03 October, 2010
or We aren’t the ones who don’t get it, YOU are!
The outing of Grog’s Gamut has been the gift that keeps on giving for The Australian. As ’bloggers rightly decry The Aus’s actions, those on the payroll (and a few of their industry colleagues), have published a steady stream of defences and rationalisations that has lasted the whole week. This is phase-3 of gutter journalism: Ask “Has the media gone too far?”, interview all your mates and conclude that yes, everyone else has, but not us by golly!
Then on Friday, The Aus posted an audio chat between Media Editor (whatever that means), Geoff Elliot, writer of the original article, James Massola and Fairfax radio reporter Latika Bourke. It’s no surprise that they all agreed that people who are upset about the affair don’t quite get it, and that the reaction to the story proves that it was in the public interest.
It reminded me of a comment posted by an anonymous journalist on the post of Grog’s that first got all the attention. The commenter agreed in principle with many of the things Grog was saying, but also passionately defended the profession and gave some insight into amount of pressure journos are under during an election campaign. It was a heartfelt comment that made a lot of sense. However, something has been forgotten in all of this, and this is the consumer.
Most ’bloggers and tweeters who are criticising The Australian are not simply doing so because one of their own has been dissed. Most of them are writing as consumers of the news media who are not satisfied with the service they are getting. How would you like it if you got bad service in a restaurant, and when you complained, you were told by the waiter that you just don’t understand the pressures of the kitchen and the way the hospitality industry works in general? What other industry would actually brag about the complaints it receives?
Sorry folks, but the customer is always right. We know working in a kitchen is a tough job, but that doesn’t mean we have to tolerate cold soup, warm salad and sullen service. Furthermore, we certainly don’t have to tolerate being told that our dissatisfaction is our own fault for not appreciating how the industry works. Likewise, no-one is suggesting that being a journalist is a cakewalk, but in an industry where there are more applicants than openings, anyone displeased with their lot is free to consider another career.
We all know that after closing time, the kitchen staff will probably bitch about all the horrible customers they had. Fair enough too if it helps them to unwind after a hard shift. That’s kind of what the little chinwag at the Aus sounded like to me – poor misunderstood journos.
Mind you, none of the above is what struck me most about the chat. What stood out for me was something far more trivial. Moderator Geoff Elliot pronounced the screen name of the ’blogger as “Grog’s Gamoot.” Yes, it would appear that the media editor of The Australian does not know the word “gamut.”
And they wonder why they don’t get no respect.