Fabulous concept, fabulous consequences: you’re a radio station that broadcasts classical music exclusively and you ask your listeners to vote on their absolute favourite classical pieces from the 20th century. Each listener gets 10 votes and they can nominate whichever piece of music they fancy. The top 100 pieces are then broadcast over the space of a week, concluding with a concert featuring the top 5 pieces, live-broadcast to conclude the event. And since it’s 2011, the whole broadcast event comes replete with facebook discussions and a twitter hashtag. Go. The countdown began at number 100, naturally, and John Adam’s The Chairman Dances from Nixon in China seemed about right. But over the course of the next 10 or so entries things began to unravel. Schmaltzy and ersatz contributions were mixing it with works commonly regarded as masterworks, and straight-out film scores even got a look-in. We all knew this was a popularity contest, but even so it felt as if voters
This is the complaint I’ve just sent off to the ABC about the ridiculous story they did about NSW politics last night….. I will update the blog if a response is forthcoming, and/or if the calibre of state political reporting suddenly improves. Leaving aside the dubious judgement involved in deciding the most important state political news of the day was that Kristina Kenneally objected to being winked at in parliament, the segue into the launch of a new education program by Verity Firth (commenting that the minister for education had a brush with trouble herself) demonstrated a complete absence of logic. This ‘brush with trouble’ was that some small twigs from an overhanging tree branch brushed Verity Firth’s hair as she entered a school ground. You have got to be kidding me. On the ABC? The story was simply untrue – Verity Firth had not had a ‘brush with trouble’ of any kind. Puerile reportage of this kind does nothing
So here in Australia, thanks to Senator Fielding, we now know that ‘fiscal’ has neither 3 syllables (as in physical) nor a K. Turns out that Fielding has trouble with language thanks to a form of dyslexia that resulted in his achieving only 29 in his final high school English exams. His other marks were exceptional (all in the 90s) so this is not an issue of intellect, but rather of a specific aptitude that Fielding lacks in regard to language skills. Fielding was addressing a media contingent a few days ago, and after he had referring several times to ‘physical policy’ one intrepid reporter inquired if he didn’t mean ‘fiscal policy’. Fielding replied “fiscal – F-I-S-K-A-L” to the collective surprise (and then delight) of everyone in the media who knew that’s not how you spell fiscal. So now we have people coming to Fielding’s defence, saying “leave the poor bloke alone, he can’t help it if he can’t spell”.
A host of radio and tv shows said earlier this year that Australia could not sustain a Daily Show type program because all the journalists know each other too well, and even with the range of opinions various establishment media will give voice to, there just isn’t the diversity of views to create adequate fodder for an entertaining tv experience. I suspect he’s right on the first count, and that alone. The nightly news on any commercial tv station is filled with laughable vocabulary problems, most recently a Channel Nine reporter claiming that his sources (for a story that had proven to be completely erroneous) were ‘impeachable’. The reporter was shooting for ‘impeccable’ I’m guessing. I still treasure the news I heard over the radio a few years ago that Aboriginal ancestors were performing welcoming ceremonies in the Botanic Gardens. Talkback hosts either don’t understand arithmetic, statistics, or both. Recently I heard a talk show host announce that it would