tip off

Media briefs: Strewthwatch … The Age commutes … Diane Sawyer quits …

Bring back James Jeffrey, part 28. To Strewthwatch now, and how’s our boy Christian doing this week? Not good, not good. The Kerr ratio — actual gossip items to stuff lifted off the meeja — is running 2.5:20 this week — 1:7 on Monday, 1.5:6 on Tuesday, and 0.5:7 on Wednesday. Monday was a police blotter item, Tuesday was Clive Palmer’s flight plan, sent to all meeja, and a lame Richard Attenborough joke, and Wednesday told us the Facebook page for Dr Who and the World Health Organisation. The rest was clippings. Yesterday was particularly dire, fishing three items out of Paul Kelly’s new book. Can you not even get a fresh or unpublished anecdote out of your own colleagues? Monday’s Media Diary had more Strewth items than a whole week’s Strewth to date. Still, that’s why Sharri hauls in the average-size bucks. —  Guy Rundle

At least you know the backdrop’s real. An early-evening fog wrecked the skyline on Seven and Nine’s 6pm news in Melbourne yesterday. Presenters Peter Mitchell (on Seven) and Peter Hitchener (on Nine) appeared to be speaking in front of a blue screen, but as Channel Nine’s Twitter account warned viewers, there was no need to adjust the set.

It’s one way to end a press conference. Clive Palmer fed the chooks this morning in a free-ranging press conference in the Senate courtyard, with SA Premier Jay Weatherill, who sounded, in comparison to his Cliveness, like a trainspotter who’d wandered into the place by accident. Questions swung round to the internal state of the PUP, and got a bit testing, so Clive swung it round to another internal state: why had he spent House of Reps question time in the Senate? Was he directing his party? “Well no,” said Clive, “truth is I left to go to the toilet, and after that, feeling better, and a little lighter, I decided to go for a walk, and so I went down to the Senate.” At which point discussion of PUP internal dissent floated away somewhat. The only other person your correspondent has seen do that sort of thing is Slovenian theory guru Slavoj Zizek, at a conference on the “Idea of Communism” in London. Berated in front of an informal crowd, by some young Italian ultras of the keffiyeh-Left, and wanting to defuse the situation, Zizek said “My friend, I disagree with you, but I must go and do something now and I will return a quarter of a kilo lighter’, at which point tension dissolved. Clive signed off his presser by announcing a need to, yes, go to the toilet — a new meaning for the term “order of business”? — Guy Rundle

Seven’s financial woes. Whooshka, through to the keeper! Another $87 million in impairment losses from Seven West Media, and the business media must have been doing something else at the time because not many among their ranks noticed. The write-downs involved the second cut in a row to the value of the titles held in Seven’s Pacific Magazines business, and the value of the Quokka classified ads magazine. The write-downs were not as dramatic as those made in the year before, but the fact that they were made point to the ongoing secular decline in the print sector.

The losses take the two-year total for impairments by Seven West Media to more than $300 million, with the overwhelming majority of the cuts concentrated in Pacific’s magazine titles. Seven joins the likes of Fairfax Media and News Corp in suffering impairment losses on media assets for a second or third year. And there’s another worry looming for Seven — the margin has narrowed between no impairment and impairment to the value of more than $3.2 billion  of intangible assets associated with the company’s core business, the Seven TV network. — Glenn Dyer

Bob Hawke’s budgie smugglers. With the eyes of the nation now turned to the tackle of Robert James Lee Hawke, The Sydney Morning Herald chooses to publish a classic photo of the Silver Bodgie from better times, when a prime minister could appear in his speedos, beside his lover, and it was fun, and not for some crypto-fascist Ironman event he was doing. Attentive reader Red Velvet has noticed something else: there’s a mark of Zorro on his inner-thigh. Birthmark, or something else? Would it make Australian politics more comprehensible if it was? It is hard to see how it would make it less so.

Sorry, got caught in traffic. It seems that Fairfax’s budget cuts have come back to bite, stopping other media outlets from following up Fairfax newspaper stories. Overnight on 3AW (which is owned by Fairfax), presenter Andrew McLaren said that he had missed The Age’s front-page scoop on medical cannabis because the paper doesn’t arrive before his show starts at midnight. The Age stopped printing the daily paper at the Tullamarine press in March, moving the operation to Ballarat, more than an hour out of Melbourne. His producer Simon Owens chimed in, saying it was easier to get the Northern Territory Times on occasion.

Video of the day. We’re sorry to see this legend of news step down from her post. Goodbye, Diane Sawyer, it seems we hardly knew you …

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