Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Huns are Coming

(NB - Hun = abbreviation of the Herald Sun, Melbourne's equivalent of the Daily Terrorgraph, but - somehow - worse).

In light of my previous posts about media Lib bias and crap journalism - aka the Murdoch empire - here's some good and bad news from Alan Ramsey about the Hun's shameful attempts to pass off pro-Lib, anti-Green political propaganda as news reporting.

The good: Three months ago, on November 22, the Greens leader, Bob Brown, sent a detailed complaint to the Australian Press Council, the industry's self-regulatory body. Brown wrote, in part: "A number of claims in Mr [Gerard] McManus's article were entirely wrong. Some appeared to be sourced from a paper prepared by the Victorian division of the Liberal Party ... I raised my concerns directly with Mr McManus. No correction, written or otherwise, was forthcoming ... Mr McManus did not check any of his claims with me before publication. He did ask the virulently anti-Greens Institute of Public Affairs [in Melbourne] for comment ... "

A week ago, on February 25, the Press Council upheld Brown's complaint. In a statement released yesterday, it said, in part: "The council views this article as irresponsible journalism. A number of false claims were made about Greens Party policies. The article was accompanied by a graphic entitled 'What they stand for'. It listed 20 broad proposals claimed to be advocated by the Greens. Senator Brown said a number of the claims were wrong, including ... suggestions people would be forced to ride bicycles more often, eat less meat, keep out business immigrants, introduce taxes on family homes, drive farmers from their land, reduce infrastructure ... and cut population by 2 million.

"Senator Brown says no such policies exist. Additionally, [he] says the headline was 'manifestly wrong'...
"Given the sweeping and unqualified nature of the claims, the newspaper ought to have checked [their] veracity and currency. There is evidence that, as well as any use made of the Greens' website, the reporter preferred other statements, some erroneous and hostile ... In the context of an approaching election, the potential damage was considerable ... Readers were seriously misled. The claims were seriously inaccurate and breached the council's guiding principles of checking accuracy, taking prompt measures to counter harmfully inaccurate reporting, ensuring facts are not distorted, and being fair and balanced ..."

The bad: "Yesterday Bob Brown called a Canberra press conference (on these findings)...There are more than 150 reporters in the federal press gallery. Four went to Bob Brown's press conference yesterday. So did three TV camera crews. So did someone from Rehame, the organisation contracted - at public expense - to "assess party share of voice" in the ABC's coverage of last year's federal election."

No wonder Alan's always so grumpy. You can hardly blame him.


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