Friday, July 18, 2014

Musings on Flight MH17

The downing of Flight MH17 over Ukraine has transfixed Australia, making a distant conflict very real. It’s not just the Australians killed, the count here has risen to 28, but also the loss of delegates coming to the international AIDS conference.

One interesting feature of the coverage was its sheer speed, combining traditional and new media. The information provided effectively framed discussion. It also made almost impossible the task of the Russian ambassador to Australia in arguing that the incident was the responsibility of the Ukrainian Government.

It will take time for all this to work through. We need to give it that time. Meantime, it has changed the political dynamics in ways that none of us can see.


John Stitch said...

Hi Jim - The reporting of the news of this tragic incident highlights pretty much all that is wrong with the current Australian media, particularly the ABC 2 and 24 channels. I, like just about everyone else got as much detail as was released at around 7:00 am this morning. And it was pretty clear from the video that apart from a few locals and fire men putting out spot fires around the crash site there wasn't much happening. That is, nothing had been established as a crash site with serious investigative teams at hand. So what's my point?
My point is, this constant need for programs to pad it out. To fill in the gaps where nothing of substance exists. To call on aviation experts who based on the same stuff we are seeing give authoritative opinions on the Boeing 777 on surface to air missiles etc etc.
I believe that the diminishing standards of presentation and content can be directly related to the ongoing funding cuts to the ABC. Its obviously a cut-to-the-bone operation where cue cards are misread, where cuts to live scenes fall over and where someone like Virginia Trioli puts forth incessant homespun chatter and witticisms masquerading as news.
All to fill a void.
I don't blame the presenters as they have to make do with what they have, or more often the case have not. However the padding out of these and other stories diminishes the importance of such events. Why roll out another (retired) expert to tell us the bleeding obvious. And the other stuff obviously borrowed from the commercial channels "quick lets find someone who has been affected by this tragedy, or a neighbour will do".
I reiterate my point that the standards the ABC set for so many years has eroded to the point where I might as well get my fix off "Kochy" or one of the other morning show celebs. It's like someone in ABC management has applied the 80/20 rule. 80% content 20% fact. Finally it's our ABC and should be funded accordingly. But I suspect it's done one too many well deserved hatchet jobs on those who hold the purse strings and is now paying the price.

John Stitch

Anonymous said...

Who or what is "Kochy"?


Jim Belshaw said...

Good morning John, kvd. A "Kochy" is David Koch.

John, I have some sympathy with your comment at couple of levels: the need to fill space drives; budget cuts are affecting the capacity to report. I am also concerned at the way the continuous coverage affects political responses.

But with all that, this was/is an evolving tragedy. It is also a tragedy particularly suited to the blog reporting format as adopted in the main stream media. That was what I followed in this case rather than the talking heads.

Evan said...

I've been surprised with the speed of the politics - from the coverage I've seen it seems who did it is still very unclear.

Anonymous said...

This is pretty powerful stuff:

It was the statement by the Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister that stilled the room.

“Since Thursday, I’ve been thinking how horrible the final moments of their lives must have been, when they knew the plane was going down," he said in loud, clear English, pausing once, perhaps to gather himself. “Did they lock hands with their loved ones? Did they hold their children close to their hearts? Did they look each other in the eyes, one final time, in a wordless goodbye? We will never know.”

As he spoke Ms Power, elbows on the table in front of her, briefly pressed her face into her open palms. Ms Bishop gazed across the room at him as he said: “I particularly want to thank Julie Bishop personally. Julie, we are in this together.”

He spoke devastatingly about the desecration of the site. “The last couple of days we have received very disturbing reports of bodies being moved about and looted for their possessions,” he said. “Just imagine for one minute, not as representatives of your countries, but as fathers and mothers, just imagine that one day you lose your loved one and then two or three days later see some thug steal their wedding ring from their remains.

“To my dying day I will not understand that it took so much time for the rescue workers to be allowed to do their difficult jobs and that human remains should be used in a political game. I hope the world will not have to witness this again, any time in the future”

- from a report on the UN resolution, reference here:


John Stitch said...

Hi Jim – Is it just me or are others beginning to smell what looks like an attempt to use this tragedy as a means of foisting Foreign Minister Bishop and Prime Minister Abbott into the global political arena at time when Abbott’s rating is at rock bottom. Of course none would dare publicly suggest this but I am a bit sick and tired of the continuing meaningless sound bites put forward by Bishop. “I’ve been speaking with so and so and he’s assured me…”. Let’s for a moment look at some facts.

In 2002, 88 Australians were killed in the first of the Bali bombings from a total of 202. In 2005 in the second attack in Bali there were 20 killed including 2 Australians. Assistance was sought by the Indonesian Government in both these instances. This mainly took the form of humanitarian aid and forensic specialist teams. It was a low key approach which cemented relations between the AFP and Indonesian police. Downer to his credit got on with job that needed to be done. I don’t remember the type of grand standing we have here. But of course it’s working. Writer for the National Affairs Phillip Hudson, “Tony Abbott’s strong response to the murder of Australians aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 has delivered the equal-biggest rise in his personal ratings outside an election campaign.”

It’s pretty clear from what we’ve seen that we know what happened. Surrounding the area with AFP is not going to make any difference. Why send them there in the first place? And for god’s sake Ms. Bishop why make them a target by arming them? This is madness, should the war hardened rebels take umbrage to a bunch of lightly armed foreign coppers attempting to control their area then I suspect we can add them to the body count. And what I also suspect is that this is another attempt to showcase our (the Government’s) determination to be seen to be doing something.

Let the Dutch and Malaysians get on with job. By all means offer as much assistance as is sought. But stop strutting around the world stage as if you hold the license to moral outrage Ms. Bishop.

So maybe the last word should go to Monika Attard writing for Hoopla on April 2.
“Out of the unseemly spectacle of the muddled and misinformed search for the blighted Boeing 777 (MH370) by a handful of Asian governments, Tony Abbott has emerged showing statesmanship and a compassion which asylum seekers wanting to come to Australia might only dream of being shown.”

John Stitch

Evan said...

I agree with John about the unseemly haste and wanting to be seen to be doing something.

According to Poll Bludger on Crikey, it hasn't lead to much increase in Abbott's popularity.

Perhaps it is now starting to come apart. Those details again stuffing up the sound bites.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Evan and JS.

John, I had to think about your comment.

My first reaction to the approach adopted to the tragedy by the Australian Government was expressed in this post. Not sure you saw it -

At that point I saw the reaction in terms of counter productive posturing. I largely remain of that view.

I thought that Australia played a useful role in getting the Security Council resolution.

I had no problems with the subsequent decision to send police and technical support. That's consistent with what we did before. I did have a problem with some of the language used by the Australian Government, because (among other things the Government was talking about doing things over which, in fact, it had no control.

Another issue is the way the Australian Government played into the hands of the waring sides. All very messy. From the Dutch English language press, the Dutch Government seems to have gone through a somewhat similar process but perhaps more discretely.