Richard Ackland gets snapped up by the Guardian Australia. And other media tid-bits of the day…
Fairfax’s loss is Guardian, Saturday Paper’s gain as Ackland joins upstart stable.Guardian Australia has pounced on long-standing Sydney Morning Herald legal commentator Richard Ackland after his column was discontinued by editor-in-chief Darren Goodsir when Ackland revealed he was writing for The Saturday Paper. He’ll be Guardian Australia’s legal editor-at-large, as well as a columnist, writing an opinion piece and a news story on alternating weeks. He’ll also keep writing Gadfly, the diary-style column in The Saturday Paper that got him boned. He’ll also start writing a law piece for the Sat Paper every five or so weeks.
“It all unexpectedly fell into place after an unsettling departure from the Herald,” he told Crikey this morning. Of the circumstances that caused him to leave the SMH, he says it was his understanding that doing the Gadfly column would be fine, as he’d previously discussed it and there was nothing in the contract he signed with Fairfax forbidding it (Goodsir wrote in a statement that he hadn’t given approval for the column).
Ackland is the latest high-profile recruit for Guardian Australia, which earlier this week revealed it had also hired Gay Alcorn to head its Melbourne bureau. Alcorn was another Fairfax columnist (and a former Sunday Age editor) before accepting her new role. The appointments are highly strategic — both Ackland and Alcorn are well-known, highly respected and very experienced.
It’s further evidence of how competitive Guardian Australia has been since it launched here over a year ago. Overnight, Press Gazette posted an interview with the CEO of Guardian Media Group Andrew Miller, and asked him whether Guardian Australia’s free content would cost journalists their jobs in Australia’s largely paywalled high-brow press. Miller responded:
“I understand those concerns, but if it wasn’t us disrupting them it would be other people. The reality of the world they are facing is, maybe it is taking longer there than in the UK, but it is going to be disrupted whether we all like or not by generally free-to-air news.”
Miller added that Guardian Australia will be self-sustaining and profitable “over several years,” and revealed that the TheGuardian won’t be out-of-pocket if it decides to can the Australian operation:
“It’s a loan, so [millionaire investor Graeme Wood] will get his money back [before TheGuardian sees a profit from the Australian operation]. But if we decide not to continue in Australia then there’s no obligation to repay the loan.”
At the UK operation, reports suggest the finances are improving but still in the red. The Times cited unnamed industry figures yesterday saying TheGuardian is expected to post a loss of “below 20 million pounds” for the year to March, down from a 27 million pound loss last year. — Myriam Robin
Paul Kelly’s escalator of decline update. On Tuesday we learnt of Paul Kelly’s “escalator of decline’“ (quick Paul, copyright it before Hamish and Andy grab it) . His thoughts met with firm approval in the letters page, with Merv Bendle getting the lead spot, and agreeing firmly with Paul that Australia was now just like Italy in the ’20s and the Weimar republic. Because, you know, soup kitchens and street fighting. As Kelly clutches his forehead at the political tone-deafness of the letters editor, we note that Mr Bendle is a frequent contributor to Quadrant, the magazine being piloted to irrelevancy by Brother Number None Keith Windschuttle. Check it out for updates on the coming fascist takeover of Australia. — Guy Rundle
Recently departed White House communications chief spills his views on press corps. Jim Carney, a former journalist who resigned from his role at the White House on June 30, wishes there was less repetition in the role. In an interview with New York Magazine, he takes a swipe at the White House press corps for too often all “chasing the same ball”. Of his press briefings, he said: “I think the format reinforces a shallow approach.”
“It can be surreal at the podium when you go down that front row and you have an exchange with one of the reporters in which there’s very emotional — maybe even theatrical — presentation and back and forth, and then you go to the next reporter and you have the same thing, as if the first one didn’t happen at all.”
Ten’s big exclusive with… its own star! Channel 10 revealed on Wednesday that it would soon be airing a mammoth 90-minute interview with Ian Thorpe, grilled by veteran British confessor Michael Parkinson. The only tricky thing is, Ten just signed up Thorpie as a Commonwealth Games commentator. Is it a bit weird getting someone to interview your own talent? Ten seems keen to talk up the interview’s independence, cross-promotional opportunities notwithstanding. As the press release states: “Ian has made the brave decision to be himself.” Viewers can tune in on July 13 — it starts at 6.30pm (Ten has pushed MasterChef Australia back to accommodate it). At the Crikey bunker, we’ll be tuning in for Parkinson.
Video of the day. Here is a Japanese politician accused of misusing 3 million yen in hysterical tears as he explains himself. He’s got our vote.