Series / Media Watch

"Everyone loves it until they're on it."
— The tagline of the show

Media Watch is an ABC television news program which focuses on analysing and dissecting the news media in Australia. It swings between covering the appalling and the hilarious. It covers lies, discrepencies and ethical violations by all of Australia's major networks, papers, radio stations and other outlets, and it certainly isn't afraid to aim at the ABC itself should the situation call for it. It follows up on quotes, demands citations and explains how the stories get written.

Needless to say, it is hated by the less honest media figures in the country, and the show just loves the hate.

The ABC puts complete episodes up on its website, as part of its policy of keeping its content free to peruse.

Media Watch provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Advertising Disguised As News: The show increasingly highlights how newspapers, becoming increasingly desperate for advertising revenue, are printing what are basically commercials that look like editorial content.
  • Arch-Enemy: Radio personality Alan Jonesnote  is perhaps the most frequently covered media entity on the show of late, and for good reason. For his part, Jones doesn't think at all highly of Media Watch and derides it at every opportunity... much to former host Jonathan Holmes' amusement.
    • Kyle Sandilands occasionally fills this role. For reference: fawn cardigans.
    • Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt as well.
    • Also tabloid news shows, especially Today Tonight.
    • To a lesser extent, the Illawarra Mercury used to get targeted a lot for poor editing.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: After Media Watch caught Nigel Adlam of the NT News out for an inaccurate report about government handouts to Aboriginals, Adlam claimed that instead of being criticised for inaccuracy, he should have been given a prize for "holding the government to account". Jonathan Holmes announced he was the frontrunner for the new Rhino Hide Award, awarded to the journo with the thickest skin.
    "Itís especially suitable, we reckon, because rhinos are famously short-sighted, and have a tendency to charge ferociously at anything that moves."
  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: Egregious examples are some of the show's favourite fodder to cover.
  • Dan Browned: It absolutely delights in tearing apart the rare case of this.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Pretty much a requirement for hosting the show. Original host Stuart Littlemore set a very high standard that all subsequent hosts have tried to live up to.
  • Grammar Nazi: Justified in that they're handling a field where one really needs to be careful with this stuff.
  • Insult Backfire: In 2002, the then-editor of The Daily Telegraph, Campbell Reid, sent host David Marr a dead fish; a replica of it is now awarded as the Campbell Reid Perpetual Trophy for the Brazen Recycling of Other People's Work. Known as "The Barra" and bearing the motto ''Carpe Verbatim'', it is awarded annually for bad journalism and particularly plagiarism (a practice for which Reid was frequently criticised).
  • Jerk Ass: Certain media figures — Ray Martin during the Paxton incident, Kyle Sandilands's victimization of his guests, etc. — give off this impression.
  • News Tropes: Duh.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: They don't screw around when it comes to taking people down.
  • Poe's Law: From the 24/3/14 episode: Two of the following headlines about the missing Malaysia Airlines jet are from genuine newspapers, while one is from a spoof - "Pastor Predicted Disappearance of Jet", "Missing Jet in North Korea", "Plane Stolen by Aliens". Which one is the spoof? The correct answer is "Missing Jet in North Korea"
    • Another episode, aired 13/4/15, had four bizarre stories - "Man volunteers for world first head transplant operation", "'Best sex ever'. Emma Mc Cabe plans to marry a tree named Tim", "Doctors discover man's mystery headaches are caused by a dozen maggots... which saved his life by eating infected tissue after a botched operation on his skull in Vietnam" and "Mosque proposal for Hay: ...Mr. Yad Sloof Lirpa said negotiations were also underway for a small-scale abattoir on Sidonia Road" - and asked viewers to spot which one was an April Fools' Day hoax. The first three were eliminated based on their dates of publication even before Paul Barry pointed out the Backwards Name. Notably, Paul gave no guarantee the other three stories were actually true.
    • The show has covered a number of examples of reporters being taken in by spoof newspapers such as the Betoota Advocate.
  • Shown Their Work: Media Watch never half-asses debunking their targets.
  • Subliminal Advertising: Devoted a segment to Network Ten and its 2007 ARIA Awards coverage, which included rapid-cut logos for its sponsors into the nomination segments. Ten also did something similar in an episode of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?.
  • Tempting Fate: At the end of a report on how many jobs in journalism could be replaced by robots in the future:
    Paul Barry: So what are the jobs that robots cannot do? Complex investigations, analysis of issues and reporting live from the scene as a story is breaking, are all areas where humans still rule. So, Iím happy to say there are some jobs than could never be replaced. Like mine (robotic voice) for example. (Barry disappears, revealing that he's a robot projecting a hologram, which is quickly replaced by a much less convincing hologram. It resumes talking in a choppy computerized voice) And you can-can read more about tonightís stories-stories on our website, where you can also-also get a transcript-ipt and download the pro-program. You can also catch up with us on iView and contact me or Media Watch on Twitter. But for now until next week thatís all from us. Goodbye.


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