Archive for the 'Blogging' Category

Still blogging, just not here

My new blog is here.

My new blog

I start my new job at the Grattan Institute tomorrow, and one thing that will change as a result is my blogging. The change won’t be too big, but as one of Grattan’s public faces I need to make sure that my blogging doesn’t detract from Grattan’s focus on areas where ‘fact-based analysis’ can contribute to public debate.

While I don’t think facts alone can settle all or even a majority of debates in contemporary politics, the most productive debates are usually around evidence and empirical relationships.

I don’t believe that more than a small minority of people acquire their basic worldview from reading or intellectual reflection. Worldviews are largely the product of socialisation, life experience, and personality. While I have an enduring interest in political philosophy, and especially liberal political philosophy, I don’t think this kind of intellectual endeavour is primarily about persuading people who are not already in the same broad ideological space. Rather, political philosophy helps turn the intuitions that come from a general worldview into something more coherent. For this reason, my overtly classical liberal writing has been aimed mostly at people who share some of my normative assumptions, rather than a wider audience.

People are far more open to persuasion on empirical grounds, and this is one reason I have generally taken this approach (apart from being the kind of person who reads ABS reports out of pure interest). While some people insist on their own idiosyncratic take on what the facts are, not many flatly deny that empirical evidence is important. The way I read Grattan’s approach, it is to work in this empirical space – not denying that more ideological perspectives are important, but leaving those to other people and organisations. So that’s what I will be doing too during my time with Grattan.

I decided that the easiest way to keep blogging while keeping within a slightly narrower brief was to set up a new blog, This blog will stay online, but from 15 August 2011 upates will be at the new blog.

How many people read political blogs?

Pollytics blog today reports some Essential Research polling on news consumption. I was surprised that 15% of the people in the sample said they read blogs several times a week or daily, though the question does not directly ask if they get news/political analysis from blogs.

Question: How frequently do you read, listen to or watch the following?

The 2007 Australian Election Survey found that only 3% of people read political blogs during the campaign.

Despite the apparently increased readership, 55% of respondents rated their trust in what they read on blogs as ‘none’ or ‘not much’.

A rare defeat for the political cartel

Yesterday almost everyone was condemning the South Australian government for requiring blog commenters to use their real names when offering their views on the South Australian election. Now the South Australian Attorney-General has backed down and says he will repeal the laws retrospectively.

I’m not convinced that the courts would have upheld any attempted blogger prosecutions as within the law. In what appears to be the relevant provision of the SA electoral legislation (s.116), the case would turn on the defintion of an internet ‘journal’. In the legislation, “journal means a newspaper, magazine or other periodical.” Is a blog a journal in that sense?

As with the similar kerfuffle over Stephen Conroy’s proposed internet filter, much of the criticism does not go far enough. In each case, the relevant ministers are trying to extend to the internet regulation that has long applied to other media. Is there something special about the internet that means different rules should apply? Read the rest of this entry »

Sick of politics?

Jason Soon has a new blog, Sick of Politics. As you can guess from the title, it is about his eclectic other interests.

The Stump

Crikey has started the most ideologically-eclectic blog to date, The Stump.

On the classical liberal side, it has Jason Soon, Charles Richardson and Chris Berg.

Also from somewhere right-of-centre is Counterpoint presenter Paul Comrie-Thomson.

On the left it has Guy Rundle, Phillip Adams and Andrew Bartlett.

The blogosphere (or at least my part of it) has been rather quiet the last few months, so perhaps putting this lot together will liven things up.

Andrew Leigh back blogging

After a sabbatical in the bureaucracy, Andrew Leigh is back blogging. I have missed his blog, and anticipate some stimulating disagreements.

Brian Naylor ‘hommage’

My Brian Naylor obituary translated into a French ‘hommage’:

Au nombre des 108 morts confirmés ce matin se trouve Brian Naylor, qui a lu les informations de Channel Nine pendant 20 ans à partir de 1978, dans les années où les informations de cette chaîne dominaient les taux d’audience. Quasiment tous ceux qui vivaient à Melbourne à cette époque recevaient leur ration d’informations de Naylor, qui possédait le comportement sobre, sensé et fiable que nous préférons chez les présentateurs, mais il savait aussi traiter les histoires émouvantes ou inattendues avec lesquelles Nine aimait souvent conclure.

Il terminait chaque émission par «Je vous souhaite de bonnes nouvelles, et bonne nuit». C’est tellement triste que sa vie ait pris fin en participant à une actualité aussi affreuse pour autant de monde.

Google Translate doesn’t get it quite right turning it back into English, but not a bad instant effort:
Read the rest of this entry »

Blog survey, comments

For bloggers only: Nick Gruen is conducting a survey. It has to be done today (ie Sunday 8 February).

For commenters: For some reason, comments are going into moderation when they have only one link (the settings say this should only happen with two or more links) and I am not getting emails warning me of this. Apologies to those who have been stuck in moderation. If your comment does not immediately appear, email me: andrew.norton4 AT

How newspapers report old news

In the SMH this morning, there is a story on the rorting of Youth Allowance. With an added error*, it is the same story reported on this blog several weeks ago. We both got it from the Bradley report.

But because the Bradley report is old news, we get this formulation:

There was “strong evidence” that the allowance was “quite poorly targeted and inequitable”, the authors of the Bradley review into higher education told the Federal Government.

Leaving vague when they told the federal government, and by what means they told the federal government.

If something is important, I don’t think there is a great problem in reporting it later if it was missed the first time. But I dislike media reports that make the original source unclear.

* The error is this: “The Government is considering a significant tightening of the payment to bring it in line with the Family Benefit payment. The change would mean some 27,000 students now receiving it would be ineligible.” In fact, this is a reference to making more students eligible (not ineligible) by lifting the amount parents can earn before students start losing their benefit. The added ineligibility would come from tightening the “independence” criteria.