Friday, December 20, 2013
FEIJOA Awards 2013
Yes, Rupert's cartoon sheets keep pushing on, but no-one of any integrity sees them as anything other than propaganda tools for the evil empire that is News Corporation. The shameless partisanship of their "news" coverage in the federal election certainly disqualifies much of their output as anything close to journalism.
But outside the fantasy factory, there was journalism to celebrate in 2013. And so with great fanfare (insert piccolo blast), these are the 3rd annual Failed Estate International Journalism Awards - the 'FEIJOAs'. In the absence of the delicious and fragrant fruit, this sour old bugger grants you a smile.
1. The Narrowing of Politics - Di Martin - ABC Background Briefing - Everyone can see Australian politics is busted, but Di Martin's well sourced report put some serious flesh around the ritual complaints. Drawing on frank interviews with former political warriors like Nick Minchin and Simon Crean, Martin showed how chronic short-termism, the cult of personality and constant polling has filled the vacuum where policy leadership used to reside.
2. Dear Grandchildren - I Can Only Say Sorry - Ross Gittins, SMH - God help us when Gittins retires because no other journalist comes close to him in his ability to strip the cant and obfuscation from policy issues. This was the best description I have seen for the real world impact of the failure of leadership identified in Martin's piece above - in this case in relation to climate change. This should never have been a party political issue. That it became one speaks volumes for the state we're in.
3. Trading Misery - Sarah Ferguson, Hussain Nasir and Clay Hichens - ABC Four Corners - As politicians indulged in an arms race pandering to the population's tabloid-fuelled fear and prejudices over asylum seekers, Four Corners revealed the thriving micro-economy that our calculated cruelty toward the world's most desperate people is creating. Ferguson did what our growing security state has been unable to do - track down and confront the people smugglers in their lairs.
4. Profit About All Else - Adele Ferguson and Chris Vedelago - SMH - So much that passes for financial journalism is really just unpaid PR for the financial services industry. But this was the real deal - an expose of dodgy practices within the CBA's financial planning division that robbed savers, many of them retired people, of hundreds of millions of dollars. Almost as scandalous was how the corporate regulator dragged its feet on the case after being tipped off by whistle-blowers.
5. In Murdoch-Land, Sans Public Sphere, It All Sounds the Same - Guy Rundle - Crikey - Yes, Rundle is an unapologetic leftie, but he writes more acutely about Australian politics than anyone in Canberra. Widening the angle of his lens, he states what none of the "official" media will - that the information environment in which the political contest is staged is as much a part of the show as the show itself. "The whole country has become a leagues club owned by a monolithic media corporation," Rundle says. "But to mention this every time is the pathway to madness. So the debate cannot help but be skewed."
This isn't a comprehensive list by any means. I regret no News Corp journos are on the list, as there still is some solid reporting in those publications. But finding it means wading through all the rest of the muck and madness. And for my sanity's sake, I chose just to stay away from it. I figure if they break something big, I'll hear about it elsewhere.
Given News Corp's utter dominance and the waning powers of Fairfax, everyone I know is crossing fingers and toes for Katharine Viner and her team at The Guardian Australia. Great work is also been done by the fearless Mike Seccombe and others at The Global Mail. All power to their iPads.
I also should make a mention of some of my favourite fellow 'Fifth Estaters', including the Piping Shrike, Andrew Elder at Politically Homeless, Ben Eltham at New Matilda, the crew at Larvatus Prodeo, Melissa Sweet at Croakey and Don Arthur at Club Troppo. Many of these people have day jobs and write for nix, but they always have something worthwhile to say and they say it well.
This is my final blogpost for the year. To regular readers, thanks for indulging me in my creeping curmudgeonity. And to those I have clashed with on Twitter or elsewhere, thanks for caring enough to have a crack. We need to stir it up.
Posted by Mr D at 5:20 PM