Media and its discontents

My name was in the news once. Not unlike Dunne from last issue’s rant, it was misprinted. But don’t worry Media, no hard feelings from me!

However, I imagine hard feelings were felt by our friends in the Middle East when the Boston Bombings saturated the news the same day the murder of 50 Iraqi civilians went completely unreported. Adding insult to injury, CNN and CBS News actually reported that a Middle Eastern suspect had been taken into custody by the Boston police, which was revealed to be utter tosh the next day. I also imagine that Julia Gillard wasn’t overwhelmed with good vibes when the Australian media was quick to compliment her ‘new look’ (ie. new glasses) earlier this year, considering last year it took them a whole two days to be at all inspired to provide any in-depth coverage of her ‘Misogyny’ speech. Having personally met two journalists who specialise in reporting on the availability of organic food, I also can’t help but wonder why Indigenous food security didn’t become a trending issue any sooner.

As a quick google of ‘News Values’ or a (purely academic) viewing of the Newsroom will tell you, events are more likely to be reported if they occur in privileged countries. If you are a privileged person in said privileged country, don’t be surprised if burning your toast becomes the next BIG THING. During the week-long celebrations of Angelina Jolie’s mastectomy, no major news source mentioned that domestic violence, not breast cancer, is the foremost killer of reproductive-aged women world wide. Based on the 60 deaths of Australian women caused by domestic violence last year, more than one murder of a woman at the hands of an intimate partner is missed by the Australian media every week. I find this oversight perplexing given the media’s apparent eagerness to jump on every single ‘femme fatale,’ ‘sex-obsessed temptress’ and ‘heartless mother’ who has entered a courtroom, anywhere, ever.

In the past the ‘The Fourth Estate’ proudly performed the task of getting behind the bullshit on behalf of an informed and interested public. It’s thanks to journalists doing the dirty work, such as one Wilfred Burchett who famously jigged a press conference to become the first journalist to enter nuclear-ravaged Hiroshima, that the media ever became a serious force to be reckoned with.

Nowadays the media seems more interested in covering fabricated events (think countless Masterchef finals, Abbot in some sort of uniform photo ops, and, oh yeah, Weapons of Mass Destruction) rather than covering real, really important ones. Some days when Today Tonight spends five minutes discussing the contentious suburban locality of Summer Bay I forget that it’s actually a fictional place. It’s getting so bad that I’m afraid without my very own publicist, make-up artist and Evian bottle of press-releases to spill I’ll no longer be able to recognise myself, let alone reality. Thankfully, a well-positioned, but as yet unnamed source has informed Ciao that I am, indeed, the one and only Pheobe Maloney.

Words: Pheobe Maloney

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