Series: Media Watch
"Everyone loves it until they're on it."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.
— The tagline of the show
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.
- Documentary Of Lies: Tabloid TV segments covered by Media Watch, especially the beat ups, amount to this:
- One of the most infamous examples was the "Barcelona Tonight" incident, which revealed that Today Tonight reporter David "Sluggo" Richardson had faked his pursuit of disgraced Australian businessman Christopher Skase. Richardson had presented footage purporting to be a vehicular pursuit of Skase through the Spanish island of Mallorca, with dirty cops setting up roadblocks to aid Skase's escape. In reality, the footage was shot in Barcelona (with Barcelona landmarks and car plates clearly visible) and the "roadblocks" were set up to direct traffic flow.
- A Current Affair nabbed an exclusive when a Nine Network helicopter happened to rescue stranded U.S. backpacker Robert Bogucki. The raw footage obtained by Media Watch found that not only did ACA edit their encounter with Bogucki out of sequence for dramatic effect, but also indicated that the Nine crew (which bragged in front of Bogucki how this would help them beat Seven in the ratings) did almost nothing to help Bogucki seek immediate medical attention even though he has been in the desert for 43 days and was dangerously undernourished.
- Not even the ABC is innocent. Media Watch critiqued a Catalyst documentary on heart disease which suggested — despite overwhelming evidence — that it is not caused by cholesterol and that statins are a racket to drive up drug sales. Not only did Catalyst parrot quacks who had way more screen time than mainstream health specialists, but one of those specialists claimed that Catalyst cut down his two-hour interview to a four-minute soundbite. The ABC admitted that they had Catalyst include said mainstream specialists because even the ABC saw how one-sided the documentary was.
- 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.