Sunday, July 15, 2007

'go' Howard

I feel like weighing into the debate provoked last week by The Australian’s editorial sledging online writers. Others in various comments threads have pointed out that the newspaper is likely most irked by competing for-profit online media like Crikey, rather than the thousands of amateur sites like mine. I couldn't resist reacting to some of the claims the paper made in attacking the credibility of online commentary (described as “smug, self assured, delusional swagger”).
The paper doesn't seem to realise that before blogging, people just thought all this. Now anyone has an avenue to criticise anything, including the media itself, which the media doesn't appear to be enjoying. Maybe blogging 'preys' on expensive primary content produced by Big Media. But it also performs a useful function in holding the media to account for what it writes. It's another layer of bullshit detectors.
You get a sense of the stubborn resistance of traditional media to new forms here. Newspapers acting threatened, dragged kicking and screaming into accepting the internet and its democratisation of debate. Then they suffer the indignity of being in competition with their own online presence as well, and possibly even watching their online entity overtake them in revenue. No wonder they're cut.)
But back to The Government Gazette.

“[There has been] silence when Mr Howard's performance has been put under the gun.”

That could be because it’s been done so half-heartedly. Sure, Paul Kelly writes things like (30 September 2006):
"John Howard has backed US policies that have fuelled the global jihadist movement and made Australia less safe. This seems a comprehensive failure and Howard should be called to account by the media, the Opposition and the public....By any measure the war in Iraq is going badly. And prime ministers who support unsuccessful wars that energise the enemy, expand his recruitment lines and give him vast propaganda value are not entitled to claim superior national security credentials...The scale of Howard's blunder will become more and more apparent. Labor should hold Howard to account. Iraq [was] a mistake, a war in which Labor's initial position was correct."

The paper has demanded the public hold John Howard accountable for his mistakes and the public has apparently done so, approving of Rudd as the cleanskin. But the paper didn't take its own advice. To use the vernacular, it did not ‘go’ Howard.
“As a newspaper we don't know who we will support at the federal election.”

When are they going to make up their minds, you have to wonder. When Labor announces it will go to the next election on a platform of AWAs, going nuclear, staying in Iraq indefinitely, etc? Um...
"The Australian is not beholden to any one side of politics..."

Didn't you just say you were Right of John Howard?
"Most of our criticism has been from the Right, chiding the Government for being overly generous with middle class welfare and reform shy..."

Well, unless Labor drastically changes its platform, it’s impossible to see how a proudly conservative paper like The Australian can honestly claim it still hasn’t decided who it supports.

According to the newspaper,
“Most of the electronic offerings that feed off the work of The Australian to create their own content are a waste of time.”

Who’s eating who? The media has always fed off the public for quotes and vox pops, and now online, for free content via comments boxes and forums. In whose opinion is “most” of the content “a waste of time”? If it’s such a waste of time, why are blogs so popular?
“But the one-eyed anti-Howard cheer squad now masquerading as serious online political commentary, apart from a few notable exceptions, has all but exhausted its claim to be taken seriously.”

Then why are they taking it so seriously? You wonder why these journalistic elites feel the need to stoop to conquer. If bloggers have no credibility, why the sudden urge to demolish it?
I reckon the paper is just embarrassed they’ve backed the wrong horse. Now, maybe because Rupe himself is acting like a swinger, his paper feels the need to rationalise its support for one of the last governing fossils of the late neocon era...
Anyway, it’s not all ‘endless commentary’. Some of us also post nude drawings.