A few days ago I sent an email to a workmate reflecting on my dutiful attendance and his blessed absence from last Friday’s Walkley Awards for “excellence” in journalism, as they are known with the modesty typical of our industry.

The good old days: A towering, stick-thin poncy guy shrieks in terror as he is heroically attacked by someone five feet shorter than him at the Walkleys.

I told him that if it wasn’t such a self-indulgent topic I would love to write a piece under the headline “The Party at the End of Journalism” about this morbid, wrist-slashing soiree. He urged me to write it anyway, so here goes.

Please forgive any indulgence, but given that you are a person who is engaged enough to have taken the time to click on our website, you might be interested as a news consumer in an insider’s thoughts on the future of our industry. The short answer to that question, if put to most people at the Walkleys, is that there is no future.

If this event was intended to be a celebration of our industry, it was as much fun as going to the staff Christmas party at a car assembly plant in Detroit just days before they boarded the joint up. You have never seen so many people convinced of the inevitability of their own demise.

Speech after speech was prefaced, concluded or in some cases even wholly comprised of ruminations about whether we will all be here next year, whether newspapers will exist, whether the digital model can make money. If this is industry leadership the industry needs some new leaders. By the end of the night I was inclined to go against my own instincts and knowledge and start believing these doomsayers, as if enough people keep telling you that their business is stuffed, then it might actually be stuffed.

The reason it might be stuffed has less to do with the pressures around delivery, distribution and revenue on mainstream journalism, than the fact that so much journalism has parted company with the mainstream. While much of the work which was honoured the other night was genuinely excellent, so much of what we do in our day-to-day work as journalists is devoted to incremental shifts in stories which are clubby, dull or arcane, and have little relevance to people’s daily lives. The coverage of national affairs in particular is more likely to examine the fairly meaningless question of who “won” Question Time, rather than bothering to look at policies in terms of how they affect our readers. Also, a gripping human story about a tragedy or a triumph is often less likely to excite the journalistic class, hard-wired as it is with a serious case of Woodward and Bernstein syndrome, where so many of us dream of breaking the next Watergate that we ignore things which really fire up the readers.

This mindset was underscored in the Walkley presentations where some of the most gripping and emotional stories of the year were not just downplayed, but even forgotten entirely.

The interminable “highlights” reel of the biggest stories of 2012 devoted an eternity to Julia Gillard’s allegedly seismic misogyny speech, which in my view is arguably the most over-reported and over-analysed moment of the year.

UPDATE: When the reel ended there was a conversation among several journalists as to why the Jill Meagher story was not included, as I originally wrote in this column this morning. The MEAA complained to me today saying the Meagher story did rate a mention. I have since rewatched the tape and I apologise for that honest mistake. But I can see why we all missed it, as it was mentioned for just five seconds, from the 8.04 mark to the 8.09 mark, and this in a 1 hr 55 minute show.

There was plenty of coverage from Question Time on the HSU, the AWU, pick your acronym.

And to stitch the night together, they interspersed the award presentations with old footage from The Chaser, a show which is in real danger of being carbon-dated, and even some lazy old clips from that insiders program The Hollowmen which as far as I can tell came out about 10 years ago and was regarded by several Canberra press secretaries as an absolute thigh-slapper.

Journos are taught as cadets to ask who, where, what, when. More emphasis should be placed on another question – who cares?

There is nothing like the feedback – or non-feedback – of readers to give you a sense as to whether you are hitting the mark or not. Earlier this year I wrote a column about Craig Thomson, making the fairly unsurprising claim that he appeared to be a bit of a bullshit artist, or at the very least quite careless with his credit card, and of the millions and millions of readers of our Sunday newspapers less than a dozen pinged me a note. The following week the column was on the little African girl mauled to death by a pitbull in Melbourne, asking what type of selfish moron would keep one of those dogs in a suburban area, and pondering whether instead of banning dangerous breeds it would be better to ban dangerous owners. By teatime there were more than 500 emails sitting in the inbox and in the end more than 1000, as people are much more interested in things happening in their immediate community than in the set-piece nonsense that often passes for a yarn out of Canberra.

If you look at all the research by smart blokes like the demographer and sociologist Bernard Salt about what motivates the public, it is questions such as the cost of living, maintaining a good relationship with your partner, having happy and healthy kids, being able to find a good school, paying off their house, living in a safe community.

They’re pretty basic questions. If journos spent more time addressing them they could probably spend less time crying woe-is-me behind a Canberra podium at this dire orgy of self-absorption.

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    • Yes Man says:

      06:07am | 07/12/12

      It would be nice if journalists reported the facts instead of what Rupert and Gina tell them to write.

    • Toady says:

      06:59am | 07/12/12

      What frogshit!  What have Rupert and Gina been telling Fairfax journalists to write?  What instructions have they given to ABC and SBS journalists?  Have Mal Farr, Laurie Oakes, Mark Riley and friends been instructed in what to write?  Provide us with one rock-solid example of a direction given by Gina or Murdoch to the press.  Yes Man, your stupid comment reveals a lot about you - a person who apparently soaks up the BS propaganda spewed out by Conroy and the rest of the halfwits being led by Gillard.  I suppose you suck up the AGW fraud like a leech, too?  More fool you.

    • Tell It Like It Is says:

      07:45am | 07/12/12

      Haven’t your heard of the ABC News or countless other ABC programmes or the SMH/Fairfax @YesMan if you want “the facts”, at least as retailed by the ALP, unions, left-wing? 
      Sorry. You just can’t have it all!

    • subotic O. Little says:

      08:01am | 07/12/12

      It would be nice if journalists reported the facts instead of what Rupert and Gina tell them to write.

      Yea, like that journo from The Wire, right?

    • Jen says:

      08:08am | 07/12/12

      @Tell It Like It Is. You sound like those deluded Republicans who only believe in the “facts” that suit their argument, and dismiss those that don’t as part of the Liberal conspiracy.

    • simonfromlakemba says:

      08:24am | 07/12/12


      Take the glasses off. Rupurt opening tweets against the Gillard Government and anything left.

      He was going to bankroll a Republican presidential candidate!!

      Name me one actual lefty that writes regularly in the Daily Telegraph?

      Meanwhile the SMH - Sheehan, Henderson, Vanstone, Costello are all regulars.

    • Tell It Like It Is says:

      08:44am | 07/12/12

      That is exactly what I was saying @Jen to ‘YesMan’ but I guess if he is on the left side then that argument is a valid one. Just not for those on the other side. Which is not what I believe should be the formula anyway. I believe in equality in journalism as in all things. But not everybody else does, I guess.

    • Bill says:

      08:50am | 07/12/12

      @Toady, This article is not all about this but: let’s face it, it’s not that Rupert loves Repuplicans/Liberals, it’s just that he is contemptuous of Democrats/Labor. If you think that he is not doing everything in his power - without being overt about it, of course -  to delegitimise or undermine any democrat/Labor government, then “more fool you”...
      And you are wrong about AGW too, because you can’t be sure.

    • Dan says:

      09:05am | 07/12/12

      Journalists don’t have to be be told by their owners what they should write. They already know. They also know the consequences of not sticking to the company line.

    • Toady says:

      09:24am | 07/12/12

      Simonfrom lakemba - so Rupert is not allowed to express an opinion?  A flow of tweets is now a directive to News Corp journalists, telling them how they must construct their articles?  And what about Gina?  You people are so friggin’ stupid you make the rest of us laugh.  And as for the Daily and the SMH, I read neither.  But I do read the HeraldSun and the Australian, and I’m yet to detect overt bias.  A lot of truth, and holding a bunch of bumbling idiots to account - yes.  I suppose the dictionary needs to redefine ‘bias’.

    • Gary T says:

      09:24am | 07/12/12

      Toady, your name and rant reveal a lot about you (quote, unquote).

    • simonfromlakemba says:

      10:25am | 07/12/12

      Yet to detect overt bias in the Herald Sun & Australian?

      WOW guess you only want to see.

      I shouldnt have to tell you that when the head of a media organisation is so pro one side that it hinders his organisations reporting.

      “Provide us with one rock-solid example of a direction given by Gina or Murdoch to the press”

      Andrew Bolt Show.

    • KMFA says:

      01:13pm | 07/12/12

      It’s interesting how Toady is the only one in this conversation who seems to be getting his panties in a bunch.

      How surprising.

      It’s also hilarious that Toady says he reads the Herald Sun and The Australian but has yet to detect any bias hahahahaha. Rupert doesn’t have to be standing over their shoulder telling them what to write if he already employs minions with the same ideology as him.

    • Toady says:

      01:34pm | 07/12/12

      simonfrom lakemba, your opinion proves nothing.  Show me the directive issued by Gina instructing Ch10 to recruit Andrew Bolt, and the directive telling Andrew Bolt to present his show in line with her political and business beliefs.

      I love how you lefties/greenies accuse conservatives of being far right, and then trot out these conspiracies with no facts to back them up.  Then you defend people like Gillard, Thomson, etc, demanding that their accusers provide proof of wrongdoing or shut up.  And thanks Gary - you make me feel at home.  Just like all the other ranters in here!  Now, sorry but no more comments from me.  I’m packing my bags in anticipation of being rounded up by Tax_The_Rich for being a ‘future generations murderer’.

    • AFR says:

      01:56pm | 07/12/12

      Toady, if you can’t understand how journos are influenced by their employers, you are seriously delusional.

    • mal says:

      02:42pm | 07/12/12

      The editoral boards in the west has been infultrated by politicaly correct, socialist,feminised, PROGESSIVES.Thats why there all going broke.I think most instutions are corrupt ,they lobby corrupt rulers to pass laws to protect themselves from competitsion and accountability.Today the media are just another group of well paid insiders trying to push there ideologe{opinnion] onto the outsider.Diversity,competition, accountability, thats not liekly in the western world{they think there the best at everything}.Look at the western worlds moral decay the insiders have given to the outsiders.Don’t forget the whole system is complitly corrupt{from top to bottom}it always has been.These people are living in perpetual adolecence.

    • dobbo says:

      04:01pm | 07/12/12

      Toady - Obviously you’ve never worked in media. These guidelines are, by necessity unspoken.  Get a few stories not of the correct policy line spiked/axed whatever and you soon get the message.

    • Stripes says:

      04:58pm | 07/12/12

      Ha! Toady reads Herald Sun AND The Australian and is “yet to detect overt bias”.
      Do you read it with your eyes closed? Or, wait, you just look at the pictures? I don’t understand Toady. What the hell do you actually do with the paper if you’re unable to notice that consistently overt bias?
      I’m genuinely curious. Might help us to explain why so many Australians are essentially ignorant.

    • iansand says:

      06:09am | 07/12/12

      At the very least, journalists should be rotated through the Canberra Press Gallery into areas of more importance, like the social round, so they don’t get caught up in that incestuous cesspit of self-importance.  You are not players in the power games, and your stories should not be exercises in power broking.

      You should also break the “news cycle” bullshit.  You don’t have to be first.  You have to be best.  The unedifying sight of Joh’s chooks all telling each other what the story is instead of actually applying their minds is a disgrace.

      As Penberthy says, the story about question time this year is not who won, but the fact that almost no questions were asked about policy.  Ms J Bishop pursuing the AWU non-event while a momentous change in policy towards Palestine and Israel occurred within her portfolio, and her not asking a single question about it, says more about the intellectual poverty of our politics than almost anything else this year.  If reporting of question time was about two lines - “Ho hum - the usual bullshit” instead of breathless reporting of a rugby kicking duel, which is what it has become, the usual bullshit would dry up pretty quickly.

    • Jen says:

      07:15am | 07/12/12

      Excellent comment.

    • T-rev says:

      07:34am | 07/12/12

      You’ve hit the nail on the head there.

      Somewhere along the line people like Laurie Oakes, Malcolm Farr and other political reporters began to think they were players in the political game, instead of their actual job of just reporting it.

      No one needs Laurie Oakes’ “opinion” on anything (especially weight loss tips - boom tish), we just want the facts and are mature enough to make up our own minds.

      Yet the majority of articles these days really are opinion pieces.

    • debbiep says:

      08:07am | 07/12/12

      Insightfully said . I agree . Hear hear!

    • Pork says:

      08:21am | 07/12/12

      iansand, the journos ARE rotated through Federal Parliament (Canberra is a city they mostly can’t wait to leave) and do many other jobs.  Although I do agree with you that the mainstream media mostly does report just about the soap opera of parliament, the astute follower knows where to find the substance.  And the soap opera is what the public actually want for the most part.  That and someone good looking to tell them about it.
      And actually ‘T-rev’, I want to hear Laurie Oakes’ opinion. 
      If there is a 4th estate in Australian Politics it is him.  And it has been for years. He actually knows what is going on and is powerful enough to actually give you his very own opinion.  and HAHAHAHAHAHA, yes he is fat, isn’t he…  That’s truly hilarious.  Tell you what, how about you go, in person, and take him on intelectually.  Go on.  Off you go.  Send us a video.

    • Stephen T says:

      08:23am | 07/12/12

      @ iansand: I agree with the principal of what your expressing, I’d differ on some of the content you used as examples.  Overall though you are spot on, the rotation of journalists is an excellent idea as well, it could generate a bit of competition that may improve the quality of journalism in the press gallery.

    • simonfromlakemba says:

      08:28am | 07/12/12

      Spot on. I posted a link the other day that a few people on Labors front bench hadn’t even been asked any questions by their opposite.

      This opposition is only following their policy void leader, Mr one trick pony.

    • Levi says:

      09:41am | 07/12/12

      You’re becoming more and more rusted on as the days go by Simon. You and your mates down the mosque all card carrying ALP members now?

    • simonfromlakemba says:

      12:16pm | 07/12/12

      HAHA rusted on for pointing out that the opposition isn’t asking questions about their portfolios?

      Nice work.

    • lostinperth says:

      12:57pm | 07/12/12

      good comment iansand - agree totally

    • John says:

      01:00pm | 07/12/12

      Nice comment, I am getting sick of the beatups from both major parties about trivial things rather than actual policies. I hope it is time to return to more sensible news stories (opinion is ok if there is some evidence) from entertainment news. People have better ways to entertain themselves.

    • andye says:

      02:48pm | 07/12/12

      @Levi - Are you implying that Simon associates with known Muslims! Oh, the outrage!

      Can you please tell me which religions vote for which political parties because you seem to be implying that is a thing.

    • You rrrr a disgrace BURP !!!! says:

      06:12am | 07/12/12

      AAAHH !!! The very embarrassing drunken Greg Milne incident. Greg Milne the Rupert Murdoch and Tony Abbott lacky.

    • Ags says:

      06:48pm | 07/12/12

      Thank you T rev, I’ve been waiting years to see someone apart from myself say that they don’t think Laurie Oakes is God

    • TChong says:

      06:15am | 07/12/12

      Ah yes, good old Glenn, when one Ruperts finest .
      A conniseur of many a drop of plonk.
      He knew how to a complete @%#$# of himself.

    • ronny jonny says:

      07:19am | 07/12/12

      That type of behaviour is the type I’d like to see more of from journalists. Sadly the day of the hard drinking, smoking paper man seems to have gone. Too may intellectuals, resulting in a disconnect with the community and a slide into irrelevance.

    • Nilbog says:

      07:28am | 07/12/12

      Milne’s a legend.

      I’ve made many an awards night, charity event and wedding a memorable event (or “ruined” it for the party poopers) by my acts of drunken revelry.

      If I was in Glenn’s position I would have swaggered up swinging a chair…

    • Dan says:

      06:23am | 07/12/12

      David, just goes to show most journalists - and especially the majority of the press gallery - don’t live in the real world. They have little or no connection with their audience, having no real understanding of the day to day concerns of those they write for. It’s one (but not the only reason) I bailed out of the profession some years ago.

    • Super D says:

      06:31am | 07/12/12

      Telling people they can’t have what they want (dangerous dogs) is unsurprisingly more controversial than telling them something they already know (Thomson is a bs artist).

      I think the problem with political journalism is it focuses on the minutiae and largely ignores the big picture stuff. I think this starts with the TV news cycle where politics is basically used to provide a few minutes of filler so politicians compete for the soundbite. Perhaps it would be better if politics was only covered every third rainy Tuesday.

    • AdamC says:

      09:17am | 07/12/12

      I did not really know what to make of this article. It cannot possibly be a revelation to Penbo that tabloid stories about dangerous dogs (or, for that matter, naughty footy players or dodgy car wash proprietors) generally receive a wider audience than stories about political and union corruption. Newsflash, the Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph et al have a larger circulation, even in their own individual cities, than the Australian and the AFR have nationally, put together.

      That is not a new thing.

      Also, the reason why Gallery journos tend to concentrate on political contests rather than policy wonkery is that most consumers of political news support particular political parties. That is, the audience want their team to win, so they want to know how they are going. It is inconsistent to, on the one hand, slam journos for shunning the populist tastes of their readers and viewers, but then also lay into them for responding to their audience’s view of politics as a competition.

    • JoniM says:

      10:30am | 07/12/12

      Spot on AdamC !

      Whilst we in the chattering classes have a particular bent for politics and government, we probably also make up a mere 5 % of the media audience !
      The other 95% still need to be accommodated with media items that might seem so inconsequential and trivial to us, but satisfy the demands of the bulk of audience. Surely we can’t be so pompous and judgemental of the media audience (and hence the jounalists that satisfy them),  simply because their issues of “newsworthy”  are so different to our own ?
      To the bulk of media audience we are the odd ones out ?
      Why would anyone be interested in politics, they would say, when it is nothing but BS politics and BS politicians ? Same as last year, and the year before that, and the year before that…..

    • AdamC says:

      01:21pm | 07/12/12

      JoniM, speak for yourself on the chattering class bit!

      (BTW, didn’t Tony Abbott basically come up with the term ‘chattering class’?)

      Otherwise, I completely agree. Journos need to get over themselves and accept that serious, ‘quality’ journalism is, was and will remain a bit of a niche element in the media.

    • willie says:

      06:34am | 07/12/12

      I guess you didn’t win then

    • Tell It Like It Is says:

      07:46am | 07/12/12

      Don’t writers nominate themselves for the Walkleys?

    • Richard M says:

      07:00am | 07/12/12

      “Excellence” in Australian journalism is as much of an oxymoron as “journalistic ethics”, which is the new “military intelligence” as an exemplary expression. Let’s hope that journalism as we know it is nearing it’s end.  It might then be replaced by something worthwhile - ie something which has to do with truth, accuracy, decency and genuine analysis - not the lazy, shallow, cheaply sensationalist, hysterical, puerile and poorly written claptrap that passes for journalism in this country.

    • Wendy says:

      08:34am | 07/12/12

      Top comment! Totally agree!

    • Meph says:

      09:16am | 07/12/12

      @Richard M

      “It might then be replaced by something worthwhile - ie something which has to do with truth, accuracy, decency and genuine analysis - not the lazy, shallow, cheaply sensationalist, hysterical, puerile and poorly written claptrap that passes for journalism in this country.”

      You must be new to planet earth. Welcome!

    • Sandy says:

      07:09am | 07/12/12

      Used to be an avid reader of the ‘The Australian’ and ‘The Advertiser’ (would not get out of bed Saturday mornings until I had devoured both papers) that was until about 5 years ago, then it appears Murdochs propaganda unit took over and I could no longer stomach the crap being published. The papers can be turned around but they have little time to do it! give us the facts, scrap the opinion, regain our trust and maybe just maybe we will return! but watch out the 5th estate is doing a great job and are gradually filling the void left by corporatised professional journalists and owners

    • Richard M says:

      08:21am | 07/12/12

      Likewise, Sandy. I gave up reading the Oz a couple of years ago when i could no longer stand the political propaganda.  I hear the same story constantly from people who used to be Oz readers.  It is a shame, because in many ways it used to be a better newspaper than its rivals - better set out, more attractive, more comprehensive and in many respects better written.  It is a great pity that it has been turned into a shameless, relentless political propaganda sheet.

    • hawker says:

      11:22am | 07/12/12

      It is sad what has happened to that once fine paper. For a glimpse at what it has become, look no further than four articles down:  use something topical to create a tenuous link to and support the conclusion of your fixed ideological position.

      Agenda journalism at it’s finest..or rather, worst.

    • Babs says:

      01:29pm | 07/12/12

      My thoughts about the Oz too. But because I like the Review on the weekend I buy the whole rag of necessity. Mostly it’s a matter of flicking over each page, scanning headline + top paragraph and then applying my special ‘overt bias’ detector. It’s like a geiger counter and starts to tsk more and more loudly, in fact so loudly that I can’t concetrate at all when I come to Piers Akerman and Christopher Pearson. However, that said, there are some very good journos on board the Oz e.g. Nicholas Rothwell, Noel Pearson, George Megalogenis (before he, um, jumped), and they are/were always worth reading.

    • Ben says:

      05:02pm | 07/12/12

      >Used to be an avid reader of the ‘The Australian’ and ‘The Advertiser’ (would not get out of bed Saturday mornings until I had devoured both papers) that was until about 5 years ago, then it appears Murdochs propaganda unit took over and I could no longer stomach the crap being published.

      Until about five years ago? That figures, given it was when the Oz urged their readers to make Kevin Rudd PM.

    • Steve says:

      07:12am | 07/12/12

      It is hard to see how and why people will pay for commodity news.  And opinions are becoming a commodity as well - and there will always be bloggers and PR-spruikers who will work for free.

      But People will pay for credible expert’s opinion and judgement - e.g the Financial Times, WSJ, etc.  That is a viable model but probably only on a global scale.

      I won’t miss the journalism profession.  It is too full of itself and self-serving.

      Worst thing about the crap way news journalism is carried out, especially political journalism - is that it has driven a lot of very good, bright and honest people away from ever thinking about entering politics. 

      Very smart people don’t go into politics unless they have a huge ego, because the journalism profession ensures there no national debate, only sound-bites.

    • Meh says:

      07:23am | 07/12/12

      Despite the politico junkies who like to infest these pages, politics is essentially boring. We listen to what we are going to pay or what we are going to get, then mostly ignore the rest until the next election.

      Abbott is sexist, Julia is a liar, blah blah blah. Same thing from each side and none of it making a difference to my life.

    • Sandy says:

      07:24am | 07/12/12

      David, the article next door by Simon Benson, is a perfect example of what is wrong with journalism today !  his negative opinion from the headline to the last line is depressing, his view is his view only formed by his own life experiences and biases of which the reader is not told. Much rather he just reports the facts and leave to our own opinion of them.

    • Angry God of Townsville says:

      07:33am | 07/12/12

      The Wankley’s are just a circle jerk. Nobody cares about which journalist released the press release from the their source first. Journalism in Australia is no longer a profession that eschews the edicts of the Fourth Estate. To many are tied by politics and this incumbent bias is not only detrimental to the standard of reporting but to the standard of the industry.

      Remember the days when journalists sniffed out corruption, now they seem to be taking sides in its definition, and that is why your industry is suffering. Online News exposes more channels and as you are no longer the sole arbiter of information you are destined to be shown as the partisan hack be it from which ever side you barrack for.

      The Fourth Estate meant that you stood apart and commented, you were meant to be outside the tent, you were meant to report without fear nor favour. Australia has no true bastions of the Fourth Estate in any paper. It is a pity, you can see the great mastheads dying from this failure, and yet you look elsewhere for the blame.

    • Disappointed says:

      08:31am | 07/12/12

      Totally agree Angry God! Where are the hard questions? Why aren’t answers demanded or even required? All we seem to get from ‘journalists’ is a repetition of soundbites.

    • AFR says:

      09:11am | 07/12/12

      This is why we luckily have Media Watch.

    • Sam says:

      07:36am | 07/12/12

      Ok, so now go back over your old columns and give us a frank count as to how many of them are good journalism, by your own standards.
      I suspect this is more a case of a political journalist realising the hollowness of his own craft as it is currently practised, rather than an accurate reflection of the current breadth and condition of journalism.
      Open your eyes Penbo! There’s plenty of amazing writing out there. You just haven’t noticed, because you were obsessively reading all the political stories in the newspapers.

    • Hartog says:

      07:45am | 07/12/12

      Well said, good to see this healthy skepticism (cynicism?). wish you would employ that in all your work, including climate change related pieces.

    • pete says:

      07:47am | 07/12/12

      What do you expect? It’s your house, it must be worth that price because you lived in it; it’s your dog, it’s not capable of biting anyone because you own it; it’s your child, it’s not capable of bad behaviour; it’s your tattoo, it’s meaningful and not banal like the 80,000 other people who have tigers and flames on their sleeve; these are my words, they must be smart and insightful…

    • Mahhrat says:

      07:47am | 07/12/12

      Why would I listen to one voice, when I can get onto Reddit and listen to millions?

      I’ve been reading it, and while its user base is certainly left-leaning, largely white America, and heavily the younger demographics, there are also a number of extremely qualified and intelligent people.

      Most of the time, assertions are backed with evidentiary links, so you can go read things for yourself if it takes your fancy. 

      Debates are usually moderated by volunteers, with the rules of a sub-reddit clearly articulated.

      Yes, there are areas of sheery idiocy too, but in the main you can find all sorts of good news, current affairs and political debate, free from the bullshit lower-common-denominator stuff that “mainstream” journalism needs to get into to make bank.

      News is free now.  Cameramen are everywhere.  Hell, I caught a few minutes of Robbi Williams’ latest concert.  There must have been 30,000 smartphones and personal video cameras.  I think the music industry have just given up trying to stop that happening.

      Why would I pay journalist for their time?  What do they add to my content that I can’t access for free now?

      Sorry mate, but I think those doomsayers are right.  I love The Punch because I can converse with EVERYONE, not just you.

    • Jane says:

      09:43am | 07/12/12

      Sorry, if Reddit is the future of journalism we’re still screwed.
      My experience of Reddit is that A) almost every article is essentially a link to a news story from the mainstream media, plus a bunch of comments of wildly varying quality (if we’re talking news rather than the pictures of cats etc), B) quite often the headlines on the posts actually miss the point, or misrepresent, the article they are linking to, and C) it’s a great way of hearing about things early, if you’re not a massive consumer of all the media in the world.
      Reddit is a socially-driven news aggregator. It can’t replace news. If it did, we’re going to end up massively less informed.

    • Expat says:

      10:08am | 07/12/12

      Completely agree.

      The money is there though, those who run the digital sites with large traffic clows will profit from advertising.

    • Mahhrat says:

      12:24pm | 07/12/12

      @Jane:  Aye, but note the actual content (the serious stuff we’re talking about).

      The Redditors are aggregating news into topics for us - all for free.  Google can do it too, but it doesn’t have any social aspect.

      For example:  I don’t come to The Punch just for the articles (as good as many of them are) - I come for the few serious, intelligent contributors here that don’t agree with me - TimB, etc.

      I don’t know about you, but I learn from having my opinions challenged.  Reddit expands upon that.  I think it’s a great learning tool.

    • ibast says:

      07:55am | 07/12/12

      Didn’t Laurie Oakes win a Walkly?  Why would you bother going after that?

    • VJR says:

      07:58am | 07/12/12

      Uncle Rupert is the man in charge and the so called objective journalist write exactly what he tells them to do. Just buy the Australian every major editorial regarding the PM is almost the same nasty rubbish that I have come to expect from the usual Australian gang.  Sure the PM has her problems but lets have some balance.  Mind you if you want balance read the SMH they have Tony Abbott has a dick head women hater in just about every article.  As I said so much for balance from both sets of political journalist.

    • jeremy andrews says:

      08:12am | 07/12/12

      I have a full-time job and my only resources for ‘investigating’ are the internet and my brain. Yet I know there’s a lot more to the situation than that facile statement about Craig Thomson. I know that the common perceptions, started by newspapers, about the Slipper/Ashby texts are completely wrong, just from one quick read. Yet people whose job is ‘journalist’, who have more resources and more responsibility to explore are apparently happy to read the bare minimum, often badly and parrot one another and even repeat the same basic comprehension errors. Read letters to the on-line versions of papers and they’re full of ‘‘JG stole members’ funds” - complete ignorance of the facts. It has less to do with going digital and more to do with the apalling quality and blatant pushing of a party line. There’s far better journalism in the various excellent independent sites and blogs. I pay to read them, but I haven’t bought a newspaper in years.

    • Moffat Beech says:

      08:16am | 07/12/12

      For journos’ inflated views of their importance in the national scheme of things, look no further than the title of ABC chat show “Insiders”.  Journos are not “insiders”.  They are meant to report objectively on those who are. If a journo is a genuine insider then s/he is better described as a spin doctor.

    • Tubesteak says:

      08:28am | 07/12/12

      Reminds me of an exchange we saw on the TV show The Games

      “But Gina, it won’t stand up to analysis!”
      “It’s the Australioan media….there won’t be any analysis”

      Often it’s obvious all you’ve done is cut and paste a press release or something from Reuters. Occasionally you might even manage to find a direct quote because there was a camera on it.

      Have a look at the articles on The Punch that attract the most hits and what is said. Maybe tailor things to that.

    • John says:

      01:22pm | 07/12/12

      @Tubesteak I was going to agree on # of hits are a ‘measure’ of story success but people haven’t read the story when they click the headline link. Perhaps # of hits is good for testing the headline or topic interest/quality? As to whether people actually like/agree with the article its a bit more difficult, perhaps a like/dislike count can help here but I imagine there would be a lot of people not bothering to rate articles. Also I might be wrong here but do people have a greater tendency to comment if they disagree? Is it possible a better article actually has less comments?

    • jorgen flenswing says:

      08:36am | 07/12/12

      Doesnt Phillip Adams write for Murdoch..broadcasts for the ABC….has never had a problem with direction from management

      No for many journos they are raging against the fact that we dont need or want to read or hear them,because they write, broadcast, inconsequential drivel..

      what we are seeing is market forces at work….dont like it dont buy it…

    • Rose says:

      09:35am | 07/12/12

      Dead right, I haven’t paid for a newspaper in years. I refuse to, the quality is crap, there is no investigation, no analysis, just headlines and waffle.

    • Tom says:

      08:47am | 07/12/12

      Penbo, Interesting piece. I wrote my latest post on
      “My night at the Walkleys” in my blog (gonzomeetsthepress.com—you don’t have to publish the link if you think I’m replying just to get publicity), and I’m only surprised you didn’t mention Peter Cave’s acceptance speech. Peter said he only deserved four out of five Walkleys he won (he certainly deserved the one he got last Friday on his oustanding contribution to journalism in his 40-year career), and was glad to see the Walkley Foundation was asking journalists to make a submission to their review of the awards. It is about excellence in journalism, and the Walkley board has admitted it’s time to look at the relevance of the awards and the categories. One of the sample questions the Walkley Foundation asked journos to consider is: What should award-winning journalism mean today? I hope Penbo entered his submission.

    • Rod says:

      11:04am | 07/12/12

      Tom, Peter Cave said he only deserved one out of the five, not four out of the five. I don’t understand why Cave entered himself into the Walkleys if he was so sure he didn’t deserve all but one.

    • dave says:

      08:59am | 07/12/12

      I am sure the irony of writing this was not lost on David, News Corporation employee that he is.

      When ‘news’ publications stop pandering to the fears of white baby boomers and actually report on facts, we might get the pendulum swinging back a bit.

      However it’s going to be a while before they shuffle off and by then it will probably be too late for ‘news’ institutions. Thankfully the younger generations will probably be using alternate means to inform themselves outside of a bubble of conservative fear mongering.

      And no, elderly whiners, the ABC is no longer the stronghold of homosexual communist groupthink that you claim it is. Great Leader Howard saw to that and the research shows it clearly. You folks got what you wanted, stop imagining lefty boogeymen distributing dirty ‘facts’ without the due dosing of right wing opinion that you survive on.

    • simonfromlakemba says:

      09:20am | 07/12/12

      No Journalism left these days, the amount of times I have read press releases just plonked in the paper and its stated as ‘news’.

      Everyone is an ‘opinion writer’ now so they don’t really have to be factually correct or even present a down the middle article.

      Thankgod for the internet.

      Not really journalism as such but Channel 7 live broadcasting Daniel Morcombe’s funeral is a tad sick.

    • AFR says:

      12:29pm | 07/12/12

      I think that was the Alan Jones defence - he is a broadcaster, not a journalist. Apparently, that makes slander and scare mongering ok then.

    • lostinperth says:

      01:06pm | 07/12/12

      Agree with your comments about the funeral, along with a media website giving half hour updates about the trial - unnecessary and obtrusive.

    • Poita says:

      09:24am | 07/12/12

      *cough* mass immigration *cough*

      News Ltd sacked Jack Marx, or he left, I thought he was good, even though he’s a trendy lefty and I didn’t agree with him all the time, he wasn’t afraid to stir people up and tell it as it is.

      However I think we’ve become very selfish, tribal and divided as a people, if we weren’t already, so telling the truth with the view of having long term goals probably wouldn’t make much of a difference.

      Let’s face it, Jill Meagher got a lot more attention because she’s hot and a dream girl all us guys would like to marry and mothers and fathers would love to have as a daughter in law. If she were some ugly person then that mountain of flowers would be a lot smaller.

    • Anubis says:

      09:38am | 07/12/12

      What’s wrong with journalism today?  To understand the problem read anything written by Mal Farr or Laurie Oaks. They almost make ACA and TodayTonight look relevant and professional

    • Sibuna says:

      12:26pm | 07/12/12

      What’s wrong with journalism today?  To understand the problem read anything written by Andy Bolt or Piggsy Akerman. They almost make ACA and TodayTonight look relevant and professional

    • tez says:

      03:30pm | 07/12/12

      Ditto Sibuna; Bolt & Aka The most boring, wimpering, repetitive pair of tryhards.

    • Kassandra says:

      10:03am | 07/12/12

      Evolve and adapt or become irrelevant and extinct. Journalists used to be the main source of information for the public but not any more. The internet has revolutionised peoples’ access to information - so they now have 24/7 access to information on their pc’s and mobile phones and they can research what they find interesting for themselves while they read about it. Journalists used to do this background research, but now it’s rare to find a piece with half the research done that the average reader can do for themselves in 5 mins on their browser, so why can’t journo’s do it? Readers want informed opinions, preferably not wholly biased, and what they are getting mostly is wholly biased uninformed opinions from both sides of any given issue. Give a reader the name of any journalist they are familiar with and the subject and they will tell you what the journalist said 9 times out of 10 before they even read the piece. Social media is replacing this sort of thing for people who just want to read stuff that agrees with their own preconceived ideas. Reading the weekend papers which were 40 cents used to occupy a couple of hours to absorb all the news and commentary but now it’s a 5 minute flick through superficial rubbish that costs over $2 and is buried under a pile of annoying inserts that fall out and which nobody I know even looks at. Only good for the sports news and weighing down the recycle in the blue bin now, and after the next price increase it won’t be worth buying even for that. Digital papers will survive a while if they are free.

    • Don't believe says:

      10:16am | 07/12/12

      It seems to me that most so called journalism these days is just opinionated blogging. Very little research or facts, just cut and paste from other dubious sources on the net.

    • Tom says:

      10:34am | 07/12/12

      PS Sorry, just to correct a mistake I made on a comment I sent at 8.47am, posted above. Peter Cave said he had only deserved one out of five previous Walkleys he had won (I said “four”). And a typo on his Walkley last Friday night: It should be “outstanding contribution.” Thanks.

    • Guest says:

      11:08am | 07/12/12

      I’m not sure that catering to the increasingly insular, inwardly focussed mindset of the general population is the answer to the problems besetting the world of journalism.  Believe it or not, there are still some people who do care about the world outside their own backyard, and don’t think it’s all about me, me, me.  My fear is that fewer and fewer journalists are tackling the big issues (and tackling them intelligently) and that as a society we are poorer (and stupider) for it. 

      Intelligent, broad-based journalism is more important, not less, as blogging and citizen’s journalism becomes more widespread, as neither provide any assurance of reliability or accuracy.  Mainstream journalism has shown itself to be equally as (or even more) unreliable in recent years but has a real opportunity to win back public confidence and act as a source of truth, rather than propaganda machine or simply scandal monger.

      It also has the ability to raise awareness and educate the public - these are worthy goals and shouldn’t be discouraged because the current modern mindset is to behave as if we were all islands.

    • St. Michael says:

      11:27am | 07/12/12

      “...the journalistic class ... so many of us dream of breaking the next Watergate that we ignore things which really fire up the readers.”

      If so, then journalists’ own immature cravings for external validation are at fault for journalism’s demise, not the Internet.  And a beautifully Faustian end to the affair it would be, too.  Me, I thought journalists’ desires were to inform people and move people, not compete for fame.  If your industry, or you personally, are motivated principally by the esteem of your colleagues then you’re doing something badly wrong in your job.  Where do you guys get off thinking that you’re deserving of fame just because you can string some words amounting to (sort of) nonfiction on a daily basis?

      Also, can you tell me objectively whether the Punch is a journalism site or an opinion site? If it’s an opinion site, and you’re a journalist, isn’t that you sitting at the wrong desk, perhaps?

    • Matt says:

      11:35am | 07/12/12

      Hey Penbo,

      In relation to Jill Meagher, it’s Sydney Rd in Brunswick and not Brunswick St (which is in Fitzroy).

      Great article,


    • Barry Tucker says:

      11:43am | 07/12/12

      I agree with David’s article. There are some interesting and worthwhile comments above. I will link to this story (and comments) on my blogsite, Resource Centre, Action Front for Truth in News Media http://wp.me/p2QkUI-3

    • Kath Grant says:

      12:25pm | 07/12/12

      I would like to see an investigation into what appears to be a monoply among the hearing service and hearing-aid providers in Australia.  It is a lucrative market with little competition and the aging population who do/will require these services have little choice but to pay thousands of dollars for what amounts to medical intervention in order to be able to hear.

    • Kellee says:

      12:34pm | 07/12/12

      Are journos more out of touch now than they used to be? I don’t know. But what I see is a real void between the “top level” commentators/columnists and the “bottom line” ambulance chasing reporters (eg. me). There seems to me to be not much in between and far less now than ever before. All of that, I think, is the problem with journalism today. There is too much crap at the top, too much chaff at the bottom and not much at all of any substance, interest, thought, or depth in between. And that void is through lack of opportunity, resources and jobs, not through lack of desire from most journos themselves.

    • Frank says:

      12:56pm | 07/12/12

      poor Steven Mayne maybe this is why he turned to being a ‘shareholder activist’ instead

    • DOB says:

      01:04pm | 07/12/12

      Well, Penbo, you are riffing on a point I made on either JTI’s blog or George Megalomanis’s blog in the Aus’ a while ago. But, since we are both here, and since you are a journo who now seems to be seeing the light (and an editor/former editor type to boot) here’s where the logic of your new thoughts takes you, and this is what I expect of you, if you are a man of your word and your principles, next time you see   a bit of bullshit political pointscoring that signficies nothing and makes no difference to real lives, I want you to write the following:

      “This is a bit of mindless bullshit political pointscoring that will make no difference to your life, dear reader. However, currently there are the following important Bills/policies/discussions/arguments [insert list] going on and these will have important effects on your life in the following ways: [insert details]”

      When you can do that, Penbo, you will be a real journalist. It may come as a surprise but this sort of thing is actually quite rare, since most such writing is slathered in the reporter’s undisclosed bullshit untested prejudices as well, thus making it far more difficult for the average joe to get any sort of reasonable handle on a topic - I wont add that most journos have no background understanding of the subjects they report and comment on and - as a result - they almost are never in a position to challenge the bulshit that some people in public comments are apt to state as if they were gospel truth; and as a result journalists communicate untrue bullshit faster than cholera in a somalian refugee camp, quickly turning bullshit into accepted myth and then mainstream thought - you journos have a lot to answer for and you, Penbo, have been responsible for your fair share of bullshit mongering. Youre a one man intellectual (or, more correctly, “lack of intellect”) ebola virus, as are some of most of your colleagues (your one defence is a pretty weak one).

      However, with this piece you seem to be obtaining some sort of self-awareness. Keep it up and spread the word. Dont spread intellectual bullshit - its highly toxic stuff - and dont leave your bullshit-carrying journalist colleagues unchallanged when they do it. Thats your mission in life, Penbo. And remember: out of little things, big things grow.

    • Kathine Grant says:

      06:01pm | 07/12/12

      I’d really like to know DOB why when you said;

      ‘I wont (sic) add that most journos have no background understanding of the subjects they report and comment on and ‘

      you went ahead and said it anyway.

    • Rolly Christian says:

      01:08pm | 07/12/12

      People care about…“the cost of living, maintaining a good relationship with your partner, having happy and healthy kids, being able to find a good school, paying off their house, living in a safe community.
      They’re pretty basic questions. If journos spent more time addressing them they could probably spend less time crying woe-is-me behind a Canberra podium at this dire orgy of self-absorption.

      Agreed Peno,
      But now the issue is even wider.  The Main Stream Media has cut itself off from relevancy.  Speaking to family minded dads, commercial TV is a total toxic turn-off.  Potential family viewers are leaving / have left in droves.  TEN dropped out of rating contention because their young distracted target audience (to milk off) was further distracted by better/worse www content.

      Who is providing “family friendly”, “intelligent” content in the Australian mass media landscape.  Suitable content is few and far between - if you can find it.
      Remember the Comedy Company?  Remember when ACA would conduct a serious and valuable interview with the PM???

      Families are not getting what they want or need.  They (mass media heads) have bitten & killed off the hand that fed them.  Time to invest in a casino…

    • Pex says:

      02:04pm | 07/12/12

      For those wishing for more accurate reporting of just facts, I think you will be frustratingly disappointed if / when blogs and social media take over from mainstream media.

    • Gravelly says:

      02:16pm | 07/12/12

      You can bet on one thing: There won’t be any sackings at everyone’s taxpayer funded ALPBC! Unfortunately! We spray bloodsuckers with Mortein in this house.

    • Andrew says:

      02:48pm | 07/12/12

      With so much to say about other journalists, David can’t seem to get his own facts straight. And regarding such an horrific tragedy that claimed one of our own, you’d think he’d manage to do some basic fact-checking.

    • Economist says:

      03:27pm | 07/12/12

      I just have to say that the caption would have to be this years winner for all captions.

    • BruceS says:

      03:27pm | 07/12/12

      Thank you David, a glass of water and a good night’s sleep will cure you problem. For the Leftist malcontents herein, there is no cure.

    • Marcus says:

      04:15pm | 07/12/12

      Call that a clarification? ‘I can see why we missed it’ More than 55 stories covered in a few mintues review. Show some grace, fella.


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