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Open letter to the Australian media – the sequel

February 28, 2011 13 comments

It’s been a few months since my last letter so I thought I’d take the opportunity to catch up and let you know what I thought of your recent performance.

I didn’t think you could improve on your performance during last year’s election, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that you had leapt ahead in streets and bounds.  Here are some of my favourite aspects to your performance.

1.   Simple is best. And by this of course I mean the simplicity of the Australian public is the best thing for you.  By feeding them a constant stream of dumbed down content so that anything complex is reduced to a three word slogan or 20 second sound bite you are doing them a big favour by not making them think too much about their news and telling them what they need to hear.  After all there’s nothing worse than sitting down after a long days work and having to think about some matter of public importance…far better to have a catchy slogan of trite sound bite instead.

2.  Facts are not your friends. Well to be more precise, the complete facts are not your friends…facts in isolation or out of context work wonderfully well for you.  Take the brouhaha about the carbon tax for example.  If you had mentioned the election promise occurred before the hung parliament and before the need to negotiate everything with the Greens and Independents, hence wasn’t really a back down but more of an acceptance of the way things have to be, then you wouldn’t have got nearly the same level of outrage (and website hits/sales…kaching!) as when you simply repeated over and over “broken election promise”.  It’s also commendable that you managed to convince everyone that this is the only time this has ever happened in the history of politics in Australia…masterstroke.

3.  There’s no such thing as a bad disaster. Disaster porn is an absolute gold mine for you all, and you squeezed every single morsel out of it that you possibly could…mind you there’s been a few to practice with hasn’t there.  It’s so easy to do…basically shoot a few high profile bods off to the middle/surrounds of the affected area with a camera crew and raincoat/hardhat/gumboots, live cross to them every 15 minutes and capture the anguish/empathy for the affected citizens.  Cap it all off with a montage of people being brave set to some sweeping music and you have yourself a winner.  Plus, even though you’ve outlaid for the people to fly there it’s a massive cost saver because you don’t need to sink any money into investigating real news.

4.  Trivia is king. When investigating real news is too hard or it would take too much effort to get the facts behind a serious story, then trivia or celebrity or preferably both is your sure-fire route to success.  After all how else do you explain how the budding relationship of an ex-cricketer/piss-poor TV host and actor/model became headline news for 3 days?  Don’t forget this is why Today Tonight and A Current Affair have such a thriving viewership.

 

In all it has been a pleasing performance from you all, particularly in your contest in the race to the bottom…after all it doesn’t matter who comes first you all eventually get there.  And no-one ever went broke underestimating the Australian public.

Keep up the good work.

 

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Open letter to the Australian media

August 26, 2010 13 comments

I’d like to congratulate you on your election campaign…on the whole it was masterful.  Now most people would say that only political parties can run an election campaign, but you went against that old truism and ran an excellent campaign, albeit for one of the political parties.

It was a revelation on how campaigning should be done in the 21st century and set a benchmark for things to come.  Not only did you start your campaign early, 3 years ago in fact, but you adjusted your methods according to the ebb and flow of your audience.  Truly magical!

Here are some of the greatest hits as I saw them:

  1. Now this is only a really small thing, but it set the tone for the entire campaign…the nickname “KRudd”.  One the surface it looks really trivial, but it is open to so many interpretations not the least of which is the similarity to “crud”.  If people start to object to it, they can be accused of being precious and not being a “true Aussie who can’t take a bit of knocking”.  You managed to sweep aside objections that it was disrespectful to the leader of our nation, or that we didn’t hear terms like “J-Ho”, “PCos” floating around either.  It was a perfect example of subliminal marketing.
  2. Utegate/Grechgate.  This was almost your finest hour and your worst mistake.  It was excellent that you brought the scoop out into the public, but the dodgy email image that was obviously fake nearly did you in.  Then when you take into account Grech’s obvious instability and history as a mole, it reflected even more poorly on you…well more on Steve Lewis but you by extension.  Thankfully you managed to make it die a quiet death by abandoning all coverage as soon as it went pear shaped.  Nicely saved.
  3. Insulationgate.  This was almost the pinnacle of your campaign.  The amount of outrage and hysteria whipped up was breathtaking to behold and resulted in the demotion of a minister, so I reckon you could claim that as a scalp.  The fact that you were able to drive public nuts over a program that had so few deaths (compared to previous years) almost all of which were attributable to negligence by the employer, that had new regulations applied (that the dodgy employers ignored), that actually reduced the incidence of house fires, most of which were related to dodgy wiring and not insulation was just magic.  The significant under-reporting of the report giving the whole program the thumbs up was very well done.
  4. BERgate.  This was your finest work to date.  The fact that some of you have been able to extend it for so long is a testament to your skills.  The consistent under-reporting of the successes and the constant regurgitating of the dodgy projects was handled with consummate skill.  The comparison of house construction costs with hall construction costs (even though more stringent standards are required for school buildings) was just poetry…it sucked the punters in completely.  Even when the ANAO and Orgill reports came out you carried on regardless, completely ignoring the fact that 97% of the projects satisfied the schools involved.  It was a great example of driving your narrative home, regardless of actual reality.
  5. Tony Abbott.  This was handled so adeptly I’m surprised you weren’t engaged as public relations for the Liberal party.  That you were able to gloss over or actually turn around his numerous character defects (lack of compassion, hubris, flip-flopping, foot-in-mouth syndrome) into “Aussie bloke” characteristics is a sign of your deep understanding of your audience.  They don’t want to understand the actual character of our potential face of this nation in the world or how he might be perceived, they want to know what he would be like to have a beer with.
  6. And finally, the campaign proper.  This was just the icing on the cake.  By relentlessly highlighting the trivial and ignoring policy, and focussing entirely on Gillard and letting Abbott disappear for 3 weeks you steered everyone in the direction you wanted.  It was the best example of manipulation I have seen in a very long time.  The peak was the “news” story about Gillard’s earlobes.  That it was actually picked up by other organisations and disseminated further is a testament to your prowess.  Also the press conference for Gillard where 26 questions were about Rudd and other inconsequentials and only the very last question was about the actual policy was inspiring.  When you add in Laurie Oakes’ “leaks”, Mark Latham and the continued hounding of Kevin Rudd, it was without a doubt a thing of beauty.

Unfortunately, the public didn’t quite fully buy into your narrative and so we are stuck with a hung parliament instead of the LNP government you were after.  This means there is still a possibility the NBN will go ahead, meaning the slow death of your newspaper arms.

It’s now time to get into those wavering independents and apply the blow torch.  I see you’ve already started by saying their electorates want them to go with the LNP, but there’s a way to go yet.  Get into them as only you can, and best of luck.

***  N.B.  In case any of you think I’ve totally lost my mind, the above is satire.  ***

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