The Murdoch press have a problem (well, many, but let’s stick to the climate one). I’m not talking about the irony that NewsCorp is keen – in other countries – to boast about its “zero carbon” credentials. I’m talking about its hysterical attacks on the Greens and its grotesquely slanted news “stories,” endless fact-free opinion pieces by the Andrew Bolts and David Penberthies of this world, and the publishing of every denialist letter (usually spouting stuff that has already been disproved a thousand times over) that gets sent in, while ignoring letters sent in that correct the published lies.
Reality does have a nasty habit of impinging, and a recent university-based research project shows that only 5.8% of the Australian population can be described as denialists (reported here). This despite the best efforts of Rupert’s minions. People aren’t as stupid as he wants them to be.
Yesterday, as readers will know, tens of thousands of Australians rallied for a carbon tax. What to do?? You can’t just do a straight news report… Fortunately there are some tried and trusted methods to use,and today’s Advertiser puts them on display.
It’s a useful lesson for anyone who wants to climb the greasy pole… On page 3 you run a story based on a poll of 500 people (not many, is it. I thought most polls needed to be a thou?)
[UPDATE: And you spin it as an "Advertiser poll", when it was actually commissioned by the (Murdoch-owned) Daily Telegraph in Sydney! For more on this, and the dodginess of these polls, see Crikey's "taxing credulity" post here.]
You ask some classic ‘hip-pocket’ questions and get the results you were hoping for. Do NOT frame the questions along the lines of “Do you believe that man-made climate change is happening?” “If other countries are taking action, should Australia” The results will come out differently, and will not be reportable, on page 3 or anywhere else.
[The other advantage of a poll like this is climate trolls who are too stupid to know the difference between a poll about the carbon tax and a poll about climate change causation can parade it as 'proof' that acceptance of man-made climate change is collapsing. (Either too stupid or completely lacking a basic respect for facts and science; I neither know nor care.)]
So, once you’ve got your page 3 anti-carbon tax story done, you can then bury the report of the local rally on, oh, I don’t know… page 19?
And you can write inaccurate gibberish like “Australia trails more than 30 European countries in pollution.” And you can call the rally “peaceful” – planting the idea in readers’ heads that other rallies have involved greenies smashing windows and bringing down Western Civilisation.
Simples. From the simple-minded, who have a responsibility to report on the reality, but are too busy serving the ideological whims of a gerontocrat. What a species.