Recently, Channel Nine told us that a Melbourne grandmother had been jailed for a hit and run incident. These days, we hear about errant grandmothers quite often. A Sydney grandmother is convicted of fraud. A Perth “grandmother of three” is arrested for drink-driving. Two grandmothers from Adelaide are detained in Malaysia for possession of drugs. It’s an epidemic of granny crime! No doubt there are grandfathers dealing drugs and driving under the influence but we seldom hear mention in reports of court proceedings and crime that describe them as such.
What is it about the acquisition of a second generation of offspring that drives the media to stress the link between elderly women and the outlaw life? Why is it that men appear to be immune to this effect? And what can be done about it? Married, as I am, to a grandmother, am I at risk of any standard-issue marital tiff becoming something more serious? A carving knife between ribs three and four, perhaps? If Dr Jane Bone, fresh from her ground-breaking research on the “disempowering” influence of child-size chairs, is wondering where her next research grant is coming from, this could be the answer.
I’m not sure what social imperative TV news readers (and writers) think they are addressing with this gratuitous type-casting. There are other infractions, however, that are more insidious.
Here’s one example. On a recent Saturday both Nine and ABC News reporters described Senator Lucy Gichuhi as having ‘defected’ to the Liberal Party. Given that Senator Gichuhi was sitting as an independent, how could she possibly be described as ‘defecting’ from anything. The word ‘defection’ has a negative connotation, and no doubt the intent of our generally left-leaning MSM journalists is to somehow taint the good senator by saddling her with this pejorative simply because she had the bad taste to formalize her political leanings.
The banner headline of the first news item on Prime TV’s Hobart evening news on Australia Day told us “TASMANIAN’S DIVIDED”. I’m not sure if writing these headlines counts as journalism but, if so, the mis-use of the apostrophe confirms the further decline of that jaded profession. That’s by the way. The real offence in the headline is, of course, its contribution to the ‘fake news’ genre.
The main story of the day was the celebration of Australia Day by countless thousands of Australians on beaches and in backyards all over the country, the acceptance of Australian citizenship by thousands of new Australians in citizenship ceremonies and so on. Given that there will always be a minority of Australians against mainstream opinion on almost any subject – in this case a very small minority – are we in a constant state of division? How does the appearance of a noisy minority of some 2,000 (estimated) activists in Hobart constitute a division within the wider population?
The tendency for news readers to editorialize or slyly comment (particularly on the subjects of Donald Trump or Tony Abbott) is far too common an abrogation of journalistic standards, and not just at the ABC. And here some caution is in order. With all those desperado grannies on the loose, who knows when some gun-toting matriarch might decide to set straight erring members of the Fourth Estate?