Enough of critique already. During the election I started a campaign to try to mix a little activism into the numerous well founded critiques of the truly crapulous quality of our media. I figured in this day and age it might be possible to ignite something via some consciousness raising and shaming using new things like the hash tag – hence my suggestion of #HeSaidSheSaid and #mediacarcase. Anyway, given that I had no time to promote it, it wasn’t a surprise that the ground did not swell.
Still I think it’s worth setting out here what I think is possible. I think a community of actors could come together to set out on a wiki a code of conduct – because I genuinely think that a lot of journalists do what they do not just for lack of time and resources – which has always been a problem and will remain so – but also because that’s the way it’s done in their trade. As there are journalists who seem to almost never transgress against the rules of this code of conduct – I can think of Margaret Simons and Peter Martin as just two examples – it’s quite possible to keep to the code of conduct. Partially in response to an emailed suggestion from me, Margaret Simons set out a code of conduct. It wasn’t exactly as I’d have done it which is probably a plus, because it’s a very engaging list. Still, I think it would be good to develop it with examples and strategies to help journalists avoid the pitfalls of their culture as it stands today.
The other thing I think would be possible would be to do is to strengthen the hand of Media Watch by building some community Web 2.0 resources to build a hall of shame and glory. Tim Dunlop has been doing some great things documenting the foibles of the media. So has Matt Cowgill and Mr Denmore whose site I shamefacedly confess I’ve only just discovered (so many good things to find online, so little time). Thus Tim outlines in detail how all the nonsensical reporting of the two party preferred vote was entirely avoidable. Journalists just needed to read Anthony Green or indeed (I presume) just read the footnotes of the Electoral Commission’s output and/or make a phone call to Someone Who Would Know. Matt bemoans the reporting of anti-wage rise spin as news including the ‘cash rate cringe’. I’m sure a lot of the reporting he complains about – and about which he is right to complain – is produced by journalists who would be quite surprised that anyone thought they were doing bad journalism.
In fact the unions have the resources to start some crowdsourced community Web 2.0 showcase of good and bad reporting on their issues. I would have thought doing so would be a good investment for them. Even if such a resource had a pro-union bias as I expect it would, it would nevertheless be a very useful repository of information and of shaming the worst kind of reporting. And surely others could build something with a broader focus. Couldn’t Crikey advantage itself by joining and energising with such an enterprise? Of course it’s not immune from some of the tendencies that are documented, but it’s still a breath of fresh air compared with the MSM including often and sadly, the ABC.
Anyway, it would be nice to see some resources come together on this. I’d be happy to throw some funds and a small amount of time that way. It would be good to involve journalism students in it. Any journalism students or web geeks want to do anything? Any thoughts?