Multiplatform News Analysis: Jacqui Lambie and Yassmin Abdel-Magied Q&A Debate Over Sharia Law

ABC’s Q&A program sparked a fiery debate between senator Jacqui Lambie and Yassmin Abdel-Magied on Sharia law on Monday the 13th of February. Senator Lambie was asked a question regarding immigration and how she reportedly said “Australia should follow Donald Trump’s path”. Ms Abdel-Magied then entered the conversation defending Sharia law, which started the explosive debate.

As Q&A is live, people were tweeting about the altercation between the two women as it was happening. It was a few hours later that the first news specific account tweeted about the debate.

ABC News posted a tweet linking to a video and subsequent article on the debate.

This was the beginning of a barrage of tweets on the subject, with some users agreeing with Ms Abdel-Magied,

and others with Senator Lambie.

It was not long before other news outlets such as The Guardian and The Age also tweeted on the subject, sharing links to their own articles.

Following the tweets from The Guardian and The Age, it spread throughout Twitter, with mostly the public tweeting their own opinions and thoughts on the Q&A debate, with the tweets ranging from the 14th of February up until now.

Social media, such as Twitter, is superior in many ways to the old print style of news sharing. Dunlop (2016) wrote that social media has become the new front page for audiences. Users can now talk to the journalists far easier than they used to be able to, which has turned the public into active participants in the news stories and how they unfold, rather than just passive recipients. This can be seen in how the public participated in sharing this story amongst themselves via Twitter and other social media platforms.

Timeliness of the Story

The publishing speed relative to the speed at which this story was happening varied depending on the media platform. Twitter users were posting tweets on the subject as it was happening, whereas news accounts like ABC News and The Guardian did not tweet or write about it until some time had passed. The interview with Senator Lambie was conducted on the 16th of February, three days after the Q&A episode aired.

News Values

Lamble (2013) discussed the use of the “big six” news values when writing or analysing a journalistic story. These are listed in descending order of most to least important:

  • Significance (or impact) – Wide ranging stories that have a huge impact on a wide range of people
  • Proximity – News that happens close to us, not just geographically, but emotionally and culturally
  • Conflict – Covers a wide range of things: war, sporting events, elections, court cases, etc.
  • Human interest – Based on emotion
  • Novelty – Unusual news stories
  • Prominence – Well known people make news simply for being well known

The debate between Ms Abdel-Magied and Senator Lambie fits into several of the “big six” values. Q&A is an Australian show, and the disagreement happened on live television with thousands of Australians watching it unfold. This puts the story under the proximity category. It also fits into the conflict value, as it was an argument about religious and national laws, and how they do or do not fit into Australia. Ms Abdel-Magied is considered a role model for many young girls, and had a personal investment in the debate, which engaged human interest.

Depth of the Information Provided (5W’s, One H)

Each news outlet included the first W, being who. Either Senator Lambie and Ms Abdel-Magied had their names stated in the headline of the article, or it followed in the story. Their names were included in tweets and in the interview with Senator Lambie. The second W, what, was the main point in each of the media sources used. Everything was either about, or segued off, the debate between the two women. The ‘when’ of the debate was included in most of the news articles, stated as being Monday night. A specific date was not given in the articles, besides the publication date of them. All the news media sources listed the ‘where’ as the Q&A. They also all mentioned that the debate started after a question was posed to Senator Lambie regarding Sharia law, which gives the ‘why’. The ‘how’ of the story is mentioned as Senator Lambie and Ms Abdel-Magied having different beliefs and different opinions about Islam and Sharia law, which led to the argument.

Fairness and Balance 

After the Q&A episode, several news sites published articles on the debate that occurred. The articles by The Guardian and ABC News were both reporting on what had happened during the Q&A, using quotes that Senator Lambie and Ms Abdel-Magied had said during the episode. Other news sites, such as The Age and The Australian published pieces in favour of either Ms Abdel-Magied, or Senator Lambie.

The Australian published two articles specifically about Ms Abdel-Magied and her stance on Islam’s treatment of women and that she “reached out to the spokesman for anti-gay and anti-women group Hizb ut-Tahrir in the wake of her fight on ABC TV’s program Q&A for advice on how she could have framed her argu­ment better” (Morton, 2017)

The Sydney Morning Herald took a different approach to the story. Instead of writing about the Q&A debate, they wrote about the effect it had later. An alt-right group launched a petition demanding that the ABC fire Ms Abdel-Magied. The Sydney Morning Herald wrote about the petition, and the defences Ms Abdel-Magied had for her religion on the Q&A program.

Prominence

Despite the amount of coverage this got in online news media and social media, there was surprisingly little coverage in major television news programs. The Morning Show did an interview with Senator Lambie regarding the backlash she received following the Q&A episode. She was questioned about her beliefs on Sharia law, and said “it is a real problem”.

Interview with Senator Lambie

“I’m not an academic, I only know so much about it, but let’s get the discussion out there. I know one thing, I don’t like it, I’m not comfortable with it….”

The main argument Senator Lambie pushed during her interview is that the discussion surrounding Sharia law is now out there, and that people can “talk about the Sharia law that is going on in this country”.

Ms Abdel-Magied was not interviewed following the debate.

Conclusion

Social media is able to discuss and share news as it happens, whereas television and news sites need time to write or record the story. The three platforms use different ways of sharing news, as twitter is limited to 140 character posts, one can only say so much about a subject, so succinctness is necessary. The written and televised news reports answered all the 5 W’s and One H, making them comprehensive articles. The main differences that can be found in how this story presented are in prominence, and timeliness.  Through all the differences and similarities, it can be seen that the way news stories present over different platforms differs.

1074 words.

References

  • Dunlop, T. (2016). Why the Future Is Workless(1st ed., p. 71). Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.
  • Lamble, S. (2013). News as it happens(1st ed., pp. 45-52). South Melbourne, Vic.: Oxford University Press.
  • Porter, J. (2010). Five Ws and One H: The Secret to Complete News Stories. Journalistics. Retrieved from http://blog.journalistics.com/2010/five-ws-one-h/

 

Industry Analysis of the Journalism Industry

The Industry

 The industry of journalism is one that strives to share information with the public via several different platforms, including but not limited to, newspapers, radio, and television (Henshall and Ingram, 1991). Journalism is an industry that thrives off the readers, and exists solely for and because of the need to inform them of anything that may happen in the world, be it small or large. As journalism is an industry generally unrestricted and uncensored in political matters, journalists can report on any happenings in the government, within limits, without legal repercussions (Wetfeet, 2012). “The journalist places the public good above all else and uses certain methods – the foundation of which is a discipline of verification – to gather and assess what he or she finds.” (Dean, n.d.)

In recent times, journalism has revealed a variety of misconduct happening throughout many institutions. In 2012, The Los Angeles Times revealed thousands of incriminating files that showcased the sexual abuse of Boy Scouts that had been carried out by their troop leaders (The Los Angeles Times Editorial, 2012). The New York Times published an article titled ‘The iEconomy’ in the same year that revealed the horrific, and sometimes deadly, environments Chinese workers built Apple iPhones and iPads (Duhigg et al., 2012). Perhaps one of the most well-known contributions journalism has made to society is informing the public of a report that was released in 2009 detailing the “’endemic’ and ‘ritualised’ abuse of thousands of children in Roman Catholic Schools and orphanages…” (Kelly, 2009). Since then, thousands of other cases of the systematic abuse, often sexual in nature, of children within the Roman Catholic Church have come to light, with 4,444 victims being reported in Australia alone between 1980 and 2015 (Griffiths, 2017).

Journalism has grown and adapted its ways of reaching and interacting with the public with every technological advancement made. “Like the printing press, the telegraph, television and all other forms of media that came before it, the internet has not only changed the methods and purpose of journalism, but also people’s perceptions of news media…” (Crichton et al., 2010). Newspapers have been the publics first source of information on an array of subjects for centuries. However, in the past few decades this area of the industry has experienced major changes, simply due to the invention, and later wide spread use, of the internet (Wiebalck et al., 2011). With the advancement of technology happening at a faster rate as time progresses, it comes as no surprise that this past decade has seen huge changes in the way journalism is carried out. “The spread of cheap camcorders and video- and photo-enabled mobile phones, coupled with blogs and the viral distribution of the internet made publishers realise they were not only competing with each other, but with the readers themselves.” (Bradshaw, 2008). The rise of the smartphone often means that news is first broken by a witness who just happened to catch the scene on their phone. This in turn means that journalism has had to adapt to be able to “harvest what became known as ‘user generated content’” (Bradshaw, 2008). 

Professional Skills

Ultimately, I would like to become a war correspondent. A war correspondent covers conflicts first hand, and writes about the issues that arise during the war in whichever country they go to. War correspondence is not a safe profession. In 2012, 121 journalists died in the field (Goulding, 2013). General requirements for any reporter include a bachelor’s degree and previous internships or experience, an additional desirable attribute for a war correspondent is being able to speak a foreign language or languages (Study.com, n.d.). Before one can become a war correspondent for an agency, instead of just a freelance journalist, it’s suggested that at least a few years’ worth of experience be gained in a local news source, such as for a newspaper, or news station, or radio (Journalism Degree, n.d.).

The MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics states “members engaged in journalism commit themselves to: honesty, fairness, independence, respect for the rights of others” (MEAA, 1944) as a basic code of conduct. Those four terms do, however, encompass the more in depth ethics the MEAA has. These include not placing “unnecessary emphasis on personal characteristics, including race, ethnicity, nationality, etc.” (MEAA, 1944) and not allowing “personal interest, or any belief, commitment, payment, gift or benefit, to undermine your accuracy, fairness or independence.” (MEAA, 1944)

One thing all professionals seem to agree on is that the life of a war correspondent is not an easy one. Young, mostly inexperienced journalists with hardly any training, if any at all, risk their lives solely for the sake of finding a story they can sell, for which they might only earn a small sum of money (White, 2014). “You are paid the same: $70 per piece… The editors are well aware that $70 a piece pushes you to save on everything. They know, too, that if you happen to be seriously wounded, there is a temptation to hope not to survive, because you cannot afford to be wounded.” (Borri, 2013). Despite this bleak description of the life of a war correspondent, Borri later went on to say “the truth is, I ended up in Syria because I saw the photographs in Time by Alessio Romenzi… A vice clamped around my conscience, and I had to go to Syria immediately.” (Borri, 2013). A desire to shed light on the atrocities happening in war torn countries, whilst not being paid enough to survive in an environment such as that, is a necessary trait. Acceptance of the danger one will face is another requirement. War correspondence is not safe, by any means, but the thrill of getting the big story, and the glory and honour that comes with it, keeps even veteran journalists going back for more (Bennett, 2013).

Personal Skills

I learn well through hands on experience, and so would greatly benefit from a journalism internship at a later point in time. I work in customer service, specifically science communication in the public service, so I am also able to communicate information well. One thing I can do to help my prospects is learn a foreign language; one that is native to a war-torn country I might one day go to. Whilst I am highly opinionated, I’m able to remain unbiased about them when necessary, as I must do that in my job. A driving force in my life is the want to help people in whatever way possible, and one way I believe I can do that is through war correspondence. Helping to inform the Western world of the atrocities committed against people in other places, and the complete eradication of their human rights is one way that I believe I can make a difference. I have the “vice clamped around my conscience,” (Borri, 2013) just as Borri wrote she experienced.

References