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Series / Media Watch

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

Media Watch is a television program on The ABC which focuses on analysing and dissecting the news media in Australia. It swings between covering the appalling and the hilarious. It covers lies, discrepancies 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, 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.
    • Rupert Murdoch's newspapers, most notably The Australian. Herald Sun columnist (and Murdoch employee) Andrew Bolt as well.
    • Also tabloid news shows, especially Today Tonight and A Current Affair.
    • And Bauer Media, as of their lost court case against Rebel Wilson.
    • The UK's Daily Mail, who Paul Barry has outright called "a disgrace to journalism" in response to their tasteless approach to suicide reporting and refusal to follow the recommended guidelines when called out on it.
  • 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.
    "It’s especially suitable, we reckon, because rhinos are famously short-sighted, and have a tendency to charge ferociously at anything that moves."
  • California Doublinginvoked: Discussed in one of the more infamous exposes, which revealed how Today Tonight staged a car pursuit of fugitive businessman Christopher Skase which purportedly took place in Majorca, Spain, when the footage was shot hundreds of kilometers away in Barcelona.
  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computerinvoked: Discussed frequently. Egregious examples are some of the show's favourite fodder to cover.
  • Credits Pushback: The show once called out Network Ten for doing this with the film Crackerjack, which had a long Credits Gag that was drowned out by loud promos. Director and lead actor Mick Molloy expressed his annoyance with the situation, and popped up at the end of the show to invoke this trope and cheerfully state how useless and disrespectful this practice is to viewers and the show's crew.
  • 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).
  • Jerkass: Certain media figures — Ray Martin during the Paxton incident, Kyle Sandilands's victimization of his guests, etc. — give off this impression.
  • Narminvoked: Sometimes it satirises journalists in situations that are meant to look serious- for example, one instance had them mocking journalists who, when covering floods, would stand in the midst of the waters, using the line 'There's more to journalism than wetting your pants.'
  • 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 - "Preacher 'predicted' plane accident", "Missing Malaysia 777 Airliner Possibly In North Korea", "Missing plane 'spotted' flying over jungle as theory says it was saved by ALIEN spaceship". Which one is the spoof? The correct answer is "Missing Malaysia 777 Airliner Possibly 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 McCabe 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 and other commentators being taken in by spoof news-sites such as the The Betoota Advocate or The Chaser.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: Embarrassing mistakes along these lines will often be brought up at the beginning or end of the show. The Illawarra Mercury used to get targeted a lot for poor editing in the 1990s.
  • 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, I’m 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 tonight’s 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 that’s all from us. Goodbye.
  • Wrong Footage Gag: Occasionally covers real-life examples from news shows. One rather hilarious incident had an ABC News Breakfast reporter talking about "the world's fastest man" Usain Bolt's preparation for the London Olympics, which was unfortunately accompanied by a clip of then-Opposition Leader Tony Abbott running for the door of the House of Representatives to avoid a vote, after finding out disgraced MP Craig Thomson would be voting on his side.