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Avoiding the Point

AdelaideThe heat is on and the claws are out… Welcome to the South Australian state election.

March 2010 has been a hotbed of activity in Adelaide and it’s going to get a whole lot hotter as we come into the final weeks of the state election. South Australians are consumed with The Fringe, The Adelaide Festival and The Clipsal 500 to name but a few, so how are we going to have the time to consider policies in a state election? Let me assure you, this was no accident in timing. The government is practically guaranteeing that voters will not have the time to consider every little detail. Every move of the political campaign has been planned to the minute for many months, including when certain information is being released.

A slow news day for the Adelaide Cup public holiday? Great, that ensures the front page of The Advertiser will showcase the proposed policy. The costings also haven’t been released by either party, meaning voters will only have a few days to review them before the election on March 20…how convenient.

Look, this is by no means a dig at the government. The state opposition do their fair share of media stunts as well with Isobel Redmond hoping on a plane to Canberra chasing details of the PM’s health policy. It worked, she ended up at a press conference with Tony Abott and hey, I’m here writing about it.

My issue is the way that state political news is delivered here in South Australia. In case you hadn’t realised, Adelaide is a very small town where everyone knows everyone else. We are a one-newspaper-town where that paper is owned by News Limited! Most of the news directors throughout South Australia have at one time or another all worked for Mike Rann in some capacity. He literally gave them their leg up.

Case in point, the night at the National Wine Centre where Rick Phillips infamously hit Mr Rann with a rolled up magazine. The details of the conversation between Mr Phillips and Mr Rann at the time of the attack weren’t released for another week.  Journalists were at the scene almost immediately and they did the obligatory questions round of the witnesses, yet no local news service reported on what Mr Phillips said to Mr Rann as he hit him, instead implying that the attack was random and unprovoked.

It wasn’t until over a week later when Kevin Foley was at a press conference, that a question regarding the attack was posed by an interstate journalist. Mr Foley clearly was not happy with the implication of the question, perhaps even getting a touch defensive. It was only then did local journalists realise that this wasn’t a story that they could push aside. It was only then did the nature of Mr Rann and Mr Phillip’s relationship become public knowledge.

As a writer just beginning my Masters in Journalism I come from a biased ideological background where I believe that as a journalist, we should be reflecting society and exposing truth. What society are we living in here in Adelaide when journalists are afraid of reporting key elements to a story?

Whether you believe the story was in the public interest or not, I’ll leave that for you to debate but I implore you as citizens of Adelaide to question what you read, to seek the truth and understand there may be hidden agendas, especially in politics as its dirty business.

Seek out independent opinion. Seek out publications such as our beloved Glam Adelaide, The Adelaide Review, The Independent Weekly, The ABC and crikey.com.au. While each has their own bias, being more informed across a number of platforms will serve you well, as a citizen of our great state.

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