I remember growing up hearing my elders talk about doctors. Not doctors, but doctors. These were sinister, untrustworthy doctors. In a small country town you’d only find doctors. You see, if one doctor committed an act of malpractice, the chances of ever getting another doctor to refute their judgement was nigh on impossible. Doctors stuck together. Doctors made hippocratic oaths; doctors made hypocritic ones.
If I had kids (a highly impossible scenario, I’ll admit), I think like my elders when I was young, I’d have a few things to say, but about journalists.
Of course, there’s plenty of journalists who are outstanding people for whom I have a lot of respect. Monica Attard, for instance, is one of those people. She ran Media Watch for a while with a quiet dignity and a penchant for skewering the ill-informed and ill-practiced.
So it was with some surprise today I saw this tweet from her during the Labor leadership spill (or train wreck might be a more apt description):
Can the fake Rudd please stop tweeting. Silly and dangerous.
I’ve not been paying much attention to Monica for some time – in fact, the last time I saw her on TV was when she was interviewed after the death of Boris Yelstin, whom she’d clung to (without realising seeing who he was at the time) in order to escape a near riotous crowd being approached by Soviet forces during their upheavals.
But it leaves me wondering whether Monica has been paying that much attention to her journalistic (or journalistic) colleagues lately.
You see, she tweeted that after being caught out by a fake Kevin Rudd account (_KRuddMP rather than KRuddMP) – the fake account having announced it was going to run for the leadership of the Labor party.
Silly and dangerous.
Yet, a drop in the ocean compared to the silly and dangerous behaviour of so much of the mainstream media for the last two or more years.
Australia is in for some turbulent times. There’s no doubt that the Labor machine in Australia has run itself into a serious hole. In many areas it’s pandered to the bigots, trying to out-conservative the conservatives, and in other areas it’s just acted like an insane animal, tearing itself to pieces. The overall result seems to be a party that has alienated many of its traditional supporters without a net gain of any others.
(Unfortunately the only way Australians are likely to understand just painful a Tony Abbott led country will be, will be to live in a Tony Abbott led country for 3 years.)
Yet, shenanigans within the Labor party aside, there’s been another partner in politics for the last few years: the media. Mainstream media has significantly shifted in the last 5+ years from observer/reporter status to active participant.
Monica can tweet all she wants about a fake twitter account being “silly and dangerous”, but we’ve seen a lot of silly and dangerous behaviour out of the mainstream media. Whether they’ve been pandering to destabilising elements within the Labor party, repeating Liberal spin, or blatantly spinning their own biased agenda, there’s been some powerful voices in mainstream media demonstrating a very key point: maybe mainstream media doesn’t deserve to be saved.
Until we get respected journalists like Monica calling out the silly and dangerous behaviour of her colleagues, calling out fake twitter accounts will be like using a thimble to bail the Titanic. And until then, I’m afraid I’ll keep thinking about journalists.