I asked Victorians to tell me what’s it’s been like to live through daily barrage of biased media reporting while also dealing with covid threat. I was inundated with over a thousand replies and DMs. I wanted to summarise what everyone told me. A thread👇🏻
Here is my tweet asking for responses. You can scroll the 100s of responses. There are many common themes which show how terribly the media - national and Victorian - have failed the Victorian public during the pandemic crisis.
Many people said they felt anxious enough about covid - scared of catching it, friends and family getting it, jobs and businesses lost, lockdown isolation, missing family - and that when they turned to the media for information, they were left feeling more anxious and upset.
People used strong language to describe their anger and frustration at media bias - furious, gutted, heartbroken, devastated, infuriated, livid, despairing, betrayed. So much hurt, anger and emotional anguish. The reasons for this anger was fairly consistent amongst most people.
One thing that made me most sad was that hundreds said they felt Australia was against them. Victorians felt neglected and on their own - as all the media focus was on what Victorians had done wrong, holding them up as the leper colony for all other states to laugh and point at.
There were responses that said the first wave didn’t feel as bad as everyone was in it together, but then in second wave, Victorians were singled out and made to feel like the rest of the country were against them. The biased political media pitted Victoria against everyone else.
Many mentioned this as a cause of their anxiety, while saying they felt the same way about how the Federal government treated Victorians too. The media attack and the Morrison govt neglect were indistinguishable in the comments about media bias - the anger about both is palpable.
It was also interesting to note that many said they accepted mistakes had been made and many acknowledged such mistakes will happen in a pandemic. They said Andrews was clearly working hard under difficult circumstances, and continued to do whatever he could to keep people safe.
Related to this, people understood covid had got out of hotel quarantine, but felt the media’s constant obsession with it meant that’s all they heard about for months. The audience wanted media to move on, but they were stuck on this point. This left people feeling in the dark.
Many told me they hadn’t been strong Andrews supporters before, but backed him as they could see he was doing his best to keep them safe. This is the key thing - when he was constantly attacked, these people felt they were less secure. Sutton was also mentioned in this respect.
The attacks on Andrews therefore were also experienced as attacks on all Victorians. The opposition to lockdowns felt like it was opposition to the hard work Victorians were doing. Many older people told me they felt media commentary framed them as selfish for wanting to be safe.
Quite a few also said they could see the media opposing all the strategies Andrews was bringing in to fight the pandemic, and they were fearful this would undermine the success of those strategies and undermine the public’s covid response - leaving them vulnerable to catching it.
Quite a few people also said the clear political agenda present in much media reporting made it hard to know what was really happening in Victoria, leaving them feeling confused and upset that they weren’t getting all the information. They also named disinformation as scary.
A common thread was also the division and conflict felt by people when they had family, friends or colleagues accepting the biased media attacks and using similar commentary to oppose lockdowns or call it the ‘Dandemic’, the fault of ‘Dictator Dan’, etc. People were torn apart.
The Victorian Liberals were often described as responsible for stunts and political game playing which left people feeling insecure and angry - particularly when media amplified this game playing for political reasons. Huge amount of anger is directed at Victorians Liberals.
In terms of the outlets mentioned, by far the most common named were Murdoch outlets - Herald Sun, Australian, Sky News. Others also mentioned The Age and a large number also said they were devastated the ABC had joined the biased pile on and that they could no longer trust ABC.
Finally, all the hurt and anger described above was made even worse by offensive name calling of people who said they supported Andrews’ handling of the pandemic. Names such as Dan Stans, being called Trump cultists and accused of Stockholm Syndrome - made people upset and angry.
So there you have it. The huge number of responses were a wave of emotion and turmoil. People said even when case numbers came down, they were sent into despair when media attacks didn’t end. I hope some journos read this thread and have a think about how they’ve contributed. End
PS. Thank you to everyone who contributed their experiences. This is research for the book I’m writing about media inequality - it will be a chapter about the influence of media inequality on the audience. As you can see from the thread, the influence is emotionally damaging.

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More from @Vic_Rollison

18 Oct
As Victorians breathe a well deserved sigh of relief this weekend, having smashed 2nd wave in world beating fashion, I wanted to talk about the way simplified media narratives have misled public about how dangerous ‘living alongside covid’ is. News is meant to inform. A thread👇🏻
Once media set a narrative to explain something - like Victorian second wave - they jump on it as a pack. Pack journalism reinforces and simplifies the dominant narrative so that only info that fits the narrative is included, and everything else is ignored. Journos are blinkered.
We all know what the simplified Vic covid narrative was - let’s call it ‘get Andrews’. There were two things used to explain covid spread - hotel quarantine infection and bad contact tracing. That’s it. Nothing else could permeate this simplistic narrative. It became entrenched.
Read 33 tweets
16 Oct
I am doing some research on the impact of biased media attacks throughout Victorian second wave on the emotional state of locked down Victorians. If Victorians could respond to this tweet with short summary of their experiences of how bias impacts them, I would appreciate it 🙏🏻
If you don’t want to share publicly, DMs are open and you will remain anonymous.
The responses to this tweet are making me want to cry. I am so angry that the Victorian community has had the trauma of the covid crisis worsened by a biased media who follow the lead of the PM who threw Victorians under a bus. Journos treat it like a game. It hurts people.
Read 4 tweets
13 Oct
The point of talking about a covid case not telling contact tracers they have been to Shepparton is not to shame that person, but to show the consequence and how virus spreads. Humans are not perfect. This is not surprising. Why aren’t we allowed to talk about this taboo topic?
One of the reasons we’re not allowed to talk about people withholding information from contact tracers is that it makes it harder to blame contact tracers for virus spreading - it doesn’t suit the Andrews’ bashing narrative. If we can’t talk about it, we can’t solve it.
Entire time this simplistic narrative ‘Victoria can’t contact trace and NSW is perfect’ has been politicised, contact tracing critiques have failed to acknowledge complexity of system that relies on humans. This is not judgement of those humans, it’s just acknowledging reality.
Read 5 tweets
10 Oct
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.
Read 16 tweets
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

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