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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. thenewdaily.com.au/news/coronavir…
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.
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.
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.
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. jamesclear.com/delayed-gratif…
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.
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.
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.
I want to talk about the reason why media find it really difficult to hold the private sector to account using the example of security firms who ‘bungled’ Victorian hotel quarantine. Instead, anyone else is blamed and they avoid any true consequences of bad behaviour. A thread👇🏻
When you research media bias, the most common definition of watchdog journalism depicts journalists as holding democratically elected leaders to account. Power is narrowly defined as belonging to government, so that’s the group journos think they exist to scrutinise.
But power of course exists in other places. Private sector employers are powerful. Media institution is powerful. The media don’t usually see it as their job to hold this power to account so they focus on government, such as blaming Andrews for hotel quarantine failures.
If you are a journalist standing next to a Murdoch hack who clear as day has agenda to attack a Labor Premier and you can’t objectively identify this for yourself and judge it to be illegitimate journalism, what else are you failing to be objective about? Can you see the problem?
How can you tell us you are able to effectively hold powerful politicians to account, when you won’t even hold powerful media colleagues to account? Are you ‘watchdogs for democracy’ or are you just a club of mates engaging in group think?
Why do you think that just saying ‘I’m a journalist’ automatically makes you see the world more clearly and rationally than the audience does? Have you got magic skills? Objectivity is a method, not a state of mind. We see you being subjective and you hate us calling it out.
Why is Dan Andrews being blamed for the Victorian covid situation, but Gladys Berejiklian isn’t being blamed for the NSW one? I know the answer, just thought I’d ask the rabid media pack so they can think on it a while. Accountability should not be mistaken for partisan hit jobs.
And by the way, if you work for the ABC or the Guardian or Fairfax and your work looks like it’s come out of the Murdoch media, you have a major issue. We all know Murdoch has an agenda. If you don’t have an agenda, why are you perpetuating narratives that do?
Just thought I’d add this to the thread. This is the number of covid cases each state got from the Ruby Princess, which I do believe docked in NSW under the Federal government’s ‘border protection’ regime. Where was the rabid hour long news conferences about this?
It is incredible to me that Australia is facing worst economic crisis ever, and yet there seems to be zero commentary or concern in media that the Liberals have no stimulus plan, no agenda to create employment, no competency to respond to economic disaster. A thread👇🏻
Narratives impact how we make sense of the world. We fit new information into ready made templates. As Lakoff says, these frames are the furniture of our brains. We can’t think without overlaying ideological and value laden frameworks. They are our lens on reality.
I’ve found one of the most powerful frames in Australian politics - in both society and reflected in news media - is that Liberals are better economic managers than Labor. This frame has existed since the parties formed. They are tied to the historical roots of the parties.
I want to talk about how we as a society lost the ability to talk about whether people are acting in good faith or not - because partisanship is apparently a bigger sin than acting in bad faith - and how this is enabling bad faith actions to go unscrutinised. A thread👇
First I'll explain why partisanship has become a dirty word. I've been reading Ezra Klein's 'Why We're Polarized'. It's excellent. He mentions research shows when trying to impress others, people think it's best to say they're 'independents' rather than Democrats or Republicans.
The reason for this, as I experience daily, our society has decided to shame people who are 'partisan', that is people like me who support a particular side of politics or a party, by suggesting 'partisans' are irrational, can't think for themselves, we're emotional and rabid etc
It concerns me that the media coverage about covid outbreak in Melbourne has mistakenly simplified the public narrative to suggest it was one misbehaving security guard at hotel quarantine which caused all new cases in Melbs. This leads to public complacency. A thread👇🏻
There is no evidence every single new case in Victoria had one source. The virus was never completely gone. It has sprung up and flared in a school, in family clusters, in North Melbourne tower, as well as in hospitals. This is community transmission - spreading silently.
So, the narrative which suggests all these cases have one source lead people to be complacent about the risks of them getting the virus. They think ‘I don’t have any connection with anyone who has worked as a security guard in hotel quarantine, so I’m safe’. This is concerning.
Here's a thread on what I've learned from researching narratives, which explains why they become an interpretative frame which people find very hard to change, even when facts refute their initial story. Using example of people opposed to Victorian police at locked down towers 👇
I've found that stories are a powerful structure of communication because they bound our awareness of information so that facts which fit the narrative are emphasised, and facts that don't fit bounce off. So basically stories blinker us - we make our realities fit them.
Why do we use some story frames and not others? Basically when we hear new information, we try to make sense of it by arranging it into a plot we understand. This usually means we try to find a story we've experienced in the past, and adapt the facts of the new situation to fit.
Whether Labor wins #EdenMonaroVotes or not, since we’re going to hear every spin possible on whether @KristyMcBain and @AlboMP ‘overcame their challenge’ the media set for them, here is my thread on what the end result ‘means’ for state of Morrison’s leadership. A thread👇🏻
I recall when by election was called, I told @deniseshrivell on #Auspol Live podcast I didn’t think Labor had a chance. I thought that during a pandemic, when Morrison was perceived to be dealing with it fairly well, it was only natural his ‘hero’ frame would send votes his way.
I’ve been proved wrong about that. Liberals don’t appear to have had any discernible swing aligning with a heroic Morrison frame, nor has the Liberal’s campaign of ‘Labor delivers instability’ spin had any benefit for them. The Nationals went backwards. This is bad for Morrison.
Since you love mansplaining @ScottMorrisonMP, I thought I’d borrow your vibe and mansplain to you why your #RenoRort ‘stimulus’ is not a stimulus and is instead a wasteful joke of a policy akin to pouring public money down the drain. A thread👇🏻
You’ve made sure only people who qualify for this money are those who were already planning renovations or new builds. They have to already have cash there or have borrowed from the bank. They have to be ready to start in next 9 months. You’re just topping up existing projects.
Let me explain it really simply. You’re topping up projects that were already planned. This means you are NOT STIMULATING THE CONSTRUCTION SECTOR. The builders were already getting the work. You’re just gifting public money to people who don’t need it.
Forever, we have been told by right wing governments that we don’t need government. All we need is an employer willing to take care of us and everything else falls into place. This of course was a lie, and everyone is now finding that out for ourselves. A thread👇🏻
The myth of the benevolent employer is the rock they built neoliberalism on. The myth goes like this: if you’re worthy, a gracious employer will take you under their wing and provide you a livelihood, but only if you do what you’re told, stay in your box and don’t join your union
You’re also told tax is bad because it damages this benevolent employer. If he/she has to pay more tax, you risk being told he/she can no longer afford to hire you! Your labour in this equation is a cost to their business, just like tax - too much cost and you’re unemployed.