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Byron Shire
February 25, 2021

Editorial – A personal take on politics and media

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Hans Lovejoy, editor

I’ve been The Echo editor for eleven years now, and am the third, after founder Nicholas Shand. Michael McDonald was the second.    

It’s a very privileged job where you act as a conduit, or curator, to the community and the many visitors who holiday here.

The Echo comprises a dedicated team of passionate long-term locals. Some sell the advertising and design the pages, others throw the paper onto driveways and others do the book keeping and debt collection.

Deciphering and questioning the sophisticated messaging from the governing and monied class is part of this job, as is reporting on the better angels in the community.

The better angels do remarkable things, yet are not necessarily looking for accolades.

Beware of the self-serving attention seekers!

Since its inception in 1986 by a bunch of ratbag hippy locals, The Echo has championed the voice of the afflicted, not the comfortable. That should be the aim of every media organisation.

‘Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable’, as Finley Peter Dunne was supposed to have said of a newspaper’s role.

While the national and international optics are carefully curated by mainstream media to protect corporate interests, locally, the optics from The Echo have, and will hopefully always be, independent.

Free from the stench of compromise. Yay!

Anyway, what I learned early on in this job was that politics/governance is like a poorly rating TV game show, generally presented by the least among us.

Behind the curtain hide the unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats, who run almost everything.

There’s generally two types of political actor:

Reformers are rare, for they soon realise they are no intellectual match for the unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats.

And besides, they generally can’t outspend the monied class.

Instead, most political actors, with their thin skin and overinflated egos, will dive headlong into the job with ambitions to become careerists, welded to a political party’s values. These party values, of course, are largely at odds with the nation’s interests, and are not geared for independent, critical thought.

And anyway, business, without question, needs to be done.

Big business donate to the major parties, so fancy footwork and smoke and mirrors are deployed to convince the public that the actors act in the public interest. Instead, they provide their donors/masters with solid returns on those investments.

The two interests are generally not compatible.

It would be hard to argue that integrity, empathy and trust in politics and media is improving. It appears to be becoming more tribal, if anything.

Yet while it’s easy to dismiss most political actors as self-centred, shallow, ineffectual and greedy, it’s not always the case.

And this is where we come to Mandy Nolan, who will be the federal Greens candidate for the upcoming election.

She has been part of community and The Echo for decades, and has been consistent with her beliefs and actions.

Unlike careerist politicians, she is self-made, smart and entertaining. That presents a threat to the establishment.

Good luck Mandy! (Pity it’s the Greens party, but hey). Thankfully, local politics is about to get a lot more interesting.

News tips are welcome: [email protected]

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