Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

News 'Stretched' beyond Merit

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

News 'Stretched' beyond Merit

Article excerpt

"RESIDENTS of the normally peaceful town of Almostenyware were traumatised yesterday by the sight of the usually careful John Enibody, 52, married with four children, hanging out his underwear in full view of passing motorists and the recently appointed parish priest.

Neighbours had spotted Mr Enibody hand-washing his most personal under-garments earlier in the day but few expected him to put them on display without prior warning.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan capital Islamabad, 208 people are reported missing feared dead following a suicide attack on a local laundry."

This entirely fictitious news item demonstrates what could happen when TV producers are desperate to fill up a program scheduled to last one hour when genuine news could be covered in half the time.

The mindless use of local non-news, interspersing massive but distant tragedies, highlights the difficulty of putting into perspective local trivia and global events. We rely on the fact that everyday events in our own town can be seen as awesome in comparison to hideous but impersonal happenings in another country.

I am unashamedly interested in "news" and how it is presented, what is chosen to be worthy of recording/reporting and whether we are getting a "balanced" view.

I get frustrated by confusion between the reporting of news and the analysis of that news. The longer a news bulletin goes on the more likely we are to be bombarded by analysis from a conveniently available expert. You can usually find a professor or a retired bureaucrat to lead you down the path to his or her own personal opinion.

It's a worry and it's not just here in Australia. Take a look at BBC World News on Austar or elsewhere and you'll see good examples of what happens when the news presenters think they are more important than the news they are presenting.

We've heard a lot recently about biased reporting, not least by our own ABC. …

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