By Liam McLoughlin 20/07/2016
Budding media entrepreneur? Here’s how to catch up with the competition, writes Liam McLoughlin.
Are you tired of informed political commentary and incisive systemic analysis? Are you sick to death of quality investigative journalism which helps you understand the real causes of social ills? Are you fed-up of reasoned debate and coherent arguments that actually make sense?
Great news! The Australian media are doing their best to eviscerate this tedious journalistic dependence on actual information and knowledgeable sources. Interviewing boring old historians, dreary political theorists, or anyone who might actually know something about the topic under discussion is so 20thcentury.
Adopting the creed “Megaphones for Morons”, the role of the modern media is to lend the most publicity to those least deserving of it.
There are three principles at the heart of this philosophy, all designed to maximise ratings and send stories viral.
Amplify ignorance, especially public figures with a record of inflammatory rhetoric.
Avoid experts like the plague.
Marginalise the voices of those actually affected by an issue.
Now that our news cycle has been reduced to a 24-hour drip feed, the best way to create popular content is to match bigoted public figures with persecuted social groups. Here’s a quick guide for budding journalists.
First, write a shortlist of odious characters, say Pauline Hanson, Cory Bernadi, Steve Price, Andrew Bolt and Tony Abbott. Next, write a list of groups who are commonly scapegoated as a distraction from the failures of late capitalism – say Indigenous Australians, Muslims, refugees, women and the LGBTI community. Finally, draw random lines between them and then go out, get a few quotes, and make some provocative and damaging news!
Remember, the less understanding the interview subject has about the issue at hand, the more likely the story will go viral. Speaking of Sonia Kruger, who better to add nuance to a debate about the politics of immigration than a reality TV host who knows a funny joke about sweatshops of illegal immigrants making her clothes when she sees one? If playing Tina Sparkle in one of Australia’s most beloved ballroom dancing films isn’t qualification enough to inject racist poison into the veins of public debate, I don’t know what is.
Even the ABC is not above this formula, but at least they bring more balance and objectivity to their news and current affairs. They are careful to invite equal numbers of male and female demagogues onto Q&A.
And wasn’t it great to see the national broadcaster so freely offer up their flagship platform to the incoherent incantations of Dancing With The Stars’ best known racist. Nothing says constructive public discourse like dedicating almost an entire episode of the country’s most influential current affairs show to Hanson’s hateful views on Islam and the tweets of her supporters.
Q&A audience participant Khaled Elomar knows a thing or two about the constructive effects of Hanson’s megaphone.
“People like yourself, who have extremely dangerous and disturbing rhetoric, it’s a fuel to hatred, bigotry and ignorance…you are creating a dysfunctional country by isolating a religion, 20 years ago, isolating a race, and you keep on going down this track, I will fear for my wife’s life, I will fear for my kid’s life.”
“I work in Cronulla. I have worked there for eight years. I absolutely love the place. Only recently, after your rhetoric has come on board the media, almost every day I get called a Muslim pig, because of you.”
Much of the media, including Q&A, is only too happy to act as enablers of hateful, ignorant and divisive rhetoric.
It’s a winning ratings strategy to be sure, but at least the ABC should be more concerned that by acting as a scapegoating spillway, they make life harder for so many Australians.