11 Jul. 2007

Teh Oz v. Blogs: Tim Dunlop Gets Censored!

The Murdoch Media just spiked a Tim Dunlop blog post!

I just finished posting a comment at Tim Dunlop's News Ltd Blogocracy Blog - and now it seems the entire post has been pulled! Tim was being critical of the Oz's editorial, but (typically) balanced that with some criticism of Fairfax.

I grabbed the money quote before it was pulled:
I think the editorial is ill-conceived and way off the mark in singling out Peter Brent in the way that it does. His site largely confines itself to interpretation and in doing so, provides a great service. The idea that he can’t comment without the editor of The Australian ringing him up to say they are going to “go” him is disturbing.
Ironically, Tim was insisting that the fact News Ltd tolerates blogs like his is proof that they really ARE fair and balanced!

This is hugely ironic, given how Tim once spiked a totally harmless story from Daryl Mason at Road To Surfdom, and banned him from further posting. That's when I stopped reading RTS.

Inside the tent, Tim? Really?

I think it’s time you posted your resignation - maybe at Road To Surfdom!?

More here. Mumbles muted response now posted:
Not personal, and could have been much worse. That Mr Mitchell is a lovely fella. And so is Dennis!
I wonder what dirt they have on him? You see - guilty by innuendo, again.

UPDATE: Here is the complete, original (spiked) Blogocracy post, courtesy of Daryl Rosin at LP:
Who says the mainstream media don’t pay attention to the blogosphere? This extraordinary story relates to this week’s Newspoll results and the way The Australian reported it. Peter Brent runs the excellent psephological blog called Mumble. It’s one of a number of blogs that run analysis and commentary of opinion polls, and others include OzPolitics, Possums Pollytics, and Poll Bludger.
Yesterday, Peter Brent noted that he had fallen foul of some of those at The Australian:
A courtesy call from Editor-in-Chief Chris Mitchell this morning informed me that the paper is going to “go” Charles Richardson (from Crikey) and me tomorrow. Chris said by all means criticise the paper, but my “personal” attacks on Dennis had gone too far, and the paper will now go me “personally”.
No, I’m not making this up.
If they only get as personal as I get with Dennis, then it should be tame, as I don’t believe I’ve ever criticised anything other than his writing. And to think I described Dennis, in a chapter in a book being launched this month, as (with no sarcasm) “a fine journalist”.
All very strange. And - I’d be lying if I didn’t admit - a little stomach-churning.
The editorial is up this morning and yes, they do “go” Peter Brent. They defend themselves in the strongest possible terms and attack, specifically and generally, just about anyone who disagrees with them, particularly “Australia’s online news commentariat that has found passing endless comment on other people’s work preferable to breaking real stories and adding to society’s pool of knowledge.”

There are a number of things to say about all of this. The first is that the editorial is as much concerned about charges of bias against The Australian as anything else. This is how it begins:
THE measure of good journalism is objectivity and a fearless regard for truth. Bias, nonetheless, is in the eye of the beholder and some people will always see conspiracy when the facts don’t suit their view of the world. This is the affliction that has gripped, to a large measure, Australia’s online news commentariat that has found passing endless comment on other people’s work preferable to breaking real stories and adding to society’s pool of knowledge.
If bias is in the eye of the beholder, then there are a lot of “beholders” out there who think The Australian is biased, particularly in its coverage of polling data. The evidence for this is not just to found in the blogosphere but on their own pages where their columns and articles often fill up with criticism from their own readers accusing them of spinning information in favour of the Howard Government. In attacking the “online commentariat” they are also attacking a sizeable sampling of their own readership.

The latest bout of charges of bias were prompted by this week’s Newspoll and many people, including me, were struck by the way The Australian chose to cover the story. For instance, Bryan Palmer at OzPolitics wrote:
“When I first glanced at today’s headlines — Howard checks Rudd’s march — Kevin’s sizzle not snag-free — Howard finds fertile ground for support — I was expecting to read about a polling improvement for the Howard Government. What I found was a flat line.”
What’s interesting is that The Australian seems to believe that only they are capable of objectivity and they reject entirely any charge of bias. This is odd given that Chris Mitchell himself has said:
“Can I say something about The Australian’s contribution to the national political debate. It has made, as a newspaper, a remarkable contribution, I think back over the last 10 years that this government has been in office and I think of the positions taken by The Australian newspaper.
“It has been broadly supportive, generously so, of the government’s economic reform agenda. And it has been a strong supporter, consistently… of industrial relations reform. Its only criticism of the government is that it might not have gone far enough.”
…I think editorially and on the Op Ed page, we are right-of-centre. I don’t think it’s particularly far right, I think some people say that, but I think on a world kind of view you’d say we’re probably pretty much where The Wall Street Journal, or The Telegraph in London are. So, you know, centre-right.
It is precisely that “generous” “broadly supportive” “right-of-centre” tilt that people are responding to when they see Newspoll reported the way it was this week. For the editorial to deny that any such tilt exist seems disingenuous.

So I think the editorial is ill-conceived and way off the mark in singling out Peter Brent in the way that it does. His site largely confines itself to interpretation and in doing so, provides a great service. The idea that he can’t comment without the editor of The Australian ringing him up to say they are going to “go” him is disturbing.

Still, I think it is fair to say that News Ltd, including The Australian, has opened itself to comment and criticism from its readership more so than Fairfax, the other major news organisation. They have embraced readers comments and “blogs” more fully, and this site alone is evidence of that. So while most News news stories and columns allow reader comment, the same is not true of Fairfax. You can, for instance, comment on Dennis Shanahan’s and Paul Kelly’s columns, but not Michelle Grattan’s or Gerard Henderson’s.

But having embraced such an approach, they have to accept that not everyone is going to agree with them or buy into their particular take on a given issue or, indeed, their own self-image. The Australian is, of course, completely free to defend themselves, but it might also pay them to reflect on why so many people see them as the “government gazette” rather than just dismiss nearly all such criticism as “a waste of time”.

ELSEWHERE: Mark Bahnisch comments, as does AB at Surfdom. Possum Pollytics provides a detailed analysis of an aspect of Newspoll that argues against the claim, made by the CEO of Newspoll and Dennis Shanahan, about the relationship between primary vote and the preferred PM figure. It’s exactly the sort of analysis that the editorial claims is lacking in the online sites.
LP now has a follow-up post generating a few comments.

UPDATE: Hello to all the wingnuts from Tim Blair's snark shop. You know, smug cynicism is really no substitute for intelligent analysis. If you are just looking for some light entertainment, I suggest you go look at Pamela Anderson's tits or something.

UPDATE: Added some visual content for Tim Blair's readers: let those who support the war see the true consequences of their actions.

UPDATE: More photos for the pendants.










When do we say "Enough"? When do we say this never had anything to do with Australia, and we never should have gotten involved? When do we say this was all about oil? When do we say this was all a monstrous crime? When do we say sorry?