Keeping the media honest

In this day and age, the media outlets wield a mighty wallop when it comes to swaying the opinion of the general public. How does this really work out for us when news agencies employ underhanded techniques and misrepresent facts to further their own agenda?

MP Bob Brown has recently voiced concern with the media and the news sites have pounced!

I would like to think that journalists have integrity and believed that the truth is the most important thing to publish - however in recent times I have found this to be something that you only really see in Hollywood movies.

One such topic was The NBN. The Australian's IT section has seemingly become the laughing stock of many internet forums due to the wildly inaccurate and highly biased stories. This particular example was headlined 'NBN could cost households 'an extra $3000'.

Now the internet is great for researching facts - something journalists should learn! After a few days of that article doing the rounds, a post appeared on Whirlpool from the person the journalist used as a source for this article. Here is his quote:

In mid August I was called by Journalists from the Australian to quote on the cost of wiring a large house (4 bedrooms, 3 studies, rumpus room plus dining and living areas etc) for a fully wired solution.

They tried every option to make the prices higher (older style, large, non-radio, stone construction etc), and their end result was a worst-case high costing that was well over budget for a typical home / home unit. It was very clear to me that the good story was never going to be compromised by the facts that most homes could be wired for about 50% or less than their "quoted" costs but they were not listening to my rationale. (Not Happy Jane!)

Reading The Australian's article however, and you see choice quotes like:

It has argued that some households could pay up to $3000 in rewiring costs to take full advantage of the superfast internet service.
Mr Tinslay said a standard retrofit could cost up to $3000.
Ms Gillard clashed with Sydney radio personality Ray Hadley when questioned on whether it would cost between $2000 and $4000 to rewire his house to take full advantage of the NBN.

If this is how badly the media presents one story, I would not hesitate to believe that many, many topics are also being distorted in this way.

I once found myself watching a recording of parliament on a late night television slot and took note of what was said. Upon reading a news article from it the next day, I had to wonder if the journalist actually watched the same things that I did - the two seemed like polar opposites!

So what can we do? I believe the only thing we can do is to do our own research on topics that we care about. Dig a little beneath the surface. HANSARD is the name given to transcripts of parliamentary proceedings - these records are transcripts of almost everything that happens in parliament. Read the information for yourself - direct from the horses mouth and then make a decision for yourself on how honest the news outlets are.


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