Thoughts for the week about the Australian media…

These are excerpts from various reading this week…

In an interview with Lindsay Tanner, “Sideshow:Dumbing down Democracy”, former Herald Sun editor Bruce Guthrie suggested the balance between emotion and reason in the news has shifted, with outlets stripping stories of their complexity, and ramping up emotion, in a desperate to retain readership.

In AMEP we always want to convey our highest respect for Australian journalists and other media producers. They are vital to a free and independent media protecting Australian citizen’s rights in our pluralistic, parliamentary democracy.

But, there are flaws in the way contemporary Australian  media serves citizens.

So, we always look to transform media into a relational tool that serves “hope”, “fairness” and “well being” in the hearts and minds of Australians.

Christine Rau, in her book Dealing with the Media” gives really good advice for those who are not journalists but have to tell their stories in a newsworthy way. There is the “inverted news pyramid”.

  1. Develop central theme of your story which includes, “Who?”, “What?”, “When?”, “Where?” and “Why?”
  2. Give specifics of “How?” story unfolded
  3. Report reaction of people responding to your story, even if they respond, critically
  4. Provide back-up information, which may incorporate a ‘case study’, statistics, or other quotes
  5. Give quote or conclusion that encapsulates your central theme.

I’m also an avid reader and viewer of the work of sociologist Manual Castells. His trilogy, “The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture” and later book “Communication Power”, which reviewed his trilogy, discloses concerning research about the connections of global power between politics, media, business and crime, and its affect on nations such as Australia.

His work alerts people who are concerned about their fellow citizens, communities and nation to think about how these power structures dominate the lives of those close to them.  

It got me thinking again about those highly influential networks that dominate Australian society, and its citizens.

Much of our work in 2013 points towards an emerging crisis in Australian democracy. If you are a transforming institution, then I suggest you need to be aware of those networks and how they apply power over those you care about.

Every aspect of transformation requires political activity. Therefore, it requires political savvy, and to gain political savvy you need to gain experience in the political spheres of the public space.

“Transformational” institutions, e.g. the Church, who don’t seem to contribute in the public space, will change very little in the thought leadership of these highly influential networks.

I’ve also read some wonderful wisdom literature this week. It involved politically-savvy leaders who understood traditional wisdom and contemporary culture. They were able to convince kings, priests and prophets to draw together a movement of people, which many believe, led to the best of human existence: hope, fairness and well being.

Bob Simpson

About Bob Simpson

Bob is project manager of The Australian Media Engagement Project (AMEP). He believes that ethical and independent journalists are vital to the continuing freedom of Australian citizens. You could argue that In recent decades media organisations have subtly subverted journalism to their own private commercial interests, and away from an integrated sense of fairness, well being and shared prosperity in Australian society, especially for the disempowered. AMEP aims to change general media narratives towards greater fairness, well being and shared prosperity in Australia.
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