Thursday, 24 June 2010

These are the Days of Miracle and Thunder

The ousting of Kevin Rudd and his replacement by Julia Gillard as our new Prime Minister came as if to prove my point concerning the lesser value conventional journalism is playing in our lives. Twitter was already running the coup story for hours while the ABC only had a small item on their website when the major TV networks interrupted their usual programs to discuss the revolution. And the printed media? Their websites had nothing till much later; this morning's headlines are far from delivering in the facts department either.
The evidence is there for all to see. In a world where any individual can immediately report and widely distribute news, as Twitter kindly allows, we do not need a central authority to do the same for us. These days we don't even need that red phone line: even Barrack Obama (@BarrackObama) and Medvedev (@KremlinRussia_E) are exchanging tweets.
No, I'm not saying we should get rid of newspapers; I'm saying that newspapers' role is now primarily in uncovering the hidden stuff, something they have been proving to be quite incapable of doing (at least in Australia). That, and the provision of analysis to the news, as in moderating social debate, are their main roles in a healthy modern web literate society. What they no longer are is a monopoly on delivering the news to you first.

With that said about the delivery of news, what do I make of Julia Gillard as our new PM?
For a start I have to say I am no particular Julia fan. As Education Minister she oversaw the inefficient investment of money into school facilities through the spending stimulus that could, with some foresight, have been spent much better. As billions of dollars don't come easy this was a major wasted opportunity. Her other main achievement was the public ranking of schools, a move that international experience indicates to be more of a society polarizer than a contributor to a healthy one.
That said, Gillard is a billion times better than Tony Abbott (so much so I feel bad for making the comparison in the first place). As for Rudd, he's had his chance, and were he to do a little less conversation and a little more action he might have done well. He didn't, though, and especially with the handling of climate change he stagnated things with his worse than doing nothing Emissions Trading Scheme.
Forget about all the comparisons and past records, though: Australia finally has a dick-less Prime Minister, and for that 50% of the population without dicks this has to mean something. It certainly does mean something to me when I see a leader emerging from one of the most discriminated against demographics. Australia, welcome to the twentieth century!

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