How the focus of public discussion shifts and blurs as the pandemic wears on.

When the pandemic first began, the domain of public discussion was relatively clearly defined and people remained more or less in their areas of expertise.

The only exception was that the politicians enlisted public health bureaucrats for their daily press conferences to give credibility to their pronouncements. And that was probably a good thing.

Victorian CHO Brett Sutton and
Premier Dan Andrews

The role of the media was to report on what economists, economists, political scientists and politicians were saying in their areas of expertise.

This meant that when an epidemiologist such as Professor Tony Blakely or Professor Catherine Bennett spoke, we could be fairly certain that they knew what they were talking about.

But over time, that emphasis changed, most markedly in the role the media took. Reporters, with no particular expertise in any area, began to offer commentary on areas well beyond their expertise. It was a gradual and barely perceptible erosion but gradually various members of the media installed themselves as an expert commentariat.

What followed was that various members of other areas of the domains of expertise began to make commentary on areas outside their expertise the boundaries between the areas of expertise became a little blurred.

We are used to politicians making pronouncements about topics about which they they have absolutely no understanding. It’s more difficult when an epidemiologist begins making pronouncements about the value of children being able to use playgrounds. Or where reputable newspapers promote their columnists as authorities in areas we allll beyond their expertise as journalists.

It’s a fine line and a good news paper will tread it very carefully. Gay Alcorn wrote an editorial criticising the Victorian Premier and his handling of the extension of the six lockdown Loved, hated, read: The editorial with the extraordinary response

Many people supported the stance she took, just as many were critical.

From my perspective, it was an example of a journalist making commentary in areas in which she had no expertise and as a result offering nothing of substance which was pretty because many of the criticism were valid but not for the reasons that she suggested.

Her response would be that it is the role of the newspaper and in particular the hold government to account.

I would say she failed to do so.

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