Most people will follow the royal commission by way of the mainstream media reports. Such coverage suffers from several limitations – some obvious and some not so obvious.
The major media organisations will deploy one or two reporters, whose articles will then be syndicated to all of the sub-units of the organisation, and to affiliated news associates world-wide. Thus, only a very few persons’ accounts will dominate coverage. This blog, and others, will help to broaden the coverage.
“Official” reporters, that is those from the leading media organisations, will receive certain privileges , such as being in the hearing rooms, having access to off-the-record and behind-the-scenes comments and information, together with first access to press releases from community organisations and their lawyers.
All of this may well be fair as such. These reporters represent “important” media outlets and will probably not be of much concern to the average media consumer, despite the implied issues regarding elitism.
What is of greater concern is that the resulting close association of these reporters with those officially involved with the commission (commissioners and their staffs, politicians, lawyers, organisational leaders, PR consultants, “experts”, etc.) will lead to an unhealthy relationship eventually.
These sanctioned observers run the risk of becoming part of the process itself, thereby risking loss of objectivity. They may even become protective of the system in the face of external criticisms, as they become subsumed into its developing artificial sub-culture. I will not insult people’s intelligence by detailing the myriad ways this can happen.
The third, and most important (to this commentator) reason for providing an alternative source of comments is that the media will selectively report attention-grabbing items prominently when they occur. Coverage will decline when events are deemed to be “boring”. Over time, as readership interest drops (as is inevitable given the phenomenon of the “media cycle”), total coverage will also decline. This will become increasingly evident when there are significant competing stories, such as natural disasters or heinous crimes that must be reported upon.
Please note, that the assumption is being made, albeit possibly naively, that deliberate bias will not be occurring with official reporting.
This account will appear daily, whatever the competing news events, to provide continuity for those with more than just a passing interest in the deliberations of the commission. It will be “unofficial” and therefore not prone to problems of being too close to the major players. It will receive influences from the general public rather than “spin” professionals.
Hopefully, it will provide an alternative account for both those inclined to seek out their own sources of information and provide an alternative resource for the many researchers who will analyse the royal commission after it hands down its final report.
That’s all I can say
Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)