Just thinking about what I was planning this time last week, and reflecting on the paucity of news coverage that might have some of the issues that took so many people into the streets around the country.
This was particularly prompted by this nice enquiry and the reply it received from the Sydney Morning Herald. There has been many articles online about how individuals felt about getting out and marching last Sunday, but the main stream media’s reaction seems to have been a shock to many who took part and were not, in my opinion, cynical enough about what is considered newsworthy.
I can’t remember where I read it, but there was one piece that claimed they had contacted the local Perth newspaper, who seemed to expect a press release to write a story about last Sunday’s march. I think this illustrates the differences in expectations on both sides that just were not fulfilled.
One of the things #MarchInMarch were quite proud of is that it was not organised by the ‘usual suspects’, and there by hangs the first expectation. The ‘usual suspects’ would have known to publicise the march not just to the people they were trying to reach, but also to the main stream media, so that they would know that something was going to happen – if nobody (important?) knows it is happening, does it actually a) matter or b) happen?
On the other hand, as Ms Maley notes in her reply, she considers herself a “journalist” and not a “reporter”. To my mind that is part of the problem. There is an expectation that “reporters” report on what is happening around them, while “journalists” both report and comment on what happens.
The ordinary people who organised and marched expected to see reports of their action in their local and national papers. I know I did. I was both pleased and slightly disappointed, but unsurprised, that the reportage shown in various TV news shows tended to focus on the ‘rude bits’ and the apparently ‘unfocused message’ and that a lot of the journalism has also focused on the ‘rude bits’ and that there was no single message on to which their story could latch. I suspect that the hook in much of the journalism I have read this week was actually missed.
As I understand it, #MarchInMarch was more about the feeling that many have obviously had that their concerns for their country are being ignored, and to a degree minimised because it didn’t conform to the accepted form of protest. That feeling got ordinary people marching in their streets, many for the first time. This is not something such a diverse range of people do, ordinarily!
Perhaps, that is the Real Story. That a bunch of ordinary folk, using social media, organised something to express how they feel about their country without the conventional forms. Because the conventional media are neither informing them as they desire and now expect to be informed, nor are those media reporting what is happening when those of us on social media get it more immediately but others don’t. Don’t they also deserve to make their own minds up, as those of use who watch Twitter or Facebook do?
Increasingly the reportage online and ease of access to online information means that there is a greater need by newspapers (online and print) and broadcast media to improve their reportage of what happens. Or is it that sneaking suspicion correct that if things were just reported as they happened, without the newspaper owners opinion influencing those reports, the journalism (the reportage plus opinion) would be more blatant and the ordinary consumer could make their own minds up about things?
I do know that I have increasingly felt that when I read the online newspapers or watch/listen to broadcast news that only one side of the story is being told. I increasingly feel that there are some people who are so desperate to be proved right, and ‘in control’, that they will ignore every indication that they are ill-informed or even wrong, just so they can feel good about themselves. And I find myself increasingly concerned that my country might be in the control of those who fit that description. That is why I was motivated to stand up and be counted in that ‘unfocused’ mob that gathered on Langley Park last Sunday. But then, I don’t think it was unfocused, because there were just so many issues concerning every one of us who felt they had to be there.
Now that could have done with some “reporting”.