The coverage of politics in this country is fundamentally flawed, as we too often report the personalities over the actual policy.
In this country, we have a problem. We confuse politics for entertainment, and government for sport. Sadly, we’re so far down the rabbit hole, the media doesn’t understand the reason why our politicians are stupid, abrasive and embarrassing, is them. The reason why Pauline Hanson wore a burqa, or why Bronwyn Bishop targeted fictional socialists from the cockpit of her helicopter, or why a 4chan meme was openly discussed in parliament, it’s because we too readily offer them a platform in order to drag clicks.
Understanding is difficult (and less popular) than easy criticism and the artistic elevation of the awful.
This morning, we had another example. Kristina Kenneally’s plan to use Dutton to defeat Dutton was quickly picked up as ‘bloodsport’ by The Conversation’s Michelle Grattan, who labelled it as “a perfect matchup for those into political blood sports.”
Now, no disrespect to Grattan, as the rest of the article is sound, and the content of piece, discussing the ins and outs of both cabinets is worthwhile, but the problem is one of framing, and it is systemic in the modern media environment. With the ABC choosing that solitary quote to lead the article, both on Twitter and as a highlighted quote within the piece, illustrates the problem, as we now seemingly have another example of armchair popcorn analysis.
The larger issue is reduced to some sort of game, where the responsibility is seemingly limited to articulating the punches thrown in parliament. Considering the issue they fight is in aid of is one where blood is literally being spilt, as those stuck on Manus and Nauru have lost all hope and are now choosing suicide as a direct result of our policy, illuminates the depth of our problem.
Sadly, we too often discuss the personalities, not their policies. We know Peter Dutton as Voldemort, the potato, our Himmler, whatever. But we’re far fuzzier on the policies, beyond a general assumption of knowing that they’re bad. As a member of the uneducated public, we should be informed of the salient points of policy, so we can make an informed decision come election time. This, obviously, doesn’t happen, as our attention spans are short, and made far shorter by this brand of highlight reel journalism that has taken root.
Politicians throw words, given enough rope, they’ll keep talking until we lose interest. It is on the media to cut through to the realities, not be distracted by the show that is put on. Clearly, objective fact has taken a backseat to entertainment, as both eyes are now firmly on the bottom line.
This click-bat-point-scoring got us here, it won’t get us out.