WATERCOOLER: Has coverage of politics become too toxic?

HAS the 24-hour news cycle become too toxic, too unforgiving, and just downright dangerous?

Have journalists become too opinionated, too biased, and unbalanced on their reporting, particularly in relation to politics?

Australians are cynical.

We don't trust our leaders as much as they do in the US or other countries.

And that's probably a good thing.

But as someone who has been in the news media industry for almost 30 years, I have become worried about what the explosion of online and social media has given us.

And as an online editor I must take some responsibility for it.

The news cycle has become a lot faster.

And in social media land, the time for explanation and understanding is almost zero.

People will read the 'teaser' of a story and begin sprouting off views, often without even reading a story.

In television land, reporters seem to be more interested in provoking leaders into an angry one liner than actually delivering useful explanations on issues.

Leaders themselves are now trained to talk in slogans and nauseous repetition.

It's something that most Australians couldn't stand about Julia Gillard and more recently Tony Abbott.

It's not often until their farewell speech that we see the real human behind the pithy one-liners.

This week, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman blamed the media for his own political misfortune, saying Australian politics has entered a "cold, dark place".

Has media coverage of Australian politics got too rough?

This poll ended on 25 September 2015.

Current Results

Yes. There is too much attacking of leaders

38%

No. It's the media's job to keep them honest

22%

The media should explain issues more

35%

Most people don't want to know the details

2%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Mr Newman criticised the media in particular for sensationalism and character assassination.

"There's a range of things that have come together which I don't think are good for Queensland. I don't think it's good for Australia," Mr Newman told the ABC's Landline program in his first major interview.

"We see particularly the electronic media portray politics in the same way as a reality TV show," he said.

"It's not about voting the bad guys out of the house.

"I took a stand on a number of issues that were misrepresented.

"For example, in relation to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, [I've] always supported it.

"What was then portrayed? Somehow I was uncaring and bad person ... there is no real debate.

"The media do have to take a big responsibility for what's going on."

While I think it's a big stretch to suggest the media is responsible for the LNP losing the election, I think the former Premier has a point.

WHAT do you think? Does the media go too hard against our politicians or not hard enough? How do you think coverage of national issues could be improved? Join our watercooler conversation today.

 

Mark Furler is APN Australian Regional Media's group digital editor.



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