/the-boring-election/

Jaded Hack
Jaded Hack
11 years ago

Annabel is a colour writer, a specific role for a journo who displays very creative and descriptive writing skills – and it’s quite hard to do. The fact she spend considerable time writing this long piece is a tribute to her generosity.

These criticisms of her very accurate (and funny) article on campaign life miss the point. Don’t criticise what you don’t know how to do, unless you’re a reporter of the same quality, experience and peer acknowledgment.

Reporters following the leaders are damned if they don’t and damned if they do. Do you think most of them like working in the electronic equivalent of a sausage factory? I dnn’t think so.

I declare an interest in that I am a former journalist who has reported on elections in the dim past and the quality, or lack thereof, of this election is directly reflected in the quality, or lack thereof, of the reportage, in my opinion.

sean
sean
11 years ago

I’m glad somebody has said something about the inanity of annabel crab, who’s absolutely vacuous coverage of politics is really nightmarish in its kind of complacent middle class assumption that politics is all just an amusing circus. If she wants to be a comedian let her go do stand up somewhere.

As you say, its a problem across the political journalists most of whom could just as easily be writing the gossip column for the women’s weekly.

PhilGC
PhilGC
11 years ago

Research takes time, thought and effort, often away from the spotlight. Wit trumps hard work. Life is tweet.

so jaded I can't even begin to explain
so jaded I can't even begin to explain
11 years ago

Dear Jaded Hack,

As a former colleague of Annabel’s I agree that she is an extremely witty and talented writer.

But please don’t talk about her “generosity” in writing about life on the press bus. She was paid a very high six-figure salary by Fairfax for her writing and would have been offered a lot more to move to the ABC.

Not having a go at Annabel here but Jaded Hack’s suggestion that a highly-paid columnist spending a lot of time writing an article is an act of saintliness made me chortle.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
10 years ago

Jaded Hack gives the game away. Journalism is entertainment – that’s it, there is no more. The emptiness or inanity of the rest of the contribution, is irrelevant. And Annabel is more entertaining than others – and entertainment is hard. So is lifting barbells and any number of other things, but that doesn’t make it worth doing on the ABC news.