Topic: big media
Everyone enjoys Media Watch 'until they are on it'. Now we ask did the good and formidable Media Watch fall at the last hurdle in 2009?
Perhaps Media Watch won't enjoy this post either. A rolled gold case of apparent conflict of interest arose on the ABC national news machine this last 2 weeks. But Media Watch last episode for the year on Monday night didn't manage to cover half of it. Let us explain.
There was a cascade of embarrasing items on MW about Big Media in all it's diversity and MW would have have completed a strong showing with a swipe at it's own, you know for 'balance'.
What was the omission? Well it's this. ABC news constantly under report the actual metric of the West Atlas Oil spill over the last 10 weeks: A disaster putting strain on relations with East Timor, and Indonesian West Timor, fishing industry in north west Australia and environmentalists everywhere.
We could quote compelling chapter and verse of ABC alternatively going strong on the issue, and yet hashing the relevant metric on this story, and quite a bit is on SAM micro news here this last 2 weeks. But let's just go with this:
Meet The Press on Network 10 compere Paul Bongiorno last Sunday 8 am show refers to the 'four and half million litre oil spill' while interviewing guest Minister Peter Garrett. The figure is correct as a minimum based on the estimate conceded by company PTTEP at 400 barrels a day, much lower than some other estimates too.
The same morning the ABC repeats in their 7.45am Sydney radio news (which covers Garrett home seat where he is most accountable, a coastal seat highly sensitised to oil spills) the wrong assertion of an oil spill of 'hundreds of thousands of litres'. Wrong number, wrong scale of disaster, wrong level of scrutiny and accountability.
Coincidentally, and we really do hope so, the ABC at this very same time since 4 November 2009 are promoting a funding pitch to the federal government to allow expansion of news services to Asia Pacific neighbours - like East Timor, West Timor, Indonesia etc. They have a good case too, unless their integrity of news is questionable:
The ABC and Australia’s strategic policy — playing our part Crikey Subscriber Friday, 6 November 2009
Would neighbours get the wrong metric on West Altas oil spill? Last Sunday morning ABC radio prime news slot was only the last prompting several telephone calls to correct their ongoing errors. Calls direct to the radio news room from this writer. Direct to the office of the director of news also. So ABC can't say they aren't notified of the mistake in a corporate sense if not the MW show specifically.
Media Watch effectively fell at the last hurdle. And people (read parliamentarian(s)) know the ABC keep falling over the metric for the West Altas oil spill this last several weeks.
On 21st October 2009 sworn evidence was given to the Senate Estimates Committee by Fed Dept of Environment suggesting the oil spill could be as high as 2,000 barrels a day. That puts the oil spill at potentially 23.5 million litres, as if 4.5 million was not bad enough. And the ABC say, wrongly, it's hundreds of thousands of litres.
Heads should roll.
Postscript: The Greens have issued this presser yesterday:
Govt must investigate oil impacts on Indonesian fishers -
Greens release video footage by Indonesian fishers of oil-like substance and dying fish
MEDIA RELEASE - Tuesday 10 November 2009
The Australian Greens have reiterated their calls for the Rudd Government to immediately send investigators to Indonesia to look into claims of impacts from the Montara oil spill on Indonesian fishing communities.
"The DVD sent to us this week by the West Timor Care Foundation is just one of many reports in the past several weeks about impacts of the oil spill on the people of Indonesia," the Greens Marine Issue Spokesperson, Senator Rachel Siewert said.
"Today, we again call on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to publicly commit to investigating these claims, including testing samples of oil that have been collected in Indonesian waters to determine whether the oil has come from the Montara leak.
"The video appears to show that oil is impacting on legal fishing grounds for Indonesian fishers.
"We have also heard reports of oil much closer to the Indonesian coast during the past several weeks - and as yet these reported sightings of oil and dead fish are apparently yet to be investigated by Australian authorities.
"We hear that fish is an important protein to many poor villages on the coast of Timor and Rote - if people are unable to fish, their diets, as well as incomes, suffer," Senator Siewert continued.
"We therefore cannot ignore the potential seriousness of this for our neighbour.
"The Greens intend to supply this DVD, as well as any other information that may be relevant, to the Government's inquiry - as soon as advice about how submissions may be made becomes available."
Note to editors: The DVD footage is available on request.