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Australian Journalists Incapable of 2020 Vision?

A quick addendum to my last Gatewatching post, which discussed why in the face of a journalistic environment more concerned with scoring points than reporting on the issues of the day it's not such a bad idea if politicians choose to converse with citizens outside of the media glare: from what I've seen so far, quite a few of the journalists reporting on the 2020 Summit have similarly succumbed to the temptation to file lazy stories poking fun at summit procedures rather than investing the time necessary to inform the rest of the country about what's actually being discussed.

Vacuous stories such as this one by Annabel Crabb make my point for me; all I get from this 'report' is that Annabel couldn't be bothered to find out what's actually happening, and chose instead to pick easy targets. In a further update in the comments to the story, Annabel adds in the tone of a jilted lover: "you will be interested to hear that by late morning they had closed off the Creativity group session to the media" - to which I can only say, good for them! Perhaps without interruptions by journalists more interested in what brand of butchers' paper is being used than what ideas are being generated, the summitteers can actually get some work done.

At least some of Annabel's commenters agree with me, it seems - as Leah Mason writes in one of the early comments, for example,

what is it about this country that sees hope and an ernest desire to do better by everyone as some kind of insanity? The only way things change is by changing them, so take your naysaying and stick it somewhere more appropriate. I say all power to those willing to stand up and take a risk on human creativity over the dark certainties of fatalism.

There are no perfect procedures for facilitating exchanges across a thousand-strong conference crowd, of course, so the summit was always going to provide plenty of fodder for journalists who favour style over substance. But while occasional 'colour pieces' may be entertaining, where they allow to let them take centre stage, our news media do us all a disservice. Journalists whose coverage of the summit documented only their own cynicism towards public deliberation have done nothing except to further undermine the role of journalism as an institution in our society.

By contrast, most of us, I would hope, were less interested in whether the Prime Minister sat on the floor (shock! horror!) than in what discussion he sat down to hear.

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