Which is the bigger problem for Melbourne: tagging or the poor quality of reporting in the Herald Sun, one of Melbourne’s two metropolitan daily newspapers? “Space Invaders” at RMIT Galley has attracted negative media coverage before the exhibition even opened: “Government-sponsored graffiti art show angers campaigners” by Jessica Craven (Herald Sun September 01, 2011).
The Herald Sun is owned by the Murdoch media empire and has all the ethical standards associated with that organization. And yet has chosen to attack The Australian National Library and the National Gallery of Australia for collecting and archiving street art. The Herald Sun’s agenda is clear in their article: “The exhibition comes after the Herald Sun revealed the National Library had archived a Melbourne graffiti website glorifying illegal tagging for its social and cultural value.” The Australian National Library and the National Gallery of Australia, unlike News Corporation, have never been accused of any crimes, have never been accused of overt bias and are staffed by highly trained professionals.
The Herald Sun has no interest in the arts and closed down their entire arts section last year. However, the Herald Sun finds it profitable to generate anger and to create controversies where there are none. The ethical standards of Adelaide Now, who reprinted the article, appear hypocritical after publishing a comment that suggests that people go and vandalize the exhibition.
Jessica Craven, the reporter for the Herald Sun, does not regularly cover the arts. She is also known for being one of the two reporters to write about: “Oprah sparking controversy over golliwogs”. (See Crikey for the full details of that stupid piece of reporting by Jessica Craven)And the Independent Media Centre Australia has also accused Jessica Craven of “distorting the news to fuel racism”.
If the Herald Sun had a real arts reporter they might have written something better. The reporter could have attended the exhibition before writing about this important travelling exhibition from the National Gallery of Australia. The story ignores the local angle that the exhibition is a homecoming for the art Melbourne’s major street artists including: HaHa, Rone, James Dodd, Meek, Ghostpatrol, Miso and Civil. A competent reporter would have at least mentioned the range of art in this exhibition: the stencils, posters, paste-ups, zines, artist’s sketchbooks and stickers. Even discussed the themes in the exhibition: the politics, the ad-busting and the return of the hand.
A good reporter would have also included quotes from opening speeches from Rupert Myer, the Chair of National Gallery of Australia, who hoped that the exhibition would provide a safe place for public debate. I’m not that optimistic. The intellectual and cultural vandalism of the Herald Sun is a significant problem for Melbourne, making all the tagging in the city trivial in comparison. In attempting to generate controversies the newspaper creates problems rather than fairly reporting and informing the public.