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Media briefs: Tobacco addictions … yesterday’s news … MacroBusiness’ paywall …

Erik Jensen got shot in the leg by the subject of his Adam Cullin biography. And other media tid-bits of the day…

News Corp’s tobacco addiction. Last night Media Watch joined the chorus slamming the Oz’s scoop on how plain packaging was supposedly causing smoking rates to rise. We now know how the Oz misread the statistics on sales and consumption and failed to relate that to the rise in tobacco excise at the end of December. As usual when excises rise, retailers order more of a product (beer is another example) to build up stocks of the lower taxed product. Tobacco was no different. Tobacco sales by the cigarette companies will have fallen in the early months of 2014, but don’t expect the Oz to explore that line.

Media Watch pointed out the links between the author of the story, journalist Christian Kerr, and right-wing lobby group the Institute of Public Affairs. But Media Watch could have gone further and detailed the 25 years of links between Big Tobacco and News Corp, which owns The Australian — not to mention Rupert Murdoch.

If you go back in time, you’ll see that Rupert Murdoch was a director of tobacco company Philip Morris. And if you check the News Corp board, you also find that current director Peter Barnes was a senior executive of Philip Morris for years, including heading up Philip Morris International. And if you google News Corp, Murdoch and tobacco companies you pick up this link, which contains the following:

A 1985 draft speech for Philip Morris’ CEO for a marketing meeting noted that the media company was already on side. ‘We plan to build similar relationships to those we now have with Murdoch’s News Limited with other newspaper proprietors,’ the memo said. ‘Murdoch’s papers rarely publish anti-smoking articles these days.’

A second document for the same meeting created two days later asked the question: ‘how can we change the public’s view towards smoking?’ After outlining various strategies to turn back the tide, the memo makes the point that… we are not using our very considerable clout with the media. A number of media proprietors that I have spoken to are sympathetic to our position — Rupert Murdoch and Malcolm Forbes are two good examples. The media like the money they make from our advertisements and they are an ally that we can and should exploit.”

These documents were revealed, the posting says, as part of the 1998 tobacco industry settlement with US governments. The documents detail the close links between News, Rupert Murdoch and Philip Morris.

In 1989, Murdoch was invited to join the Philip Morris board, where he remained for a dozen years. And Murdoch invited a succession of company executives to sit on his board. One observer called it “a cozy relationship all around”. It was a coup for Philip Morris, giving the company access to broadcast and print editorial pages and a platform from which to disseminate its view of the benefits of smoking. Hamish Maxwell, who had worked for Philip Morris since the first studies linking smoking and cancer were publicized in the early 50s, was appointed to the News Corp board three years after Murdoch joined the Philip Morris board. Maxwell helped develop PM’s international tobacco business, which, as director of marketing, he shaped into a major growth engine. Maxwell left the News Corp board in 1998, and the following year another senior Philip Morris executive joined it. Like Murdoch, Geoffrey Bible was an Australian. Like Maxwell, Bible was a long-time PM employee.”

Peter Barnes followed Geoffrey Bible. The above posting also details other links between Murdoch, News, senior executives, the New York Post, the Fox News pay TV channel and Philip Morris/Big Tobacco.

Kerr’s is just the latest in a long line of pro-tobacco stories that have appeared in News Corp papers here and around the world. — Glenn Dyer

Prove that you love me. The Sat Paper’s editor Erik Jensen has written a biography of iconoclastic artist Adam Cullen, who died in 2012, four years after he invited a young(er) Jensen to live in his spare bedroom and write his biography. According to the book’s blurb, released by Black Inc yesterday:

What followed were four years of intense honesty and a relationship that became increasingly claustrophobic. At one point Cullen shot Jensen, in part to see how committed he was to the book. At another, he threw Jensen from a speeding motorbike. The book contract Cullen used to convince Jensen to stay with him never existed.”

Crikey readers will be relieved to know that although Jensen was shot in the leg, it was with birdshot. Jensen does not sport a limp, so we can assume his leg recovered. The book’s out in October. — Myriam Robin

Yesterday’s news. There were a few errors in the print edition of today’s Courier-Mail, which Crikey’s eagle-eyed readers soon told us about. On page 2, for example, the date at the top of the page is yesterday’s. But that’s not all that’s wrong. The entire page is yesterday’s, featuring the splash on sick public servants for the second day in a row.

The Courier-Mail’s fixed up the version online, but thanks to Twitter and a helpful reader we’ve seen a few of the offending pages (note the newspaper dates on the image below):

According to an apology posted on the Courier-Mail’s website, the errors also affected the stocks and law lists. “A very small number of copies were wrongly printed and distributed, unfortunately one is too many,” said Courier-Mail editor Christopher Dore. “We are truly thankful for the patience of our readers and advertisers and our loyal distribution network who have received one. And we have printed extra copies to replace any that have snuck into the market.”

If you do have a copy, we suggest you hold onto it. When newspapers go extinct, it could become a collector’s edition.

That said, the digital realm comes with its own mishaps, as the Twitter account of The Australian’s media section demonstrates:

The tweets above refer to stories published in May. We can only assume someone at the Oz scheduled the tweets a month too late by accident. Despite plenty of digital citizens pointing it out, the tweets were still there as Crikey went to print. The Oz has hired a new social media guru to lift its Twitter game. Going by the level of responsiveness @aus_media demonstrates, they’ll have their work cut out for them. — Myriam Robin

MacroBusiness joins the herd. MacroBusiness has become the latest Australian media site to announce a paywall. It’s not cheap — $149 a year — and will presumably lock up the site’s best content, as the announcement assures readers two-thirds of the site’s content will remain free. The comments, an important part of the financial and economic website’s appeal, are broadly supportive, but elsewhere, some have noted MacroBusinessscepticism of paywalls in the past.

Front page of the day. Executions in the desert…

3
  • 1
    Pete from Sydney
    Posted Tuesday, 17 June 2014 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    When newspapers go extinct’ crikey will be half its size

  • 2
    klewso
    Posted Tuesday, 17 June 2014 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    They produce the headlines sponsors can refer to, overseas - as if factual?

  • 3
    klewso
    Posted Tuesday, 17 June 2014 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    And the ABC doesn’t like upsetting Rupert too much.

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