There’s a routine I do in my show where I compare the front page stories of the major newspapers of whatever city I happen to find myself in at the time. Since this is Australia it is usually a comparison of the local Fairfax offering and some News Limited pabulum.
I tend to write out a full script of all my shows, word for word. I can deviate from that structure, but I need to have the structure there to feel comfortable. It’s an aspie thing. Here is, word for word, the script for the routine:“Compare the front page stories for that day”
Invariably the Fairfax paper will offer something at least attempting to resemble actual journalism, though usually with limited success. The Murdoch press however is always vehement bile and agitprop that not only spits in the face of journalism but slits its throat and sodomises the corpse.
So predictable and tiresome, so adherent to the formula and their corporate masters, that I have been able to devote an entire five to ten minutes of my show every night on the assumption that the headline will be emotive, slanderous and factually flawed pseudo-journalism. And I have not once been disappointed.
The routine developed a couple of years ago when I noticed that The Age was running the front page headline “Higgs Boson: God particle discovered, secrets of the universe to be unlocked” and the Herald-Sun was banking its chips on “Collingwood: Why they can go all the way”.
But that was in the past. Let’s look at something more recent. Perhaps yesterday’s headline, this one from the Sydney bastion of Murdoch’s empire - the Daily Telegraph:
This one is the holy trinity. People who oppose the neo-conservative, borderline fascist government are filthy hippies, dole bludgers rorting the system and football. A rare trifecta.
“The Ferals Are Revolting”
A slanderous headline attacking the people who dared to publicly oppose the puppet state that Murdoch installed. Emotive invective designed to invite anger and opposition to those would question the status-quo. An article which is, in essence, slamming democracy.
This is why journalism is dead and why Murdoch’s empire needs to be expunged from the annals of history.
Journalism is about one thing - the truth. Nothing less than the truth but certainly nothing more. Just the facts. It’s not about opinion or politics or policies or agendas, it is just the truth. Delivered in a neutral and dispassionate fashion. Just the facts. It is up to the audience to interpret those facts, to find out how they feel about the truths revealed, which side of the line they stand. It is not the role of the journalist. That is the opposite of journalism and it is an evil that plagues our society. It is not, nor has it ever been, the role of the news to tell people what to think. It is just the news.
I realise that this may be hard to follow. True journalism, free of opinion and agenda, as opposed to sensationalism, is so very, very rare in the world. In fact some of my younger readers may never have experienced it at all. Upon reflection I don’t think I have either. To find an example of true journalism I had to go back to before I was even born.
Here is Walter Cronkite delivering the news of the death of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. This is one of the defining events of the 20th century. The assassination of one of the most popular politicians of all time, the murder of the leader of the free world and the charismatic face of hope in a world threatened by the Cold War.
And what does he say? “President Kennedy died”. No emotion. No agenda. Nothing telling you his feelings on the matter. Yes there is his obvious emotion, which he is trying to choke down in a show of professionalism unknown to today’s “journalists”. No conjecture as to the nature of his death, no rushing to blame anyone, no assumptions, no emotions, just the facts. Plain and simple. One of the biggest stories of all time and he sticks to just the facts.
That is journalism. That is news. That is what it should be about and that is why the current media is dying a slow and agonising death - trying to take everyone kicking and screaming down with it.
Traditional news outlets have become irrelevant. We don’t need them any more, no matter how much they preach to the contrary. Their power base is crumbling and they know it and they DO NOT want to let it go. They’ve grown used to being the kingmakers and the game players and they don’t want to let that power slip from their grasp. Here’s the man himself talking about that power:
The thing is we don’t need him any more, if we ever did. We no longer need news outlets telling us what to think and do and feel. We don’t need our opinions formed for us, we never did. But we also don’t need any brokers in charge of delivering us the news. That aspect of the business is well and truly dead.
It’s a bold new world. Think about it. When was the last time you heard about an important event from traditional news sources? Or for that matter the death of a celebrity or who won the Oscar for best lead actor? Did you hear about it from a newspaper? Or did you hear about it through social media? My guess is that you saw it on a Facebook post or read about it on a tweet or saw a photo on Instagram.
Social media has changed the game and it has changed the game for the better. Now everyone with internet access (and let’s face it that’s nearly everyone) is a journalist with the same access to the world as the rest of the big players. The facts are out there presenting themselves to anyone with the ability to click on a hashtag or a trending topic or a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend.
Murdoch no longer guards all the doors or holds all the keys. None of them do. Their power base evaporated nearly overnight and they are scared. They’re scared and they’re latching on to every last branch they can flail at, employing every trick in the book to keep hold just one more day at least.
We need to show them that they are a relic, a thing of the past. We need to hammer a stake through the heart of mainstream media and each of use seek out the truth that is presented there on the internet, plain for anyone with the desire to seek it. We need to see the truth and then figure out how we feel about it, what our own opinion is, and not that of someone who has grown fat and arrogant from years of hoarding the only access to information anyone had.
Stop buying the newspaper. Start changing the channel. Think for yourself and forge your own opinions. Watch the empire burn. And then we, all of us, can move into the future.