foundation of 90% of the PR masquerading as news that you see in the media most days.
With that in mind, it gives me great pleasure to announce the second annual F.E.I.J.O.A awards (The Failed Estate International Journalism Awards), sponsored by ________ (insert non-compromising and appropriate commercial enterprise here).
It's really not that hard to stand out as a decent journalist these days. You refrain from buying into the Narrative Du Jour (promoted intensely by the more highly paid spin doctors of the warring ideological clans) and you give the public valuable insights that might help them understand issues that could affect them and steer them away from the self-serving noise.
These journalists haven't forgotten that they are representing the interests of the general audience, not the in-crowd of would-be agenda setters of which most in the media seek the approval.
Of course, I don't pretend that this is an exhaustive list. It merely represents my view of some of the journalism that has added some needed understanding and insight this past year. And it's what we need more of - journalism that ignores today's talking points and looks at what's really at stake.
Unholy Silence - Geoff Thompson and Mary Ann Jolley, Four Corners, ABC: The best journalism highlights a discrepancy between the proclaimed virtues of public institutions and the actual practices. This clear-eyed and fearless investigation of systematic child abuse within the Catholic Church fits that definition and led to a Royal Commission being called. It is interesting to speculate whether this program would have been made under an Abbott/Pell government.
Ashbygate, David Donovan, Independent Australia: The mainstream commercial media, particularly the News Ltd tabloids, got very excited when former Liberal Party staffer James Ashby accused LNP turncoat and parliamentary speaker Peter Slipper of sexual harassment. This was going to bring down the government was the line, which is perhaps why the journos needed to exercise just an ounce of scepticism about the motives of Ashby and others involved. Donovan's IA did what most others failed to do and questioned the motives of those involved. Sure enough, it was a stitch-up.
Abbott Interview - Leigh Sales, 730, ABC: For months, Tony Abbott was allowed to get away with blue murder by the media with his claims about the carbon tax. It was going to drive up the cost of living, he said, wipe towns off the map, destroy the economy. Which is why it was such a relief to see Leigh Sales put Abbott on the spot over his claims that BHP Billiton was blaming the carbon tax for the the mothballing of the Olympic Dam expansion. Turns out he hadn't read the statement...at all.
A Fair Share of the Boom - Stan Correy, Background Briefing ABC Radio: One bugbear I have with much policy journalism these days is that reporters spend their time reporting what politicians say about public issues without getting out of Canberra and finding out the facts for themselves. And this is what Stan Correy did in explaining why the mining industry was so opposed to a profits-based tax. This took him to Africa and an analysis of the tension between 'globalisation' and resource nationalism.
Bernard Keane, Crikey - Australia's best media analyst of public policy. From his Crikey vantage point, Bernard can afford to ignore the daily tennis match. What's more with his background in public policy, he manages to get into the politics from the level of what's at stake for the public and beyond the egos of the individuals and the party machines. If you want an insight into politics without having to wade through the predictable he-said-she-said templates, read Keane.
Ross Gittins, SMH - The quaint notion that governments 'manage' the economy dies hard in Australia. There is simply too much at stake for media companies and polling organisations and the punditocracy for people to be told the truth - that the RBA and Treasury run the macro economy and then only up to a point. The international cycle has a much bigger influence. Ross Gittins is a truth teller in financial media. One of the few. We'll need him even more in an election year.
(Once again, this list is not intended to be a comprehensive one. There are many more worthy names in the comments from readers below. I would also tip a hat to Mark Colvin, Laura Tingle, George Megalogenis, Wendy Carlisle, Hugh Riminton, Paul Bongiorno, Peter Martin and Stephen Long).