It seems I’m not the only one over the bombardment.
In Australia, as in Britain and the United States, professional mass media are part of the establishment.
This status even has its own name: The Fourth Estate.
At times like the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the pressure to conform to political and social expectations is intense. So much so, that even so-called ‘alternative media’ outlets drop down and show their colours.
These expectations include treating such a story as being of overwhelming importance, and preferring to promote ‘unity over divisiveness’, ‘respectfulness over criticism’, the ‘status quo over radical change’, ‘politesse over frankness’, and ‘sentimentality over hard-headedness’.
Instead of reporting the black and white events as they happened, mass media quickly begins publishing overreaching emotional drama in addition, acting as ‘thought police’ to any differing reaction.
The message through this period is clear: You must care, and you must not criticise.
It is a time when everyone puts aside the role of the media to hold power to account, so as not to risk being pilloried for ‘betraying’ those expectations.
In addition, you must be bombarded with non-stop coverage until your eyes bleed.
In this piece today, I want to take a look at this coverage specifically.
Traditionally, there is a fixed routine to covering events like this – a trunk story summarising the main news points, reaction from political leaders, tributes, stories of ordinary people’s encounters with the queen, a potted history of her reign, reminiscences of her visits to Australia.
It was all there this time, and it started off good for the press establishment.
On the Friday night, from Australia’s five biggest cities, Seven News attracted 852,000 viewers, Nine News drew 736,000 viewers, and the ABC’s ‘Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022)’ got 201,000 viewers.
From here, however, coverage has just got more bizarre and banal by the day.
Stories such as ‘clouds containing visions of the queen’s head‘ or ‘the queen on a horse’; the ‘new king losing his temper over a leaky fountain pen’; a little girl who dressed up like the queen.
So was the shmaltzy tone, like the headline describing ‘her lasting love for the harbour city’.
When was the last time the Queen even thought about Sydney’s (masonic) harbour?
It goes on and on.. and on some more.
Thousands of dollars have been spent sending teams to clog up the news with non-stories.
However, by the time the weekend had finished, Seven’s coverage of the proclamation of Charles III attracted 279,000 viewers, and its tribute to the Queen a dismal 136,000 viewers.
This is a significant drop, and ultimately, there is a lesson here.
The psychological grip these stations once had is not as ‘clear cut’ as it used to be decades ago.
THE DINOSAUR MEDIA
In addition to the media, this model has also been a reflection of manufactured public expectations too.
For decades, the mainstream media has engineered the public opinion they then seek to control, keeping people attentive and tuning in for more on a regular basis. In turn, this fills their pockets.
Queen Elizabeth was the only head of state any Australian not in their seventies has ever known, and perhaps they expected the emotional warp (on top of the black and white) to last a little longer.
However, these expectations about how stories of importance are covered have clearly shifted.
Rolling television coverage now loses attraction swiftly, unless there is new material continuously replenishing it. A new update or ‘threat’, such as coronavirus or the bushfire saga.
In this respect, the steam had started to go out of the general royal story by Saturday evening.
The death of the Queen and the proclamation of the King had been done.
By Sunday, the only development was the start of the journey of the Queen’s body.
If it’s the same old tired stories on repeat, the people are now choosing to switch off.
Which is a good sign to see.
It means the ‘programming’ isn’t as heavy on the mind anymore.
Everyone can see that this coverage has descended into nothing but a giant circus; an attempt by the fourth estate to capture more revenue now that disease fearmongering has worn off.
But the people just aren’t buying it.
This is interesting when you consider that morning talk shows and evening current affair programs — two of the most guilty field of overused, repetitive nonsense — are losing viewers in the tens of thousands.
It seems even the prime time news updates are struggling to keep their audiences as well.
The people are now more interested in what they are being distracted from while coverage continues.
Thankfully, TOTT News is not part of the fourth estate, and will continue to bring you the true alternative.
An independent alternative. There is a difference.
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