media coverage

Feb 24, 2009

Queensland election – the journos v. bloggers bit…

Well, blow me down with a feather! Taking a leaf out of Tim

Dr Mark Bahnisch

Brisbane-based political analyst and Centre for Policy Development fellow

Well, blow me down with a feather! Taking a leaf out of Tim Blair’s book of selective quotation, The Australian has claimed I was the “last to call” the Queensland election. I must say things must have come to a pretty pass when they’re actually moved enough to name a blog they disagree with, rather than use the usual formulations of “ignorant bloggers”, etc, which conveniently don’t allow anyone to google up the blog in question and make up their own minds.

For the record, there’s a basic difference between my approach to punditry and that of the press wizards at the Oz. They wrote stories almost daily for months claiming the election could be called the next day, or the next week, or was “imminent” or whatever. I waited until I actually had firm information – from Labor sources. Not reading the tea leaves or joining the dots with the latest news story and claiming there was now a “trigger” or the government was “under pressure” (from whom, I wondered?)… I’ll stand by the claim that the final decision to go ahead with an early election hadn’t been made until late last week. Any enterprising journos who doubt that might like to, well, investigate – perhaps by contacting people involved in that decision rather than speculating in retrospect. If there were indeed cunning plans afoot which journos can now reveal, whatever stopped them writing about the said cunning plans when they were actually being made and implemented?

If indeed there was a dastardly Labor plot to encourage early election speculation for Anna Bligh’s own nefarious ends (shock! horror! politician wants to win election!), it rather begs the question of what the pundits at The Australian were up to writing a daily drumbeat of stories predicting… an early election. Just patsies? Wisdom after the fact? Can we expect a “we got it wrong” column about all those “news stories” and comment pieces predicting a February vote?

To adopt a phrase that’s been around the traps lately with regard to the distinction between bloggers and journos, I picked up the phone. I’m not so sure the pundits did. End of story. Let’s get on with talking about the campaign!

I’d also point out that the method of selective quotation does produce a real (and intended) distortion in the story about what was being said in the blogosphere. That’s no great surprise, but anyone interested in boring old fashioned stuff like the truth can make their own minds up by reading the posts in question in their entirety. They can be accessed via this tag.

Adapted from a post at Larvatus Prodeo.

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