Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bloggers vs the MSM?

The dichotomy between the continued run of favourable polls for the ALP and the perception of many press gallery journalists that the government has begun its fight back with a politically clever budget, aided by the ALP’s alleged disarray on industrial relations has provoked much excitement among bloggers. Some of this excitement seems a reliving of Kevin Rudd’s election triumph even before it has occurred, but it is an instalment in the ongoing battle between the ‘mainstream media’ and bloggers, which is longstanding in the US. Been thinking about these issues whilst reading the greatest monument of the MSM: Paul Kelly’s The End of Certainty. It is a work relentlessly devoted to arguing for a particular set of polices as desirable. The Australian’s extraordinary crusade against Labor’s IR policy is in this tradition. But Kelly’s book is also an exercise in high politics, ordinary voters appear only in focus groups, in particular his discussion of the shift to enterprise bargaining ignores the problems of worker resistance to the wage restraint of the 1980s. The book’s elite focus supports my view that one reason for the gallery’s view on IR is a resentment of social actors from outside their narrow world, this is why both the Greens and One Nation received such media hostility, because neither were inclined to accept press gallery advice, to a degree the National Party suffers from this. Nevertheless it passes the test of being a worthwhile book, it is a valuable source of information. The IR debate reminds me of how Hawke’s promise to protect Kakadu was a vote-winner despite being disparaged by the media. We see too that Howard was not always a political genius. It does remind us that governments can come from a long way behind, Labor’s 1987, 1990 and 1993 victories could all have been defeats. In part the gallery is aware that public opinion can change. It would be useful if more examples than 2004 and 2001 were considered. My view is intermediate between the MSM and the bloggers, high support for Labor reflects both perceptions of which party is best to deal with particular issues and which issues are prominent in voters’ minds. As the election approaches economic management will gain a higher profile, this will benefit the government, but its advantage over Labor has shrunk noticeably. Are private sector managerial-professional voters (a group which has shifted rightward since 1996 as I show here (third article)) more concerned with IR or with broadband? Voter perceptions on party performance are slow to change. The Coalition’s attempts to reverse perceptions on education and the economy are unlikely to be successful. It is not that voters have stopped listening to the government, in fact they never listen much, circumstances have changed.



Post a Comment

<< Home