Wednesday, December 08, 2010

A short primer on journalism

Today's print edition of The West Australian has a front page devoted completely to one major story, with the headline blaring 'WORLD'S MOST WANTED MAN ARRESTED'. EoR is glad to learn that Osama bin Laden has finally been arrested. Oh, hang on. It isn't him, or even any of the other five most wanted, it's some other bloke.

While the online report is slightly less inflammatory, it still notes

US politicians have called for Assange to be treated as a terrorist.

Former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin described him as an "an anti-American operative with blood on his hands".

Elsewhere at The West, Paul Murray confuses leaks that confirmed things we suspected for leaks that "confirmed things we knew" (he mentions a little later Kevin Rudd's comments about China — something we didn't previously know, but that inconsistency seems unimportant to Murray). Leaks such as 'Climategate' seem acceptable though:

So, having conceded there was little available research material, the report relies on computer modelling of the small amount that is known. Sounds like a version of Climategate.

Crikey also points out the hypocrisy of the rightwing blogotariat in this matter. To summarise:

Hacked and leaked emails: good (if exposing Teh Evil Scientistz)
Hacked and leaked emails: bad (if exposing the good and wonderful politicians)
Hacked and leaked emails: good (if exposing Kevin Rudd — not a good or wonderful politician)

While one definition of consistency is "a degree of density, firmness, viscosity, etc", this essay notes:

We might say that while consistency is surely not sufficient for ethics, it is at least necessary for ethics. Ethics requires that there be consistency among our moral standards and in how we apply these standards. Ethics also requires a consistency between our ethical standards and our actions, as well as among our inner desires. Finally, ethics requires that there be consistency between how we treat ourselves and how we treat others.

Never let it be said that ethics got in the way of journalism.


  1. Didn't Laurie Oakes report some leaked Cabinet material during the last election? Does Oakes still have his passport?

  2. Am sure Oakes still has his Walkley Award for Excellence in Journalism Leadership:
    "an Australian award that recognises outstanding acts of courage and bravery in the practice of journalism".


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