January 02, 2004


The Sydney Morning Herald’s Geoff Kitney explains his newspaper’s guiding philosophy:

Since when did you need "expertise" to be "qualified" to engage in political debate. The essence of any democracy is that everyone is qualified to say whatever they think and the essence of a healthy democracy is that they are encouraged to do so with vigour.

Now we know why the SMH gets it wrong so often. Who needs expertise? Say whatever you think!

Posted by Tim Blair at January 2, 2004 09:27 AM

No expertise is requisite for one to participate in a political debate & this idea goes back to Socrates. We ask the general what will happen if we go to war, but we decide whether to go to war. If in a political debate one offers one’s claims as implicitly buttressed by a special expertise, then one really ought to have & exhibit said expertise—in a newspaper’s case, the expertise of getting the relevant particular facts & getting them right.

Posted by: ForNow at January 2, 2004 at 09:42 AM

What a maroon. Everyone is ENTITLED. Everyone is PERMITTED. Everyone is most certainly not QUALIFIED.

Posted by: Mike G at January 2, 2004 at 10:50 AM

yup, what ForNow said. there is (or was, rather) the expectation that newspapers have their facts straight.

Posted by: samkit at January 2, 2004 at 10:57 AM

The problem with Geoff Kitney's analysis is that freedom of speech is not the issue here. Sure, any citizen is entitled to sound off about any issue, no matter how deep his or her ignorance of the topic. The problem with the clerics is that by making their political statements as senior church people rather than as private citizens they promote the fraud that their office makes their view more valid than their frequently naïve analysis justifies, a form of intellectual bullying. Unfortunately, it is quite likely that because of their office, many will perceive wisdom where wisdom is absent.

Posted by: Geoff Kenney at January 2, 2004 at 11:08 AM

Wisdom is to clerics as vacuum is to nature.

Posted by: Greg at January 2, 2004 at 11:22 AM

The damned SMH. A couple of months ago, I took a call at home. Would I like to receive The Australian daily, delivered at a price way under the newsstand cost? Sure, why not, I said, Devine Snr's column is worth that. Just before Christmas, the papers started arriving each morning- but the Herald, instead of the Australian. Wrapped so tightly in green stretch wrap that you can never get the thing flat enough to read, and full of the usual PC crap like David Dale (yesterday) saying 'Australia kills 370 tourists a year' and some hack on the back ripping Richard Alston because he still wants a result on the ABC's biased Iraq coverage. I would NEVER order the SMH, and I can only guess the tele saleswoman who called me worked for an independent company who subsequently traded a new set of subscribers to the highest bidder. Anyway, I'm not paying for it.

Posted by: Byron_the_Aussie at January 2, 2004 at 11:27 AM

ForNow is says it ..., everyone has the right to their opinion, but they don't have the right to be wrong with their facts.

Posted by: os at January 2, 2004 at 11:40 AM

Mike G, I hope you don't mean that Geoff Kitney is a Queensland rugby league player and/or supporter!

The questions (in these delightful post-modern times), are what is "expertise" and who gets to decide who is "qualified"? Me thinks that the answers to these questions often depend on one's political beliefs. Thus Mike Moore, John Pilger, Miranda Devine or whoever might be eminently qualified to some people, and know-nothings to others.

Political commentary and news, I hope, are very different things and require different approaches.

Posted by: Darlene at January 2, 2004 at 11:51 AM

Oliver Kamm has a very good rejoinder to the Kitney crap here: http://oliverkamm.typepad.com/blog/

Posted by: Geoff Kenney at January 2, 2004 at 04:07 PM

This does explain a lot of Kitney's journalism over the years, yes. Well, let's face it, assigning journalists to write about subjects they no nothing about (even quite complicated subjects) is something of an SMH specialty. Whatever may be said for the Australian, journalists do generally seem to have more expertise about what they are writing about.

Posted by: Michael Jennings at January 2, 2004 at 10:39 PM

Fornow is wrong.
We ask a general what will happen if we go to war...?
Everybody thinks he knows as much as the general or more.
So why ask?
The general's just a tool of the.....(fill in fave villain)

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at January 3, 2004 at 12:10 AM

Everybody has the right to their say, but nobody has the god-given right to be taken seriously, or even to be listened to. Conversely, everybody has the right to disagree vigorously with others' opinions, to ridicule those opinions and to speculate on their motives for holding them. That's what free speech is all about. Pontificating windbags, clerical or otherwise, are often the first to complain about "ïntimidation" and "crushing of dissent" when their opinions get lampooned. Indicates that few of them really support free speech - only their own "right" to foist their opinions on others.

Posted by: Wilmott Fribbish at January 3, 2004 at 01:07 AM

I just do as Mr. Frodo says...

Posted by: Samwise at January 3, 2004 at 06:31 AM

Just because someone has no expertise or extensive research on a subject, or is motivated by a dislike of (insert politician/whatever) here, doesn't neccessarily mean that the person is neccessarily incorrect.

Posted by: Andjam at January 3, 2004 at 02:09 PM