Freedom of speech. Is it worth it?

October 20th, 2010

Front page no less! For those of you that don’t read the daily Chronicle yesterday saw the Chronicle front page emblazoned with the headline “Blunder Blog from Brooks”. The story then quotes the odd comment from my previous post about my hesitation in signing the Drive to Survive Campaign due to my history of receiving the odd speeding fine and the distinct possibility that I will sometimes exceed posted speed limits in the future. The story is very critical of my stance.
Apparently the Chronicle thought that their front page story might make me change my mind as they say today that my blog stays the same. Well yes… why would I go back and change my blog or change my mind about an issue simply because I make the front page?
But the real issue for me is the issue of freedom of speech and what credence I give to the print media these days to truthfully inform me of issues. If my thoughts expressed here on my web site can be so sensationalised on what must have been a slow news day, it does reflect on the type of journalism that we all are now used to.
My partner tells me that he is sick and tired of watching Current Affairs on TV as they simply recycle stories one after the other.
Maybe this week will be obesity, next week bullying, the week after might be how fast food shops are poisoning us then we could have another story on how someone or other is ripping someone off and then we finish with a sex scandal or two and probably a bad Council story. While we do need to be informed of such issues we are bombarded with so much negativity that we start to believe we live in a big bad awful world when in fact the opposite is true. Most people are nice people and we are lucky to live in a great country where we are relatively safe and well cared for.
My favourite topical show these days is Q and A. On that show we actually see and hear the words as spoken by leading figures. Their own words unedited and unsensationalised. I have learned more about my political leaders via this show than any other ‘news’ forum in recent memory. I learn if the guests are polite or rude, sensible or not and intelligent or not. I have a far greater appreciation of someone after an hour of chat than I get from a one or two sentence grab during the nightly news.
So to conclude. This blog is my blog and everyone can read it or not. Yes as a Councillor I do have a responsibility to ‘lead’ and I believe that I also have a very strong responsibility to freely and openly communicate with my constituents and give them an opportunity to communicate with me. I don’t for one second believe that I give up my rights to express a personal opinion and I refuse to simply do what many people have advised and just ‘shut up’ and not speak out. The best way to be elected, to my mind, is to have no opinion on anything much at all apart from the popular opinion of the day and to keep your head down and smile nicely. Well I’m just not like that. I have opinions and some people will always disagree with them.
But I don’t blindly follow what experts tell me. I question rhetoric and I believe that the voices of our community deserve listening to and acting upon. For example I don’t agree when ‘experts’ tell me a tree falling onto our beach due to erosion is now a ‘marine plant’, and I don’t agree with someones advice simply because they have a qualification. I would rather much listen to people who have work and life experience and can really understand the issue at hand.
So I will continue to say what I think, be open to new information and prepared to change my mind.
PS When will the road ‘experts’ lower the speed limit at the Craignish Shops corner Burrum Heads Rd, from 100kmh to 80kmh. That corner is a dangerous one… ‘in my opinion!’

2 Responses to “Freedom of speech. Is it worth it?”

  1. Colin Burton 20 Oct 2010 at 8:28 am

    Sympathies to you Sue. The fault lies in the contemporary media’s need to “sell” advertising . To sell advertising column space, or time on air, they need to demonstrate readership / viewers. Large numbers of them. To get large numbers of them they have to direct content to the lowest common denominator of audience. These have an attention span of less than three minutes so grabs must be short and ‘punchy’ with topics more suited to supermarket checkout magazine readership than the traditional old broadsheet or National Broadcaster. The biggest audience grabbers are health, crime, weather, real estate, and character assassination. Unfortunately even the ‘respectable’ media are sucked in to ratings competition with the gutter media. Just visit the once great ‘thunderer’ – the Times of London. Now unfortunately in the hands of that ‘page three girls’ ex-Australian proprietor.

    The future of sensible communication lies with the internet and blogging . So cheap that advertising need only be minimal to fund it, and readership numbers are no longer crucial.

  2. Paton 20 Oct 2010 at 8:39 am

    It does seem that the Chronicle has it in for you, but to be totally honest, I believe that it was you who started this war by firing the first shot. You were the one who told the community that they had absolutely no right to criticise you in any way shape or form because they have not walked a day in your shoes. After a statement like that, can you really be surprised that the local newspaper will take aim back at you?

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