Apr 27, 2010

Why I’ve stopped reading News Ltd

My colleague the Poll Bludger drew attention this morning to the

Charles Richardson

Editor of The World is not Enough

My colleague the Poll Bludger drew attention this morning to the latest Newspoll on state voting intention in New South Wales, which shows premier Kristina Keneally with strong personal ratings but still trailing badly on voting intention.

The Australian‘s coverage, however, is interesting in its own right. Before even telling the reader what the poll numbers are, it proclaims that “In NSW, the Keneally government is dead in the water.”

Now, I can’t object to someone reporting an opinion poll with that phrase, because I’ve done so myself. In a blog post on 18 June 2007 (let me know if you can find it in the Crikey archive, because I couldn’t) I reviewed the Howard government’s poll results under the heading “Is the government dead in the water?”, answering the question with a guarded “yes”:

Things could change; nothing is impossible. But there is simply no precedent in modern Australian history for a government coming back from such a dire position.

But that was only five months out from an election, not eleven; the quantity of polling evidence was much greater; the Howard government was trailing 57-43, not 55-45; and the electoral boundaries were not weighted in its favor the way they are for the NSW government.

The Keneally government would have a reasonable chance of winning an election on a 52-48 deficit, a movement of only 3% from its current standing. Anyone who thinks they can write off the chance of a 3% movement over almost a year has got no business writing about politics.

For the record, I don’t think such a movement is likely; a Coalition victory is much the more probable result. But it’s some distance away from the certainty that the Australian would have you believe.

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21 thoughts on “Why I’ve stopped reading News Ltd

  1. MDMConnell

    Frankly, this is a very silly post from a normally sensible commentator.

    NSW Labor are a tired, old, on-the-nose government who have received uniformally terrible polls for nearly 2 years now. It’s not like The Australian has seized on one poor poll to predict doom-and-gloom. People have been trying to look for a “turnaround” for 18 months and it hasn’t happened, in fact it’s arguably got worse. Changing leaders, backflips, dumping ministers..they’ve tried everything and nothing has happened for them. I’d say “dead in the water” is an accurate description.

    This looks like a classic case of Shooting the Messenger, as do many of the comments above. Charles must be living in a sensory deprivation chamber by now, for pretty much every news outlet from ABC’s Antony Green to the SMH regard the government as dead men walking.

  2. DemocracyATwork

    Victoria EMC is holding behind closed doors review on the use of Open and Transparent elections in Victoria. After the debacle of the 2006 State acti8on there is ongoing concern about the lack of transparency in the conduct of elections. Serious mistake and lack of due diligence and the introduction to electronic counting has removed transparency and accountability.

    Essential information such as Voting Centre decoration returns and copies off electronic preference data files have not readily available and subject to proper scrutiny and independent review. Th electoral Commission embarking on a cover up of the mistakes made in the past. Copies of data files have been deleted and data backups not available.

    The Commission in what is seen as an admission of fault in the design and implementation of its electronic counting of the vote has abandoned the random data quality check and is now recommending a double data entry process. This is a welcomed step but does not go anywhere near enough to ensure that electronic voting in Factoria is open and transparent.

    Votes can go missing without a trace. Without publication of the voting centre statistics prior to the commencement of counting the vote there is not means of ensuring that all votes are accounted for.

    Likewise without access to copies of the electronic data files there is not means of ensuring that the data file and information recorded is an accurate record. In 2006 the Commission failed top provided copies of voting centre returns and copies of the preference data files were only made available 2-3 months after the election. Copies of the primary data-entry count were deleted overwritten without any backup copies being made.

    The Victorian Parliamentary committee is meeting in secret behind cosed door. Submission exposing the roots and error in the counting system and complaints against the Commission are being suppressed removed from public debate


  3. quantize

    News Ltd is Murdoch’s blunt political instrument…it hasn’t been a source of credible news much less intelligent opinion for a very long time. It will be a pleasure watching his empire crumble during our lifetime.

    At least Mr Burns was funny and didn’t actually hurt people.

  4. Trubbell at Mill

    [if it was more balanced I’d buy it regularly but I am not going to buy something so tendentious and often simply silly ]

    The same argument applies to Murdoch’s Fox pay TV network. Myself and hundreds of thousands of other Australians who could easily afford to subscribe, don’t – and never will while the ‘news’ content is the way it is.

    In the case of Fox, when are Telstra going to kick up a stink that what Murdoch is doing with the content is costing them millions in potential sales?

  5. Undecided Y

    So true about Channel 9. Some mornings I think that Carl Stefanovic is so into Andrew Bolt that I might walk in after an ad break to find them spooning.

    I actually changed from Channel 7’s Sunrise when Kochi told voters in 2007 that financially it was best if they voted for John Howard. I also think that Kochi’s jokes are as funny as an episode of Hey Hey its Saturday and would rather sit naked in the snow than watch either.

    I now watch ABC2 in the mornings – at least then I get some idea of what’s going on in the news – and not just a sneak peak on Justin Beber’s new film clip or the new Twightlight movie.

  6. Thomas Paine

    Anywhere in the world where Murdoch has any media you will find a good proportion of readers/listeners/viewers despise him. It is no secret that his media produces a regular moderate to extreme to super-weird right wing bias.

    It is no secret that there is little difference between the view of the murdoch media and the local conservative party (and they could be completely different in different countries.) This is old hat now. I doubt that he could walk down the street in any country without a body guard.

    I haven’t bought or read a murdoch paper for a long time, nor do I bother with the ABC on-line or news or current affairs as they are basically a reflection of the murdoch media.

    And of course the channel 9 morning show is Liberal party promotion spot, so my family and friends have dispensed with channel 9 as well. It gets pretty boring listening to political bias in the media, no matter what flavour.

  7. MassiveSpray

    I know this is totally off-topic but I can’t find an appropriate place to put this.

    Can anyone tell me what’s happened to the blog feeds? The comment feeds appear to be correct, but the feeds for the posts are failing.

  8. B.Tolputt

    Sadly, the ABC is moving toward an “equal time” definition of balance as opposed to “objective apolitical view of the facts”.

    Fran Kelly has a slightly anti-government tilt to her, granted, but it was there during the Howard era as well (i.e. she seems to criticise those in power regardless of which party it is). However, that is easy to handle & understand.

    The worst problem with Aunty at the moment is the current & ex Liberal staffers writing piece after piece devoid of ANY objectivity. This followed by their week of fact-less ‘climate scepticism‘ because Clive Hamilton got “equal time”.

    Based on current practices, any piece talking about the equality of race would need an opposing piece by the Klu Klux Klan. Only that would be stupid… right?

    News Ltd had me bark out laughing today because of Shanahan’s “spin video” trying desperately to remind everyone that there were problems with the school stimulus in wake of the Auditor’s report that stated it was a success. Objectivity in journalism has long left the Murdoch empire – it now simply shovels the opinions it can sell & manipulate easily.

  9. HegemonyOrBust

    Please cuppa, how about you read the whole article first? I think Fran did a great analysis of federal labour and outlined some great ideas for Kevin to think about.

    I think her comment below is a lucid assessment of where we are right now.

    An ungrateful bunch, the electorate has moved on from the GFC and Labor’s obvious capable handling of that looming crisis. They’ve hung onto their jobs (most of them) and pocketed the stimulus payments and now they’re looking up and wanting more. What’s he done for me lately?

  10. Cuppa

    Charles Richardson,

    It’s not just News Ltd. There’s an increasingly blatant pro-Coalition bias at the ABC. How’s THIS for a headline – written by none other than the charming Fran Kelly.

    [Wheels falling off the Labor bandwagon]


    Note: the piece is about federal politics where Labor’s position is far healthier than their positiion in NSW. Yet according to Kelly, the wheels are coming off.

    She wishes.

  11. Charles Richardson

    @Michael – But nobody was writing Unsworth off a year beforehand – indeed right up to the election commentators were expressing some doubt about the outcome. I don’t object to someone making a prediction, but I object to it being presented as fact in a news story.

  12. Michael James

    Antiony also pointed out that the situation is worse now than it was when Barry ‘The Cardigan’ Unsworth was driven to the slaughter by Greiner.

    Perhaps if you tried looking at the facts of the polling, as outlined by Antony Green, rather than joining the anti-News vendetta that infuses Crikey, you might start to understand that on this issue at least, The Australian is correct.

  13. Charles Richardson

    @Peter – Antony is absolutely right. If the election were held now, Labor would lose heavily: that’s not in dispute. Indeed, I think they will lose heavily in 11 months time (and have often said so). But that’s opinion, not fact. If Imre had said it in a column labelled “opinion” – as Malcolm Colless’s tirade against Barry O’Farrell was labelled – I’d have no problem with it, although I’d reserve my right to maintain that Colless is barking mad. But given that there’s 11 months to go with an intervening federal election, that governments tend to gain ground during an election campaign, and that Keneally’s personal ratings are quite good, it’s bad journalism to present the result as a fait accompli – especially when compared with the way the _Australian_ treated the federal polls three years ago.
    @Bogdanovist – yes, you’re probably right that there are worse examples to pick on. Problem is, having stopped reading it I don’t notice them – I only saw this one because a friend linked to it on Facebook.

  14. shepherdmarilyn

    The media need to be mauled over refugees, what an hysterical load of old bollocks you have all written over the past two years and what a load of demands to break the law and now another whinge because he got harsh.

    Good god, do any of you freaked out nutcases understand what you do? Do you know they are breaking Australian law, never mind international law? Do you frigging morons know the refugee convention is enshrined in the migration act? Is it possible some of you could have written many less articles whinging and girning like Murdoch has today?

    Here is the thing morons, it is a legal right to come and ask for help and utterly illegal to stop processing based on country of origin, it is illegal to lock them up without access to the courts and you all make me sick.

    Why on earth you think messing with the lives of innocent human beings needing help is an “issue” that needs to be resolved and is “politically” damaging is beyond me – asylum seekers just are and they have rights.

    Not that anyone would know it in this pissant whinging arsehole of a country.

    So why don’t you all stop whining and report frigging news instead of drivel.

    1. The insulation and BER are good programs with massively good benefits, wouldn’t know it though.
    2. Pensions have all been overhauled and reset to 27.7% of AMWE instead of 25% plus rises to reflect cost of living.
    3. Over half a trillion dollars was ripped out of the budget yet no services were lost, few jobs were lost, the country still built houses and had immigration at high levels and alone avoided the recession.

    Can’t do dreams well if you ain’t got no bloody money

  15. shepherdmarilyn

    Shanahan and I had an online debate the other day when I asked which part of “it’s not illegal to come and claim asylum” he didn’t understand and he told me that the people were not illegal only the boats.

    Simple minded fool, if the people on the boats are not committing any offence you can’t say the boats are.

  16. Peter Phelps

    Charles, you might not like it, but the Australian is spot on the money.

    I defer to Antony Green: “It doesn’t matter what Premier Kristina Keneally’s personal rating are, the story of this morning’s Newspoll in the Australian is that if an election had been held last weekend, the Labor government would have been slaughtered and Barry O’Farrell would be Premier.”

    Labor are dead in the water. The primaries haven’t moved in months. The 2PP has been within the margin of error of a 57% for months. And its optional preferential.

  17. null

    You will be a happier and better informed person without news ltd in your life. After decades of reading it, I gave up a few years age as it slid from often dubious to consistently appalling. The alternative was the West Aust, which was just a joke, but with the internet there’s no need to subject yourself to this propaganda.

  18. Bogdanovist

    I’m certainly no fan of News Ltd, but in this case it’s hardly going out on a limb to predict the demise of the NSW Labor Government. Even the ever cautious apolitical number cruncher Antony Green writes of their impending doom as if it were fact.

    There are a plethora of examples in any given day thay one could use to illustrate News Ltd biased alternate reality, but I don’t actually think this is one of them.

  19. Wenty

    I am afraid it is not just the Australian these days but other commenters including Aunty that are offering interpretation instead of fact. Not only will it backfire on voter opinion and voting intention but it will see the demise of thier profession.

  20. David Sanderson

    It is a pity the Australian is so ideologically driven. It appears to be better resourced than the increasingly diminished SMH and the Age. if it was more balanced I’d buy it regularly but I am not going to buy something so tendentious and often simply silly (I’m looking at you Shanahan).

  21. Hamish Coffee

    [Labor on the mat in two states]

    There isn’t much more of an Australian headline than that one.

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