MICHAEL PASCOE. Fairfax joins the Murdoch sectarian beat-up brigade (The New Daily).

The first law of journalism is that bad news is good news – bad news sells. On Monday, Fairfax’s Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers had a choice between a “good news” story and twisting the facts to make a “bad news” story. No prize for guessing which way the decision went.

In the process, the once-venerable Fairfax mastheads ventured a little further down the road of clickbait and populism, joining the Murdoch newspapers with a sectarian beat up.

In a nutshell, the key finding of a Fairfax-commissioned opinion poll was that Australians have negligible differentiation between immigration in general and immigration by Muslims. The poll reports just a one percentage point difference – 46 to 45 per cent – between those who believe Muslim migration should be reduced and those who believe all migration should be reduced. That’s within the margin of error.

In a poll taken after the Bourke Street murder of Sisto Malaspina – never mind the regular Muslim-bashing by the Murdoch camp and right-wing politicians calling an end to Muslim migration – that’s quite remarkable.

On the face of it, I’d interpret that result as being a heart-warming reinforcement of Australians’ tolerance and a rejection of the growing sectarianism either displayed or promoted in popular media. It would be good news.

But the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, with nearly identical headlines as their page one lead stories, claimed instead that the poll meant “Nation split on Muslim migrants”.

It takes an effort to produce “bad news” clickbait headlines out of a relative “good news” poll, but the SMH and The Age managed it. The Daily Telegraph would be proud of them.

To spell out how small the difference is: Fairfax and its pollster, Ipsos, reckon if you ask 100 Australians if immigration should be reduced, 45 will say “yes”. If you ask them if Muslim immigration should be reduced, only one more person says “yes”.

Turning the results around a little, despite the NSW government, the Victorian Opposition, prominent members of the federal government, several mainstream commentators and the obvious ratbag politicians all advocating a cut in migration numbers, 52 per cent of Australians said the current level should be maintained or increased. (With 45 per cent wanting a cut, 3 per cent undecided.)

With the sectarian element added by Fairfax-Ipsos and despite the anti-Muslim campaigns, both overt and sly, 49 per cent wanted the current level maintained or increased, 46 per cent wanted it reduced, 5 per cent were undecided.

Well done, Australia. Most of us don’t want to be racist or sectarian, whatever dog whistles are being blown.

This article was published by The New Daily. It was written by contributing editor Michael Pascoe. 

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3 Responses to MICHAEL PASCOE. Fairfax joins the Murdoch sectarian beat-up brigade (The New Daily).

  1. Kevin Bain says:

    Wouldn’t put too much heartwarming interpretation on this. Since the Australian and migrant categories overlap hugely, with the last census showing 49% of Australians were first or second generation migrants, it’s no surprise if an opinion poll shows high support for migration. It’s also a chance to make a statement against the big blowouts in visa processing times https://johnmenadue.com/abul-rizvi-what-is-dutton-hiding-now/ Scanlan reports give a lot more reliable measures of national feelings and changes over time, and support for muslims isn’t going the right way. https://www.monash.edu/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/134536/intolerance-fact-sheet.pdf

    Michael Pascoe has nailed the point about the decline in quality as old media goes into its death spiral. The Guardian sets the high standards now, but it needs its readers to pay for it. 90,000 financial contributors is not enough.

  2. Kim Wingerei says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with the point you are making. Nevertheless, I find it sad that so many immigrants (as most of us are) think that immigration should be reduced.

  3. Malcolm Crout says:

    Well picked up by Michael, but are we even surprised?

    On a broader perspective, these polls emerge thick and fast out of the word work ad nauseum. Irrespective of their proffered credentials, I wouldn’t trust the researches without having a good look at the statistical method, question framing, interpretive criteria and the population (n or N).
    A prime example of shaky method are the “independent” pre election surveys, the majority of which are completely wrong when compared to the outcome. And yet in this world of the 24 hour headline, nobody seems to ask why it is so. There in lies the opportunity for Murdoch versus independent opinion. I call it thought capture.

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