I am sitting in my News Reporting tutorial that normally has around 20 students. As we have an assignment due this afternoon, the turn out is eight students. Mind you, three of those have only just come in, an hour into the session.
I don’t know why I bothered coming. I could have been sleeping, like a sensible young adult, or reading at home, before planning my day of going to the gym, researching, pondering and catching up with the world via social media.
This morning my mum came into the kitchen with tears of happiness streaming down her face.
“Mrs Obama’s speech has just brought me to tears”, she said.
With her speech gaining immense digital media response (28,003 tweets per minute), I followed the proceedings via my own twitter account. It seems that the US presidential battle has ironically eventuated into a choice between two women. Now it remains to be seen whether Ann or Michelle will indeed be the First Lady in the years to come.
Women in politics are few and far between but could this change in focus from the actual candidates to their spouses be hinting at a new era? With Hilary Clinton high on the world’s radar, alongside controversial Tea Party representatives, women are slowly climbing up the entrepreneurial-political ladder to become faces of one of the world’s most powerful nations.
But here in Australia, Ms Gillard is still a victim of constant scrutiny regardless of the outcome of her decisions. Her dress, hair, voice, attitudes, policies, marital status, lack of children, her cavoodle and her previous employment positions are relentlessly debated not only by bigots and radically-involved individuals, but by respected journalists, the media and in university classrooms across Australia.
And then there are the polls. Why do we have such an obsession with the outcomes of political polling? This relatively modern technology is simply another technique employed by politicians (under the influence of media and economic elites) to frame the nation’s political agenda in a way that presents their way as the only way. With the Australian national election more than a year off, it is really necessary, helpful or even relevant to rate our nations leaders to such a precise degree, so often, rarely shifting more than a percentage or two either way? Truthfully, polls such as The Age – Nielsen, published regularly in print media may just be taking up space that could be used to report on crisis in other parts of the world such as the Israel-Palestein tensions, the abuse of Chinese factory workers, or the powerful earthquake that struck Costa Rica overnight, killing at least two people.
The first part of this tutorial I am sitting in was spent watching a video on how a newspaper (specifically, The Age) is put together. It explained the most important news is logically put at the front of the broadsheet, working through the daily updates on a need-to-know basis. Why then, are these polls so often printed on pages one and two of our daily reading? It’s about time editors respected the real crises of the world and presented them to their readership, accordingly.
It’s all a matter of respect. It is respectful to turn up to class, it is respectful to read the newspaper and it is your responsibility to be aware of what is going on in the world around you. But publishers must also respect what is important. And political polling, particularly so far out from a scheduled election, is certainly not page one-worthy news.
The impact of the carbon tax created much uproar, but the effects have be minimal and consequently, reports should have subsided. But in the name of political analysis, journalists continue to debate its ‘real’ impacts. Well really, in the name of sustaining political debate, reports propose ‘what if’ statements that are highly unlikely to eventuate into anything of real substance and thus may as well have not been printed at all.
So as my tute draws to an early close, I’ve learnt almost nothing about News Reporting but I’ve explored my own position on what comprises newsworthy stories and how journalism is continually being shaped into a business, rather than a trade of objective reporting. I think the Union has some work to do.