16 October 2008

Economic irrationalism at Radio National

Nine’s ‘Sunday’ program axed, Fairfax cutting staff, one university after another announcing staff cuts and cuts of subjects, the latest: La Trobe University.

It reminds me of the counterintuitive line pedalled by several of the major banks years ago when they started cutting suburban branch numbers, informing us that it was to “improve customer service.”

I am further depressed by the news that the same dead hand is hovering over important programs on Radio National, including the Media Report. Without doubt, the best current affairs commentary to be found in this country is on Radio National’s World Today, AM and particularly, PM programs.

As Andrew Dodd, the Media Report’s founding presenter, wrote in Crikey today:

The Media Report has popped up in Hansard, the indexes of books, the curricula of university courses and the ipods of listeners. It has kept on keeping on for fifteen years with informed intelligent debate about the state of the nation’s media.

Not bad for a half hour show that’s staffed by one and a half people and costs much less to produce over a year than just one episode of almost any TV program you’d care to mention.

He concludes:

We are looking for media that starts where current affairs reporters finish and which challenges us with new ways of thinking about issues or which introduces us to ideas that we’d never thought to consider. These wonderful Radio National programs did this regularly and their loss is a huge blow to the diversity of our media.

It's rare that I agree with The Australian's editorial writer about anything, but I concur with every sentence of today's piece, except one:

The paradox of this media-abundant age is that the thirst for quality has never been greater, as the growing circulation of newspapers such as The Australian shows.




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Naval Langa

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