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Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Welcome to News Porn

The ABC is officially on the endangered list.

The ABC is officially on the endangered list. Last week saw 250 jobs axed when management were forced to ameliorate budget shortfall to the tune of $84million. The prime minister soft shoed around the Liberal scroogeing of the national broadcaster, claiming there were no budget cuts. It’s very Monty Python. They’ve set the ABC up to cut itself, and then hold them responsible for the drastic changes; Silly Aunty, see what you’ve done now!

Mr Morrsion neglects to mention that these aggressive internal cuts have been made in response to the government’s indexation freeze on ABC funding, which co-incidentally also amounts to $84million. There are $40million worth of content and staff cuts happening, in Sydney alone. Apparently the Coalition have always thought the ABC were too Sydney-centric. They dress too nice. They’re smart. And they’re troublemakers. You don’t want journalists gathering together forming alliances and collaborating. That’s dangerous. They need to be disparate. They need to be dispersed. They need to be isolated. It’s so much easier to bully and confuse lone regional journalists, than the herds of Ultimo intelligentsia. You certainly don’t want them sharing leads over their lattes.

Let’s not forget that when it comes to bailing out the media, Mr Morrison’s been able to find a few spare coins in his piggy. In April this year he bailed out Mr Murdoch’s struggling regional mastheads to the tune of $50million. Was that for survival, or a slush fund for redundancy payouts?

I was at uni studying journalism when I was 17. The industry that exists now is unrecognisable. You didn’t print media releases. We were taught as journalists that you had to practise due diligence. A media release was just marketing – by publicists working for politicians, or businesses who were trying to sell you a pitch. Your job was to work out what the story was. You generally had to ring a few people for differing opinions. And most times you had to leave the office and go meet with people. Yep, outside. Sometimes it took a week to work out what the story was. You might have had an angle, but you had to source backup materials, and you had to have evidence.

Generally when a story like this came into being it spelt trouble for people in power. It was about exposing corruption, a.k.a keeping the bastards honest. Old school journalism was the slow food of its era. You didn’t have to file five stories per day. Sometimes all you had was one or two a week. They were researched, and presented at length. They weren’t the short form re-hashed populist drive-thru click bait that ‘journalists’ are forced to create in the 24-hour news cycle. From News Corp to News Porn.

The 24-hour news cycle sounds like we should have more news – because it’s constant. What we have is less news and more noise. Stories that are created by the cannibalising of other stories which in turn were cannibalised… creating a kind of newsy porridge. The other day I read a news story about $30 cookware at Aldi that rivalled the Le Creuset range. Is that news? Did they ring a secondary source to back this claim? Maybe someone at Chasseur?

I got caught in a weird story that’s not a story this week. My soapbox from last week, that I blog on my facebook page, got picked up by Mamamia to reprint with my approval. Then I discovered The Daily Mail had run an article that cannibalised the story from Mamamia once it saw it got traction with women on their socials. It rewrote the story, and quoted me, like I was in an interview – turning it into a ‘news’ item instead of an opinion blog – featuring the headline ‘Woman 52 gives up housework’. This story popped up just as I was writing this piece. 12 hours later a friend texted me to tell me they’d just talked about my housework story on Sunrise.

It was a blog about how I was sick of doing housework. I certainly didn’t expect something that innocuous to become a news item.

Over the last decade there has been a constant whittling down of ABC resources – the last bastion of media we have that still does due diligence in their reporting. Without a national voice that isn’t funded by corporate interest, how will Australians get independent information?

I guess, in future, when it comes to cooking up a story, we’re going to have to get used to the $30 pot.


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7 responses to “Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Welcome to News Porn”

  1. Emily Stewart says:

    The ABC is being P’d upon.

  2. Emily Stewart says:

    The ABC is not Sydney-centric or even Ultimo-centric. The ABC is most popular in the bush. The proof of that is a whole Sunday morning on radio with Macca, where he interviews country people. That program has been a stalwarth of the ABC for decades.
    Hey do you know your river height? Listen to the ABC and it will tell you what the height of the water is at Bourke when the water is not flowing in the Darling River and the height of the water at Menindee Lakes.
    It is political rubbish that the ABC is Sydney-centric. The same rubbish that the ABC funding has not been cut. How do you cut 250 staff? Just how do you do that? You cut the funding that is to go to their salaries and suddenly they have no job. Is that a cut? Sure is.

  3. Joachim says:

    Hi Emily. “There are no cuts”, say the ScoNo and his offsider the Fletcher on national TV. Even when confronted with their own 2018 Budget papers showing “cuts” they both still say with a straight face, “There are no cuts”. Just like with with his ‘Sports Rorts’ and ‘RoboRobberyDebt’, the ScoNO treats the punters for unthinking fools. But then again ( if you believe the polls ) the punters love their ScoNO and the way he treats them / the punters as unthinking fools.

  4. ScoNo gives Murdoch $50 million of tax payer money
    for being a great mate & ridding the country of local
    news. Slush Funds are – I once believed – illegal.
    Maybe it’s time for a ScoNo Gate?

  5. robot says:

    A few tens of millions in abc budget amounts to some cutting of bells and whistles in presentation of feature pieces, where you have a lot of cross cutting and appropriate hashtag music, cut to the announcer and then the dribble of information barely forming knowledge and miles off wisdom. Yes the staff cutting is wrong. But they could have compromised and just let Tony go, the most biased journo in the country hands down.

  6. Duncan Bickies from bruns says:

    Please, if the ABC is important to you, write to your local Nationals member or Nationals Senator for your state and get stuck into them to tell Scotty to b$*@r off with his (not) cuts. Letters to the editor won’t be read or listened to.

  7. I’ve told the Nationals how every [bloody] thing goes
    … crushed nuts ‘n all.

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