Tim Blair


New Criterion



Saturday, May 31, 2003
HOW SHOULD WE establish Auntie's bias? asks reader Dan T.

... it does seem to me that bias should be measured
using multiple methods. The easiest approach is to simply analyse
transcript-based materials - this is what the Minister's people have
done. This method alone is far too weak, and our comrades at the ABC
are far too experienced and knowledgeable to allow themselves to be
nailed on this basis alone

No doubt the Alston document is limited. You might hope, Dan, that somewhere among the hordes of teachers of "media studies" in our fringe universities there might be one or two capable of a detailed analysis of Auntie's coverage and relating it to the body of knowledge available to Auntie's writers and presenters at the time the material was written. I don't.

The great advantage of just presenting Auntie's responses to the Iraq war is this. The war's outcome makes it clear that the spin in the AM scripts has its origin in the prejudices of those putting the reports together, not in the events. Had the outcome been otherwise we would have had no alternative but the kind of time-slice analysis you want, and establishing credibility would have been very difficult.

The Alston approach should be extended to the serial commentators we all love so much; the Gastropod, Max-weird and Pastor Lane. Let's document how they stand in terms of balance and objectivity.

And I know who should do it. The ABC, under the direction of a Board committee using outside talent as well as those "managers" who write the policies that no-one observes.