Friday, April 11, 2008

On the news tonight

There won't be anything newsworthy. Oh, it'll be what people are interested in - or rather, what people get told to be interested in, but it won't really be news. A bit like the new segment on the afternoon show on Triple J - "That's not news!" (Oh, and Dools and Linda are currently my favourite duo on teh J's.)

Despite the occasional loopy articles (Scientologists saying psychiatry r bad), ABC Unleashed usually has something of interest, in this case Antony Loewenstein's Spot the news story. And the premise asks a question that I don't know (especially locally-based) news outlets could answer with any justification other than "er...": why is incest worthy of more news time than a casual (but not very well judged) salute/wave, and more newsworthy than the US government approving torture, saying laws don't apply to (their) interrogators? Australia happily went along with them to a couple of random sorties into that bastion of savagery, the Middle East, and now this? Did we know what we were involved in?

It's not just a problem here, the US has it's issues too. Of course, everyone remembers Hillary Clinton breaking down crying. The only related piece of analysis worth anything was Jon Stewart giving a serve to the media's coverage of it - a raised eyebrow and a "wtf" expression.

The Piping Shrike's latest is not exactly real news, but at least it's real analysis. As are the daily updates from Woolly Days. In South Australia, there's The Advertiser, The Australian, the... no, wait. That's it for mainstream circulation. Both papers are owned by the same crowd - News Limited. Fantastic diversity, right there (I will say that I hear the editors of the papers do have a fair bit of autonomy - of course, News Ltd could just keeping sacking people until they find the ones they want, but that's another conspiracy theory). The quality of The Advertiser is negligible. The Sunday edition, The Sunday Mail, is like Woman's Day but for $1.80 (or whatever it is), and once a week.

The Australian as the only national broadsheet lays claim to be higher class, but a few in the blogosphere and a few responders to the op-ed pieces have had issues with their lack of education in statistics when reporting political opinion polls, and a lack of a left eye when covering politics in general. Trying to appear that they create balance by having Phillip Adams write a column once a week doesn't really cut it when Janet Albrechtson, Greg Sheridan and Dennis Shanahan are on the other side of the coin - although, Shanahan is at his best when discussing internal workings and performances of the one of the major parties, and not comparing between them.

Not saying he's biased or anything. Just... it feels like he allows his viewpoint to colour the article more than it should. The less said about Albrechtson's attempts, the better...

So for more analysis on the non-internet side, people need to rely on SBS and the ABC. For a couple of (mostly, in SBS's case) publicy-funded broadcasters, I'm not sure why they don't upload their documentaries and news stories to their websites. I could understand it if it's not an in-house production, but when it is? Being able to watch Dateline and The Cutting Edge when I want would be fantastic - and leave off the need to buy a $500 hard disk tv recorder. Hey, even The Chaser's War on Everything was available on their website (although the video quality was fairly average).

But I guess this is too advanced for us: if we're not at least 10 years behind every other 'first world' country, then we need to go backwards!

/me sighs

Oh, and bongs and other drug paraphernalia are now banned in SA. Obviously, burning hose pipes and alfoil are much safer options.

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