Is Mainstream media a reliable guide to the 2010 Australian Federal Election?

If you’ve been following any of the mainstream media election coverage here in Australia (stuff in the usual papers, radio and TV programs) you’ve no doubt got a good understanding of what is going to happen on election day. The mainstream media synopsis thus far is that a) Julia Gillard got off to a good start; b) Tony Abbott has established himself and that c) it seems likely that the coalition will be elected to run the country. Unless you’ve been looking at other mainstream media which says that a) Julia Gillard got off to a good start; b) Tony Abbott came flying up to and then past Julia Gillard and then c) Julia Gillard edged her way back in front but that it is still likely for her to lose the election. So where does that leave our understanding? I’m reminded of a similar series of events leading up to the Victorian State Government election about 8 years ago…

In almost every major paper and on almost every TV current affairs program the same thing was being said – Jeff Kennett would be returned to power, the only question was whether he would increase his majority. Every newspaper poll published said the same thing. All of the media and political experts said the same thing. And then something unusual happened. He wasn’t

So how reliable is mainstream media? To look at why the ‘experts’ got it so badly wrong you need to consider where they get their stories from – each other.

That is no insignificant fact. One journalist gets a hint of a story, runs with it and all others jump on board – right now any information is viable and any possible story is viable, hence this bruhaha over the ‘not Kevin leaks’ story that ran for a while. Most media outlets were running the story just in case it was true. So if the experts get their information from each other (and that includes the Party Pollsters who should know better), and they were wrong when the Kennett Government was ejected in Victoria, what are the odds that we might be witnessing a similar process now and what can you do about it?

For starters you need to find different information and you need to go where the experts are NOT going. That means you need to talk to people in the street, your neighbours, friends, anyone who isn’t an expert and find out what they think.

Here’s what I’ve discovered: The Boat People issue is of almost no consequence. The failure to act on Climate Change was appalling. People are 50/50 on this mining tax thing – on one hand they kind of bought the idea that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea and on the other hand they are mighty concerned that the Mining Companies could dictate to our Government. The Greens finally sound like they have a few more idea than they have in the past, especially when it comes to business and maybe this is their year.

So who do you count on? Counter Instinctive behaviour tells me that when all of the experts are saying the same thing based on the same sources, the risk of being wrong increases. I’m listening elsewhere. On a personal note, may we get the Government we deserve

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