Friday, May 2, 2008

What is wrong with The West Australian?

Well, for starters, they won't give me a job (and if the higher-ups read this, I probably won't be getting one).

Recently though, Kerry Stokes (think of him as a mini-Rupert) blasted the publication as 'living off their reputation'. He then followed this up by asking for more power on the board of directors, this was roundly rejected at a board meeting (Stokes already holds a chair), and really, who could blame The West?

The guy has slammed the paper, and then asked for more power. Good luck buddy! It's like telling your girlfriend you've been rooting her sister and then suggesting you two should get engaged. It can only end badly.

However tactless Stokes' grab for power has been, does he have a point?

Both The West Australian and The Sunday Times have been criticized for moving to a more sensationalist and populist approach to its journalism.

In the past, it has been labeled as "the nation's most inaccurate and dishonest newspaper" from Jim McGinty, and as I glimpsed at todays front page, I couldn't help but smile.

The headline? One in Two believes Buswell should go. That's not the funny part though, as I got to the first paragraph, I couldn't help but notice the massive claims that "a snap Westpoll has found that half of all West-Australians believe he should resign". Of course, the third paragraph cleared things up.

"The Westpoll, which interviewed 413 people on Wednesday".

Now, I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't called to be part of this poll, and correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Western Australia is made up of about oh...I don't know, about a million people? Maybe more?

Half of 413 people, doesn't quite sound like earth shattering news on the front page does it? But HALF OF ALL WEST AUSTRALIANS sounds a heap better!

This, ladies and Gentlemen, was on the front page. Right next to the big ol' picture of Troy Buswell looking like he wants to escape into a dark pit and die.

This sort of misleading is pure sensationalism, designed to get people reading the story. Sure, the copy does say exactly how many people were polled, but only after the reader is hooked.

Anyhow, the old argument of The West Australian being little more than populist sensationalism is perhaps overstating things, but little things like this aren't exactly providing contradictory evidence against Kerry Stokes' assertions.

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