Wednesday, March 4

Hold the presses . . . Janet Albrechtsen comes to my rescue!

Whatever can I have been thinking when I put up the previous post? Suggesting The Australian is not even-handed in some of its reporting – am I trying to live dangerously? Will I find myself flamed by the Oz in these terms?

The self appointed experts online come instead from the extreme Left, populated as many sites are by sheltered academics and failed journalists who would not get a job on a real newspaper.

On almost every issue it is difficult not to conclude that most of the electronic offerings that feed off the work of The Australian to create their own content are a waste of time. They contribute only
defamatory comments and politically coloured analysis.

Smug, self assured, delusional swagger is no substitute for getting it right.

These three passages occurred in “History a better guide than bias”, the long tirade against bloggers published as the Oz's lead editorial on July 12, 2007. Bloggers had angered the Oz's editors by mocking political editor Dennis Shanahan's claim that a twitch in John Howard's support, revealed by The Australian's Newspoll, suggested he could bounce back to win the November 2007 Federal Election. [Howard, of course, went on to lose both government and his own seat of Benelong.]

Failed journalist? Delusional swagger? Waste of time? Oh dear! Dare I incur the Oz's ire?
And yet I only wanted to suggest that the Oz – which is, I believe, already Australia's best newspaper – would be a better newspaper if it reported differing points of view in its news stories.

The Oz editors do not see themselves as biased. The first sentence of that tirade, “The measure of good journalism is objectivity and a fearless regard for truth”, would, I believe, describe the way those editors see their performance.

So when the Oz reports only one side of an argument, it's not because the editors are biased.
The editors know children should learn to read by phonics alone – they know every other approach is discredited. Me? I'd like to make up my own mind by evaluating the differing arguments. I'd like the news reports to lay out those arguments, even briefly.

Similarly, the Oz's editors know Keynesian-style counter-cyclical government investment is wrong. They know fiscal stimulus will not help ease a recession. They know the Federal Government's stimulus package will not save jobs, so why try?
They know tax cuts are the only way to go to fix the Global Financial Crisis.

They know man-made climate change is bullshit, and if it's not, they know emissions trading cannot do anything to help.

Perhaps we should change the tense, as time goes by – they knew climate change was nonsense . They knew the guarantee Rudd gave to the banks was deeply flawed. They knew government deficits are evil, and they knew stimulus spending would not save jobs.
And they knew Howard was clawing his way back in the last months of 2007.

So what's that bit about Janet? It doesn't happen often, but this morning I found myself agreeing with most of her piece. Perhaps The Australian will treat me leniently if I'm willing to entertain opinions by its hard-right commentator. Read them for yourself here.

She's largely right about corporate governance. If shareholders are distressed about excessive executive salaries, they should vote off the directors who failed to represent their interests. An interesting suggestion, if you believe Sol was grossly overpaid.

And I refuse to join the mob baying for blood over Pacific Brands' decision to move manufacturing overseas. PacBrands deserves some credit for sticking it out in Australia as long as it did.

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