“The news that Abbott has turned to an ABC journalist to head his press activities is a jaw-dropper of the first order. Not to belittle new recruit Mark Simkin, but does Abbott really understand the psychology of the modern newsroom? If he did understand it, he would also know this isn’t the way to go.
“First, he needs to grasp that journos no longer exist as he probably imagines them. Your modern newsroom is almost devoid of experience, maturity and seasoned talent, which is expensive to hire. What you find are kids in their twenties just a few years out of uni and convinced that their job isn’t to report what happened, it is to “interpret” what events mean. Thus, when Man Monis held those people captive, the first second-day stories were about the mythical “backlash” against Muslims. You see, a life and death human drama isn’t the story these days, it’s the more important “issues” it raises which only a journalism course graduate can identify. Notice how quickly follow-up coverage of the Martin Place incident withers and vanishes. Noting that a minority of dangerous Islamic fundamentalists exists within our society doesn’t suit the narrative so the topic gets buried as soon as possible.
Same with Abbott. If you polled a pool of random journalists – they’re unsupervised kids, remember – they would tell you he hates, women, gays, refugees, trees etc. So every story is reported that way, with that slant. See the story on Fairfax sites yesterday about Abbott’s warning that a terror incident is likely? Notice how the Fairfax babies found four experts, only one of whom thought Abbott might be trying to capitalise politically? Well guess which expert was featured prominently! For God’s sake, doesn’t Abbott realise that the ABC and Fairfax now recruit their baby journalists from Crikey! That should tell him everything he needs to know.
Abbott is never going to recover his standing with the public while he plays the media game the way they want him to play it. He doesn’t need a member of the Fourth Estate to soft-soap and butter-up the gallery. What he needs is a head-kicker who calls them to account. The next time Mark Kenny slags Abbott for wearing the wrong footwear to the White House, he needs someone (who doesn’t care if the gallery likes him or not) to point out that Rudd wore the same sort of boots and Kenny didn’t say a word.
Morrison gets it right and Pyne is always ready to push back. Those two and a few others know they have to win over the public, not the gallery, which will never, ever be sympathetic to a conservative unless they are breaking ranks and crossing the floor.
If Abbott can’t figure out that the gallery will always want his guts for garters, that he will never convince them he is a decent bloke, he doesn’t deserve to be Prime Minister. He’s not simple but his problem is: if he doesn’t fight back, he’ll keep losing.”