Reporting the NBN right

The fact that both sides of politics are irritated with NBN cheerleaders shows that the media needs to keep them both honest.

George Orwell once said “journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”

Last week was a clearly a win for hacks as both NBN Co and the Federal opposition took swipes at reporters covering the rollout of the National Broadband Network.

At the Sydney leg of the Broadband Realised conference on Thursday Mike Kaiser, NBNCo’s Chief of Quality, rounded on the media for being out of touch with the realities of the project.

Kaiser opened his conference presentation by saying “I want to speak openly and frankly about the progress of this project and get some quality information out there about how the project is progressing and hopefully rely less over time on the popular media.”

Earlier that day opposition telecommunications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull criticised the Australian tech media for their reporting of the NBN, telling the Innovation Bay breakfast that “there is a sort of cheerleader approach to the NBN which is actively, actively misleading people.”

Malcolm Turnbull’s speech criticised Australia’s tech media for the calibre of reporting international trends around broadband issues. Given we know he reads this website, having written a response to Alan Kohler’s recent NBN criticism, it’s surprising he missed stories on this site comparing the project to Google FiberAT&T’s Project VIP and the attitude of Silicon Valley's entrepreneurs to fibre rollouts

This isn’t the first time a senior politician has criticised the media for the quality the NBN reportage. At the launch of the NBN’s revised corporate plan last August, Communications minister, Senator Conroy said, “I have to think if Malcolm Turnbull put out a press release saying cost blow out in the NBN due to earth being flat it would probably lead the front page of the Fin Review.”

At the time Turnbull accused the Minister of descending “further and further into the pit of paranoia,” adding “anyone who disagrees with him is engaged in a vendetta.”

If three’s a crowd, one hopes that Mike Kaiser won’t be joining Turnbull and Conroy at the bottom of the pit of paranoia.

Mythmaking and spin 

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