Over the last week or so I’ve watched the news in Australia and followed the approach to the Victorian State elections. I’ve noticed Murdoch press outlets seem to denigrate Dan Andrews, the incumbent State Premier, at any opportunity and, for weeks leading up to the election, media has been suggesting Andrews would lose in a landslide because of his stance on Covid zero which led to an upswell in unpopularity.
Except he won and he won well.
Now, media begrudgingly accept that, their narrative was not the reality; what a surprise! Look carefully at these words, the media narrative was that Labor, Andrews, party, would lose and lose badly, the narrative was that Andrews was unpopular and his term as Labor leader as well as Premier of the State would be over. But it isn’t.
How is this possible, how did all the media outlets get it so very wrong?
The answer is simple, they didn’t get it wrong, they weren’t reporting facts to the public, they were attempting to sway public opinion to their point of view and, there’s a valuable lesson for Australians coming out of this.
In Victoria, they failed for one reason only, because they were reporting about Victoria to Victorians.
But Victorians know better, they live there; they know Dan Andrews had told them the truth and, despite media reports to the contrary, they couldn’t find a lie. Andrews told them that lockdowns for Covid were absolutely necessary and, while most people didn’t like it, they knew he was right. They didn’t need media to tell them what they thought, they needed media to give them the news and when they knew they weren’t getting any, they ignored media.
Media weren’t reporting facts, they were reporting stories. Victorians knew this but people outside of Victoria believed the stories. This all helped sell newspapers and gain clicks but can’t possibly help their credibility when they get it so wrong.
ABC, News Corp Ltd and others are now suggesting the problem wasn’t their analysis or reporting, nor was it the success of the Labor campaign, it was the failure of the opposition to capitalise on the misery of the lockdowns which, they say, was caused by Dan Andrews’ policies.
So, Australians can learn from this: when you live in a region and you know how your own life is, then you know what you’re reading is misinformation, you may not know why, but you certainly know it is.
Which begs the question: Why does anyone believe anything they read in the news? And the answer to this is one of modern day’s most interesting dichotomies. We don’t; almost every person you ask will tell you they don’t believe what’s in the papers, unless of course, it’s something we want to believe; or it’s something we know nothing about and can’t verify.
I live in China. I know Press write negative stories every day about the country. Before I came to live here, I was fully aware that the Chinese government were authoritarian and the place was a police state, I knew there were predatory practices going on and people in China were unhappy with their government: I knew all this because I’d read it in news and seen it on the TV and internet so, it must have been true — except, like Victoria, it wasn’t. And today, people in Sydney, Brisbane and all-around Australia, people who don’t live in Victoria, are wondering how the information was so wrong.
It’s the same with China. Most Australians don’t live in China but a few of us do, most never even visit China but, when they do, they find, as I did that the media reports on China are not true. Just as Dan Andrews was not at all unpopular, China is not at all authoritarian or oppressive and predatory practices aren’t part of Chinese culture but, most importantly, as proven by Harvard University and others, most people like, respect and appreciate their government.
So, next time you’re reading a media report telling you what’s wrong with China, just remember, those same media reporters and their editors and the publishers have been lying to you about pretty much everything you do know about, why would they tell you the truth about anything you don’t know about.