I began this post some months ago, but never quite finished it despite the plethora of examples that demonstrate my point. I wrote then: After nearly three months away from Australia I have returned to find that the 'howlers' have flourished in my absence. Barbara Kingsolver's potent metaphor from her book The Lacuna fits all too well, unfortunately. She says, referring literally, but not metaphorically, to a troup of Mexican monkeys:
'In the beginning were the howlers. [Their howling] would start with just one: his forced rythmic groaning like a saw blade. That aroused the others near him, nudging them to bawl a long with his monstrous tune. Soon the maroon-throated howls would echo back from other trees...As it was in the beginning, so it is every morning of the world' (p. 3)
I find myself very unsettled, and not unlike Kingsolver's young protagonist who, subjected to the daily tirade from the howlers, wakes terified 'at every day's dawn'.
Clearly, and thankfully, I am not the only one worried. But those who worry as I do are drowned out it would seem by the howlers. Sean Carney illustrates my point well in his article in the Saturday Age when he says of the howler-in-chief:
"Since he became leader in December 2009, he [Tony Abbot] has reduced himself almost to a political parody - a politician who can rail and complain and harness community anger and generate fear but himself appears to stand for hardly anything, including the words from his own mouth."
"I emailed Hartigan some questions. They included: Do you consider that bias by newspapers in cities where only one company owns a newspaper could ever be an issue? How do you monitor whether fair means of reporting the news are being applied across the company? What auditing or monitoring mechanisms do you apply? Are there occasions when you do take up matters of bias with editors? Do you think that it would be a good idea if the Australian Press Council became an independent body with funding from both media and other sources, including government?
''Your bias against our organisation over many years and the errors and omissions in your recent New Matilda piece renders your right to answers from me completely redundant. It is deeply troubling to me and to all of our editors that someone like you has any role in teaching young journalists in Australia.''
Hartigan did not elaborate on my errors or omissions. Nor, to my knowledge, has he pointed these out to online magazine New Matilda (which has a policy of publishing corrections)."
" The first of a two-part analysis of Australian press coverage of climate change, A Sceptical Climate, has found that between February and July this year negative coverage of the carbon policy across 10 major newspapers outweighed positive coverage by 73 per cent to 27 per cent. Report author Professor Wendy Bacon said the overall result was driven by News Ltd group publications (82 per cent negative versus 18 per cent positive), compared to a more balanced result for the Fairfax press (57 per cent positive articles outweighing 43 per cent negative)."
News Corp is clearly the verdant forest for modern day howlers!