Flat White

Never Mind the Bollocks

2 September 2018

6:37 PM

2 September 2018

6:37 PM

The first of a regular feature on journalistic garbage in all its richness and diversity.

“Could fake news infect the Victorian election?”, The Age asks today in a typical clickbait effort.

It starts slowly, then picks up steam — with plenty of huffing and puffing along the way:

Social media, particularly Facebook, has emerged as a powerful tool for politicians, who can use it to project their message to voters without filtering it through journalists.

This week, the Andrews government bypassed print, TV and radio and used Andrews’ Facebook page to break the news of what might be the defining promise of November’s election: its pledge to build the 90-kilometre, $50 billion suburban rail loop.

“It’s a devastatingly effective way of communicating, because they are presenting the message they want to present, without having to go through the filtration of news processes they had to go through in the past,” said Zareh Ghazarian, a lecturer in politics and international relations at Monash University.

But social media’s unfiltered nature also makes it a means to spread misinformation…

But despite the extraordinary potential reach of social media, there are no laws governing Victorian politicians’ use of the medium.

A parliamentary inquiry into the impact of social media on Victorian elections found it would be impractical to even try to legislate against misuse…

In a statement, the [Victorian Electoral] commission said that the Electoral Act 2002 prohibited the production of electoral material that misleads or deceives in relation to casting a vote.

Dr Ghazarian said there were few examples of Victorian politicians using social media to spread outright lies, despite the absence of regulatory control.

“It’s a new battleground that the parties in Australia have been using generally quite properly because we have struggled to find many clear examples of misinformation,” he said.

And on it goes. More than 500 words of complete bollocks without a real answer to the question in the headline.

What The Age appears to be doing, in a very roundabout way — and while pointing fingers at others — is admitting that its own journos are so few in number, so bad and so lacking in any corporate knowledge the answer is a resounding “Yes”.

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