Size does matter

media dinkus

Bigger than a breadbox?

A good news story is sometimes hard to find in the daily media grind of death, disaster, and celebrity gossip.

But one appeared earlier this week when it was revealed that scientists using remote camera traps had capture images showing the existence of a population of silver-backed chevrotains (pictured).

chevrotain storyVarious news outlets carried the story of the rediscovery of the small deer-like species that until this week had been considered to have become extinct in the 1990s.

Reading this pleasant little yarn on ABC Online, the immediate question that jumped deer-like into the minds of many of The Bug’s media analysis team members was: Just how small is it?

The ABC story told us the chevrotain was also known as “a mouse-deer”.  So, maybe it’s as small as a mouse?

Who would know from the ABC story? It told us the animal was “a small deer-like species” and later again explained that it “superficially resembles a small deer”. A small deer you say? Even that’s got to be bigger than a mouse.

Yet nowhere in the entire story was there any clue given to readers about the actual size of the chevrotain.

Our media team had to seek out other news sites before discovering the animal was “the size of a large rabbit” (The Conversation) or “rabbit-sized” (The Guardian). Even the Popular Mechanics news site described it as “an unusual house cat-sized deer relative”.

So now we know what we’re dealing with, no thanks to Aunty.

Perhaps instead of leaving us guessing, the good folks at ABC Online need to add to their “who, what, when, where, why, and how” checklist for stories another box for reporters or sub-editors to tick: “how fucking big”.

Greens are a red hot topic

A suitably hot topic of conversation in recent days has been climate change and its possible link to recent, previous, and no doubt future bushfires across our wide brown land.

For some participants that should read: non-existent climate change and its complete disconnection from bushfires.

Then there is the other conversation about that conversation — whether anybody should be talking about climate change at all while bushfires rage.

Some sections of our media have been quick to jump into the debate and give it, or at least elements of it, significant exposure.

In the minds of News Corp Australia’s major mastheads and its usual right-wing commentariat suspects there is no doubt it’s all the fault of the greens and also The Greens.

Apparently the greens around the nation have prevented pre-emptive burns and back-burning, and The Greens have committed a mortal sin by daring to claim that the federal Coalition’s climate change policies, or lack of them, have been a contributing factor to ongoing bushfire threats.

In the midst of all this our nation’s former deputy prime minister and National Party leader, Barnaby Joyce, crashed into the conversation to claim two people who lost their lives in NSW fires “most likely” voted for The Greens, although he claimed he was not being critical of them. If so, why mention them?

barnabrfirestheozBut Barnaby got off lightly compared with The Greens.

Just take a look at how The Australian gave over its front page lead on Tuesday to a story of The Greens being attacked for raising the climate change link (at left in picture above) yet the next day the Barnaby Joyce claims received scant coverage inside (at right in picture).

The Daily Telegraph in Sydney followed suit (pictured) when its Wednesday edition played catch-up on the attacks on The Greens.

barnabrfiresdailyteleSure you could argue that there is a time and place to raise certain topics, but the questioning of government policy by The Greens was not conducted on the site of a burning house somewhere in NSW or Queensland.

In fact it reflected comments by many others including firefighters, farmers, and affected home owners.

Is all discussion of government policies off the agenda in times of disaster if critics consider such policies are linked to the crisis?

In the end what’s worse: questioning government policy or gratuitously dog-whistling about deceased fire victims?