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? Continue reading “A rare defeat for the political cartel”

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.

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:
Continue reading “Brian Naylor ‘hommage’”

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.

Academic quality control

I’ve had a lot on over the last week and didn’t get to read the report of the Senate inquiry into academic bias until last night.

I was rather surprised to find that my post on the subject, along with comments from Conrad, Leopold, and Andrew Elder in the comments thread, appears to have influenced the majority (ie, Labor) report. They describe my argument that this issue is about the professionalism of staff, and not the academic freedom of students, as a ‘fair summing up of the issue’.

Alas, the minority report from Coalition Senators suggests that the Nelson-Bishop micromanaging mindset is alive and well in the Opposition, recommending that a Charter of Academic Freedoms for students be imposed on universities as a condition of funding. Even if we take all the Liberal student and Young Liberal allegations at face value, we will only have a small number of cases, and as the majority report noted, there is no sign that they have pursued existing avenues of complaint. I can’t see that yet another layer of bureaucracy is needed.

And clearly Coalition Senators have not have learnt their lesson on political donations, proposing that universities now be caught in the disclosure net, with universities required to reveal donations over an unspecified level. This seems to be in response to a complaint from Jewish organisations about Arab funding of research centres. But I can think of at least one instance in which this rule would have stood in the way of an 8-figure sum being donated for medical research.

The lack of external quality control of courses and teaching at universities is an issue, but it needs to be approached carefully and systematically, rather than creating yet more ad hoc rules which cause more problems than they solve.