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The media now operates with all the subtlety of a Pugilist.

In Ashby Conspiracy, Craig Emerson on December 24, 2012 at 9:13 AM

Subtlety lost

By Craig Emerson
Date: 24 December 2012
Source: Craig Emerson

Newspaper Front Pages Collage

At Sydney University in the early 1970s a course simply called “Government” was offered to economics, arts and law students. It was a time of social upheaval and the election of the Whitlam Government had ended 23 years of conservative rule. The Murdoch press had backed a change of government.

My tutor in Government, Lex Watson, a gay rights activist, had set us a task: to identify bias in the media. But as left-wing as Lex was, the six-week project wasn’t about left versus right, it was about the techniques used by the print media to slant a story to suit an editorial position.

During those six weeks I learned many of the established techniques, simply by comparing the treatment of the same story in different newspapers. Placement on an odd-numbered page gave a story greater prominence than on a left-hand side, even-numbered page. A front-page story in one newspaper might have been well back in another. An otherwise balanced story might be thrown out of balance by the editor’s headline. And oh so important, an archived photo of a scowling or cheerful politician could be retrieved from the files to capture the editor’s intent. Read the rest of this entry »