A frightened woman claims five babies have died in five days, all in Bunbury, WA. She wants to know if there’s a connection with immunisations. And the ever-zealous Australian Vaccination Network – which claims to be pro-choice, rather than anti-vaccination, but disproves that with everything they do – respond.
AVN head Meryl Dorey seems to suggest she knock on the recently bereaved parents’ door and ask if their dead baby had just been immunised. She dismisses SIDS as a “garbage can diagnosis”. She says maybe their baby “died for the greater good”, and says ambulance officers are forbidden to ask about vaccinations when they arrive at a home where a baby has died.
I asked Ms Dorey about what seemed to be a suggested death door knock. She says no, she just said “the only thing you can do is to try and contact the families involved to find out if the children were vaccinated before their death”, but points out that she wrote further down it would not be “an easy thing to do”. She asks me to do a “fair job” reporting.
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Once upon a time there was a writer who lived in a cottage nestled among the hills. The cottage was near the river Internet, over which was a sturdy bridge, The Punch.
It seemed idyllic - and indeed it was, dear reader, until one day it became clear that the gurgling he could hear from his bedroom window at night was not the sound of water, but rather, deep under the bridge, in the comments section, the grumblings of a troll.
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Do any of you really care less about what the media thinks about itself? To all the philosophers out there, yes, I get there’s an infinite regress being set up here. I am, after all, in the media talking about the media talking about itself. But forget that for a moment and answer the question. I bet for most of you it’s no. But gauging from the readers’ commentariat of many online publications, for a small, but significant minority of media audiences, it’s a big yes.
What I want to know is: how did such a tedious trend take off? When did the media become obsessed with itself? And, more importantly, when did readers start to mirror this obsession?
Admittedly, I didn’t spend too much time researching the historical roots of this phenomenon. But I have a feeling that although it’s always been around, the media’s obsession with itself, and your obsession with this obsession, really took off during what the media likes to call the ‘Culture Wars’. I’m pretty sure I heard someone at a dinner party crammed with smug lefties say quite authoritatively that the phenomenon had something to do with the rise of a political movement called ‘neo-conservatism’ and the neo-cons’ need for an enemy against which they could define themselves.
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Recently on ABC’s Q&A panellist Todd Sampson (from The Gruen Transfer and CEO of ad agency Leo Burnett) insisted that if we do not regard racism as a serious issue in Australia “we have stuffed our heads up our butts”.
Not only are such proclamations damaging to our national spirit, they are fundamentally false. If anything, the opposite is true.
Try this experiment - something I’ve done consistently over the past decade - ask Australians from a minority background what racism they have experienced.
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The King of Pop may be dead, but the controversy surrounding his untimely exit is far from buried.
The dust has barely settled since his globally-televised public memorial service last week, yet every day more pieces seem to be missing in the Jacko jigsaw about his life, his death, his final resting place and those he left behind.
The case has transcended from the mysterious to the macabre, with reports that his ghost has been seen walking the halls of his Neverland ranch to questions over who has possession of his brain.
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UPDATED: The Punch is now five days old. For those of you tucking into some long weekend reading, here’s my post from Monday introducing the site…
A pinch and a punch for the first day of the month…and the first day of what we hope will be a welcome and valuable addition to Australia’s media landscape.
The Punch is a new opinion website aimed at every Australian with a love of ideas, discussion and debate.
It’s not a fancy, la-di-dah site aimed at people with three university degrees, nor is it a site for yobbos who want to engage in mindless abuse.
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