CAVAN HOGUE. Failed media in the Anglosphere.

That the Australian media gives us saturation coverage of Europe but much less on Asia is obvious but the question is why? Have they done market research which shows this is what the public wants or does it stem from their own beliefs and prejudices? Is this really what most Australians want? Possibly it may be.  

The saturation coverage given to the French elections and the Manchester bombing are just two recent examples of the Australian media’s fixation with events in Europe. We not only get reports of what happened but lengthy accounts of what might happen plus numerous schadenfreude laden interviews with weeping widows and other sufferers. In Manchester we were given the names of the dead and information about where they came from. And this coverage goes on for days on end. By contrast, the terrorist attack in Jakarta, although covered, didn’t make the lead stories. You might expect better of SBS, the ABC and Fairfax media.

The saturation cover of North America is perhaps more understandable since it is more important to us but our media do not seem to accept that it is possible to overdo things. Far too often they report it as if we were part of it and that the USA is not a foreign country.

Since Australia is not in Europe and Asia is far more important to us commercially and strategically the question is why do they do it? There is no clear answer to this question but some or all of the following may be involved.

  1. They really believe that Europe is more important to Australia than anywhere else except North America.
  2. Europe is more comfortable and reporters like going to Paris.
  3. They believe that their domestic audience wants this kind of reporting so they give the public what it wants; in other words, follow rather than lead. This might be just a gut feeling or it might be based on serious market research. Or are they catering for a minority audience?
  4. The ethnic origin of news editors and reporters is mainly European, especially from the British Isles, which predisposes them to report on their former or their ancestors’ homelands.
  5. They follow the lead of our political leaders who seem to want to join NATO and who give the same kind of emphasis to events in Europe. Compare the outpourings of solidarity and rhetoric in Parliament for events in Europe compared with elsewhere.

It would be interesting to try to get answers from our media to this basic question. What is their motive? If this kind of reporting is what the Australian public wants then the problem lies not with the media but with Australians.

Cavan Hogue was Australian Ambassador to the USSR and Russia.

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4 Responses to CAVAN HOGUE. Failed media in the Anglosphere.

  1. Niall McLaren says:

    Perhaps some members of MSM would also like to explain why we must endure wall-to-wall coverage of the release from prison of a major drug dealer. It may be possible for the media to sink lower but just now, I’m not sure how.

  2. Jim KABLE says:

    I lived nearly two decades (teaching) 1990s-2000s – in western Japan. Two years on an official exchange – then more than 14 years under my own steam as it were. Into the mid-latter 1990s – I did not have much access to the Internet till 1997 – so prior to that for news from Australia I was reliant on friends sending newspaper clippings. Which meant too that I got to hear of Japan’s economic difficulties from Australian sources. Letters from friends asking me what I would be doing when I got back to Australia – which they assumed to be happening even as they wrote – Japan clearly disappearing right down the economic gurgler from its former heights. They were reading reputable mainstream Australian newspapers – full of doom and gloom re Japan – but clearly written by journalists who were not especially au fait with how things were – some kind of downturn – clearly – but their perspectives were distorted – serving other intentions. You are right Cavan – we need much better journalism out of our northern Pacific and Indian Ocean neighbours – from the sub-continent region – from south-east Asia including Indonesia – and from eastern and northern Asia.

    Oh…Niall McLAREN – amen to your comments!

  3. michael lacey says:

    Good article and the comments following very true!

    I find articles like this because I will do not find them on the main stream. What we do find in the mainstream is public relations,
    “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.” Orwell.
    The main stream has managed to shackle good journalism and is presiding over its own demise!

  4. Peter Kenyon says:

    I am not aware of any academic studies but see evidence that the English-speaking world increasingly seeks policy ideas, support and evidence in other English-speaking countries. Non-English speaking countries have long accepted that they need to look outside their own language confines to find the best solutions and inspiring ideas yet similar thinking becomes ever remoter in the Anglophonian echo chamber. That countries such as Japan or India, China or the Philippines could have policies and ideas from which we might learn something? We miss a great deal by speaking English.

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