tip off

Tips and rumours

Xmas grinch strikes at AAP … what, no booze at mining party … did Wayne kill the Queen Mum? …

From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

The grinch strikes at AAP … Crikey has been nosing about to find great/lame Christmas parties and gifts at work. And it seems AAP’s resident Santa hasn’t quite got the hang of the gig:

I was an account manager at AAP for several years. One of the many sad and spirit-crushing aspects of the job was being ordered to hand-deliver the horrible, tacky corporate Christmas gifts, hand-picked by the Commercial Director (with a taste bypass) who invariably picked cheap and nasty AAP-monogrammed vinyl diaries or desk organisers and medium-grade chocolates for the ‘elite’, top-spending clients, chocolates only for ‘the second tier’. To add to the humiliation, we then had to insult their taste and waste their time even further by calling them up to get their feedback to pass back to the Commercial Director, who could then quote their polite thanks back to the board to show what excellent client relationships she was creating. Was v happy to be able to add one of my favourite client’s quotes to the spreadsheet — ‘You guys send the same crap every year. The chocolates were OK but I tell my secretary to put the other stuff straight in the bin.’ A complete waste of money, landfill and everyone’s time and dignity.”

However, to leap to the defence of AAP (which houses the hardest-working journos in the country), the editorial staff in the press gallery have been treated to a nice meal and some drinks out each Christmas time, on the company. No quibbles there. If you’re in line for an awesome or terrible Christmas event courtesy of your boss, please do drop us a line. And we love to get invites too!

… and at Fenner. No booze at a mining company’s Christmas do? That can’t be right! Is this because of Gina Rinehart’s recent advice to, well, everyone that they should “spend less time drinking or smoking and socializing, and more time working”?

Mining services company Fenner has limited Xmas parties to a flat $50 a head and no booze even though Fenner PLC is having a quite stellar time of it with turnover up 18% and OP up 30%. If you’re not going to reward your employees based on those numbers, why even bother with the insult offered?”

Computer says no. A frustrated artist passed this on:

Online submissions for the National Photographic Portrait Prize closed at midnight, EST, yesterday November 19. Unfortunately the submission website (indeed the entire National Portrait Gallery website) collapsed from about 11.15pm, returning 502 proxy errors. Presumably not up to handling the flood of submissions close to the deadline.”

Who killed the Queen Mum? We’ve had a lavish response from readers about our musings on who killed off the Queen Mother on Australian radio — when she was still alive (and probably having a gin and a giggle about the whole affair). Seems it was indeed 2UE/3AW who stuffed up and reported the “death”.

A very well-placed source who was working at rival 2GB tells us this:

I well remember the Queen Mother story because of the embarrassment it caused our rivals at 2UE/3AW/4BC. The story was an Aussie journo working at Sky in the UK saw a story about the Queen Mother dying. It was the update of the obituaries all TV stations keep on file, but he didn’t realise this and for some reason rang his mum in Brisbane, who rang 4BC. They checked the story by RINGING HIM! And he of course, confirmed it, so they ran it across the whole network. It broke just as the morning TV bulletins were going to air and they all ran it without checking. 2GB News refused to even mention the story despite coming under intense pressure from announcers angry at being scooped by the rival. The 2GB news editor Alan Baskin refused on the grounds there was no way an Australian radio station would scoop the most competitive press pack on the planet — the Fleet Street Royal watchers. He was right. Within an hour it was confirmed the story was wrong and the poor bloke at Sky was sacked.”

Another media mole reckons the affair, which happened in the early ’90s, saw the false report broadcast on ABC Radio and one of the commercial TV networks.

A third source says it was “a young Aussie named Wayne” who was working at Sky and got it wrong. A story in The Independent from 1993 confirms the culprit as technician Wayne Hanson, who took his boning rather philosophically at the time, saying it “could have happened to anyone”. Even Golden Tonsils John Laws was sucked in, according to the paper:

Within minutes, John Laws, the host of a high-rating Sydney radio phone-in programme, was taking a call from a woman choking back tears. ‘It was expected,’ Laws told her. ‘She was the darling of the Royal Family. I just wonder what direction the Royal Family might take now.’”

Our mole adds a postscript:

Of course embarrassment all round when it turned out to be wrong. But the best postscript came from London. In the list of instructions to news presenters in the case of a genuine report of the Queen Mother’s death — such as breaking into programs to announce the news, wearing black ties and something black for women — someone waggishly added ‘call Wayne’s mum’.”

The take-home from this amusing clusterf-ck for cub reporters: your mum is not a journalist (unless she is).

*Do you know more? Send your tips to boss@crikey.com.au or use our guaranteed anonymous form.

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