Karl du Fresne on media bias

I have long gone on about media bias. Many people hadn’t really noticed it until the phenomenon of Donald Trump and now all pretence of media impartiality has fallen away.

Karl du Frense discusses this bias.

One consequence of the Trump presidency is that it has accelerated the decline of detached, objective journalism.


Editorial bias has so pervasively invaded the news columns of once-esteemed papers like the SMH, its sister paper the Melbourne Age, Britain’s Guardian and even the redoubtable Washington Post, that they can no longer be regarded as reliable papers of record. Much of their reportage is coloured by the journalist’s personal perception of events or by the paper’s editorial stance.

But the mixing of news and comment isn’t a phenomenon that suddenly materialised with Trump’s emergence. It’s a trend that has been gathering momentum for years.

Its origins lie in journalism schools, where ideologically motivated tutors tell students that objectivity – the professional obligation to remain impartial and tell both sides of the story – is a myth promulgated to protect the wealthy and powerful.

Many of the journalists now working in newsrooms here and overseas have been taught that their mission is not so much to report events as to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable – often using exactly those words.

This is activism, not journalism. Journalism can and often does produce outcomes that afflict the comfortable, but that is not its primary purpose, which is to inform people on matters that may be of interest to them.

But there’s another factor, besides the politicisation of journalism training, that has led to the increasingly opinionated tone of news coverage. The internet, by giving people instant access to an almost infinite range of news and opinion outlets worldwide, has imperilled the traditional “broad church” newspaper – the one where you could expect to see a wide range of views expressed.

News and information junkies now gravitate to the websites that most closely reflect their own world view. News outlets on both the Right and the Left have responded by taking on a tribal character, promoting opinions that parallel the views of their followers.

After all, it’s easier to have your prejudices confirmed than to be challenged by unpalatable new ideas. Not so good for democracy, though.

Media is broken, here as well as worldwide.

There needs to be fundamental change…or not. We could just let the market decide, but there is a flaw in that. Current media systems and markets are a collection of cosseted and protected related industries involving advertising and monopolistic behemoths. Setting up and breaking into the market is very difficult for any new players, and when they do they are attacked by those same monopolistic predators for being #fakenews. It is apparent to anyone who cares about media that the system is broken. The only real way to improve the situation is to break it down faster and out of the chaos will rise something better.

Objective journalism is dead. State funding isn’t the answer, though the liberal elite luvvies will tell you that it is. Competition is the answer, but the system needs to disempower advertising agencies and the industry in general. De-funding media not increasing funding of media is the way forward.

I have a pretty good idea on how to pay for good journalism, but I’m not sharing those ideas just yet. Until the system and markets change then I will sit on those ideas.


 – Karl du Fresne

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.