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Elites go to war to capture public hearts and minds

By Richard Stanton - posted Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Two diametrically opposed sides are fighting for the rights of the public in the news media war.

Neither side seems to really care much though about who or what the public is.

On one side is the elite left-of-centre academic/government-funded activist team.


On the other the right-of-centre commercial corporate media team.

Both teams want the public but the public seems to not want them.

The average person thinks the same thing about leftist activist groups as they do about commercial media - bunch of wankers.

Citizens who make up the public and are the focus of this very serious media war must be busy doing other things because they are not attending the 'public' sessions of the inquiry.

The three days of the inquiry in Sydney produced not a single spectator beyond the two sides arguing for the rights to defend and control 'the public'.

When News Limited bosses John Hartigan and Cambell Reid were giving evidence in front of retired judge Roy Finkelstein and his sidekicks, the room was occupied by left and right - Miranda Devine, Jonathan Holmes, Sally Jackson - all very serious, very angry working media folk with a vested interest in the proceedings. (Errol Simper wasn't angry, just irritated that he couldn't hear the conversation.)


And cameras. There were plenty of cameras. I overheard one stills photographer remark "how weird is it to be taking pix of the boss?" to his mates as they stood around outside the building after Mr Hartigan had gone.

In fact, both the Melbourne and Sydney sessions have been held in almost unfindable tiny rooms in universities – public spaces usually reserved for another elite group - university students.

Maybe there is not enough blood, not enough outrage, not enough serial killer raped a great-grandmother to make it interesting for the public as a spectator event.

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About the Author

Richard Stanton is a political communication writer and media critic. His most recent book is Do What They Like: The Media In The Australian Election Campaign 2010.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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