Shhh, MP’s are pissheads + why we need bloggers

September 11, 2008

New South Wales is the political gift state that keeps on giving, this time with the newly sworn in Police Minister (3 days into the job) being forced to resign for dancing semi-naked in (the NSW) Parliament House and simulating a sex act on a female MP. Just for an extra touch of class, Matt Brown is said to have yelled out to the daughter of the MP he was on top of “Look at this, I’m titty f&^king your mother.”

Let’s just say I’ve seen worse from elected representatives 🙂

Here’s the little secret though you won’t read in the press: most MP’s are pissheads. Maybe not all, because you do get your occasional teetotaler who takes the job very seriously, or the god botherer who has decided that gods will doesn’t involve a $40 bottle of red, or if you’re in the ALP, a cartoon of beer. But a significant portion of them are, and probably a majority.

It could be the Australian culture of drinking on speed, a casual drink turning into more under the pressure cooker of politics. No matter what you may think of politicians, there is one given that should never be in dispute: they work extremely long hours, and rarely get a proper break. That they can kick back with some staffers or fellow MPs at the end of a day in their Parliamentary offices in Canberra, Melbourne, Perth or which ever state they are in may be their only escape.

Side note: in the last Federal Parliament, two WA Liberal MP’s owned vineyards. Mal Washer knows how to make a decent wine, Prosser’s wine was like vinegar, at least for the first two vintages. But I digress.

There is a serious drinking culture in politics, not just at the branch level. Parties such as the one that has surfaced today are legend among Canberra staffers in particular (I only did a few Canberra trips when I was working for Slippery Pete in the late 90s), although 99% of them will never surface in the press.

Let me tell you why these stories rarely surface: because it’s not uncommon for the journalists to be joining in the fun. If MP’s are pissheads, a good portion of the older members of the Australian press pack are permanently fortified. And lets face it, you don’t rat on your mates, do you?

Does anyone really believe that no one in the press knew of the Matt Brown story before today?

Talking of damaged brain cells, Mark Day has gone on an anti-blog rant in The Oz today. According to Day, journalism can only be practiced by journalists working for private companies that are profitable, because apparently blogs don’t make money and don’t employ journalists. Better still: all blogs are bad because (OMG) commenters on blogs can be nasty. Where do you start on that logic?

Better still, given the only news being created is from newspapers, it shouldn’t go online until later

Branded newspaper sites will hold an advantage over others, such as telcos and search engines, because they generate news. It makes sense to me that more newspapers will follow the lead of The Philadelphia Inquirer by reverting to a model where the news stories it breaks appear first in print. Why, if there is value attached to revealing these stories, should they be given away firston the net? They?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ll find their way there soon enough.

And of course, the decline in newspaper circulations is our fault, not the fault on the newspapers themselves…

If not enough of us are willing to support the costly process of maintaining a vibrant, democracy-enhancing fourth estate, whose fault is that?

Let me answer that Mark: it’s your fault.

You can read any of the various other pieces I’ve written in relation to this debate, so I won’t repeat the arguments again now, but I will say this: the notion of heritage media being the last vestige of virtue in a sea of swill is complete and utter bollocks. The difference between a blogger and journalist is that a blogger knows he is biased, a journalist pretends that they’re not. Journalism in this country, particularly political coverage, has long since been the play thing of factions and power brokers, and we never see the full picture in a story. The drunk journalist filling his glass from the drunk MP is more compromised than 99% of all bloggers on the planet. We need bloggers to keep journalism honest, and to fill in the gaps where heritage media is regularly letting us down. We also need bloggers around so there’s someone to cover the news when the bulk of heritage media ceases to exist.

5 responses to Shhh, MP’s are pissheads + why we need bloggers

  1. Sounds just like the issues that many sports have with its drinking culture!

  2. I sort of read it differently. I thought his point was that there is no substitute for first hand reporting whether by bloggers or journalists. First hand reporting is expensive and time consuming. It involves travelling to meet people and see things and being available at any time of the day to do so.

    A lot of blogging (and journalism for that matter) is just the recycling of secondhand news.

    There's no substitute for original research and to do that you need time and money.

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