Passing Bull 34 The strange death of decent journalism


I should confess to bias.  I was professionally involved in the publishing of a decent book about the Abbott government.

The book by Niki Savva is not decent.  We suspect that our politics are rotten.  This book shows that political hacks who have become soi disant journalists are in that rottenness up to their necks.  The bad sports journalists do not report on games – they moralise, too often with malice, about the politics of that part of the entertainment industry that we call sport.  The bad political journalists do not report on political issues – they moralise, too often with malice, about personality, popularity, and gossip.

We have now reached a new low point.  If a lawyer or journalist is going to comment adversely on someone, they must offer that person the opportunity to respond.  That is one of the rules of their games.  It is also common sense and common decency.  We instinctively recoil from an ambush made in defiance of manners and fairness.

Niki Savva recounted a rumour that no decent person wants to have in the air about them.  In breach of her rules, and in defiance of courtesy, she did not put it to her targets to allow them to respond.  Why not?  She would not be able to trust their responses.  In compounding the libel, Savva praised the courage of others who also wield their knives from behind.  Can you guess what team Niki was playing for?  Where does that leave clause 1 of the Code of Ethics?

This journalist sought to justify her failure of ethics by saying that she has formed an adverse view on the credibility of her targets.  She is therefore prejudiced against them.  This moral landslide in turn appears to entail that when it comes to that little thing called ‘truth’, this journalist has the powers of God.

May God help the test of us, and protect us from the thirty pieces of silver.

Poet of the Month: Judith Wright

The flame-tree

How to live, I said, as the flame-tree lives?

  • to know what the flame-tree knows; to be

prodigal of my life as that wild tree

and wear my passion so?

The lover’s knot of water and earth and sun,

that easy answer to the question of baffling reason,

branches out of my heart this sudden season.

I know what I would know.

How shall I thank you, who teach me how to wait

to quietness for the hour to ask or give:

to take and in taking bestow, in bestowing live:

in the loss of myself, to find?

This is the flame-tree; look how gloriously

that careless blossomer scatters, and more and more.

What the earth takes of her, it will restore.

These are the thanks of lovers who share one mind.

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