[inaudible]

There are many different angles one can come at the Jenny Macklin/Newstart/Adam Bandt/political stunt/$35-a-day/single mothers brouhaha that has fairly dominated a day and half’s worth of empty news cycles. So naturally I’m going to try all of them.

$35 a day for all! For those who are blessedly unaware, the story is vaguely thus: during late 2012, the government decided that, in its then-fetishistic pursuit of a surplus (a pursuit since abandoned, incidentally), it would save a cheeky $728 million over four years by moving about 100,000 single parents from their existing payment to the Newstart allowance. Of course, this received little to no coverage as it happened the day of the Prime Minister’s ‘misogyny speech’. Colour and movement and all that.

Then, on Tuesday, Jenny Macklin, the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, was asked whether she felt if she could survive on $35 a day (presently she survives on about $900 a day). A question which, in my mind seems quite legitimate. Her answer:

“I could, and of course we understand that what’s important for people who are unemployed is that we do everything possible to help people get work.”

A bold claim, suggesting in a couple of words that a 96% pay cut was something fairly manageable. But obviously, such a claim would not go unchallenged. Acting Greens leader Adam Bandt – or perhaps his media adviser – smelled an opportunity, immediately challenging the Minister to join him in living on $35 a day for one week.

This set off the usual round of discussion on Twitter about, well, everything. Preston Towers felt that the original question in the presser was ridiculous. Liam Hogan saw it as the latest in a never-ending round of stunts, as did Megan Clement. All of Twitter started talking about what it’s like to live on $35 a day.

And they were right. It’s a stunt. A stunt performed, incidentally, by Greens senator Rachael Siewert last year – something she blogged about.

The Herald Sun got in the action with this 'one-egg family'I’ve never lived on $35 a day, at least not in any situation that compares even remotely to that of someone with dependents and everyday cost of living, but I know it’s sweet fuck all, an amount so pitiful as to actively inhibit the search for work, rather than support it. If the choice is public transport to job interviews for a month, or $200 for your kids dentist, I reckon the young ‘uns molars win every time. Everyone knows that this is a dud move by the government that will win nary a vote.

But what about the ‘stunt’? The act of challenging the Minister to go without for a week. It was met resoundingly with scorn across most media I consume, yet it’s hard to avoid the feeling that there is a chicken/egg blame game at work.

Most of the criticisms of Bandt’s challenge are around two things: its efficacy, and the slippery slope towards a dumber media environment that it embodies/encourages.

Anyone who feels that, if she takes this challenge up, Macklin would change her mind is, frankly, deluded. If you go for seven short days on not much money, it’s not too much of a hassle, particularly if you have this kind of motivation to manage it. There will be no emergency dental work, or a job interview to get to. She’ll make it, then give a press conference saying that she understands that it’s tough, and that’s why she’s so focused on helping people find work.

Bandt, likewise, will find it similarly easy to fail. I imagine that his daily rent in inner Melbourne probably exceeds $35, so there you go. Everyone continues to hold the position they held before.

But what this stunt has achieved is to get a great many people talking about the government’s policy shift, and in that sense, it’s worked tremendously well. So the stunt has been effective, yes. But also, it does embody the slide into ephemera and triviality that our media increasingly embraces. As David Paris said on Twitter:

The meedja ignored all of the inquiries, reports, experts. This seems to be all they pay attention to.

But whose fault is that? Adam Bandt, as far as I can tell, has close to zero responsibility for making the media grow up. His job is to bring issues that he is politically strong on to the front of the debate. Mission accomplished.

The media report on stunts, scandals, outrages and heartfelt underdog stories. And lists (oh, how they love a good list). If one of these can be harnessed to someone’s ends, go nuts.

And the media does it because we (you, me and everyone we know) read about stunts, scandals, outrages and heartfelt underdog stories. Unless you’re primed to get riled up about impoverished single parents, a headline like ’100,000 single parents $100/week worse off: report’ isn’t about to get your pageview.

So, while my last post unambiguously lay the blame for bad reporting at the feet of the media for shoddy reporting of the AWU ‘scandal’ (there’s that word again), this time it’s back to the capitalist response. We get the media we deserve. Even more so now that they can see, in real time, what we click on. You want change? Read the worthy, if tiresome, articles quoting experts. Convince friends and family to do the same. It’s not Macklin’s fault. It’s not Bandt’s. It’s not even the journo who asked the question’s fault.

It’s ours.

Pointing the finger

I’ve been lax on my blogfoolery of late. Every time I felt like I had a spare moment to pen something, I found myself consumed by ennui, uninspired by most of what I saw, and that which I did would more easily be expressed in 140 characters than anything more considered.

But I have been roused. This morning, an ordinary, if stinking hot, Melbourne Thursday, I was watching News Breakfast on ABC24 as I prepared for work. They decided to cut to the pre-parliament doorstops to pad for time. First up, we were halfway through Tony Windsor, who, as always, had smart things to say about the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. The journalists were curious about some letter the PM had written. Windsor had nothing to say on that, instead asking if anyone had questions about the Plan. None did, so he left. Next up, waiting in the wings (quite literally) was Chris Pyne.

He had plenty to say.

I’m not going to get into the stuff he tossed around because, frankly, I haven’t paid much mind to it all, but if you want the details, Ben Eltham over at New Matilda has a good summary of all this Gillard rubbish.

Pyne finished his tear, then Adam Bandt stepped up to discuss the various reforms going up before parliament today. News Breakfast cut back to the “anchors” who then repeated Pyne’s claims.

This is why I’m riled up this morning.

Ordinarily I’m loathe to apportion blame when it comes to the carousel of bullshit that is national political discourse. Politicians have a social obligation to look after the national interest. The media have a social obligation to report honestly, and on issues that balance between the public interest and what the public is interested in. The public have an obligation, as good citizens, to pay attention to important issues of the day. The turd load is evenly distributed.

But in this case, it’s the media’s fault.

This is a non-story. Not even meritorious of ‘scandal’, ‘gate’ or even a consistent hashtag. A piece of ridiculous confection that the opposition have every reason to go to town on, given that they have an election to win, and creating the impression, however tenuous, of a corrupt government is great for them, and takes attention away from their “policies”.

The government are desperately alternating between trying to deny the issue oxygen, then having a crack at a controlled burn, in the hope that there will be no further flare-ups.

The public, meanwhile simply doesn’t care. It switched off long ago. The whole Slater & Gordon brouhaha was boring to begin with, unrelated to any issues of importance. Now, it so fiendishly convoluted that only the most tragic or partisan have any understanding of what is happening. I certainly can’t follow it anymore.

But the media simply won’t let it go. There are a million reasons for this, but I think there are two that are paramount:

  1. It’s way easier to report on. Policy is hard. It means that journalists, researchers and interviewers need to read detailed briefers, consult experts and generally get their heads around complicated issues that have real-world effects. Bollocks to that. Repeating “claims” and “allegations” is far more fun, and simply requires turning up at a Canberra doorstop before repeating the claim that the PM has ‘questions to answer’, without actually deciding what those questions are, and having had two discrete opportunities to put any and all questions to her. But that’s the minor reason. The big one?
  2. General Sherman. You may recall in the Simpsons the enormous, possibly mythical catfish that Homer sets off after in lieu of attending marriage counselling. That’s this story. Bringing down a sitting PM is the ultimate in journalistic achievement. For all the talk among partisans about bias in the media (which, of course there is, but it’s down to the individual journalist much of the time, and is usually suppressed by larger organisational biases), every journalist’s prejudice is trumped by getting a “yarn”. No matter how dyed-in-the-wool Labor, any journo would jump at the chance to be the one to break The Story of the Decade and unseat Gillard.

Rather than sit in a boat, fishing for a smoking gun that it is increasingly apparent doesn’t exist, our journalistic class would be better advised to do their jobs, sit down with Marge and explain the ins and outs of the numerous issues that should be on the front page. NDIS, Murray-Darling Plan, melting permafrost, the Kyoto negotiations in Doha, hunger strikes on Nauru, you name it.

In the end, the overall sensation for me in this sea of vacuity is one of sadness. Imagine, if you would, a world where this level of forensic research and doggedness was applied to issues of actual importance. Perhaps the public may have known how a carbon price actually works. Perhaps the public would understand the difference between the paid parental leave schemes of both major parties. Perhaps someone could explain to me how the NDIS works. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…

So fuck you, media. I no longer want to see Christopher Pyne suggest there are questions to answer.

Everyone is wrong somehow

Goddamn it I’m kind of loathe to add to the sextrillion words already spilled vainly over That Speech last week, but I feel that there is one thing that remains unremarked upon.

I’m certainly not about to dive in to the debate over what is/isn’t sexism/misogyny, other than to say that as a man, I’m not positioned to judge how women should feel about things, and that it’s clear that Tony Abbott almost certainly is not a misogynist and almost certainly is a sexist.

The addendum to this debate, one that emerged rapidly on the heels of the speech itself, is whether or not the ‘press gallery’ was wrong to fixate on the fact that the PM was speaking in defence of Peter Slipper, whose text messages were certainly not a glowing endorsement of the fairer sex.

“WHY ARE YOU FOCUSSING ON SUCH IRRELEVANCE” came the cry from vocal corners of Twitter, which acts effectively these days as a channel for intelligent spokespeople of non-journalistic background to speak up against media intransigence. “We are here to provide context and we know best” came the journalistic retort.

Clearly the massively consistent reporting of Gillard’s speech as a ‘failure’ and ‘hypocrisy’ was faintly ridiculous, given that it was not how the speech was being received across the populace. 1.6 million views of the youtube clip in six days indicates that the gallery had its finger utterly removed from the national pulse. Getting bogged down in the minutiae showed that political journalists missed what is clearly a historical moment. My former TBL comrade Max/Hunter/Paul put it best when he said it was “our generation’s Redfern speech”.

By stressing the importance of Slipper, the media wound up (and will likely wind up) looking like fools, much like the Chicago Tribune, commenting in the wake of the Gettysburg Address:

“The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly flat and dishwattery [sic] remarks of the man who has to be pointed out as the President of the United States. … Is Mr. Lincoln less refined than a savage? … It was a perversion of history so flagrant that the most extended charity cannot view it as otherwise than willful.”

Obviously, the lens of history makes them look like a proper arse, and no doubt in future several quotes will re-emerge, making them look even more foolish, removed as they will be from the immediacy of the parliamentary moment.

But.

While I think the gallery wrote a bunch of junk, and should have realised that this was a moment that deserved attention, rather than trying to dictate to readers what the readers should think was important, there is a case for sympathy for them.

In almost every other case, the non-journalistic eloquence of that particular slice of Twitter is fierce in its prosecution of journalists who fail to provide detail and context, instead simply offering simplistic ‘analysis’ that confirms existing audience prejudice. That when Tony Abbott rails against the carbon price, reporters simply repeat the claims and the government’s counter-claims. And they’d be right. But still, when political writers DO look deeper, and offer context, it’s a little bit stupid to be suggesting that their reporting should be dictated purely by the angle that the audience finds most appealing.

Still, what a speech. If I have a daughter, I’m going to play it for her before she’s 12.

Don’t let the professionals do this job

Greg Jericho will forever be, in my mind, Grog’s Gamut. If ever I meet the man, I imagine experiencing no small amount of cognitive dissonance between my image of a man with the name of Grog and the head of Ralph Fiennes and the reality of a mild-mannered former public servant and present-day doyen of online political enthusiasts.

I was lucky enough to stumble across his blog some time in late 2009, after seeing him mentioned quite frequently on Twitter and noticing him bobbing up in the comments of the Pollytics blog. He was that rare commodity in political reporting – someone that would dig through the data and present it, relatively unvarnished, with clear explanation. He didn’t assume that his audience was too dumb to cope with a graph, mainly because he knew his audience was small and interested in these things. It was the essential roughage in my media diet that I really needed.

I engaged with him occasionally via Twitter (under my guide as Things Bogans Like – the fact that I’m relatively ignored on Twitter now that I have about 200 followers instead of 8,000 is a topic for another post), and when I noticed he had a book coming out, I was excited to get my hands on it.

Rise of the Fifth Estate is Mr Gamut’s typically well-researched dissection of the growing importance of blogging and social media in the Australian politico-media complex. His focus on such a niche issue allows him a great deal of latitude to drill down to specifics, such as counting the number of political blogs in the country, and the gender of the authors.

Gamut has always, as a PhD and public servant, been given to dry prose and a certain academic remove in his writing, which serves him well in the short form world of blogging. Given a greater amount of space, however, some of the chapters lack real zing, despite frequently interesting subject matter. When writing a book, his data needs a narrative, it needs a story, with people, for us to connect to it.

Which is why, when he turns his surgical eye to his own ‘outing’ by James Massola and The Australian in 2010, the book becomes a riveting, and eviscerating, tale of how Australia’s traditional media deal with perceived interlopers. There was a personal appeal also, as his tale of how he became a blogger resonated with mine, and his eventual garnering of an audience – and admission that of course he wanted one – gives me stamina to keep shouting into an empty internet.

Were the book to be boiled down to one overarching theme it would be ‘Journalists: new media is a thing. Deal with it. But I doubt you can.’

Having viewed Gamut’s ‘unmasking’ via Twitter, The Australian and various blogs and news sites at the time, it was sobering to be reminded of the viciousness and sheer vapid pointlessness of the traditional media’s refusal to deal with reality (and yes, I’m using ‘traditional media’ as a catch-all, generic label. I realise that there are many journalists who do not behave in this way, but allow me some license).

Throughout the book, Gamut offers example after example of journalists refusing to countenance criticism from bloggers and social media purely due to the medium, or efforts by journalists to validate their poor coverage of, for instance, the 2010 election campaign. Indeed, it was this excellent post in July 2010 that kicked off the entire fracas.

Here’s a note to all the news directors around the country: Do you want to save some money? Well then bring home your journalists following Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard, because they are not doing anything of any worth except having a round-the-country twitter and booze  tour.

It is a sad thing to say but we could lose 95 percent of the journalists following both leaders and the nation would be none the poorer for it. In fact we would probably be better off because it would leave the 5 percent who have some intelligence and are not there to run their own narrative a chance to ask some decent questions of the leaders. Some questions which might actually reveal who would be the better leader of this country.

The response by senior journalists, such as Samantha Maiden, revolved around variations of ‘what would you know you’re just a blogger’. Gamut succinctly sums up the criticism as ‘just let the professionals do their job’, a phrase actually used by Matthew Franklin in response to Gamut’s criticisms on Twitter. The stunning arrogance and ignorance of that kind of statement sets the blood a-boiling.

And this is, to me, the takeaway message of Gamut’s book. If the ‘professionals’ give us this and this, while these ‘amateurs’ can provide analysis like this and this, the question needs asking: what the hell are we paying these professionals for? Why on earth would anyone fork out actual dollars to get news of the PM’s ears from our august ‘national broadsheet’? News organisations are at a loss as to how to appeal to readers and sell advertising (or make money in any possible way), and are resorting to anything they can, while attempting to maintain the moral high ground, and it offers us nothing.

Today, ‘news’ is a commodity with low to non-existent margins. It’s right there on Twitter, or ABC24, which can deliver events unedited and in real time. The value is in explanation, detail, analysis and, yes, opinion. Right now, the best of that is free, it’s online and, yes, it’s amateur. The sooner the ‘professionals’ realise that, the better off we’ll all be. 

Troll (n): ?

First things first: I in no way endorse, condone, support, or even tolerate the kind of hateful bile that fucktards on the internet spill at those they take a perverse fascination with. The misanthropic, hyper-aggressive, frankly insane tripe that people post on the web disgusts me no end, and I broadly subscribe to many of the arguments made about it.

But when Catherine Deveny is invited back to the Age to write about trolls, I feel like there is something that needs clarifying. As the phrase ‘troll’ has migrated from the discussion boards of Reddit and tech blogs to the mainstream (primarily as news websites have embraced comments as a means of increasing pageviews), so has it been distorted to mean, well, almost anything.

Originally – and frankly, presently, as far as I’m concerned – a troll has a fairly narrow definition. It is someone who, for whatever reason, says or writes things with the express intention of starting a blue.

Not knowing anyone who has admitted to being a troll, I can’t speak with any certainty to their motives, but chances are they’re a little sad, a little lonely and feeling a little irrelevant. So they thrust themselves into other people’s discussions in a manner that basically insists on their being attended to. If a well-behaved child doesn’t get attention, they chuck a tanty.

I wrote for Things Bogans Like for years, and most of the time, was the chief comment moderator, and saw this kind of behaviour first-hand. We had only a few of the kind of hateful ‘I’ll punch your eyes out and fuck your skull’, and they were easily blocked and deleted. Far more common, and harmless, were the trolls. The queen of which was a guy (we assumed) posting as ‘Fiona of Toorak’, who stalked our pages for some time needling other commenters, intentionally dragging their discussions (which could sometimes tend to the highbrow) into the gutter. Any time others took her on, she simply gained strength and fervour. She was a classic troll. The kind who should not be fed, according to the online truism.

What Fiona wasn’t was violent, aggressive or threatening. Simply playful and deeply irritating. Yet today’s debate about trolls entirely overlooks this fact. It simply takes people who are clearly unbalanced, and dedicate themselves to the destruction of those they irrationally decide to hate,  and applies a pat term to dismiss them.

A classic example of ‘trolling’ is right there in Deveny’s piece (quelle fucking surprise). Six paragraphs in, she turns her gaze to the sexism in the whole thing.

Men speak, women are outspoken. Men have opinions, women are opinionated. Men are passionate, women rant. Men have mouths. Women are mouthy.

Having the misfortune of being born with an opinion and a vagina, I am no stranger to these trolls who try to get my attention on an hourly basis.

She is trolling. Taking a debate about behaviour online and giving it a volatile gendered slant. She’s riling people up. It’s why The Age gave her a gig in the first place.

In a related piece of irony, Marieke Hardy posted on her blog, suggesting that there is a distinct difference between the kind of biting insults that she and Deveny have been guilty of in the past bear no relationship to the kind of evil nutcases that the debate is dealing with now. In one way, she’s right. But in several others, it’s deeply disingenuous.

First, she differs greatly from Deveny. Deveny is a provocateur. She tosses of insults with the intent of riling her readers. Hardy always gives the impression that she simply means the insults quite deeply and personally. Not exactly trolling. Hell, I wrote exactly such a piece only last week.

Still, it feels like so much arse-covering for Hardy to disavow any relationship to this week’s events. While trolling and bullying are hardly linked, they do rest at different points of the internet behaviour spectrum, the far end of which we saw leaving a TV personality checked into a psych ward.

When anyone writes on the internet, they need to be aware that if they want to use some fiery language and imagery, they are in some way contributing to the general lack of civility everyone complains about. And anonymity has nothing to do with it. Just look at Bolt, Blair, Deveny, Jones et al. Bloody hell, Graeme Morriss called one of our most respected newsreaders a cow live on radio the other day.

Trolls, as they should really be termed, are harmless. Deveny, while often supremely irritating, is causing no real damage, and is available to retract, clarify or be sacked if she oversteps. Hardy, who I tend to find far wittier and more charming (and less needlessly provocative), is also relatively harmless. We should include them in a discussion about online civility, which would help in dealing with nasty Tweets. But while they need to be aware that they’re in some way involved in the culture of harassment, they’re not closely linked to what the MSM is calling ‘trolls’.

Likewise, the people who harried and harassed Charlotte Dawson to the point of breakdown are not trolls. They are awful, evil people who in all likelihood are not right in the head.

So let’s talk about taking care of these people. But let’s not give them a name that makes them seem harmless. They are not trolls. Trolls were so named, at least in part, because of the dolls that are quite gentle and cute. The word perfectly captured the irritating, but anodyne nature of online irritation. The people we’re talking about a c-nts. Stalkers. Abusers. We need to be vigilant against them.

We should stop calling them trolls.

Crocodile tears

Having been away for several weeks far from the nearest internet station or telegraph pole, it was ferociously depressing to return to reality and spend a week freebasing Australia’s news media in an effort to recalibrate.

Funnily enough though, it really only took about three seconds. On one of the last days of my trip, I stumbled across a TV in Perth showing ABC News Breakfast, on which the story was of the Prime Minister’s recent bump in Newspoll. This just happened to be effectively the same news story as the day I LEFT for my holiday three weeks prior, only shifting ‘bump’ for ‘dip’. The same talking heads, basically the same stock footage, the same politicians spouting the same lines about polls not mattering, and so on.

It was deeply depressing. Depressing to realise that my news fetishism is utterly redundant, that Australia’s news landscape is effectively the same as a US daytime soap, in which one can tune out for three to four months, only to find the same two characters in the same jacuzzi having the same conversation about the same infidelity.

But something more depressing occurred with the handing down of the Houston Report into asylum seekers and the official response to it.

Honestly, we may as well just take the ALP out back and whack it with a shovel for all the moral authority it retains. Time and again, this party that has for decades campaigned as one of the progressive-centre fails on questions of conscience.

There are so many impractical, expedient, callous and contradictory positions in this debate now that it’s hard to know where to start, but here goes.

First and foremost, it’s truly difficult to believe that members of the ALP who are voting for these law changes are doing so for any reason other than fear of electoral punishment, having been comprehensively cornered for a decade by their opponents. Julia Gillard has spoken, several times, about the immoral nature of Howard’s ‘Pacific Solution’, yet now stands astride a policy that happily detains the world’s most disenfranchised individuals for an indefinite period without having committed a crime.

Sinking migrant ship. In the Mediterranean.

ALP MPs who attempt to stay on their moral high horse, claiming that their decision has been a hard one, but they feel they must act to resolve the problem, overlooks the key question: no one can adequately describe what the problem is.

For all the frankly unbelievable displays of tearful compassion on display, it is evident to me that the ‘problem’ is not that people are dying at sea, but that the broad national consensus is that we simply don’t want these poor, needy brown people in our country.

The idea that all of  sudden our politicians are motivated by compassion for people ‘dying at sea’ is beyond belief. People have been dying on crappy boats since before SIEV X in 2001. Ben Pobjie has already said this best. This drastic shift in approach by Labor under the guise of ‘compassion’ simply shows that when events conspire to keep the issue of asylum seekers in the public mind, even Labor’s ‘left’ feel compelled to ditch their morals for fear of electoral reprisals.

The real question of what the ‘problem’ of asylum seekers is, is the debate that actually needs having, yet is one that our politicians studiously avoid, knowing that they simply lack the ability to solve it in an electorally expedient manner.

Presently, the problem is people ‘dying at sea’. The sudden change in rhetoric to compassion does little to shield its true meaning – that we simply don’t want these people. The ‘problem’ is ‘foreigners coming unbidden’. The solution, therefore, becomes, stopping their arrival, hence Stopping The Boats.

But going back to first principles, let us reconsider the problem. It is in no way a practical problem for us to accept more migrants. We have a labour shortage, and long-term capacity constraints that are best solved by a vibrant migration program. The ‘problem’, as it stands, is that we have regions in Asia, Africa and the Middle East with enormous numbers of displaced people and refugees. These people have few places to go that have effective resettlement programs. In the Australian instance, Afghans and Sri Lankans cannot seek asylum in Indonesia or Malaysia.

They cannot get work, or educate their children. They can only wait for an indefinite period of time in camps, in the hope that they will be accepted by another country like us. If you’re in Jakarta somewhere facing this, and the prospect of constant harrassment by police and locals, the prospect of a detention centre on Christmas Island (or Nauru for that matter) seems appealing. Indefinite detention in a camp with food and support is better than the threat of having your tent burned down by corrupt local police.

In other words, there’s no real guarantee that this new plan will do much to deter anyone. If the prospect of death at sea won’t deter you, why on Earth would imprisonment? So, even in the face of this new regime, the answer remains a no-brainer. You get on the boat. And even if we manage to stifle the approach of the boats to our shores, the ‘problem’ doesn’t go away. Asylum seekers don’t just vanish because we don’t accept them. If they did, then perhaps the ‘compassion’ argument will carry weight. Instead, these asylum seekers can simply die elsewhere. Out of sight, out of mind.

One final thought: the fact that we routinely, and thoughtlessly, use the word ‘processed’ to discuss the manner in which we treat these people speaks volumes. Would it be too much to ask to stop using the word ‘processed’ to discuss human beings?

It’s a measure of Australia’s collective conscience that we measure the success of our refugee program by how many people we can keep away. Irrespective of how well the ALP have ‘managed’ the ‘economy’ since their election, their complete forfeiture of any claim to moral authority is a sad indictment of a once proud political establishment that occasionally, just occasionally, would do the right thing because it’s the right thing.

At least Gillard’s ‘problem’ of having to deal with the asylum seekers issue is solved. I hope that helps her sleep at night.

Off the front page

This morning, a report on ABC’s AM program detailed the release of a new report by Melbourne University, demonstrating that the past 50 years have been the warmest Australia has experienced in the past millennium.

That’s 1,000 years.

I’m not going to waste too much time going over the nuts and bolts; there are those far better equipped to do that. And besides, the article in question does more than enough.

No, the pertinent thing to consider here is how little attention it received. In essence, beyond this lone ABC report, it seems to have vanished without trace.

For example, on The Age‘s website today, it was entirely absent, while in prominent position were stories on Kim Kardashian and some fool girl cruelling her future career prospects by suing her old school for not making her smarter.

Beyond these issues is the deeply distressing decline in standards on the websites of the Fairfax broadsheets, but that’s a different day’s post.

And of course, the pièce de résistance, this:

Could this be a sign of science fatigue in the Australian media? If so, this is a fairly terrible thing. It suggests that serious, sober research has become passe unless there is a vocal opponent ready to go toe-to-toe. It’s bad enough that we have a situation that allows for only conflict-based reporting on climate change, but when fairly disturbing news such as this disappears because the public’s over all such things, it’s a worry.

If consumers are sick of reading about climate science, and only are shown it when there is ‘conflict’, it shows a massive disconnect from reality. If reports demonstrating the prevalence and dangers of climate change are so common as to no longer be newsworthy, why, then, is the public so apparently unswayed by the ‘uncertain’ science?

Then again, perhaps its best that these kinds of stories simply vanish for a while. If science isn’t in the news, and the carbon price kicks in and nothing happens, perhaps the world will simply move on for a while, and the temperature around the climate debate can lower for a while (pun entirely intentional).

At least in the meantime we can all look at hideous photos from cricketers’ weddings.