I’ve just arrived home from a rather interesting debate held at Angel Place. Hosted by Simon Longstaff from St James Ethics Centre, it was recorded for later broadcast on ABC-TV.
The proposition being discussed was whether or not the media could be trusted to tell the truth.
Arguing the media could not be trusted to tell the truth were Steven Mayne (Crikey), Jonathan Holmes (Media Watch) and Catherine Lumby (Sydney University). The essence of their argument was “the media” makes many mistakes, often ignores important stories, and is a far from perfect beast.
Arguing against the proposition were John B. Fairfax (Fairfax), Mark Scott (ABC) and Julian Burnside (Lawyer). The essence of their argument was that in the midst of bad journalism, there’s often some very good journalism which more than makes up for the dross.
Of course, this is a simplification of the many minor details of the argument. Both sides had many other points to make also, all of it delivered with a great deal of intellect and humour.
With most things in life, the argument lies somewhere in between, though I personally voted in favour of the idea “the media” is far from perfect, and that hopefully the good outweighs the bad.
And of course, when considering the proposition, the high school debater deep inside me kept asking “what is the media?” and “what is the truth?”. And in doing so, I’m not arguing the case for semantics. While I personally believe there is an absolute truth to everything, I also accept the argument there are many truths. And further the idea of “the media” is one which is constantly changing and evolving. They could have had this argument fifty years ago, and came to similar conclusions, I suspect.
Steven Mayne had a killer line about how people who work in the media are the best haters, and that he hasn’t appeared on ABC Adelaide for close to a decade, having slagged off a morning presenter there years ago. And Julian Burnside had a killer line about “the recent terrible times we’ve had to live through, otherwise known as ‘The Howard Years’”.
Both lines got a great laugh. But it wasn’t just the inner city chardy drinkers attending, though there were a few of them. No, the audience seemed quite broad, with quite a few of the faces straight out of a monthly meeting of “The Sydney Institute”.
So yeah… that was a really nice, interesting, entertaining way to spend the evening.
And then when I arrived home tonight there was a lovely surprise in the mail.
I hardly ever get “proper” letters anymore. Mostly, it’s just bills, statements, and pizza ads.
But on Friday there was a present from a friend, accompanied by a simple card which read… “New suit, new shirt, require, new tie. Silk and Italian of course!). I wore the tie to work today and it looked great.
And then tonight, there was a postcard from Grant and Graeme from Stockholm which, amongst many things noted they… “had a few tears when we walked through Gamla Stan today”.
Wow, isn’t that great?