What I griped about yesterday — journalistic presentation of contentious facts without accompanying attribution — seems to have become house style at The Australian.
A report today on terrorism readiness begins:
AUSTRALIAN cities lack the staying power of Leningrad – most would run out of food and other necessities within four days if transport systems were disrupted.
The inhabitants of Australian and US cities are no longer self-reliant, unlike the Soviet citizens of Leningrad, which was encircled by the Nazis for 29 months from September 8, 1941.
You get to the third par before there is an attribution, and a non-specific one, at that.
Further down the par the source is identified, along with an assumptive opinion that encouraged the journalist to draw the conclusion offered as fact in the intro:
“The average city in the United States, which I’m sure is like yours, has about four days’ food on the shelves in the supermarkets,” said Dr McIntyre, head of the Centre for Homeland Security at Texas A&M University.
Has Dr McIntyre ever been to an Australian city? Did he know he was being interviewed for publication in Australia’s national broadsheet?
While this style of intro might be sensational and attention-grabbing, it assumes you will get the truth of the piece by reading further.
And to “assume” something, as a crusty old editor once told me, makes an ass out of u and me.
Oh no! Literacy’s equivalent of the blowfly — the greengrocer’s apostrophe — has infested The Oz’s editorial.
As the fallout from the Pope’s speech on violence, religion and reason reverberate’s around the world, the ripples of a mini academic jihad sparked by Queensland academic Merv Bendle continue to spread.
Charles Murton would agree that Mr Murdoch needs the editorial equivalent of Sister Mary Philamyanga and her hardwood persuader at his flagship.