Conflict is not a new commodity in news. It’s always been critical. One of my early journalistic mentors told me it wasn’t really a news story unless there was conflict, and preferably the conflict needed to appear by the third paragraph. But media disruption has intensified the conflict cycle, compressing it into smaller, louder, intraday bursts, and those constant interruptions have a material impact on political decision-making, both here and around the world.
Conflict is absolutely essential to the democratic process. It is a mechanism to settle contested points of view, or determine they can’t be settled. The process of legislating is active conversation between competing worldviews, interests and ideologies – a kind of structural balancing. But a couple of things are happening. The “new, now” news cycle, where minute developments are reported in real time, means internal processes of consideration and decision-making, as well as the external process of negotiation, are disrupted much more frequently.
The disruptions then often materially affect outcomes – governments change course, drop ambitious ideas, shape shift to try to avoid an unmanageable stakeholder backlash. Activism on social media also intervenes, and the combined effect is a ceaseless public commentary that now sits as an adjunct to policy making. Martin Parkinson, the secretary of the department of the prime minister and cabinet, reflected on this phenomenon in late 2017. He said the contemporary media cycle was focused on “gotcha” moments and sensationalising routine internal government processes, which then had a ripple effect on internal deliberative…
Clickbait and gotcha moments: how political conflict became a commodity
In this extract from On Disruption, Katharine Murphy looks at the demise of thoughtful long-term policy making and the ‘new, now’ news cycleThe Guardian
Politics Podcast with Michelle Grattan
Murphy's book is about the dramatic changes that have taken place in the media and their implications, and is published by Melbourne University Press.The Conversation
Katharine Murphy on The Drum
Katharine Murphy discusses David Leyonhjelm and political disruption on ABC The Drum.ABC The Drum
New book 'On Disruption' explores the wide-reaching impact of technology on media
Over the past 10 years, the way we produce and consume news has changed significantly. But with the latest news always on hand, is an addiction to the 'new' in news damaging our understanding of the events being reported on?ABC Radio National
On Disruption review: Katharine Murphy on the media and threats to democracy
On Disruption is a plea for principles; a still, small voice of calm amid the clamour of opinion and prejudice.Sydney Morning Herald
Katharine Murphy tackles the modern media
Murphy expands on the timeliness of her book with the current climate in Australian politics, the #MeToo movement and the overall mass digital disruption of society itself.Guardian Australia Podcast