Can the media spell ‘policy’?

A friend of mine, Ian McAuley, has drawn attention to an election study by the ANU’s Institute for Public Policy Trends. It covers elections 1987-2010.

The study shows conclusively that our media is badly out of touch with what the public wants. For the 2010 federal election campaign, the study asked voters what were the most important considerations in their voting decision. 52% said ‘policy issues’. 25% said ‘parties as a whole’. 15% said ‘party leaders’. 8% said ‘candidates in my electorate’.

The media and particularly the Canberra Press Gallery keep pushing personalities, leaders and politics when clearly the public wants to hear about policy.

Policy is harder to understand and explain. It is so much easier for the media to serve us up a diet of politicians and politics.

I would have hoped that the ABC would do better, but watching or listening to its flagship programs on TV and radio, I get the same diet.  At the moment it is leadership, leadership, leadership.  I turn off more and more.

We will have a new government after September. We also badly need a new Canberra Press Gallery that can at least spell the word ‘policy’ even if it cannot explain what it means!

John Menadue


John Laurence Menadue is the publisher of Pearls & Irritations. He has had a distinguished career both in the private sector and in the Public Service.

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2 Responses to Can the media spell ‘policy’?

  1. Milton Moon says:

    Well I’m old now and I believe irritability goes with advancing years, but much about the ABC irritates, especially the cult of personality. Even on RN some presenters seem not able to open their mouths to take a breath without telling you who they are. I actually have heard presenters announcing their own names three times in the one ‘break’ and that happens a lot. Not all do it; I can’t recall Phillip Adams ever doing it. Anothger complaint: the new program breaks (on the hour) sound juvenile. (‘Documentaries, da da da, da da da, etc.’ The ABC is not selling soap.)
    Content is what should carry the ABC; not climbing the ladder of a Hit Parade. It is good when we are treated to insightful discussions and explanations; that is the reason why we do listen to the ABC. Please don’t spoil it.

  2. Brad says:

    I suspect news outlets have a better idea of what the masses want than the masses do (or than the masses are willing to admit in a survey). Most people consider thmselves to busy to dip into polixy matters, or couldn’t care less, and so naturally fall back onto personalities, “gut feelings”, trust in leaders, etc.

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