Saturday 20 Apr 2019 | 13:44 | SYDNEY
Saturday 20 Apr 2019 | 13:44 | SYDNEY

A blog that breaks stories


Sam Roggeveen


16 June 2009 11:03

Christian Kerr claims in yesterday's Australian that 'we have no political bloggers who break stories'. He's not reading The Interpreter:

  • The Age reported on its front page in November 2007 that, according to The Interpreter, Australia had sold surplus jet fighters to Pakistan in the early 1990s, now being used to test a nuclear-capable missile.
  • In February 2008, ABC radio and ABC Online gave blanket coverage to The Interpreter’s story that an Australian company had sold designs for the hull of a missile-armed ship to the Chinese Navy.

We've also broken a few stories that the mainstream media has yet to latch on to:

  • Andrew Selth wrote about a possible nuclear connection between North Korea and Burma.
  • Graeme Dobell has covered the poor relationship between our foreign minister and trade minister.
  • I reported on the possibility that Australia's reluctance to join a new international clean energy body was connected to strained relations with Germany.

Some of these are minor stories, in the grand scheme of things, and I don't want to suggest that The Interpreter's worth should be measured solely by its record as a news source. That is Kerr's implication when he says that 'What we have on our political blogs is analysis. And talk. Endless talk.'

Well, sure, but analysis and talk is actually important, and sometimes more important than breaking the news itself. In fact, quality analysis can drive the story and become the news. For instance, I have seen no one else lay out the Iran coup scenarios in quite the way Anthony Bubalo did on The Interpreter yesterday. It is an original contribution to the discussion, which is presumably why Crikey has asked our permission to reproduce it in their daily email today.

Similarly, Rory Medcalf's first Interpreter post on the Indian student protests was read in India and led to him writing an op-ed for India's most respected news magazine. The post itself was reproduced word-for-word on 4 June in one of India's mass-circulation tabloids, Mail Today.

If Christian is trying to argue that the Australian political blogosphere is less healthy and dynamic than its American equivalent, then I heartily agree, and wish it weren't the case. But there are people and organisations trying to push things in that direction, and the Lowy Institute is doing its part.