Sunday, January 1, 2012

An Interesting Alternative To Murdoch's Bullshit

Here in Australia, Jolly Uncle Rupert controls something like 70% of the print media, and our political folks haven't the guts to take him on. He and army of shock-jocks, Bolty-boys and glove-puppet editors exert a truly alarming degree of control over the news to which we have access - and Uncle Rupe knows how to use that control.

Why do you think a rightwing nutjob like Tony Abbott continues in the job of Opposition leader? There are alternatives. Saner alternatives, even within Abbott's party. But Abbott is good for Murdoch business, and so he gets the press he wants, when he wants it, how he wants it.

Climate change. Carbon tax. Mining tax. Education spending. Health spending. Defense -- Uncle Rupe has a position on all these things, and he uses his media people to sell, sell, sell. The old saying goes: tell a lie often enough, and people will take it for the truth. Uncle Rupe has so many different ways of lying to us that it's next to impossible to find a way through to any sort of truth at all.

There are alternatives. Things like Al-jazeera and Green Left Weekly have significant media presences. The problem is that these outlets come with agendas of their own, potentially as screwy as even Uncle Rupert.

Then there's Crikey. Interesting, uniquely Australian... but now behind a paywall online. Do they have a print presence at all? I don't know.

There's a new, and very interesting, player in the game, however. Operating under the less-than-spellbinding name "The Conversation", the site appears to have great promise for a number of reasons.

The first reason is their up-front and avowed determination to involve academics, experts, and scientists. They're tightly linked with a broad university community, and the articles I've read so far have been thoughtful, reasoned -- and quite willing to call on people who appear to have genuine expertise in the areas under discussion.

That's a novel approach. I think I like it.

The second reason is their charter. Okay, yeah, anybody can write a charter and put it up on their site. But I have to admit, I like the look of this one. It's clearly written, simple, and focused in the right areas. Better still, their "ten rules" for involvement in the site are also clearly written, simple - and very plainly focused on producing a strong, inclusive, thoughtful, rational discourse.

A third reason: the team behind the site is shown in detail. Of course it could be a fiction - but if so, there are a lot of fictional people to be created and maintained here. Personally, I suspect the list is genuine. And it's an interesting list, heavy on expertise and knowledge... very, very light on magnates, Bolty-boys, celebrity fluffers, etc.

A fourth reason: I see no paywall here. I have no idea how these folks expect to generate revenue, or even if they expect it at all. But the information is there, and it's open, and there's space to comment, and converse.

At the moment, the site is still apparently in beta. I think it looks like something we desperately need in this country, so I'm going to dive in and take a look around. If there's anybody else reading this blog who thinks Uncle Rupert's deathgrip on our collective media gonads is an unhealthy thing... spread the word!


  1. Thanks for the link. Will investigate - and spread.

  2. I've been a Crikey! subscriber for some years and it's great. Yes many stories are for subscribers only but hey they gotta eat too and for under $100 per year it's worth it I figure.