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The power of the Murdoch media to manipulate

By Alan Austin - posted Friday, 30 August 2013


Rupert Murdoch uses a variety of weapons to bludgeon readers into submission.

In Australia, that includes techniques including publishing tame articles from a battery of credentialed economists.

Fairfax does the same. But Murdoch's economists are more numerous, better writers and by virtue of their broader reach have greater influence.

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How do they manipulate their readers? With six strategies.

First. They repeat impressive-sounding propositions which they do not bolster with evidence. They do not because they cannot. Day in day out, week in week out, year in year out.

Oliver Marc Hartwich in The Australian this month:

"Australia's public finances are in a state of such obvious disrepair that no one would dream of awarding any prizes for sound fiscal management to an Australian treasurer today."

And yet the accolades keep coming.

Judith Sloan and Henry Ergas in The Australian this month:

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… it is beyond dispute that there was far-reaching waste in programs such as school halls and pink batts, with the latter also involving the tragic loss of young lives.

The opposite is true. Independent audits found minimal waste. The CSIRO found the rate of injuries and deaths fell to a quarter of the rate in the insulation industry during the Howard years. The pink batts were in fact remarkably successful.

But repetition in an authoritative tone has driven home the 'truth' to many.

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About the Author

Alan Austin is an Australian freelance journalist currently based in Nīmes in the South of France. His special interests are overseas development, Indigenous affairs and the interface between the religious communities and secular government. As a freelance writer, Alan has worked for many media outlets over the years and been published in most Australian newspapers. He worked for eight years with ABC Radio and Television’s religious broadcasts unit and seven years with World Vision. His most recent part-time appointment was with the Uniting Church magazine Crosslight.

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