Since we’re all talking about the #MurdochRoyalCommission and complaining about media bias (#ThisIsNotJournalism), I thought it might be a good time to talk about what good journalism looks like, and why we can’t go on the way we are. A thread👇🏻
In Rudd’s statement urging people to support a Murdoch RC, he said media is no longer a level playing field. Media is supposed to represent a market place of ideas where groups compete fairly to have their perspectives heard. Different sides of politics, different interests etc.
This ideal is the reason Rudd called for a stronger diversity in Australian media outlets. Australia is the most concentrated media industry in the world. This, coupled with Murdoch’s partisan media and his huge share, means our media is anything but a level playing field.
As well as finding Murdoch engages in ‘campaign journalism’ - political campaigning dressed up as news, I also found Murdoch media can set the agenda, or kick off a narrative which the rest of the media repeats and reinforces through group think and confirmation bias.
This means that not only are audiences not seeing a diversity of ideological perspectives, but that it’s not just Murdoch who are biased - if Murdoch sets agenda, we get other outlets such as Fairfax/Nine and even the ABC singing off the same hymn sheet. The narrative gets stuck.
The inflexibility of news narratives explains why we see media stuck on train track narratives such as the relentless month long attacks on Andrews over hotel quarantine in Victoria. While the pack behaves like this, alternative perspectives are blocked. There is no diversity.
This is why the only story we hear is ‘Andrews is entirely responsible Victorian covid crisis’, but why Ruby Princess was given nowhere near the same scrutiny. Nor were federal govt actions such as slow 1st wave border closures or lack of aged care plan. These don’t fit narrative
There are various reasons why journalists follow each other down narrative train tracks - you can eventually read about them in my book. One reason is that journalists believe they are more credible than anyone else so accept each others’ versions of reality without verification.
Another is that journalists believe they have all been trained to be objective and therefore assume they can see the world more clearly than anyone else - hence why they call people who call out one-sided attacks on Andrews ‘Dan Stans’. We are automatically wrong, they are right.
Objectivity is not a state of mind, it does not give journalists magic powers and it doesn’t automatically lead to diverse perspectives. Instead it is a method that must consciously be used - open mindedness, seeking expert analysis, challenging assumptions, avoiding judgement.
Balance is also more difficult than getting a quote from ‘both sides’. Balance is not just about giving space to different voices - it’s about allowing different voices to influence the way a story is told instead of writing the story first and only choosing views that fit.
Journalist also have to accept that they are biased and account for that bias. Every human is biased - we all have values, ideologies, genders, generations, exist in cultures and classes which become the lens through which we interpret the world. Journalists are no different.
As Jay Rosen famously said, there is no such thing as a ‘view from nowhere’. Journalists have to accept bias is inherent in journalism, and correct for it. That means consciously avoiding assumption that someone who doesn’t see the world same way as them is ‘a troll’ or ‘nuts’.
Last thing, journalists also have to accept they have power to shape public discourse. They are not powerless conduits, reflecting the world like a mirror. They have the power to decide what information the public find out about, what is considered important, and the stories told
With power comes responsibility. If journalists could start using this power carefully rather than defensively, perhaps non-Murdoch journos could start holding Murdoch bias to account, in the public interest. None of this is too much to ask. Please sign the petition! 👇🏻🙏🏻End

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More from @Vic_Rollison

8 Oct
One of the most ridiculous threads of the obsessive narrative comparing Victorian contact tracing to NSW (Vic = bad, NSW = perfect) is assumption speed to publish locations on a website 5 people visit is more important than physically contacting those who might have been infected
I thought the comments from Brett Sutton about the situation in Victoria were quite illuminating - highlighting the challenge Victoria have had contact tracing cases which have occurred in large families which then involve up to 10 workplaces.…
Affected workplaces are not posted up on twitter or a website to announce a case has been found there. Workplace tracing doesn't happen in the same way as tracing people who have been to a restaurant. But of course these differences are just ignored to keep that narrative alive.
Read 6 tweets
17 Sep
Again I'm having to call out @rachelbaxendale's misrepresentation of Victorian covid data in her never ending campaign to blame second wave on Vic contact tracing failures, and in turn Dan Andrews. This time she's ignoring a key event in her comparison timeline. A thread👇
If you missed last installment of Murdoch media misrepresentation of covid data, you can catch up on it here. NSW international arrival figures were left in to skew contact tracing data results in NSW's favour. I showed Vic and NSW are indeed comparable.
This time @rachelbaxendale is claiming she's got smoking gun data to show Vic had more cases under investigation than NSW did when they reached 10 community transmission. But this data comparison misses a key difference between Vic and NSW. Vic went looking for undetected spread.
Read 8 tweets
8 Sep
It seems @rachelbaxendale and @Australian are misrepresenting covid data to make it look like Victoria doesn’t contact trace as well as NSW. They’ve played a trick by leaving international arrival cases in figures. Take them out, and Victoria and NSW almost the same. A thread👇🏻
Here is data Murdoch media is using to spread false narrative about Victorian contact tracing. They claim Victoria have been unable to find source for 22% and NSW unknown for 10%. This is not a fair comparison as NSW figure is a percentage of total including international cases.
If you just compare locally acquired cases, which is the only relevant data to compare contract tracing, Victoria has been unable to trace 24% and NSW 23%. Graph below.
Read 5 tweets
6 Sep
Every time I hear people like Morrison and Frydenberg complaining about Dan Andrews’ playing the long game to avoid the health and economic disaster of a third wave of covid, I think of the marshmallow experiment in delayed gratification. A thread👇🏻
The marshmallow experiment is a way to check whether 5 year olds can delay gratification - you put a marshmallow in front of them. If they can avoid eating it for three minutes, they get a second marshmallow.…
The study has shown that 5 year olds who can delay gratification are more successful later in life. Being able to suffer in the short term, to be patient, to resist immediate rewards for a better reward in the future, is apparently an important characteristic in life.
Read 6 tweets
26 Aug
Since I know how media narratives are formed and spread, I'll explain how the 'NSW is better at covid contact tracing' narrative has been used in the 'it's all Dan's fault' narrative by the Liberals, and how the media (and many in NSW) have bought it, without evidence. A thread👇
Facts that don't fit a narrative just bounce off. So I'll start with some facts in case you think I don't have any evidence to show contact tracing in NSW is broadly comparable to the results in Victoria. This graph shows local transmission in NSW and Vic since pandemic began.
The graphs shows that if you're to judge contact tracers on how many cases they identify as connected to another (which I think is the best measure of overall effectiveness), NSW has 24% unknown and Victoria has 25%. This includes the last two months of crisis in Victoria.
Read 23 tweets
13 Aug
When people talk about fake news, they often say the problem is social media. This characteristically lets mainstream media off the hook. But fake news - such as security guard sex in quarantine hotel - reported by ‘legitimate’ news sites spreads across media. A thread👇🏻
I’m not sure who the first journalist was who reported rumour that security guard caught covid in Victorian quarantine hotel by having sex with guest. People are saying it was Herald Sun. Whoever it was, they did it without verifying if information was credible - true - or not.
One of the most important steps in journalism is verification of source information. Whether journo who spread the rumour heard it from a mate or just made it up, they didn’t have evidence that it was true (because it’s not true). Yet they still published it, and then it spread.
Read 13 tweets

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