Search This Blog

Monday, November 12, 2007

Media management on the campaign trail

Michael Gawenda is a former Editor in Chief of The Age and former Washington correspondent for The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald. In "The last road trip" he reports on travelling with the leaders during the election campaign and the steps taken by them to avoid detailed questioning and real contact with the voters. Gawenda says that the controlled campaigning has led the main political journalists to give up travelling with the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister complained last week that the media heavyweights weren't 'out there on the job' following his every move. As another experienced and highly respected journalist Michelle Grattan commented, there is no point. It's not much different on the Rudd campaign trail.

Gawenda contrasts the cosseting of the leaders here with the US, where the candidates for the Democratic and Republican Presidential nominations "will have talked to tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of Americans at rallies and public meetings...... They will have been tested in a dozen debates with their rivals for nomination. They will have stood on the back of flat-back trucks, megaphone in hand, and talked to anyone willing to listen".

All this is before the real campaign starts. Then it's more of the same including three debates organised by an independent body set up for this purpose.

Voting isn't compulsory in the US and that explains some of the difference between campaigning there and in Australia. But as Gawenda comments, American political campaigns are "decidedly old-fashioned and messy"; on the other hand no where else, at least not in any country that has pretensions of being a democracy, is there the level of media management of campaigns that we see in Australia.

There is a PhD in this for someone.

Annabel Crabb tells us what those who weren't with the PM on Tuesday last week missed:

"A brief exposure to the PM at 9.30am, when he visited an empty bus shelter in Bennelong to discuss federal funding for security cameras in his electorate.

Then a numbing three-hour wait in a holding pen at the Epping Club while Mr Howard nipped off and did his own thing, followed by a press conference in which he complained about the lack of attention he was getting, then an hour of watching him be kissed by Liberal ladies in ostrich hats at a Melbourne Cup lunch".

Exciting stuff indeed.

No comments:

Post a Comment