Topic: big media
Our penulitmate post is mainly about describing the ALP Govt and Coalition Opposition bipartisan PR choreography to downplay the very real oil spill disaster ongoing off the Kimberley Coast of north west Australia.
But another troubling aspect is that the ABC Unleashed website appeared to be blocking genuine public interest information from their coverage of that story, such as:
1. The rate of spillage at 2,000 barrels a day according Senate Estimates, not 300, 400, or 1300 barrels a day, an upper figure that vindicates the Green Party despite slurs to the contrary;
2. The choreography of Minister Garrett announcements around a protection of large area of NT land at low risk, to offset damaging reports of extreme actual vandalism of smaller but increasingly large area at West Atlas oil spill. Particularly as West Atlas is a lesson on future of $50 billion Gorgon project likely to destroy class A nature reserve Barrow Island.
This contrasts with the story on Crikey.com.au by the same author Gilly Llewellyn of World Wildlife Fund, which by contrast does allow the same analysis to go through in the comment string.
Such biased gatekeeping at Unleashed is not what taxpayers expect or pay for. Which is why we keep subscribing to Crikey.com.au because it has pioneered fiesty news reportage on a commercial model.
It now appears today 28th October, a day after the profile story was posted on Unleashed, and we started kicking up a stink on the Crikey parallel comment string, that the comments posted by this author have been allowed through at the ABC site. But why the delay? Maybe it's normal work schedule at Unleashed. We do hope so. The trouble is we have a distinct memory of comments being posted after our submission with ours deleted. But now they go forward. Mmm.
To their credit at Unleashed we now see they have run this comment now too which is harrowing:
"Hudson Godfrey :
27 Oct 2009 8:20:50pm
One of the interesting aspects of this is that comparisons should and could be drawn. So I've looked up some figures that may help establish some kind of perspective. A barrel of oil is 42 US gallons and this spill if it continues for around 90 days will if at 400 barrels a day as claimed have spilled 1.5 million US gallons. That number which I calculated myself is simply an easy source of comparison with Exxon Valdez which spilled 10.8 million gallons according to Wikipedia. It will have been a very large catastrophe and and unmitigated disaster in anyone's terms, but clearly not quite as large as some of the worst tanker spills. I just thought I'd like people to know at what level environmental damage can be balanced by some at least against petrol dollars."
End quote. However at 5 times that spillage rate at 2,000 barrels a day, which is the more correct estimate, the Exxon Valdez headline by Crikey.com.au is very very apt. Assuming the numeracy above - 70 days since leak x 2,000 barrels per day leakage x 42 gallons per barrel, we will be at 5.88 million US gallons in 70 days right now.
A shocking situation. Half Exxon Valdez disaster and counting.
Now we understand why the Rudd Govt are going the coastal protection tub thump re climate as a PR diversion. So cynical.