Sunday 4 November 2007

Very limited news: strong and silent

How boring it must be, on occasion, to work as a junior editor in the Murdoch Empire... waiting for directives from on high.

Sometimes it must be like waiting for a pin to drop. Here's a current example...

The UN General Assembly, last Thursday, overwhelmingly approved a resolution, proposed by the kiwis, calling for all nuclear weapons to be taken off high alert.

One might anticipate a vote like that in the General Assembly. Not too many people enjoy the thrill of living a few minutes away from incineration at any moment. Most nations, even their leaders, aren't utterly suicidal or blatantly psychopathic.

Most, but unfortunately, not quite all. Three countries voted against the resolution. They were the USA, Britain and France. You can read some of explanations given by our 'closest allies'.
Australia abstained. Nice to know the Howard Government doesn't actively oppose nuclear weapons being taken off hair-trigger alert. It just can't be bothered to vote either way.
The story has had a sprinkle of attention in the Australian media. Greens Senator Christine Milne launched a blistering attack on the Government this morning, which has been carried by the ABC. Doubtless the story has time to run. It may even become big news in Australia... but I have some doubts.

Why, in any case, why isn't it a big story already? After all, the UN vote was last Thursday (Friday our time). The Times of India ran it November 1st. The denizens of Tehran learnt the news by the second of November. Today is Sunday morning, November 4th. I noticed no mention this morning from Australia's professional political chatterers.

A few minutes ago, I conducted a quick search on Google News, searching for the terms: un + vote + New + Zealand + resolution

I archived the results, because Google News listings change in real time.

Anyhow, my search - at that particular moment - tells an interesting story and suggests a possible answer.

There were nearly 100 web references by this morning, but as far as I could see, none of Mr Murdoch's major Australian newspapers seem to have run the story at all. It's true that (Murdoch's extreme pro-war US News Channel) Fox News ran the AP feed story. Also, in this country, the major Fairfax papers (the Melbourne Age and Sydney Morning Herald) also carried the AAP feed.

But nothing in The Australian, Courier Mail, or any of the hundreds of regional papers owned by News Ltd, such as most everything we read up in FNQ. Nothing in the London Times. Very little, indeed, in the New Zealand media – with honorable exceptions.

I must emphasise, this is the result obtained when searching via Google News on the web. Living in the hills of FNQ, it's not possible to conduct exhaustive media surveys.

Perhaps those who actually buy News Ltd Newspapers could say if the story is featured prominently in those printed rags... and simply hasn't made it yet onto their websites or Google News. It's possible also that the search terms I applied didn't capture all the relevant stories. Perhaps other readers could do some checking themselves?

However, if my initial analysis holds up, how about some letters to editors? Up here in FNQ, we could write to the Cairns Post Editor. Even ‘anons’ can join in. I suggest they might like to copy this:-

  • "Dear Sir/Madam,
    Please explain why the story about New Zealand's UN resolution to have all nuclear weapons taken off hair-trigger – and the Australian Government's decision not to support this - was missing from last Saturday’s newspaper?
    Yours sincerely,
    Anon, FNQ.

Article by Sid Walker

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