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Media briefs: Oz guilty, Sales not … babysitter Wong … scoop wars …

The Australian has received a whack for its wind farm coverage but the ABC’s interview with Tony Abbott is A-OK with ACMA. And other media tidbits.

The Australian guilty on wind farms. The Australian newspaper has been found guilty of breaching Australian Press Council standards by running an opinion piece comparing wind farm businesses to a “p-edophile ring” and a “government-endorsed Ponzi scheme”.

The press council found the article, written by UK Daily Telegraph columnist James Delingpole, guilty of inaccuracy, offensiveness and misrepresentation. The APC upheld three aspects of the complaint: the scheme in question was not “reasonably analogous” to a Ponzi scheme; there is no evidence to support a claim that a law firm issued gags over the issue; and that the p-edophile reference was unnecessary and offensive.

Delingpole — the author of books including How to be Right: The Essential Guide to Making Lefty Liberals History and Welcome to Obamaland: I Have Seen Your Future and It Doesn’t Work —  helped break the “climategate” email story in 2009. He was slated to run as an independent anti-wind farm candidate at a recent UK byelection but pulled out at the last minute.

Rather than say sorry and move on, The Oz has used the adverse finding to pummel two of its favourite punching bags: the ABC and Ray Finkelstein. The Oz, as detailed in front-page “exclusive” today, is outraged the ABC did not uphold a complaint about Radio National Science Show host Robyn Williams.

The veteran presenter began a recent show by saying: “What if I told you that p-edophilia is good for children, or that smoking crack is a normal part and a healthy one of teenage life, to be encouraged? You’d rightly find it outrageous. But there have been similar statements coming out of inexpert mouths again and again in recent times, distorting the science.” — Matthew Knott

… but the ABC is innocent. In other media watchdog news, the Australian Communications and Media Authority has dismissed a complaint of bias against 7.30 host Leigh Sales. ACMA received two complaints about Sales’ August interview with Tony Abbott, claiming the Walkley Award winning pow-wow showed bias on the part of the ABC and Sales. The watchdog concluded the interview was “probing” and “robust” but not partial. — Matthew Knott

Scoop wars on Fairfax investigation. The broadcast media appear to have knocked off a cracking newspaper scoop months in the making with scant regard for the facts. This morning crack Fairfax Media investigative duo Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker reported on the front page of The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review a scandal involving allegedly corrupt customs officers involved in drug importations. But the story was already sloshing around in the ether hours earlier.

Last night on Channel 10 news at 5pm, Sandra Sully introduced the bulletin’s lead item thusly: “Now to breaking news from Sydney Airport where we can exclusively reveal corruption allegations involving dozens of customs officers … Ashlea Brown is breaking this story for us tonight.” Brown claimed that “from what Ten News understands”, “30 customs officers were allegedly involved in corrupt activity”. She said AFP commissioner Tony Negus and home affairs minister Jason Clare were set to hold a press conference but that “for some reason” it was delayed.

But McKenzie told Crikey this morning the cobbled together on-the-fly report was factually wrong: ”The reporter comes out at Sydney Airport and says ‘we can reveal up to 30 offices’. There was never meant to be a press conference yesterday, that’s wrong. Every line she said was factually incorrect. And then Channel Nine sees Channel 10 and its reporter gets up in the studio and talks about ‘breaking news’. Why do you try and and claim it as your own if you don’t have the facts? I find it all so odd.”

Channel Seven and online outlets including the Herald Sun also ran sketchy stories without having had the benefit of McKenzie and Baker’s copy, which was spruiked with a pointer on The Age website from about 8pm. A story in today’s Australian by Paul Maley contained an almost identical lead to Fairfax’s with the inclusion of the word “reportedly” and without initial attribution to Fairfax Media. McKenzie said he and Baker first approached law enforcement in October with a desire to publish but that they respected the delay for operational reasons. — Andrew Crook

TGM disquiet over cuts. The Global Mail remains in turmoil following six redundancies announced last week, with former staff taking to Twitter to complain about their former website’s managerial competence. And the discontent has been amplified by The Global Mail’s website — which continues to display its sacked journos’ tweets.

Yesterday, investigative reporter and NY correspondent Sharona Coutts tweeted that she was “partly, sad, partly honoured to join @jessradio [Middle East correspondent Jess Hill] in being ‘terminated’ by @theglobalmail”, a tweet which promptly appeared on her Global Mail profile. Earlier, Hill, who is recovering from brain surgery for a benign tumour, also expressed her disgust:

 

Meanwhile, there is now a lengthy list of departed Global Mail staff the site first launched a year ago, which does not include some administrative staff made redundant last week. Gordon Weiss resigned in late 2012, Hill was made redundant this month, Joel Tozer resigned in November, founding editor Monica Attard departed in May, investigative intern Paul Farrell resigned in March and environment, science and tech reporter Sarah-Jane Collins was made redundant alongside Coutts. — Andrew Crook

Slipper v Simons: crunching the numbers. Crikey has put The Australian under the microscope and compared its words about the Peter Slipper saga with its words about journalism academic Margaret Simons in the past couple of weeks. Overall, from December 13 last week (the day after the Slipper case was thrown out of court) until today, The Oz gave Slipper 7781 words. During that time — or rather, since Tuesday when the first story appeared — the paper has devoted 4063 words to Simons’ criticism of its Operation Neath story.

Stories relating to the Slipper case include one opinion piece calling Mal Brough “the latest victim of the ongoing scandals surrounding Slipper”. The count was taken from the printed paper only and includes the news pages, A-Plus sections and the weekend news pages and the Inquirer section over that time.  — Crikey intern Alex Burgess. 

Media release of the day. Even by silly season standards, this effort from Core Data takes polling to new lows.

Front page of the day. The NT News grabbed our attention with this pointer to page two: “Royal couple gives birth”.

It came as a disappointment — if not a surprise — that the birth in question was in fact by a “royal croc couple” named Will and Kate.

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  • 1
    klewso
    Posted Thursday, 20 December 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    If Sales had been found guilty of that, there’d have been “No Contest” entries entered after her various interviews with those of Labor (Gillard, Tanner, Chris Evans and Plibersek armed with a grab-bag of embarrassment under the table, to name a few) and the rest of the Left this year and previous.
    How precious are these conservatives - like Morris? How would they like their side subjected to her sort of interview reserved for the Left?

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