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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

a lap dog media « Previous | |Next »
July 3, 2006

At long last the mainstream media in Australia is becoming a little more honest about how it operates in terms of its relationship to political power. There has been little critical reflection on the media's relationship to democracy. Maybe that is beginning to change with the acknowledgement of the dripfeed--or the drop with strings attached.

Anne Davis writing in the Sydney Morning Herald says that:

Next time you see an "exclusive" tag on a story about state politics, stop and have a closer look. The chances are that the story, far from being a feat of journalistic endeavour, is what we call in the trade "a drop". You'll be able to tell it's a drop because it's likely to quote one side of politics only. This is often a condition of the drop. It's also likely to be getting a prominent run. Sometimes the story uses the quotes from the next day's press release, although as a reader this will be more difficult for you to spot.

She says that for the Lemma Government in NSW - the drop has become standard operating procedure. Isn't that the case for all state governments and the federal government? Davis usefully distinquishes the drop with strings attached to the strategic leak in the national media (eg., budget leaks). 'Strategic leak' and 'the drop ' do reinforce the lapdog role of the mainstream media and its lack of a critical voice about its current role of being a funnel for Government press releases.

What has happened to the watchdog role? Davis says that it has gone:

...simply running the Government's announcement before it is made, without any serious critique, comes perilously close to being advertising for political parties. It may be of mutual benefit to newspapers and politicians, but it's certainly not in the public's interest.

Isn't lapdog the standard operating procedure?That's the carrot. The stick comes whenyou don't pay ball and criticize the government--- then you are cut off the government's fax stream and your calls to its media advisors are not returned. Being a lapdog is an inditement of the mainstream media in a liberal democracy isn't it. What has changed is the mainstream media now publicly recognize themselves as effectively being lapdogs.

Nothing is said by Davis about the media establishment as political players. Little is said about the parliamentary press gallery doing any research on public policy and public administration. I presume that it is accepted that they don't as it is not part of the job description.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:44 AM | | Comments (0)
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