Over the weekend there have been many words written about AJ and his outburst at the Liberal Club.Most of these words have been as response to the vehemence of his speech but little has been written about a more insidious form of AJ’s behaviour – his use of poor logic to overwhelm his audience.
I have been following AJ and his convoluted logic for years,trying to unravel the sense that he uses it, the background to it and the wonder that so few have seen through the manipulation of logical space that he consciously uses and,if confronted, would deny,
Condensing the system AJ uses we can discuss it purely as a transformation of simple logic by hijacking a process that distorts the process of thought into an incredibly “convincing” argument structure. In simple terms most logical thought progresses in the way it has since the time of the Greeks –
Subject A leads to premise B which leads in its turn to conclusion C
Not so in the wondrous world of Jones.
Subject A leads to premise B and then to sub premise B1 which redirects to conclusion C
A simple example from a broadcast I heard; All Aborigines need education therefore we should build schools (simple logic).Jones’ logic – All Aborigines need education but because they are constantly drunk and do not attend school therefore we must redirect funding away from building schools for Aborigines.
By using a redirected premise to justify an illogical action there is an almost “convincing” conclusion drawn from all his arguments.The argument above is totally illogical but appeals to the conservative group because of its sense that saving money from a “misdirected cause” will help other people and it can be justified underneath the illogicality of what I call 1950’s ideology, which is intensely appealing to the over 60 groups that listen to his programme. So logic in its way is used as a direct ideological weapon,as is the case in politics.
.As he speaks on a daily basis to people who have little knowledge of philosophy and logic he will always get away with it, and few journalists actually see through it because of the same reasons and, over time, his illogic becomes the argument of the masses that follow.
This week I have seen and heard two events that have made me both sad and happy – sad, because it represents the outcome of the worst that media management can bring and happy, because it is an event that will set someone free from this form of management.
The death of my friend AD was heralded by her colleagues in academia as a very sad loss to a very brilliant career and a very clever and kind person.The response by her former employer, the national broadcaster,was as pathetic as it was terse because the author of the response only saw fit to profile the outcomes of her connection with the national broadcaster.
I had worked with AD for some years in the late 1980’s and 1990’s and I remember her well as a fine person who, because of her deep knowledge of the media was constantly sidelined into jobs that under-represented her talents.As time went on she left the ABC to become an academic who contributed a lot to the development of media people in the university and also in various boards of learning.It was as if the shackles that had been placed on her were left off and, as usual, represented the fear that media mangers, with less intelligence and creativity had about the structure of their media environment that someone with a bright creativity should be muzzled and now no longer was.
On the other side of the sphere (or perhaps the same?) my dear friend YG left the national broadcaster after many years of working in the technical side.I hope he realised the fact that the world is so much larger out there and had decided to go his own way.During the time he worked in the broadcaster, and suffering from cancer, he was treated as a pariah by many of his media managers and forced to work when he was ill and then ignored if he asked for time off for treatment.their callous refusal of compassion stems once again from that bracketed fear that all is wrong if you are not stoic in your job, and that ignorance is very much bliss
I hope they are both happy wherever they are and I hope their former media managers understand the meaning of shame.
Oh, the olde dayes.When I first started at the national broadcaster there were a plethora of family connections among the staff.In fact whole families worked there.I well remember being introduced to one of my staff members as,”This is Warren, his sisters work in legal, his dad is head of Tech Services and his mum is PA to a senior manager”. Although I was slightly taken aback by this I began soon to realise the benign influence of family among the staff members of the broadcaster.In fact, it became quite a good way of connecting with people you didn’t know in other departments as the one degree of separation always lead to a new contact or a new insight into other ways of working. After a while this quiet nepotism became a normality and it would have stayed that way until the time came for all to change.
I think it all began some time in the 1990’s when the family businesses inside the broadcaster started to break apart as many retired, or left, or were transferred interstate and a new form of nepotism emerged. An insidious nepotism based purely on the friendships accumulated during the years you worked there.It was, and is, a not very kind form of nepotism because it is based grounded in one’s rise to success and the boundaries and loyalties are very thin indeed.Loyalty is to one self and not to the organisation.
I will also state here that this has become a stratified kind of nepotism where the most prominent friendships become a network of media management. The gripes and bitching echo across the corridors of influence.People are lied to, and about and also the rise to the top is paved with bad intentions disguised as good.The departmentalisation of the broadcaster has led to these soft boundaries being exploited by many in may different ways.People have been actively discriminated against in order for the neurotic growth of top-down management style. Media managers are, of course, no different from other managers but they do have one advantage in that they can exploit the cross-talk in such a way that can bury or even elevate personal favourites without anyone really knowing.
It is a cruel universe that is becoming more so as technology de-realises the human condition so that enumerating the value of people in deference to the techne has become a potent device for the nepotism of the elite friendship
Many years ago it was the sign of middle class propriety to explain to enquirers that in order to be seen as part of “high culture” you did not descend into admitting to owning a TV, in fact if you were found out with one you would say, “Oh, but I only watch Channel 2”.Nowadays admitting to not owning a TV either brands you as a recluse or an old hippy, or if stretched, one of those people who don’t understand the media. I have always believed that there is a fourth explanation – the upholding of a model of “high culture” that existed when one was a child (generally if you were born, pre 1965) that your parents upheld and filtered down by accultration to you as an absolute value of retaining the spirit of high culture.This is the spirit of the middle class model of valuing the elite and it’s elitist culture.
To me the whole thing is laughable as the “high culture” model does not exist in the form they want to upheld today.In fact, it is a residual form of the post-enlightenment tradition of the absolute value that requires the individual to not be “contaminated” by popular culture in any way. This requires the people who protect high culture to ‘seal off” their mediums from the genral popular culture , which is downright impossible because many of these people own computers (today) and are surrounded by popular culture which they are “absorbing”, if not unwittingly, into their own definition of culture, without really understanding the medium of its transmission and, in fact, trying to create a boundary between themselves and it.
I wish I could expand here the notion of the post-enlightenment tragedic theme that highlights these opinions on “high culture”,because it is a complex historical problem, but, at its base, it is an alienation from the values of the everyday, as this is the culture that tends to deny the tragedy of living (as exemplified by the tragic heroes of Goethe and Schiller and just about every “classic” novel since)and just lives it ,as Henri Lefebvre points out.The “high culture” advocates try to water down popular culture by always stating that “high culture” stands both in opposition to and seperate from the culture that surrounds us.This means that an absolute value can be ascribed to their reception of culture – only, of course, in the form of “classic” novels, “classical” music and “classic” thetare.However, they are also open to the trends or movements by the high culture itself, which, over time absorbs what is editorially considered as “correct” culture.
The problem, as we saw above, is that these value systems are now, basically, defunct except as an economic system of culture, and as an economic system it is charged by the motor of supply, demand and profit. So theatres, concert halls, publishers and the media supply an “ideology” of high culture that is based purely on the ability to purchase such culture.
I suppose I get really annoyed at the “oh, I am a better person because I don’t own a TV” not because it affirms the supremacy of high culture but more an ignorance of what “high culture” has become.
The sad news today of the death of polymath Alan Saunders gave me thought about the way he actually became part of the national broadcaster’s family.I knew, I was there.
A panel had been brought together to choose a new broadcaster for the Science unit and the four of us who came together for this rather trying day of interviews were all good friends and we all were part of the “cynical” crowd in Radio National so we were very wary about the why and hows of the selection process.And this was reinforced when we were given a stern lecture by Robyn Williams before the interviewinq process about the young PHd grad he had met in Oxford, who he described as “very very talented” and then he said that as far as he was concerned he would be the only candidate we should choose.
Well, red rags to a bull, it made us more cautious about this genius as we were very unsure about the fact that the ABC had actually brought him out to be interviewed (even then a costly process).We actually finished the process by choosing a talented geneticist from Melbourne, thumbing our nose at Robyn and his lecture.However, Alan was our second choice and became a firm favourite after we discovered that the first candidate had already been offered a plum job by TV.So, we reconvened and chose Alan and, as they say in radio, the rest is history. Robyn was right, he was the finest polymath on radio and he will be sorely missed , sadly along with the three other incredibly talented panelists who, also, are no longer with us….
The recent flurry of activity over the ANU School of Music has lead to a revelation that the Manhattan School of Music did not agree to some of the recommendations that the School wanted to do in regard to using the Manhattan School as a tutorial base via computer link.In fact , the American school had not even heard of these new outcomes at the ANU and protested vociferously at the possibility they were being used by the School as part of a “makeover” campaign.
This reminded me of what I call the ex-post facto way of management in major organisations, in particular large public broadcasters (You know the one I am talking about) where policy is created, generated and then the poor old worker on the ground floor finds that these pie-in-the-sky policies cannot be realised in the funny old world of reality.
I used to think there was a disjunction between policy, planning and working through these ideas but have come to the conclusion, in recent years, that upper level managers in broadcasting are so immured in their fantasy world of new technologies, cloud surfing and quizzical looks as the techno geeks serve them up a new plate of activity, that they cannot see the outcome for the trees!
It has been this way for many, many years in the broadcasting world because as managers ascend to the starry heavens of policy they lose contact with the things that bump against their knees or the cut and thrust of day to day activity in the real world of broadcasting. We used to call it the “7th floor condition” because these suited gentlemen (mostly) would only deign to come out of their offices on the 7th floor of Broadcasting House if they could be protected from the hoi-polloi by a battery of advisers, hangers-on and fawning middlelevel managers on contract, who live in fear of December 31!
So it is that the BIG PLANS of senior management tend to be watered down by the time it reaches the scurrying minions at their desks because like the big lie it has to be bolstered with some rare truth, if only to protect the organisation from being embarressed at the next black-out. Ah, from little things,big things grow….
For it is the little “untruths” that media managers can sometimes control not only their staff but retain the status quo among their kind.It always amazed me that the national broadcaster supported wholeheartedly the anti-discrimination act in policy it generally ignored it completely in practice, particularly where the vendetta or personal grudge is concerned. In recent years the implicit attack on individual freedom, through attack on personal vulnerability or a threat to marginalise the individual, is quite common.the technique is above all to attack the individual “upwards” to the media mangers’ manager and to stifle any evidence that allows the individual to attack the personal opinion of the media manager.In terms of anti-discrimination it lies at the core of the central ethic of “fair play” in value.
In recent weeks there has been a noticeable attempt by the new presenters on ABC Breakfast to acquire the hard-hitting status of journalists with attitude.It seems funny to be that these Gen Y presenters really want to emulate the old fashioned journos of yesterday but I think they are only looking at the starry blur of the Walkley award at the end of the year.
This had lead to some really clunky, inexperienced intervewing technique by Karina Calvhalo in some of her op’ pieces, in particular her interview with Bryce Courtney, which started out as a bright puff piece but ended in a spiteful mode of questioning that attempted to belittle an 80 year old man and make him reveal truths he need not or had not wanted to reveal.Her mode of questioning was to suck in the author with a bright series of questions about his health and then quiz him, like a prosecuting attorney, about his childhood in South Africa, in particular his relationship with his sister.
Why did she do it? Well, you could see the shine in the eyes as the Walkley winning revelations were about to come forth.However, she did not realise that Bryce Courtenay is an 80 year old man who has been interviewed thousands of times by journalists of rougher and more robust quality than this Gen Y reporter. In fact, she should of been aware that the content of her inquistion was so fragmented that it would only remain viable if he actually agreed with her and,like a lot of Gen Ys, she was shocked that he didn’t agree with her, nor wanted to.
Life is supposed to be easy in this gamified universe where stroking the ego is a pre-requsitie for young journos on their path to fame and fortune.But, caveat emptor, the world is much larger than the ABC Studios in Southbank.Much, much larger.