Posts tagged "media"

Luda, this is a bit platitudinous, even if I did enjoy “Maybe I will run for President in 2012.” I mean, somebody’s gotta try to make them turn the lights out.

Even so, I did appreciate that a rapper got to talk to the National Press Club. But really, we all know Luda would have given a better speech if he’d got 16 bars in the middle of some other guy’s talk.


on the internet, no one knows you’re a broadsheet.

Jason Wilson, 'If I Make You Angry Enough, Maybe You'll Keep Reading', The New Matilda

Well, true: a quick look at the garbage ass Web site of the actually respectable Sydney Morning Herald confirms that. The article itself is about the cutely named “trollumnists”; opinion writers who are more concerned with attracting attention than adding to public debate.

The article seems to be written from a viewpoint I basically hold; that it pays to produce quality material. Yet I’m convinced by its argument. Even broadsheet journalism is a business, and if the Herald or another such paper gets people reading by publishing people like Miranda Devine or Janet Albrechtsen, then they should publish them. It’s only a problem when these “trollumnists” become the norm. Fortunately, Australia still has people like Peter Hartcher, Paul Kelly, Annabel Crabb, David Marr — even Greg Sheridan — who are concerned with advancing debate and do so constructively. My beef is with writers like Paul Sheehan, who claim to be intelligent commentators, but in reality add nothing to public discourse. Sheehan, unlike Devine et. al., cannot even write well. He can’t construct an argument and he can’t construct a sentence. It is people like him we should be defending Australian media against, not the populist shit stirrers.

Nov 10

Things I hate about copy-editors.

There was an op-ed in the Sydney Morning Herald today. It wasn’t by a Herald writer; it was sourced from the L.A. Times. Whatever — I sure would have preferred to have seen an Australian writer get the space, but I’m not a protectionist when it comes to other things, so I sure shouldn’t be when it comes to my own industry. Evidently the editor thought the Herald’s readers would enjoy this piece.

It wasn’t that great a piece; just some woman called Amy Alkon making the perfectly fine argument that kicking an excessively disruptive child off a plane is a good idea, then using it as a battering ram to say all kinds of preposterous things. You know, opinion journalism. But I’ll show you the quotes that interested me.

Unbelievably, Root demanded the apology she eventually got from the airline (shame, shame) and hit it up for the cost of nappies and the portable cot she says she had to buy for the overnight stay.

Except Alkon didn’t say “nappies.” She’s American! It says as much right at the bottom of the op-ed! And sure enough, the original article used the word “diapers.” It also described a “portable crib,” not a “cot,” an edit I find astonishing, because I had no idea “crib” was an Americanism us Australians must be prevented from seeing for the sake of our national dignity*.

Likewise, in the Herald, Alkon is printed referring to the “Mummy Mafia,” when, of course, she wrote “Mommy Mafia.” This is an even more egregious edit; a “mummy” is quite different to a “mommy.” The images conjured up are entirely different and the notion that a mafia of one kind is identical to a mafia of the other kind makes me want to give these copy-editors nap-time with the fishes. Let me make it clear: Australians have mums. Americans have moms. American moms should be “moms,” even if an Australian is referring to them, and vice-versa. Would we really call Carmela Soprano or Marge Simpson or Peggy Bundy a “mum”? Should an American really think of Maggie Beare or Kath Day-Knight or Sal Kerrigan as “moms”? It’s preposterous!

It is time we all learned to accept that those of us around the Anglosphere speak different kinds of English. Unless that kind of English causes problems with comprehension (and sometimes even then; American publishers should not change “jumper” to “sweater”) we should retain the writer’s original voice. If the Herald thinks a woman in Los Angeles is worth publishing, it shouldn’t patronise its readers by assuming their precious cultural sensitivities will be shocked if they read that woman communicating in her natural voice.

*Come to think of it, “cot” sounds like a Britishism we should have jettisoned along with the Monarchy when we became an independent nation.


Several industry executives cited a more fundamental force working in favor of identifying commenters. Through blogging and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, millions of people have grown accustomed to posting their opinions — to say nothing of personal details — with their names attached, for all to see. Adapting the Facebook model, some news sites allow readers to post a picture along with a comment, another step away from anonymity.

“There is a younger generation that doesn’t feel the same need for privacy,” Ms. Huffington said. “Many people, when you give them other choices, they choose not to be anonymous.”

News Sites Rethink Anonymous Online Comments,” The New York Times, 11 April 2010

Ohmygosh this old people’s truism is so boring. Sasha Frere Jones got it right a while back by proposing that “digital natives understand that [real life and the Web] divide the self much as speech and the written word divide language, a division that humans have lived with for a long time without going bonkers.” But I’ll say it more simply: Choosing to put information about yourself online isn’t eschewing privacy. All of us control what we make public and what we do not. And just as people writing to the letters page of their local paper 40 years ago would select what personal information about themselves to include in their missive, those of us on the MyFace are perfectly aware that we’re operating in quasi-public realms and tailor our commentary accordingly. There are things I do not post on my Tumblr that I post on my Facebook. There are things I would not put on Twitter that I do say on a Gmail chat. The standards of privacy have not changed, we’ve just applied them to a new, online world.

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Apr 24

Politico’s comprehensive aims can make it goofy and unapologetically trivial at times. A recent item by a Congressional blogger for the site consisted of the following: “Lights are out throughout much of the Longworth House Office Building, a denizen tells me. UPDATE: They are back on.”

Mark Leibovich, “The Man the White House Wakes Up To,” The New York Times Magazine, April 25 2010

The lights were out in Longworth? What? Why?

(More here.)


A 10-YEAR fall in the percentage of migrants settling in NSW and the lowest rate of economic growth of all mainland states has Melbourne on track to overtake Sydney as Australia’s biggest city, a report predicts.

The Going Nowhere report, produced by the economic forecasters BIS Shrapnel for a property developer lobby group, says lower developer levies on new housing land in Melbourne have allowed construction of homes at twice the rate of Sydney. This is fuelling a population and economic growth in the Victorian capital that means it will become the country’s biggest city by 2037.

Matthew Moore, “Melbourne set to overtake as biggest metropolis,” Sydney Morning Herald, April 27, 2010

This is some ridiculous reporting. A bunch of lobbyists cajole some economists into releasing a report saying their crystal ball has figured out Melbourne will be bigger than Sydney in 27 years time, and the Herald reports this as news? And regurgitates the assertion that the only way to avoid a fate Sydneysiders would understandably be horrified by is to implement the tax policies the lobbyists want? Thumbs fucking up, Matthew Moore; you’re all over this one.

I particularly like the way Moore inserts this at the end of the piece:

While the NSW Department of Planning has recently upgraded its population forecasts, predicting Sydney will reach 6 million by 2036, [Lobbyist] Mr Gadiel dismissed those projections and said they ”won’t happen” without radical changes to the planning system to make it easier and cheaper for developers to build more homes.

Thank god we’ve got experts like Aaron Gadiel there to offer incisive critiques of Department of Planning projections like “won’t happen.” And thank god we’ve got Matthew Moore, who’s willing to regurgitate facts like this —

The report, commissioned by the Urban Taskforce, says NSW’s share of national migration has fallen from about 42 per cent 10 years ago to about 30 per cent due to the ”extremely challenging conditions” in the residential property market when prices leapt after the Olympics.

— without considering that Sydney’s share of migration has reduced not because of Melbourne or the local housing market, but because of the booming resource economies in Western Australia and Queensland. In this case, growth is dependent on demand, not supply.


One day dude is going to do a vanity Google search, and then it’s restraining order time for me.

That Kelefa Sanneh article I just linked to is a great example of why I think he’s such a great writer and critic. His essay leaves you in no doubt of his opinion, but his arguing of it is entirely periphery to the general rhetorical direction of the article. Sanneh seeks firstly to elucidate the issues surrounding the then-raging Imus controversy, tying it in to other related arguments about rap and expertly locating them within the relevant social context. He doesn’t swallow bullshit, but he helps to fairly and sympathetically clarify the perspective of those involved in a debate. He doesn’t try to caricature counter-arguments; indeed, when he relates them, they barely seem like counter-arguments. It’s fair-and-balanced reporting that doesn’t fall into the trap of accepting everything and holding no one to account. It’s not just an example of great music writing; it’s a model for great analysis of any kind.


Tony Abbott on the 7:30 Report.

You must excuse me for being behind on this one; I’m out of the country. But this interview with our alternate Prime Minister is awe-inspiring. Incredible. SMH WTF sort of shit.

Also, let me take this moment to say how much I’ve missed seeing politicians arguing with Kerry O’Brien.


Republicans are convinced that tea party coverage has become an effort to “other-ize” conservatives. In the words of Mike Murphy, who’s currently living the rugged life of a Meg Whitman consultant:

"These young reporters fly to the wilds of Oklahoma or Kentucky, find a bunch of folks in Uncle Sam suits hollering and come back thinking they’ve got some hot scoop."

This is, obviously, loaded criticism, with the implication being that the nattering nabobs of the East Coast just don’t understand the real America. I take issue with this. If a political movement, however loosely aggregated, is driving the policies of one party, it deserves copious and probing coverage. Yes, it’s frustrating for liberals that a few hundred tea party activists can steal the headlines by packing into town hall meetings. But understanding why that happened, how social networks and technology made that possible, and whether or not their worries were well-founded — that is obviously a job for political journalists.

Dave Weigel, “Yes, the media should cover the Tea Parties,” Right Now, April 22, 2010


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