Last night I was interviewed by Leigh Sales on the ABC’s 7.30 program. Sales was her professional self and we discussed my continuing efforts to create a stronger and more effective conservative voice in the public square.
I referred to my speech at the National Press Club in 2014 which covered the dissatisfaction with politics and politicians and the potential for it to prompt a rise in anti-establishment political forces.
At the end of the interview I touched on the responsibilities of all political players to act in good faith and with responsibility. There was a specific mention of the media as a powerful force in the public square.
It’s very easy to blame politicians for the paucity of public debate about matters of substance, but one cannot escape the critical role elements of the media contribute to this dissatisfaction.
Outgoing ABC boss Mark Scott reflected as much yesterday when he suggested the ABC spends too much time talking about homosexual marriage rather than electricity prices. He’s right.
Outside of the militant homosexual lobby and the twitterati, the conversation around the dinner table isn’t about redefining marriage. Regular people are worried about their jobs, how they can pay their bills, and the education, hopes and dreams of their children.
But if you listened to the popular press, you’d think they were consumed with all manner of fringe issues.
We have programs like The Project pretending to present current affairs whilst barely concealing their disdain for anything outside of their ‘progressive views’.
I have experienced first-hand how they cut pre-recorded interviews to support their own perspective, effectively removing important counter points.
One of the hosts, Carrie Bickmore, even made a virtue of criticising my book, The Conservative Revolution, whilst boasting that she refused to read it.
Her problem was that she didn't like some of the media reports in respect to the content. Incidentally, the passages that so incensed the closed-minded Bickmore were paraphrased from and reflected speeches by Barack Obama and Malcolm Turnbull. Bickmore made no comment on the substance of their contribution.
But it’s not just the way material is presented in the media that is the problem. The media also act as gatekeepers for what is presented. The omission of important stories, or important facts within stories, is often very telling.
We hear very little about the persecution and effective genocide of Christians within the Middle East. Some outlets go to great pains to avoid using the words Muslim or Islam when covering religiously motivated Islamic terror attacks. One fledgling political party was complaining this week that their advertisements were refused by the largest newspaper publisher in the country. We saw the Marriage Alliance commercials refused to be broadcast by television stations.
They are just a few examples of how censorship and external agendas are shaping our information services.
However, as the media landscape is changing, the regular gatekeepers are becoming less important. Independent news websites and content producers (of both the left and the right) are gaining traction. So too is the importance of Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms in communicating a message.
Their impact will only grow in the years ahead. In the United States, broadcasters like Mark Levin and Glenn Beck are effectively distributing their own television and radio programs through podcasts and live internet streaming, reaching audiences of millions.
We have outlets like Breitbart presenting a perspective on the news that you generally won’t find on the big networks and commentators like Mark Steyn becoming one-man media empires.
It is slowly happening here too. The ability to bypass the filter of big media is growing daily. For me, part of that process is this weekly e-letter. It means I can contact tens of thousands of Australians directly and effectively.
But it is only the start. Over the course of the next year, I want to expand the capacity to communicate the conservative message and the mediums through which I do so.
Over the coming months there will be some announcements about what is planned but until then, the mission has to be to expand the reach of this weekly email.
For that I need your help. I know there are thousands of readers who forward this message to those who aren't subscribed. I thank you for doing so but ask you to encourage your friends and relatives to sign up themselves.
For conservatives to win in the battle of ideas, we need to be able to enlist and engage as many of our supporters as possible. This is the next step in that direction but to be successful it needs your support.