Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Human rights in Australia - commercial media and the fear narrative

Anyone trawling through our major commercial media outlets in recent times will be struck by the constant attempt to whip up fear in the community.

Of course, there is nothing new in this. News editors have pandered to the predilections of various interest groups from time immemorial.

It has got nasty again in the wash up over the Federal budget. Take the case of Sky News. Their editorial line over the last week went a little like this:
Debt, fear, deficit, more fear, loss of business confidence, more fear, swine flu, lots more fear. I wonder whether they ever wonder, in their dark nights of the soul, whether they are a major contributor to fear levels?

They have selectively reported on debt and deficit to whip up the Coalition's fear line on the budget. In the process it seems they have done the country a great disservice.

They have selectively reported on recent polling to underpin their fear story. In fact, the polls suggest people are fairly sanguine about the debt and the budget. The Govt's two party position improved in this week's polls published by Essential Research and Newspoll.

Their regular line on failing business confidence distorts the actual position and does not take account of investment decision trends, the flow through effect of recent budget decisions and other signs of improvement emanating from the various stimulus packages.

And then, of course, we can always rely on swine flu to garner a bit more fear...

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