Journalism, statistics and apathy.

So apparently 1 in 5 US Americans still believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim.  I haven’t been to the United States since I was a young tacker but is this just a crisp journalism misrepresentation of fact or an actual fact being portrayed in this article?  Let’s face it, it is easy to throw figures around like they mean something but it is not so easy to make people believe them.  The media represent something incredibly important to our society.  They are supposed to represent us, the public, and keep those with power in check.  Slowly but surely the erosion of fair and unbiased media representation has occurred and original, fresh pieces of investigative journalism has been depleted.  I could throw around statistics here that only 20-40% of all media sources are from the original news outlet itself or I could acknowledge that I too, am guilty of misusing statistics for the benefit of my piece of writing.

I am no liberal warrior for the good of the public sphere but I do have huge doubts in the credibility of companies such as News Limited after the phone hacking saga.  It is impossible to remain completely balanced and nonprejudicial in current society.  There are things that I support that people from my own country or 10,000 kilometres away completely disagree with.  Abortion, gay marriage, welfare, censorship, the metric/imperial system, favourite type of condiment.  I have absolutely nothing wrong with journalists writing opinion pieces as long as they admit that it is just that, an opinion piece.  When investigative reports are thinly veiled as opinion pieces is when I start to take issue.  I rather enjoy people with views that are different to me but I cannot tolerate utter stubbornness and outwardly biased statements without even bothering to acknowledge possible qualms people other than that person could have with such an issue.

An example of this is when men such as Bob Katter and Tony Abbott state that they believe there are more important issues to worry about than whether gay marriage should be legalised.  Well of course in their eyes this is true but what about for a rather large portion of the population who are homosexual or have a child, sibling, grandparent, best friend who is homosexual?  I agree that it is easy to pick on targets who are bigots but they are the ones who receive coverage rather than having a lucid, balanced and transparent debate about how we can deal with approaching an issue that seems to be a rather delicate one for much of Australian society.

The men I have just referred to are not journalists but their careers are intrinsically linked to the media for without the aid of the media they would not be able to express their views efficiently enough to gain or lose any sort of popular support.  I don’t want to allow this blog page to become too bogged down with seriously divisive debate with little to no humour involved as that crushes the spirit but perhaps this is the very root of the problem.  Many people my age cannot tolerate serious debate as it makes them nervous, angry, bored, restless.  This apathy is a huge problem.  There are few people who are genuinely interested in Australian politics at the current point of time, possibly because of the weak leadership, possibly because of the sameness of the whole facade.  The Arab Spring is the perfect example of how passionate we can be about the future of both our country and our freedom.  I’m scared for a future of robotic media outlets and an overly structured political system but the avenues for which I can achieve change?  Not many.  This is one of the failures of modern democracy.  Only individuals with real influence can bring about change whilst groups can cause huge ruptures as seen during the Occupy movement.

Maybe I’m complaining for the sake of complaining but then again, 8 out of every 10 kids my age do the exact same…


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