The more I started looking around for information to an article I am writing, I eventually realised that one of the things which has upset many in the media was to a limited extent the sort of person I saw in the mirror in the morning. It is not because of my abilities, but the fact that I no longer have to rely on the magnanimity of the editors of the local newspaper, to get my opinions published. Back in those days, when I was annoyed about something a politician or other person had done or said, I’d write a letter to the editor (initially on paper, and then by e-mail), and it might be published three to four days later. The magnanimity of the editors, and the space available for publication, were limited such that I was lucky to get anywhere near half of them published. Now every ‘letter’ I write gets published here.

It is the immediacy of the internet and the democratisation of opinion which has changed things. It is one of the bugbears of many of the current crop of journalists. So many of the real journalists (i.e. those not in the employ of Murdoch), sometimes publish abject rubbish and are immediately taken to task for it. This led to one of those most limited of journalists, Chris Uhlmann1  calling Twitter users “sewer rats” and so many of the other, similarly limited journalists, seemed to agree with him2. Many of the users of Twitter used this moniker as a badge of honour.

Now so many journalists are writing stories about former Prime Minister Scott Morrison bemoaning his multiple ministries and how the secrecy around them was indefensible3.

While nobody knew about the multiple ministries story until it broke in the mainstream media in August, 20224, many online knew what Morrison was like. Stories relating to the constant lying by Morrison on so many other topics were not to be seen in the mainstream media, only in some of the smaller outlets like Crikey5, the Independent6, and to a lesser extent, the Guardian. Indeed, nowhere in the mainstream media (Murdoch, Stokes and Nine) will you see a dossier of Morrison’s lies, like those that appear in Crikey or the Independent. However, such lies as Morrison constantly spouted were called out time and again by the ‘sewer rats’ of Twitter. Some of their pointers provided the raw material for essays on this blog7-10.

I think there are several reasons the mainstream media are so hopeless. Firstly, they are frightened that if they write something less than flattering of the government, or the opposition for that matter, they will be discriminated against when one or other politician wants to give them an exclusive. Secondly, the mainstream media are owned by corporations who benefit from the tax decreases which are largely at the whim (and ideological bent) of neoliberal governments. Thirdly, they are tied to the old media model which takes a relatively long period of time to go from writing a story to publication. Fourthly, they look upon any criticism as a personal affront, and immediately circle the wagons, and some of their lesser lights call those critics “sewer rats”.

It is the immediacy of sites like Twitter which will catch these people out every time, just like they caught Morrison out. It is probably one of the reasons that Morrison has a similar view of Twitter to that of Uhlmann.




  • Cath says:

    The two ‘journalists’ Benson and Chambers knew about it. Morrison told them many things (some of them probably top secret) all the while thinking Australians would think him clever!

    • admin says:

      I am glad you used inverted commas around ‘journalists’ as hey are two of the most appalling hacks in the Murdoch stable. I had actually forgotten that they knew about it. More haste less speed.

    • clive pegler says:

      wasn’t the ‘journalist’ Benson intimately involved in Scumo’s pre-selection and the character assassination of Michael Towke?

  • Jon says:

    Presumably by ‘sewer rats’ the hapless Uhlmann meant those who weren’t obsequious right wing conservatives, those who disagreed with his many weird and childish prognostications (eg ironically his “folk” rant will go down in folklore), and those who reminded him of his many limitations and hypocrisies. By responding to his musings the previously unheard opinions of thousands must have come as a shock to Uhlmann’s employers who thought we were hanging on his every word.

  • Yvonne T says:

    It is good that you get every “letter” published here, so congratulations on that. But I would suggest you continue to write letters to editors of newspapers etc. Their readership is often measured in the hundreds of thousands, so even if they publish only a small fraction of the letters you write, you will still reach a bigger audience than you do here. Besides, you do seem to be preaching to the converted here, I have not seen any comments which disagree with you. I do mostly like your articles which are most informative, but it looks like you are not converting many people, they already agree with you.

    • admin says:

      To be blunt, I don’t care much what my reach is. It is nice to be appreciated by some people for what I do, but it is not all that matters. I do this mostly for other reasons. I find the discipline of getting items together, after getting my thoughts together, has been beneficial to me and has helped me in other spheres of my life, particularly my writing of research papers for publication. It has also been very cathartic, and has stopped me shouting at the television as much as I used to do (this was the reason my family suggested I do this). In addition to that it has forced me to read and chase up stuff from numerous sources other than the mainstream media, which I didn’t really do much in the past. Furthermore, letters to the editor are limited in their size, and as you will have noticed, to get a point across sufficiently well often takes more than 100 words. Finally, given the way the mainstream media has debased itself in the last few years, being at the mercy of an editor would prevent anything criticising his organisation seeing the light of day. I have has a few people disagree with me. In one funny case it was a mild retort from a person about whom I had written an item. I think his effort is still on here somewhere. There was also another case of a person who latched onto something I said that was temporally inaccurate in his eyes and he went on and on about it for months, finally getting down to personal abuse, so I eventually blocked him from commenting. He and I had actually communicated by e-mail as well, and his e-mails were getting more and more strident (and longer) over time, so I blocked him from that as well. I suspect he is still fuming. I do not claim to be the fount of all wisdom, and if someone tells me I am mistaken and explains how, I won’t block them or abuse them. I will acknowledge any shortcomings just like any reasonable scientist should. Indeed, several of the regular correspondents here often point me at things I have missed, or that have a different slant to my item. This is something I welcome.

      • Yvonne T says:

        Sorry, what does “temporally inaccurate” mean?

        • admin says:

          I said the Coalition government had been in government for ‘almost a decade’ and he maintained that this was a nefarious assertion by me which was inaccurate, when it was important that people should know that it was 8.7 years. While it was triviality in a sentence with another point, he latched onto it and eventually degenerated into hurling personal abuse at me. I sent him examples from the mainstream media where paid journalists used precisely the same phrasing. This did not satisfy him. He replied with ‘but they won’t listen to me’. At this I nearly wet myself laughing, and realise this was all about attempting to bully me. Experts have tried that and failed.

          • Yvonne T says:

            Sorry, I still do not understand the “temporally” part of it. What do you mean by “temporally”?

            Also, when you look at the record of the Coalition government, it actually was very close to 8.7 years, not a decade. However long those idiots were in government, it was way too long, but exactly how long do you think they were in government – a decade, or 8.7 years?

            Which article can I find this conversation in, so as to check exactly what was written?

          • admin says:

            Temporally is an adverb referring to time. His assertion was that my saying that the government has been doing something for almost a decade was inaccurate despite it being unimportant in the context of the article. I cannot remember which item it was, but it was from earlier this year and I suspect it was around February-April. You know Arthur, do you?

  • Russell says:

    Arthur, where are you when astoundingly precise and astonishingly accurate, grammatically perfect answers is (sic) required? Yoo hoo, calling northern beaches region of Sydney! Helas, le bon monsieur se cache !!

    • admin says:

      He’s probably in a frump somewhere, shouting at clouds hoping for a response regarding numerical inaccuracy!

  • JON says:

    Good news for Uhlmann fans. He’s back and should fit right in with both the mentality and the mental acuity of his new workmates:

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