In which I refuse to fix the deep structural issues of the Australian media

Earlier today our Prime Minister (currently Malcolm Turnbull but check back in 5 minutes) did one of the many media stunts that make up an Australian election campaign. During this event he refused to discuss anything but the issues he wanted to push. This led to much Twitter criticism from media figures that he would dare do such a thing. And this irritated me. Because staying on message is Malcolm's job in the ridiculous political culture we have. It's not in his interests to hold himself to account. That job belongs in this context to the media, and in a larger sense to the public who it is the media's job to educate. If he's not answering questions he should be to accomplish this the failure lies with the media. Their job, they're not doing it.

As a result I quoted a couple of journalists with comments to that effect (I'm not going to link them here because I don't want this to be a personal attack). One of the journalists I quoted responded. Not to discuss difficulties in doing this job. Not to indicate that I was wrong my analysis. Instead I got a demand for a solution with the clear implication that I, someone who would like a quality news source to consume, have no right to complain about the actual low quality news sources we have unless I personally can tell journalists how to do their jobs. I was less than impressed and replied indicating (in a sarcastic fashion) that I didn't consider it my responsibility to get journalists to do their jobs, and the conversation didn't really get any more enlightening from there.

I find the suggestion that I can't discuss a clear and obvious problem unless I have a proposed solution to be actively mendacious. It's a framing that attempts to push responsibility from the actual responsible parties (our ineffectual, self obsessed media) onto me (a random Internets user with a Twitter account). If I were to accept this then it would allow them to dismiss the problem by criticising my solution, which as experts in the domain they are well placed to do so where I am not. It's the kind of flawed thinking that leads our media to think that winning an argument is the same as being right. It's a rhetorical trick and I reject it.

Our media is clearly in a significant and permanent decline. The responses to this are to dumb down and stupid campaigns like #buythepaper. The former reduces again and again the trust people have and the value they gain. The later is yet another attempt to shift blame. It's not the media's fault they're hurting, it's yours. It's not that their product isn't worth anything, it's that you don't buy it. Buy the paper. Ignore that there's so little in there worth the price. Ignore that the websites are clickbait trash. It's not our fault. It's yours and we will scream that at you for as long as we're able because we're different and special and we deserve attention.

Yeah, fuck that.

Colin Scott

Read more posts by this author.