Do you get your news from a paper or over the web? Or do you rely on social media?
There is growing concern within the newspaper industry about the future of print, as advertising income moves onto internet sites and circulation steadily decreases.
Reportedly a lot of internet news is taken from print sources, which means that the papers are employing the reporters but the web sites are using the product effectively for free. There appears no easy answer.
Despite the tendency of some (particularly the Donald) to describe unfavourable reporting as “fake news”, the media plays a really important role in society these days.
Taking NSW as an example, investigative reporters from the ABC and/or Fairfax have been responsible for some big exposures in recent years, with the Obeid/Macdonald case being one of the most prominent.
It would be a major loss to the state and society generally if newspapers were no longer able to employ these types of reporters.
As to its effectiveness, one only has to look at the recent assassination of the high-profile female investigative reporter in Malta.
Let’s hope it never gets to that here, but it is already on record that threats have been made to some. That doesn’t happen unless the reporter is getting close to the bone.
Speaking of newspapers, there was a really confronting subject covered in a recent editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald.
The message was inspired in part by the current topicality of tax evasion through overseas tax shelters, with estimates of $200 billion of personal taxation being avoided, not counting business accounts.
It also quoted from a recent survey which found that the richest EIGHT people in the world have as much wealth as the poorest HALF of the world’s population, a statistic your scribe finds unbelievable.
The message? A warning that history shows this is how civilisations degenerate and “social explosions” occur, when the masses feel they are missing out on their fair share and no longer have faith in the system.
“Social explosions?” One can only presume these are revolutions led by the poor against the rich. Is this a reasonable prediction or is it a long bow?
The rise of Donald Trump is often explained as the result of the disaffection of a large part of the American population.
The Brexit vote is an example of similar unrest in Britain. Perhaps Pauline Hanson’s popularity is another example closer to home.
The fall of the Roman Empire has been mentioned as a more distant example.
If there is any basis for this warning, what has to be done? Clearly the major role is up to government, but that seems to be where the problem emanates from.
Perhaps it’s up to us to find ways to make governments perform as we want them to, not as they wish. The archetypal Aussie attitude of “she’ll be right” might have to be revised.
If you’re going to have a revolution, the recent events in Zimbabwe might act as a good template to follow. One has to admire the way the Army generals operated, peacefully quarantining President Mugabe to his residence as his wife and cohorts fled the country and public pressure built, until the inevitable resignation was submitted.
It wasn’t your normal coup as the Zimbabwe parliament continued to operate behind the army’s cover. Very well done, and not a shot fired!
The difficult part for Zimbabwe begins now with the new President being one of Mugabe’s former strong-arm men, known as “The Crocodile.”
More trivia than history, but some readers might remember The Who’s 1971 revolutionary hit record, “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” which concludes with the words: ”Meet the new boss, Same as the old boss!” Let’s hope not, for Zimbabwe’s sake.
Things in Spain seem to have settled down for the time being since the arrest of the Catalan leaders. Fortunately, Australia has yet to suffer this type of civil unrest but there have been plenty of threats made, mainly and most recently by West Australia wanting to secede.
Someone brings this up every time minerals are booming and the Sandgropers believe they are carrying the rest of the country, particularly us East Coasters.
It’s hard to imagine how this might pan out. Would it be purely political or would people take up arms?
That seems totally improbable, but then the Americans, the French, the Irish, the Koreans, the Sri Lankans and many other countries probably thought the same. Luckily for us, we’re still the Lucky Country.
T Lobb -
Feather Duster No 3