Media Blame NBN For Everything

The recent Finklestein Independent Media Inquiry delivered recommendations in regards to changes to media governance within Australia, with particular emphasis on media standards and the mechanisms by which those standards are applied.

While I don’t wish to get into a discussion with respect to the pros and cons of the report, the general response from the media outlets in this country has been more or less along the lines of “don’t worry guys, we’ve got this”.

They don’t really want any kind of change. They say everything is above board, and the complaints processes are adequate.

I may just make a complaint about this one.

As an avid watcher of all things NBN, I was startled to read on Google News the headline “NBN Sales Manager Pleads Guilty to ASIC Breach”. I had heard of no such case where anyone at NBN Co was under investigation for an ASIC breach.

Of course, the “substance” of the article says no such thing:

“The national sales manager of a telco now selling NBN Co’s broadband services has pleaded guilty to charges of lying to the corporate regulator.”

So this chap works for a company that is completely independent of NBN Co, but happens to sell services provided by NBN Co – the vaguest of vague vague connections.

Does it justify the headline “NBN Sales Manager Pleads Guilty to ASIC Breach”?

Of course it doesn’t. The headline is completely misleading. He is not a Sales Manager at NBN Co.

It is a headline that is designed to get people to click it. Those who do click on it will likely figure out the story’s link to NBN Co is threadbare at best.

The problem is that the people who don’t click it will never know that the connection is as flimsy as a sheet of Glad Wrap up a flagpole during Cyclone Tracy, but will have this concept inserted into their mind that someone at NBN Co has gotten into trouble with ASIC, and will assume that what they are getting into hot water over has something to do with the NBN.

Muddying the image of the organisation. Unfairly.

Link baiting is one thing. Using it to mislead is another thing altogether.

The media have had it in for the NBN from day one, as for many media outlets, its arrival threatens their business models. They have every right to defend their business, but surely not to muddy the playing field with inaccuracies and misleading sub-editing.

Or out and out lying.

When it comes to media standards and ethics, maybe the Finklestein report makes a good point.

Not that the bashing by the media will stop.

UPDATE: Lucy Battersby, the author of the article confirmed in this tweet that she requested that the headline was changed after it was applied by an online sub-editor. I appreciate Lucy confirming that the “bad” headline came from a sub-editor. The sub-editing was always where I suspected the headline came from.

“@LucyBattersby: @chuqtas @mwyres an online subeditor wrote the headline. When I realised the mistake I had it corrected immediately.”