It’s in the way you kiss. No seriously.

Image courtesy of The Daily Telegraph.

By Simone Mazengarb

Perhaps they didn’t teach Julia Gillard how to kiss in media relations 101?

Julia Gillard’s body language was all wrong.

It was a momentous occasion. The Carbon Tax bill had just been passed through the House of Representatives. No doubt she had other things on her mind.

Putting their investigative resources to good use, The Age and Herald Sun consulted a body language expert to help readers digest what this Act meant to the nation.

Her hands and hips sent a strong “hold off” message, the  Age reported. A  common move among women unsure of whether to pull a guy in or push him away.

“If you believe in the concept of authenticity…this [kiss] is just a joke,” Mr Pease said.

Perhaps she should have shook hands? 

What many readers did find comical, was the depth of political reporting from two of Melbourne’s leading newspapers.

One online reader wrote, “everything that’s wrong with political reporting in this country can be seen from this article.”

Former political reporter and lecturer at Canberra University, Julie Posetti, told Triple R radio listeners this type of reporting was insulting.  And not just to Julia.

“I actually find it pretty shocking that body language analysis actually trumps analysis of one of the most fundamentally important shifts in environmental policy in Australia.”

“Do we really have such little respect for our audiences that we are prepared to discuss the kind of material that would be best suited to a tabloid women’s magazine,” she said.

Where then, if not from senior political reporters, do we get our serious news?

Its an idea worth floating in a changing media landscape.

Earlier this year, Crikey reporter, Melissa Sweet wrote a story on the state of health journalism in the US. 

She said Australia’s media industry was not unlike the US, and we are seeing “a loss of in-depth, enterprise and policy-related stories.” The demand for “quick hit” stories in news organisations had gone up.

Journalist’s are required to file more stories, do it quicker and in less space, she said. It’s a tough job.

“They must learn how to decipher, explain, and put in context complex, confusing, and often controversial developments.”

“They need to translate medical speak into plain English,” she said.

Is it too much to ask Australian political reporters to do the same? 

Save the kissing lesson for the magazines. Lets talk about the bill.


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