Australians will vote soon and contrary to popular opinion on twitter, a swing against the sitting government as being shown by recent polls WON’T decide who runs the country.

As we have found in the past, those swings only affect the very marginal seats, they are not Australia wide. A big chunk of ‘punters’ will make their decision based on the vibe and another big chunk of will make their decision based on their own electorate.

The only thing those chunks of voters have in common is that they will get the information to base their democratic choice on from the media, mostly traditional media.

I know many of you know this, particuarly what I am going to say about journalism and media, but... maybe time for a reminder for some? ;-)

Even when people complain about ‘fake news’ on social media, the core of that fake news when challenged will normally come back to something that has been published by a celebrity, politician or media themselves. Combatting this will be imperative.

We know certain segments of media are bias, beat up culture wars and those who follow news and politics closely dismiss this as just “oh well, what do you expect from the likes of [insert the usual suspects] to say…”. Problem is, just saying ignore, or having a laugh at does not stop this news being disseminated to those who don’t pay much attention.

Regional Australia in particular rarely has a local paper anymore, in a state like Queensland, their regional news is just a tab on Courier Mail. Not much variety there. Worse, if you are in the gym or at the pub (and there is no sport on the telly) they will be showing Sky News. Sky NEWS! News being the operative word. We all know that most of it is opinion. Sadly, the average Joe or Jill in a regional area who is too busy trying to survive and only vaguely glances at the news, sees this as “news”.

Journalists and those interested in twitter will often scoff “well who is paying attention to…”, well I can tell you, a hell of a lot. They don’t realise Bolt and co are ‘opinions’, they are ‘news’. These people are not stupid, they are just not privileged enough (for a variety of reasons, work, life, education etc.) to have the leisure of keeping an eagle eye on politics and educating themselves.

Same with front pages. So many, particularly in the recent stoush between tweeps and certain journalists about prominence of Kitching front pages as opposed to Fierravanti-Wells. Many saying speech was late at night, too late for front page, which is a fair call. However stating is online and more see that is not. Front pages have a lot of power in this nation, as they are reported on the breakfast infotainment shows and most radio stations, that is a hell of a lot further reach than the print circulation deserves, it also means they set the agenda for news in this nation. This is the sort of stuff that needs to be combatted.

People on twitter can rail against News Corp, NineFax, Sky, you name it, as much as they like, fact is, average Joe & Jill have no idea who owns what media and could not care less.

Worse, if they are really time poor they are getting their news via Facebook and that can be a real bin fire.

I’m sure you are all aware of the various Community Groups on Facebook, pretty sure there would not be a region in the nation, city or country, that doesn’t have one. They are really influential and in times of adversity, bushfires or floods, they can be awesome. They can also be a terrible source of misinformation.

If you want to affect this election you need to accept these truths about how people absorb ‘news’ and what they consider ‘news’ to be.

You also need to be discerning yourself as to what ‘news’ you disseminate and how you do it.

Tim Dunlop (@timdunlop) wrote a very good piece “Time to think carefully about what media you support” and is very persuasive as to how we should all be voting with our wallet, as in support good journalism by paying for subscriptions and obviously withdrawing your support for biased, lazy or journalism you don’t think is worth the cost. Let's face it, we do this in every other aspect of our lives as consumers.

“When, in the estimation of citizens, a government needs to be replaced, we get to vote them out, and in Australia at least, voters have shown themselves to be quite conservative in how they exercise their franchise.
When journalism fails, we have no such recourse. The media endures no matter what their failures, and thus we embed in the midst our democracy, not so much a fourth estate, but a permanent shadow government, that despite declining revenues, maintains its power by its social location.”
- Tim Dunlop

Not everyone can afford a heap of subscriptions, but if you can, please subscribe to good writing and journalism. Many have cheap subscriptions, or you can support for as little as a few dollars a month. If you can’t afford, and let’s face it, many of us can’t nowadays as times are tough, you can still support good journalism, good news publishers and combat misinformation without it costing you a cent.

For a start, NEVER tweet or share on Facebook a shitty piece of work.

You might be cranky and I know I have been caught in the past where you see something, think “OMG! This is some sort of bullshit” and quote tweet the publisher/journalist tweet. Don’t do this!

A big chunk of media advertising is based on social media analytics. Like toddlers, all attention is good attention, even when if it is a heap of people trashing that piece. Analytics don’t really take into account sentiment, just how many click throughs and impressions a piece got - including the social media on that piece - how much it was liked or retweeted or reposted and how popular their news/journalist handle is. So your hot take is actually helping these stats.

If you want to have your say about something that you find offensive, terrible, incorrect etc., then screenshot the tweet or post. Ensure you include the time, date and publisher/journalist in that screenshot so it is legit. Use that screenshot for your hot take. That way you get to refer to it, others can see exactly what you are referring to, if they choose to, then can go directly to the source themselves. In the meantime, you are not inadvertently assisting the stats of an org you didn’t wish to.

To assist in an election… As I said, those facebook community groups are big when it comes to hearts and minds for individual electorates. You see something that is totally incorrect, report it as such. If you want to comment on it, then again, use that screenshot as just described.

REWARD and share good journalism.

This is really important. Just like your average punter is not as savvy as those who follow politics like a hawk, the average journalist is not Leigh Sales, David Speers, Phil Coorey, Bevan Shields, Laura Jayes etc., they could be people you only vaguely recognise. They are not paid at the same levels as the aforementioned and don’t have the same power as them either. They often are in insecure work themselves, busting their gut and at the whim of Editors and Producers.

The person on the desk at ABC is reading out what their Producer has put in front of them, it is not their opinion. Don’t jump down their throat on social media.

Print journalists are in a similar situation, they don’t always have a say as to that clickbait headline, nor do they even have a say over what the final product ends up being on the page, be it in print or online. So think about that before you scream.

I know it is weird how so many high profile journalists and publications like to trash social media, I mean, what other business trashes their customer base so openly and aggressively as the usual suspects in media? It really blows my mind. I mean, sure, never cop abuse, but engaged customers/clients questioning your work or querying choices? They make it hard to support. How often have you heard a journalist be condescending about twitter and just lump all on the platform into one 'sewer' yet strangely, don't like themselves being lumped together as 'media' when people are upset at the usual suspects trolling with their culture wars? Something to ponder...

Anyhow, I want to talk about the good journalists. The ones who particularly when it comes to politics treat it as more than a game. Those that understand political decisions have REAL LIFE RAMIFICATIONS for Australians and take their role in informing those Australians seriously, not as a sport or horse-race. These are the journalists we need to follow and support.

Also… There are some really good journalists at some of the most odious media publications. You can’t blame an employee who is just lucky to have a job in a shrinking industry and has rent/mortgage, kids to feed, just like you. Many don’t have the luxury to choose where they will work. Please consider that. Just as you don't like being dumped in the same "all of twitter are trolls" label, because you yourself are not a troll, consider same for these journalists, they are doing good work and not their fault who their employers are. You may not support their employer by subscribing to their publication but you can still support that individual journalist.

If you see good work. Share it! Share it widely, retweet it, repost it.

If you know who the author/journalist is, make sure you include their handle, encourage others to follow them. They cop a lot of flack and people are less quick to praise as happens in all professions but honestly, remember those stats I referred to earlier? Make sure you apply them and always credit if possible. As much as private citizens can watch Question Time or Senate, read press releases and even research if they have the will to, there is certain access that only journalists have and some put a heap of effort into it, be it tracking FOI requests to sitting through days of boring Senate hearings we really do need them. We need to support these journalists personall and the publications that pay them if possible.

Sharing good information, particularly on twitter and facebook will do more to shift hearts and minds than yelling at people.

Sharing good journalism will do more to ensure it is viable and continues, as face it, WE ALL WANT GOOD BALANCED AND INFORMATIVE NEWS.

The odious types only indulge in culture wars as they know it upsets people and that clickbait works a treat. DON’T REWARD IT! You can still comment and condemn, just don’t reward them with social media stats.

So in summary, be pro-active. Support good journalism. Don’t see misinformation somewhere and abuse whoever shared it, that says more about you than the person who is sharing the crap.

Also, be aware that sometimes that person sharing the crap honestly does think it is ‘legit news’, don’t denigrate them, kindly inform otherwise, people watch interactions on both twitter and facebook and you never know who else is reading and may be persuaded.

Same with sharing good pieces on social media crediting the journalists handle, not only is it showing appreciation, it could help that journalist keep their job when belts are tightened, it could even help that journalist maybe get more hours or a better job due to their profile and stats?

So take the time to invest in good journalism by both subscribing when you can and sharing when you can. The more you invest like this the better news we get, the more informed the public is, the better choices we all will make.

And… Dog knows Australians need to make better choices 😉

Good luck shifting hearts and minds in your individual electorates this election. Thank you for the efforts you will put into this, regardless of who you support politically, as long as it is factual. Our future depends on it.

by Noely
Talks too much on Twitter
Professional desk jockey


Noely Neate
Article By
Noely Neate
Talks too much on Twitter
Professional desk jockey
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