One upon a time, when the Prick was a young journalist, there was an imperative that practitioners of the craft try and get both sides of the story. Then, a few years ago, all that seemed to change: now all one has to do to be a journalist is call up a rent-a-quote source, take a few notes, and get the subs to pull together a headline saying your man either “supports” or “backs” your pre-conceived point of view, or that he “blasts” or “condemns” someone who had the temerity to take the opposite tack.
Take yesterday’s Herald: the paper reported (“Today the Herald can reveal”, the paper wrote, a healthy tip that they were the beneficiaries of a selective leak) that NSW’s teetotal police commissioner, who has vowed to crack down on the demon drink, is pushing to limit the number of bottle shops around town on the theory that more booze means more bogans thumping their missus.
Then today, the followup: “Police backed in singling out bottle shops”. On what basis, you ask?
Michael Livingston, a research fellow at the Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre in Melbourne, studied the density of all types of liquor outlets in Victoria and found bottle shops were key.
”As you increase bottle shops in a neighbourhood you increase rates of domestic violence and rates of chronic disease,” he said. ”We know that they’re concentrated up to eight times more in poor neighbourhoods than rich neighbourhoods in Victoria.
The “Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre”? If that sounds to you like the sort of place you’d go to dry out, you’d be right. To put it another way, he would say that, wouldn’t he? And let’s not even get into the odd logic at work here: You could go to some of these “poor neighbourhoods”, close down all the bottle-o’s save for one little independent joint that sells nothing but boutique Tasmanian pinots, trade everyone’s old bombs in for Audis and Volvos and guess what? You’d still have a bunch of povvo deadshits whose reasoning skills begin and end at the end of a fist. I exaggerate slightly, but the middle-class sociologist worldview, which holds the very backwards notion that if you give the poor the trappings of the middle class they’ll magically start acting middle class has informed a good seven decades of social policy and been found wanting every time.
But nevermind, by running the story the Herald gets to keep its good relationship with the government press offices, and the nannies get to chip away a little further at freedom.