Monday, December 19, 2011

Something fishy about the link bait

Something (okay a lot) about this The Age/SMH article ("Survivors tell why the boatskeep coming") on the asylum seeker boat sinking on Sunday didn't sit well with me. It just fits the mainstream media narrative on the issue so well - it largely skirts around the disaster itself, and jumps right to the "scoop" of finding an asylum seeker who apparently doesn't want to be an asylum seeker. Somehow, Esmat Adine's view on asylum seeker policy fits the current narrative perfectly  - he even asks Australia to "close the borders". Paging Andrew Bolt!

But, clearly, it's not the whole story (in fact, quite literally). It's actually a cut down version of another article by Tom Allard ("Rescuers find 13 onisland off East Java"), the correspondent, which seems to have been custom built for link bait on the front page.

With a quick Google search on his name, you can see that Adine is the key course for virtually every story on the survivors. That's understandable, I imagine it's going to be hard to find someone in the group who wants to talk, especially given the circumstances of their arrival (to twist a Howardism). But more to the point, as mentioned here in the full piece, which also appears on the Age/SMH website, but is not featured, Esmat Adine is a fluent English speaker, and from what we can gather given the spread of his message, the only English speaker - meaning he's probably the only person most Australian journalists or correspondents could easily interview.

The main thing here, though, is that the short feature article, omits to give us Adine's full message - the survivor is actually saying that he arrived by boat because there was no other viable channel:

''We will do again. Because we have nothing. If we are going to die, our responsibility will be with the Australian government.'' Mr Adine says he tried repeatedly though official channels in Kabul to apply to go to Australia as a refugee.
''They just sent me an email that I should apply in 2013 or 2014. I cannot … my life was in serious danger but nobody would answer me.''

Rather than claiming the government has culpability for not "closing the borders" and therefore putting lives at risk, Adine actually appears to be suggesting that Australia's attitude to seeking overall is the reason lives are at risk - ie. "the queue" doesn't work.

"Australia's policy towards asylum seekers is unfair. Those who catch a boat to Australia are resettled quickly. Those who do not make it, or apply through official channels, are denied."

The cut-down version of the article also omits to tell us that Esmat Adine used to work for a US aid organization in Afghanistan - and thus is in a better position to comment on, and likely apply for, asylum.

Really, given this is what's actually appearing on the Age and SHM frontpages as a feature article it's a mean hatchet job. It also seems to be regurgitating the information for two separate articles: one to dishonestly forward an agenda, the other to actually educate and inform. Hedging your bets much, Fairfax?

1 comment:

  1. i read the speech in julia gillard's voice. and stiff hand gestures. it was great :D