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Sex and gaffes; Is the media dumbing down the debate?

August 16, 2013

By Joseph Fernandez

Tony Abbott has made a series of gaffes this week. Hav the media over-reported them, and what does this say about news as ‘entertainment’? AAP/Alan Porritt

Tony Abbott has made a series of gaffes this week. Hav the media over-reported them, and what does this say about news as ‘entertainment’? AAP/Alan Porritt

Almost a fortnight into the federal election campaign some are despairing about the superficiality of the overall debate. One could be forgiven for viewing the media focus as being gaffe-driven and tittle tattle-centric.

One Nation Stephanie Banister’s alleged misspeak on “haram”, Jews and Jesus went viraland evoked media castigation locally and abroad in spite of her claim that she was the victim of bad editing. Singapore’s Straits Times reported the story under the headline: ‘Australia’s Sarah Palin’ quits election race after Islam gaffe.

The Liberal Party’s Jaymes Diaz was among the first cabs off the gaffe ranks, making the global stage, when he referred to the Coalition’s six-point plan to stop the boats. Despite saying he “can run through all the details of the points” was unable to go beyond saying the plan was to “stop the boats”.

For three days in a row the national broadsheet The Australian had stories with all or some of the words “sex”, “sex appeal” and “tits”, and images to boot, on the front page.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott made generous contributions to the campaign gaffe store with his “suppository” malapropism and remarks on candidate Fiona Scott’s “sex appeal”. The media reported his “fashion of the moment” remark as being in reference to gay marriage, although Mr Abbott claimed it was a more general reference to social change.

The AusVotes 2013 blog, styled as aiming “to provide the observations, analysis and opinion that are missing in the traditional media’s coverage of the election”, noted:

The media train will continue to blandly report what is being said by the candidates, looking for amusing gaffes and the like, while actual news is left unreported and actual people are excluded. This is why our media coverage of this election will be as trivial, self-serving and narrow as it ever was in previous elections. All spin, all press release, little substance.

Although it is hyped, therein lies part of the explanation for the mainstream media campaign coverage menu. Read more in The Conversation.

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From → Analysis, Commentary

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