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Media briefs: big news day … Indonesia’s take … free fires …

What’s the lead on a big news day? … Bushfires and news website paywalls … Schapelle Corby the “marijuana queen” …

What’s the lead on a big news day? In Victoria the decision was easy: the closure of a significant employer and bushfires ravaging the state. But there was still the royal commission into unions and an extraordinary purge of directors at a major retailer. And of course a certain drug smuggler in Bali.

What a news day. And the priorities of news organisations make for an interesting study. The Age splashed with Toyota; the Herald Sun with the fires. The Sydney Morning Herald crammed Schapelle Corby, the royal commission and Toyota onto its front page (though left the Bali saga spill to page 6-7); The Daily Telegraph ignored the lot to try and catch a crook. The Australian had it all, but led above the fold with its own Newspoll result …

In Melbourne, according to data from iSentia, the TV news bulletins hedged their bets. The ABC, the official emergency services broadcaster, dispatched presenter Ian Henderson to Kilmore to report on the threat, with numerous reports ahead of the news from Toyota. Both Nine and Seven ran with Toyota/fires/Schapelle; Ten put Schapelle ahead of the fires (and to be fair, Toyota was only just breaking when Ten’s news went to air at 5pm). In Sydney the choice was clear: Seven, Nine and Ten all led with coverage from Bali; only the ABC put Toyota and the royal commission ahead. Nine even employed the rather trite “FREE AT LAST” to brand its coverage (and wouldn’t Martin Luther King Jr be proud) …

For the commercial networks especially, which have sent big-spending teams of reporters and crew to Bali, having the Schapelle story drowned out will have news editors (and bean-counters) tearing their hair out. For the rest of us, it’s nice to know some publications have higher priorities. — Jason Whittaker 

Bushfires and paywalls. Meanwhile, Fairfax and News Corp have put public service ahead of profits, making all coverage of the Victorian bushfires free. It’s either a gesture of goodwill or an admission that commercial media can’t compete with the ABC on news events like these. The Age’s website is promoting its unpaywalled content, while the Herald Sun has quietly freed up its bushfires with no fanfare. The Australian’s coverage is also free, although you will have to sit through a 15-second ad before viewing bushfire-related video content …

Schapelle the ‘marijuana queen’. So what has the media in Schapelle Corby’s adopted home made of the circus? She doesn’t seem to be much of a media sensation, with the websites of most Indonesian newspapers not carrying anything about Corby on their front pages. Of the few that do, several refer to her as the “marijuana queen” or “queen of marijuana”, which appears to be her nickname in the Indonesian press. Mass-circulation daily Kompas profiles a motorcycle taxi driver who is having a pretty good week, being paid vast sums by the Australian media to ferry foreign journalists around. Kompas reports (all quotes are translated from Indonesian by Google Translate):

Behind the procession of the Queen Marijuana parole Australian, Schapelle Leigh Corby, it turns out there is someone who gets his blessing for approximately 1 this week. He is Cung Riadi. Cung Riadi the day-to-day work as a guide in the Kuta area suddenly turned professional as a motorcycle cameraman foreign media. As is known, since the news that Corby will be released on parole, many foreign journalists are scrambling to hunt down images Corby and her family.”

But Cung Riadi is a rare Corby fan in Indonesia, with the Aussie drug smuggler already a political football. Opposition parties like the Islamist Prosperous Justice Party have slammed the incumbent Democrat Party government for releasing Corby on bail, and Indonesian daily Suara Pembaruan reports several within the Democrat Party are fretting about the effect it will have on their chances in this year’s elections:

Politician of the Democratic Party (PD), Khatibul Umam Wiranu judge, parole convicted Australian drug smuggling, Schapelle Leigh Corby would affect the party’s electability in the 2014 election. ‘Parole Corby given to the government will have an impact on the party during elections coming,’ said the man who served as Secretary of the Organizational Development Division Democrat Party was in Semarang on Monday.”

And only a day into her parole Corby could already be in hot water, with the Jawa Pos reporting that in going to a luxury spa instead of directly to her brother-in-law guarantor’s house, Corby may have breached her parole conditions. — Cassidy Knowlton

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