#1: Getting the facts right

#1: Getting the facts right!

What is the basic rule of rolled-gold, top-shelf journalism?

It’s pretty simple, isn’t it? Writing with flair and flourish and style can always be developed over time but you are never, ever, going to reach the pinnacle of the fourth estate in Australia – a long- term career with Sixty Minutes – unless from the very get go you get the basic facts right.

And to show you all out there in Bugland how important getting the basic facts right, we’ve enlisted for this lesson the help of the four famous faces above, doyens of the industry.

As Tom Gleeson would say on Hard Quiz, let’s say hello to Peter Hartcher (second from right, above).

We thank him for this paragraph from his column in yesterday’s news review section of The Sydney Morning Herald.

The wizened, bitter and twisted old hacks who put out The Bug spotted this one straight away.

Anyone interested in politics – let alone someone who makes a motza claiming to be an expert at it – would know that Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton were the two morons who were joking about New Guinea time and water lapping at the doors of the homes of Pacific Islanders. Morrison warned them of the boom mike hovering menacingly overhead.

Let’s say hello now to Peter van Onselen (second from left, above). Of the three PvOs, we’re talking about the one who’s the Ten Network’s federal politics editor.

Now Peter clearly spent too much time on Friday waging war on Twitter with a certain, highly respected Aussie shiela, and maybe he should show some grace and try to tame that inclination for battle with strong, assertive women, considering:

a) he always comes off second best anyway; and

B) it leaves him terribly distracted and unprepared, considering that on the 5pm news that night, he offered the tragic news that aged-care workers made around $21 to $23 a day!

No wonder it’s going to cost Labor far, far, too much to give these workers reasonable pay justice!

Now let’s say hello to David Crowe (at left, above) from the SMH as we present this paragraph from an online piece on Friday.

We at The Bug feel community leaders who worked hard to submit well-costed proposals in the vain hope of getting some of the government’s “safer communities” dosh would be entitled to be very, very, peeved indeed.

The simple but silly mistake remained unchanged on the site during the day.

Finally – and we think this is the funniest/saddest of today’s contributions for our MSM heroes – let’s say hello to the SMH columnist Peter FitzSimons!

Here’s a slab from his Saturday column…

Now, you might think that a much-loved newspaper columnist who has devoted a sizeable chunk of a column to gleefully take on the rampant hyperbole that often accompanies world-viewing estimates of various televised events might be aware of the importance of not being guilty of using similar hyperbole, especially one that is so easily debunked?

If Shane Warne filled the MCG for his farewell the other night, The Bug kindly suggests Peter book an appointment with Specsavers as soon as possible. Saying the MCG was full was demonstrable, hyperbolic, nonsense.

So, there you have it, budding journalists of Australia. Do you think you have what it takes to churn your way to the very top of the fourth estate? To be the creme de la creme of the industry and not the rancid pail of curds and whey at the very bottom of it.

And to think these contributions from our top four all happened in 24 hours!

Imagine what you could learn from these elite wordsmiths if you studied them for a week or two!!!

Don Gordon-Brown