Contrary to what can be seen in the ‘National Times’ and an extraordinary press conference on the ABC the other day to announce a Journalist (yes a Journalist) changing jobs, the average punter has no bloody idea who Michelle Grattan is, nor do they care...  I now know because of Twitter & other articles that Ms Grattan is a Journalist who is obviously very well respected by her colleagues and due to the length of her career has helped and mentored many journalists early in their careers, with a career spanning 43 years, this does not surprise me.  All this is very laudable and if you read “A warrior and a worrier, the woman who broke the mould”, an article written in the Age this morning more akin to an obituary than a ‘goodbye’ to an esteemed colleague, that an end of an era has arrived.

Even though Journalists are becoming more like celebrities with their appearances on Sunrise, ABC opinion shows etc., when it comes to actually reading the news, we at home, don’t normally care ‘who’ the journalist is, more about what they are saying and the information they are imparting to us, though as I have found, we should be concerned.  I wonder if like a lot of professions, the Canberra Press Gallery is too insular, only deal & discuss issues with each other, and the cardinal sin from a punters view, they ‘assume’ we know background information that in reality, we do not know, therefore are not actually informing us, the public, as they should be?  Often I have questioned someone on twitter, to be informed, “Oh but didn’t you know they were a Labor Speech Writer” or “Didn’t you know, so & so has an ‘in’ with Liberals because...” Umm no I didn’t’!  Now, I am not an expert on anything, though I am not by any means a moron, so imagine my horror when I find out that the misleading title of ‘Fellow’ given to the IPA (Institute of Public Affairs) regulars on the ABC’s The Drum, are not academics as the name suggests, nor are their expert opinions without an agenda.  This means that the last bastion of supposedly balanced news & opinion, the ABC, also cannot be taken at face value any more. 

So where does this state of the media leave someone like me who actively tries to educate myself,, asks questions, attempts to understand what is actually happening politically?  I have started to follow a number of Blogs & Online only media organisations.  One that I thoroughly enjoy, am educated by, or at the very least provides thought provoking discussion for meThe Conversation.   What is comforting to me as a punter who is not in the ‘know’ about particular organisations, journalists etc., agendas or political affiliations is that every article I read on this site is ascribed to an author (never an anonymous opinion, comment, or editorial), these authors are usually Academics, always clearly stated at the top of the page who they are, where they work, what their expertise.  I may not always fully agree with what a particular article may be discussing, reporting or hypothesising about, but at least I know they truly are academics & experts.

This is where I come back to Ms Michelle Grattan, who will be taking on the role of Chief Political Correspondent and Associate Editor (Politics) with The Conversation.  This concerns me greatly as I personally have not found her reporting to be very balanced at all in recent times, in fact often wondering if this lady has a bit of a crush on Tony Abbot & Kevin Rudd?  I am not an expert in politics so maybe I am not ‘getting’ what Ms Grattan is trying to impart in her ‘opinion’ pieces and therefore can let my perception of her bias slide to a certain degree?   What I can’t let slide, and yes, I know I will sound like a cranky old lady here, is the disrespect consistently shown to our Prime Minister by Ms Grattan.  I cannot respect a writer that consistently refers to our Prime Minister as “Gillard”.  Please, if you have the time, check out her past articles, particularly the titles and you will see what I mean...  Particularly the tone and manner Ms Grattan uses on ABC Radio National Breakfast is not the manner that I would be encouraging the youth of today to use?  I don’t care if our Prime Minister is Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott or Jill Dill down the road, high public office should always be accorded respect.  With the experience Ms Grattan so obviously has, she must be aware of the subtle effect on the reader this use  of ‘Gillard’ has to denigrate the Prime Minister, a habit that is becoming unfortunately more common in our print & televised media.   Though I would expect better form from a journalist who is supposedly so experienced and universally respected?

I sincerely hope that this disdain for the current Government and certain politicians that Ms Grattan obviously has little time for, does not extend to her input in The Conversation with her new role?  A number of ex-Journalists who I respect on Twitter seem to think that this move to The Conversation will be wonderful, though I am sceptical of how someone who has been living in a Canberra Press Gallery bubble who is moving to a Canberra Academic bubble can really invigorate, drive or focus the academic talent on The Conversation, (an assertion from an ex Journalist on Twitter)? 

Judging from the accolades Ms Grattan is getting, they are many and varied, I assume she is a lovely hard-working lady, I don’t know her obviously, only her writing, so I sincerely hope that my scepticism in regard to Ms Grattan’s bias and tone is unwarranted and The Conversation continues in it’s up front and generally unbiased political reporting, we the punter, are running out of those reputable resources and cannot afford to lose another one.

Noely  @YaThinkN
Then again, as usual, I am just a punter so the political opinion & reporting that Ms Grattan is famous for is just beyond my limited experience or intellect?  Though, considering the public is the audience the media are supposed to be catering for, maybe there is a bigger issue here...
Other Articles of interest...
February 4, 2013 - Daniel Hurst - Grattan quits Age with call for diversity
06 February 2013 - Andrew Elder - The impact of Michelle Grattan
Feb 04, 2013 10:04AM - Matthew Knott - Grattan, the professor, quits The Age for new Conversation

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