By Steve Jenkin
May 6, 2013
Josh Taylor of ZDnet conducted a 45-minute “Communications Debate” between Conroy and Turnbull today. He did a splendid job with a couple of unruly protagonists not out of place in a kindergarden.
My praise and plaudits to Josh: well done, for conceiving and carrying out this head-to-head.
The most reported part of the “Debate” was when Conroy got under Turnbull’s skin and was called “a grub”.
- Turnbull had a very informed and tech-savvy audience, yet maintained his argumentative, “content-free” style, reiterated vague generalities and platitudes and trotted out the same old electioneering phrases.
- The people who are very interested in the NBN are Gen-Y, but seem strangely silent in my world:
- They are the “digital natives”, born since the release of the IBM PC and Apple Mac.
- They know and care about computing and its most recent game-changer, the Internet.
- Their lives, values and views are defined and shaped by the Internet, increasingly by Social Media.
- They can expect to live with this decision for the next 50 years.
- They are, or should be, highly motivated to get the best Value for Money NBN, not in the immediate term, but for the rest of their lives.
- People came along to the debate wanting more than a slanging match and a repetition of the same hackneyed phrases.
- Turnbull repeated the same “talk over what you don’t like” tactic that got his microphone turned off on Triple-J Hack.
- He has still not learned to be considerate & respectful of the moderator.
- Why would a politician whose electoral success depends on the media, deliberately “burn” media contacts, especially Gen-Ys for whom the NBN really matters? It’s bizarre in the extreme. Either he can’t help himself or means to do it.
- The media places Turnbull is no longer welcome will soon become a story in itself.
I think Turnbull misjudged his audience, treating them like the usual Mainstream Media, and either underestimated Conroy or came unprepared (shown by retreating to personal abuse) and didn’t say anything new, nor clearly & succinctly answer the questions asked.
Yes, he talked, a lot, and in the moment always sounds plausible.
But as one tweeter opined: What did he say? I can’t remember now he’s stopped talking.
Turnbull threw away a massive opportunity: he could’ve sold himself and his plan to the technical influencers in the electorate. And done so easily & simply by clearly annunciating his intentions.
The bigger question, the headline of this piece, is the comparative silence of Gen-Y in this NBN debate. If Turnbull was bombarded with 5-10,000 emails and tweets after each of his obnoxious media performances, like today’s, would he moderate his behaviour? You bet!
Gen-Y can take onto itself using the tools that it understands and uses everyday to make its point. We’ve yet to see a spate of mashups or clips ridiculing Turnbull as he pompously stabs his finger making one asinine, misleading point after another. The way the “Kony 2012” meme spread displays what is possible, when driven by someone who cares about a topic.
While those might get engagement with Gen-Y, they wouldn’t get through to the politicians and their parties.
If Gen-Y wants a better future for itself, it has to work for it. That means talking to Politicians and Parties in the language they understand and in the forums they, not Gen-Y, look to.
First, Gen-Y needs to recognise that Politicians only appear deaf; they are, in fact, vitally attuned to polls and market sentiment. Their #1 priority is getting re-elected: No votes, no job. Polls are what Pollies live and die by. Affect them and affect the policies.
But only talking to your mates and having a bit of fun on social media isn’t enough. Gen-Y has to reach out to others, in their heartland, to make their message heard:
- The politicians and their parties are “old-school”, they will sit up and take notice of calls, letters and emails, more than SMS and social media.
- Their parents, as much as anyone, need to be “sold” on the idea that The Internet is here to stay and will be the economic, cultural and political enabler and field of discourse in the future.
- Gen-Y will depend on The Net for their livelihood, entertainment and information/news.
- They want the best Bang for Buck over 25 years, not just 5 years.
- Gen-Y has to sell its concerns and messages to older generations and get them on-side, not bitch and moan amongst themselves and descend into “Learned Helplessness”.
- The “shock-jocks”, especially on AM radio spin a message to older Australians.
- It’s up to Gen-Y to counter those arguments to individual listeners, if they don’t agree and don’t want the future presented there.
The Vietnam Moratorium marches and demonstrations were the Baby Boomers collectively putting their views about their future to older generations and affecting the political process. The nature of war in the West changed fundamentally: conscripts and lots of casualties became politically non-viable. Warfare became very expensive and “messages” tightly scripted and controlled.
Gen-Y has to understand that it gets ONE chance to create the Internet it will have to live with daily for the next 50 years. This is that one chance, now.
They have a voice, they have to learn to use it, they have to fight for what they believe in and want or ‘forever hold your peace’.