Press Gallery Reform

In the lead-up to Labor’s triumph at the 1972 Federal election lots of journalists produced books about Whitlam, either as biographies of the man or at least partly so entirely. Based on your regard for press gallery journalists, these works either surfed the wave that swept Labor to power or they were gobbets of jetsam on that wave. In the past half a year, only journalists have been listening to Kristina Keneally. There is no relationship between what she says and what actually happens.

When Bob Askin or Neville Wran or Nick Greiner announced something, it bloody well occurred. Any office of Premier of NSW can be considered a very powerful one and it will be again, but it was not under Keneally. I lost count number of the number of times she said she was “determined to see this through”, and nothing happened about whatever it was. I lost count of the number of times she demanded “a full and immediate report” on something or other and sat onto it just.

When Bob Carr got furious a journalist would get a telephone call loaded with sarcasm. The complete state parliamentary press gallery would go to water and immediately drop any investigations they were pursuing in to the inertia and/or malfeasance of this government. When Morris Iemma got displeased with something inside the Labor Party mildly, Mark Arbib, and Karl Bitar would use it as another excuse to eliminate him.

When Keneally gets angry, there’s a grab on the news where she says how upset she is and that’s pretty much it. All of that stuff about her fierce dedication, from the senior high school golf ball courts of Ohio to the backrooms of the NSW ALP – it appears to have dissipated once she got the top job. There should be more evidence of it, in actual transport and universities and hospitals, than is obvious. That contrast is the true value-add in reporting, and none of them of this information proceeded to go there.

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There is also plenty about her compassion and her work for Catholic social organizations. It’s all good, but nothing of it clarifies why she speaks at people rather than to them really. None of it explains why as Premier she lets her media outfit use kids while others in need of special (labour-intensive, costly, and highly-regulated) care as backdrops for picnics.

Overdoing that determination and community work makes journalists appear to be they may be just taking whatever PR bumf Labor hands them and running it uncritically. John Fahey played rugby, little league for Canterbury-Bankstown and the Liberals could have appeared absurd in 1995 got they over-emphasised that in conditions of the Premier’s toughness and determination. It would have been nice if journalists could get over themselves enough to understand how disruptive it can be for a company for the Premier to descend on them.

The relevant supervisor is informed and comes under increasing scrutiny, including fielding calls from press flacks making veiled dangers and demands however, not offering extra resources. A lot of media people arrive Then, trampling the flowerbeds and everywhere running cords, and they snarl whenever you keep these things do their job in a manner that respects the area they may be visiting.


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