Media Watch: “perceptions of bias… or to bias itself”


media watch paul barry

During a recent Media Watch segment, host Paul Barry questioned whether the national broadcaster’s interaction with a ‘lobby group’ influenced coverage of transgender issues.

“The problem here is a media group partnering with and being rewarded by a lobby group – any lobby group. And how that can lead to perceptions of bias in coverage or to bias itself.”

By ‘lobby group’ Paul Barry meant ACON.

ACON? A lobby group?

The organisation describes itself as providing ‘community health, inclusion, and HIV responses for people of diverse sexualities and genders’.

A description that tallies with the work done by ACON for over 35 years.

It never struck me as a lobby group. When I hear lobby group I think Australian Christian Lobby. Pretty easy that one — the name gives it away. But then there’s the Coal Association, the gambling lobby, Big Tobacco, and the like.

We can take from that list that the term ‘lobby group’ carries a negative connotation.

Why then use it for an organisation, patently not a lobby group, that for decades provided essential and often life-saving assistance to marginalised Australians?

Well, perhaps because of the influence of a lobby group on Media Watch. Influence that, dare I say it, leads to ‘perceptions of bias… or to bias itself’.

The information used in the Media Watch segment came courtesy of what Barry himself described as an ‘anti-trans group’.

Now that sounds more like a lobby group.

Workplace Equality Index

Media Watch implied that the ABC’s participation in Acon’s Australian Workplace Equality Index might influence the national broadcaster’s coverage, particularly of transgender issues. The Workplace Equality Index measures the impact of inclusion initiatives in Australian organisations.

But as Patricia Karvelas tweeted, the ABC participates in other benchmarking programs.

Media Watch drew attention to nine items it implied demonstrated a problem with the ABC’s editorial approach to transgender issues. Among them, ABC staff marching at Mardi Gras. 😲Grasping at straws there, dearie.

Paul Barry also mentioned that the ABC failed to cover the closure of London’s Tavistock Gender Clinic. Terfs boast of the closure of that clinic as a major achievement, so while it matters little to anyone else, they want to see it given major coverage. Golly gosh. These days, government health clinic closures occur even more frequently than changes of Prime Ministers in the UK. Thanks, Theresa, Boris, Liz…

But as Isabelle Moreton points out, Tavistock closed as a result of a review that “recommended abandoning the overloaded single central clinic in favour of regionalised services.”

And that’s what happened. As Isabelle says, the regionalised care approach so far proved immensely superior. Check out her blog for a comprehensive analysis of the many things wrong with the Media Watch segment or catch her on Twitter.

Media Watch

It’s a shame to see Media Watch fallen so low. I ceased to be a regular viewer a couple of years ago after never missing an episode for three decades. It once did mighty work, like the Alan Jones and John Laws ‘Cash for Comment’ exposure.

But it seems now, the show is reduced to advancing the tropes of lobby groups.

 

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Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at destinyr@qnews.com.au.

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2 Comments

  1. Peter Turner
    25 October 2022
    Reply

    It seems that there is a case for the Media Watch program to be scrutinized to the same extent that the program scrutinizes other media platforms.
    ACON a lobby group? I don’t think so!!

  2. Gedrocht
    25 October 2022
    Reply

    I thought ACON was a lobby group when I heard Media Watch. This article brought some rational balance.
    Thanks Destiny.

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