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Media briefs: the Oz hearts the SMH … Snowden the patriot … Jezebel wins …

The Oz continues to hate on the Press Council. And other media tid-bits of the day.

The enemy of my enemy … Hoo, boy. And you thought the Middle East was a writhing mass of bitter hatreds, blind loyalties and uneasy alliances. But all of a sudden The Australian has found something it hates even more than The Sydney Morning Herald: the Australian Press Council. The Press Council ruled against the SMH yesterday in relation to a story the paper had written about Kate Malonyay, who was murdered by her boyfriend, Elliott Coulson. A SMH reporter attened Malonyay’s funeral, which the Press Council found to be a breach of privacy.

The Council considers that, in general, publications should check directly with the family or funeral director whether they can attend a funeral, publish images of it or quote material from the ceremony. It does not consider that coverage of this funeral was of sufficient importance in the public interest to justify publishing the material without the consent of the family. A matter is not in the public interest merely because members of the public are interested in it. “The Council also does not consider it was reasonable to rely on the apparent approval from a police officer for them to attend, especially as the publication already had reason to believe its presence might not be welcome. Accordingly, the complaint relating to attending the funeral and publishing material obtained by doing so is upheld as a breach of privacy.”

Enter stage right, The Australian, which has devoted rivers of ink and floods of pixels to crowing over the recent resignation of SMH columnist Mike Carlton. But it seems Fairfax ranks lower (or higher, depending on how you rank these things) on its enemies list than the Press Council, with which the Oz has been engaged in an ongoing war since the weekend. News Corp’s broadsheet has a page 4 story and an irate editorialthis morning slamming the ruling. In the page 4 story, Chris Merritt writes:

This [requirement to get permission to go to funerals] has triggered a furious ­response from lawyers and editors who fear the council under Professor Disney has become fixated on restricting press freedom.”

And who are those lawyers and editors? Well, in the next paragraph we find out:

‘Can you imagine getting permission from the families of bikies, criminals, celebrities, politicians — even victims of natural disasters/plane crashes? Should the media just accept they won’t be covered because the family says so?’ asked Clive Mathieson, editor of The ­Australian.”

The headline of the story is “David Flint lashes Press Council ruling as naive and impractical”, but there are no quotes in the story at all from Flint, a former Press Council head. Nowhere do the words “naive” or “impractical” appear, and the only evidence for “lashing” is this paraphrase:

Professor Flint said there was a public interest in the Herald’s reporting of the funeral and he would never have used the council’s privacy standard in the way it had been used in this instance.”

Mathieson is not the only one quoted as criticising the ruling, however. We also get The Australian’s deputy editor, Peter Fray: “The media may well be an ­imperfect beast, but it does not need a chief censor, as much as [APC chair] Julian Disney may think otherwise.” So two Oz editors are outraged, but what about their new besties at Fairfax? Surely they appreciate the assist? Our favourite line is the last:

Darren Goodsir, the Herald’s editor-in-chief, did not return The Australian’s calls.”

 — Cassidy Knowlton Perils of live radio. Melbourne’s No. 1 morning radio presenter Jon Faine was reading out listeners’ texts — a near incessant bagging of the government, but that’s not his fault — and came to this contribution: “This government has as much charm as Frankst- … as Frankenstein.” Frankston as Frankenstein. Is that the ultimate inner-city Melbourne stumble? Jezebel gets a response. On Tuesday we told you of an ongoing dispute between feminist website Jezebel and its parent company, Gawker Media. For months Jezebel staff have been removing comments of violent pornography GIFs from its articles, and they say Gawker is prioritising keeping its commenters’ IP addresses untraceable over Jezebel staffers’ distress. Today Gawker has responded, with a decision to change its comments system. Says Jezebel:

A sincere thank you to the tech team for working around the clock (from Budapest, in the midst of our company retreat, no less) to address the problem. And an equally sincere apology to our readers for ever having to deal with such garbage. “This ordeal has been unpleasant, but we’re lucky to work at a company where raising hell gets you results instead of getting you canned.”

Free to air and cable viewing drops in the US. The US summer usually sees a fall off in TV viewing, but one month — July — is vital in this low-viewing period. That’s when ratings sweeps are held, making it the most important four weeks between the end of the official ratings season in May and the start in September. Ratings sweeps months are vital to win because they help networks set ad rates for the next three months for local advertisers. Besides July, the other sweeps months are November, February and May. Last month stood out with some big falls for a couple of networks and cable channels, and a couple of solid increases. Nielsen ratings show that cable TV viewing fell 6.8% from July 2013, while free to air viewing fell 3.7%. That’s despite a rise in viewing for the soccer World Cup on ABC and its cable stablemate ESPN (that explains the rise in viewing for ABC). So among the free to air broadcasters, ABC (owned by Disney) saw a rise of 3%, while NBC and CBS saw falls of 2% and 6% respectively. But the big loser was Fox (owned by the Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox) which saw a 12% fall in viewing. Among the cable channels it was better news for Fox with FOXA up 12% in the month, Disney up 1% and Scripps Networks with a 2% rise. But the news wasn’t so good for a host of other channels — AMC saw a fall of 15% (due to the final series of Breaking Bad starting in July of last year), Discovery saw a 9% fall, NBCU’s channels lost 11%, Time Warner Cable saw a 17% drop and A&E a 20% drop. Overall free to air broadcast viewing fell 4% and cable viewing dropped 7%. But did TV use drop as well? Figures for the March quarter for Netflix suggest not — the average Netflix subscriber streamed 103 minutes of content a day, up from 83 minutes in the first three months of 2013. — Glenn Dyer Front page of the day. Edward Snowden, American patriot …

2
  • 1
    klewso
    Posted Thursday, 14 August 2014 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    The Oz”, a constant reminder that you can’t regulate taste - let alone self-regulate it.

  • 2
    Kevin_T
    Posted Saturday, 16 August 2014 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    ‘Can you imagine getting permission from the families of bikies, criminals, celebrities, politicians — even victims of natural disasters/plane crashes? Should the media just accept they won’t be covered because the family says so?’ asked Clive Mathieson, editor of The ­Australian.

    Is there generally/usually a valid journalistic need to cover, or a public interest in covering, such funerals?

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