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More great letters from all of you out there. Keep them coming.

Hey, I just read about you on the www.Drudgereport.com. I think your idea about tracking the journalists in Australia is really cool. I would say it is the healthiest idea I have heard in a long time. There is only one problem – I am in America, and you don’t seem to have much coverage on us. The problem might seem small to you, but our media here are especially corrupt and inter-connected. I know a woman who worked for NBC who told me they are all pessimistic and sarcastic about family values in particular and conventional values in general. She explained to me that they all saw the network news as entertainment, not as news. For myself this was a revelation. They don’t tend to admit that to us.

What I was thinking was that you or someone you might know of could focus on our media and shine the light of truth on them. I wouldn’t want to impose on your busy schedule, but you sound like you have a good idea. Thank you for your time.

LK

Crikey: That www.drudgereport.com has sparked emails from all over place – including an interview request from the BBC – after they linked to Pilita Clarke’s story from Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald. If people such as this Seppo don’t like their media, they should try checking out the lack of diversity and various commercial agendas driving our media.


Shier mayhem at the ABC

I am a staffer at the ABC…fairly senior. If Shier didn’t ACTUALLY make the phone call (to the Federal police), it’s obviously the climate he has created that led to the call being made. This doesn’t take Einstein to figure out.

The mood is, however getting bizarrely more optimistic. People think he is now utterly dead in the water and that he’ll be gone by mid year. I teeter from thinking that he HAS to go, to thinking that he is doing the job the Government wants him to do. But Howard knows that the ABC is, in his words ” our enemy talking to our friends”. The heartland of Australia loves us…..rural people from the poor daggy ones to the noblesse oblige love us too.

The eleven who were called in were not “invited” as the ABC spin says, they were instructed. They should have said “fuck you, I don’t have to go anywhere”.

Shier loves being the object of fear – he thrives on it. I think we should laugh at him – it would curl him. The most senior managers openly call him a “complete c”, I have heard of his executives VERY close to him call him “that poisonous little viperous c”. (This same manager was in the paper recently slightly praising him) feminist rationale goes out the window with Shier – women, including myself don’t seem to mind him being called a cunt ……anyway, let’s hope Shier is dead in the water. The lies on his CV might be the end of him?

Cheers, anon

Crikey: Hmmm, let’s not hold back at all here anon. Don’t worry, Beazley will be in the Lodge by year’s end and they’ll sack Shier for being an out of control Tory and stick some former Labor Party member into the top job. Then the ABC can go back to normal.


Don’t call me short you big-nosed jerk

I was listening to Steve Price’s show on the drive home from work today. Yes, I am a Crikey supporter, as well as a 3AW listener on my drive home. Price made mention of the Age article by Christopher Webb: http://www.theage.com.au/business/2001/02/16/FFXYCUDB7JC.html

I hadn’t realised that it was about the law suit as he made not a mention of Crikey or Stephen Mayne – although I guess he may be under orders not to do so as the matter is before the courts. He took umbrage at Christopher Webb mentioning that he was ‘diminutive’ and wondered why people couldn’t insult him with a bit of originality and imagination. I would agree that insults about his height are not worthy to be flung about by Crikey, I had thought at first that “Half-Price” was a witty take on his name and a department store half price sale (you know, he is only half the value he could be…..).

Lets leave the “imaginative and witty” insults such as dill, ning nong, and moron to Mr Price.

On another note, I really can not see why Steve Price doesn’t think you’re the best thing since sliced bread. You both think Pauline Hanson is a nut, both of you hold slightly to the right views with a social justice bent and while I don’t know your views on immigration I would imagine they would be the same as Price’s. Maybe all this agro stems from the Kennett incident(s)? Perhaps a bit of professional rivalry?

It’s all good fun to watch and looks like it is benefiting Crikey enormously in subscriber numbers but it also seems to be getting a bit bitter lately – maybe its time to kiss and make up?

Robert

Crikey: At last, a voice of reason, Robert. We’re also both Richmond supporters. My views on immigration are exactly the same as Price’s – it should be significantly increased. Price had me on his show to talk about Coles Myer and Yannon back in 1996. It all fell apart when they stuck by Kennett and I decided he was dodgy. Since then we’ve had a few swipes but given that both of us are very combative journalists this is not unexpected. It has certainly reached a new level with defamation proceedings and a separate Supreme Court contempt summons initiated by Price. Matt Drudge reckons he got his big break when one of Clinton’s advisers sued him for $30 million and I’m perfectly comfortable about going through this process given the surge in traffic and subscriptions it has caused. Equally, I would jump at a cashless settlement if the little fella was willing.


Fairfax and The Age in decline

Hi Stephen,

The Wise One will have something to say about Fairfax profits dropping, but I’m getting in first. Since switching to The Oz about 9 months ago, I had the urge to buy a copy of The Age (apart from Saturday’s – for the jobs) just once, and I scan the e-contents daily. That article came from SMH (Gerard Ryle on drug trials), anyway. Finding a persistent vein of hard stuff in The Age is pretty difficult. It’s almost as if they are shying away from it, preferring to go off for a well-earned latte or red, jabber on about fine fashion and hairstyles, and … entertainment!!

Now I am wondering why The Age ran so hard against Jeff (with a lot of help from skinny Monaro owners). Was it because Jeff just lacked good manners and breeding? Not seen at the theatre, opera and galleries?

The cartoons in The Age are probably good, but not for $1.10, when you can get Nicholson, Leak, etc for 0.60.

Is there too much advice on content from one of our largest pastoralists, who might be hoping to pick up the pieces for a song?

Trevor K

Crikey: The decline has come from too many changes at the top and too many cuts in budgets. Don’t think Packer has any impact but the removal of Steve Harris was the latest retrograde step. The Sunday Age has certainly gone into decline since it was merged with the daily two years back. The business section is now going through a mini crisis with the resignation of Jane Schulze and Caroline Batt. Meanwhile, the search is on for a new business editor with Russell Skelton getting posted elsewhere. I still prefer it over the Herald Sun but sometimes find The Oz is a better read.


Sue the bastard

Good arvo Stephen.

Murray Nicoll (that’s me, and note the spelling) is alive and well and happy and living and working as a journalist in Adelaide. In the interests of accuracy (such as the spelling of my name) some information:

I don’t hate anybody. I don’t even hate Price. Despise, yes. Hate, never. I was never Price’s boss, nor he mine. He was a copy boy when I was police reporter on the Adelaide News. And not a bad little kid either.

He was Mitchell’s producer on the Drivetime programme on 3AW when I was running the Morning Programme post-Hinch … the flagship slot he and Mitchell always coveted, and figured was their’s by right.

It became their’s when ownership of the Macquarie Network, including 3AW, switched from Fairfax (thanks Warwick) to a bunch of asset-stripping Queensland carpet-baggers.

The new manager (who himself lasted less than a year) gave me several months’ warning my morning contract would not be renewed. The slot was going to Mitchell and Price. I was offered Drivetime. I declined. I was not sacked. I worked out the remaining few months of my contract, was taken off the air a week early, and left.

We got advance warning that we were about to be taken off the air early, and we able to at least farewell the best listening audience in Australia with some dignity.

I did not play lots of sad songs. Morning was news and current affairs, virtually no lazy-radio talkback, and virtually no music.

I did play a Bruce Hornsby track at the end of the programme: “That’s Just the Way It Is.”

Mitchell stepped into the programme the next week and has been there since. 3AW had three women on the swtichboard answering complaints for the rest of the year. Melbourne people take their radio very seriously. In those days they could.

Lastly … sue the (censored). By all means, sue. I did.

Some years later Price had a rush of blood to the head, and said on the air I was sacked because I was a dill. He likes that word. I disagreed. I sued for defamation. I won. My lawyer was a good bloke called Dennis (Donohue) Connell. He likes Price as much as you and I do.

A foothnote: In the newsroom in the old 3AW in La Trobe Street, Mitchell-Price were known as the blank blanks (paraphrased for legal reasons to “shorter than your average journalists and occasionally awkward to deal with”. It was said that the only people they could look squarely in the eye was each other. They treated the journos like shit. The journalists laughed at them as jumped-up little pricks.

When the pair would stomp through the newsroom on their way to the studio to do their drivetime programme, exhorting each other to “fire up … fire up ..” the journos would sometimes look up from their telephones and tapes and keyboards and whistle “HI HO … HI HO … IT’S OFF TO WORK WE GO …” On the wall where the pair would pass was a sticker with the same words: “HI HO … etc.” It was stuck at waist height, the journos reckoned that way the pair couldn’t miss seeing it. That was a good newsroom.

Would you ever buy a used Volvo? You’d never know where it had been.

Regards, Murray Nicoll

Crikey: Hmmm, can I get into legal strife about this? We did not make contact with Murray but we published some material that had a couple of minor errors and he wrote in to correct those and give his spin on things. While Murray might not agree, we reckon Steve Price is a pretty good journo, who gets the ratings and has steered 3AW through a successful period. And while he does get a free Volvo, this is nothing like the sins committed by Bruce Mansfield or the cash for comment shock jocks in Sydney.


How do I help Crikey

Sort of heard about Mr Mayne and Jeff but only checked out your site this morning. I shrewdly suspect that I don’t need to tell you how really really important and valuable Crikey is . Anyway I’ve not read everything but I want to be a supporter. How much do I send where and what do I get for it? Not that I want anything more than to support a better protest vehicle than Pauline.

Jamie Pearce

Crikey: It will be interesting to see how long it takes the media to cotton onto the fact that we are going to set up a political party that will be contesting the senate with the specific mantra of providing an alternative protest vote on the right to One Nation. Where she runs, we’ll run and we’ll be looking for plenty of detailed debate on policy, not the patterns on her dresses.


Getting down and dirty

Small enough to participate in any limbo contest I know, but how low can he go. His efforts wednesday after the Pauline Hanson interview (whether anyone likes her or not) to listen in and then replay a private conversation leave me appalled.

Deedee

Crikey: As a media critic, hopefully I’ll not be in contempt of court for observing that the aforementioned effort above was bordering on the unethical, as many 3AW listeners have rung in to say.


Luv ya Stupid man

Hey there,

I’m a huge fan of Dr Stupid. A couple of littlies.

Have you noticed the comics/crossword page at the SMH seems to have taken a sharp turn to the right? First there was the swastika incident on Wednesday last week – quickly followed by an apology. Today the Wizard of Id takes a kick at the Irish. Very politically incorrect, not like the Herald at all.

Also, saw the ex-Trinity teacher got a run with a letter in both the Herald and the Oz today. Assuming he sent the same letter do both, it shows some interesting differences in how they edit their mail,

And another thing, if Napster’s dead as the headlines tell us, how come I’m still sitting here downloading free music? And why does anyone think it matters, the list below of alternative sites is doing the rounds. Victory for the music companies? Perhaps not – all those files are our there now, the horse has bolted. Just shows how ignorant most journos and subs are when it comes to writing stories and headlines about the ‘Net.

cheers, David.

Napster Programs and Clones: Amster, BeNapster, Blazter, Capster, Console, Napster Client, DeWrapster, DiaRRIA, Djnap, Fanster, File Navigator, Findsongs.com, Gnapster, Gnome-Napster, GTK-Napster, Hackster, iNapster, Jnap, J Napster, Jnerve, Knapster, Koog Epsilon, Lopster, Macstar, Macster, MyNapster, NapAmp, Napigator, Napkin, NapMan, Napsack, Napster, Napster for Beos.htm, Napster/2, Napsterminator, Napster – Linux, Napster Server Manager, Napster Unban, Netstreak iAssimilator, N-Dream Plug-in for Napster, OpenNap, Pakster, Rapster, Riscster, Snap, Socks2HTTP, Spotlight, Spyster, TekNap, TKNap, Unwrapper, Webnap, Wrapster, XMNap

Crikey: There is so much specialised IT and web journalism these days that I suspect some of it is very bad. One guy I know who got the Adelaide Advertiser into lots of legal strife that cost almost $1 million in defamation payouts has remade himself as an IT journalist elsewhere. Keep the contributions coming to Dr Stupid everyone. As you can see in this week’s column, Darren’s tip got used.


Will Crikey bucket his mates

Whatever you think about Stuart Littlemore, you’ve got to say this in his favour: he’s an arsehole with personality problems. That made him, despite the downsides flowing from these attributes, excellent in the Media Watch role. Not a journo, nor, seemingly, with any friends in the trade (or anywhere?), he had no qualms bucketing someone who’d only just been singing his praises. In the end nobody liked him anymore, which was good.

I like Crikey very much but he, on the other hand, seems to be a normal person. Already I can tell who he likes and who he doesn’t. Stephen, will you bucket your friends?

Cheers, Peter

Crikey: This is a tough one but I’d like to think we do this more than any other outlet. Ros Reines is/was a mate but I didn’t stop Hillary unloading on her. We get on well with Greg Barnes but Hillary had a nasty shot at the head of the Republican Movement a couple of weeks back. Herald Sun editor Peter Blunden was an old mate but we trashed that relationship. Lots of mates objected to the journo couples register. Obviously you don’t set out to do it but there are times when you have to and we are more inclined that others to go down this path even if it means burning the odd bridge or three.


Give up on Tom and Nicole

Don’t quite know how to say this without sounding like a pompous old curmudgeon, but what’s the relevance of Tom & Nicole to anything that matters anyway? Can’t disagree with any of the ridiculing of journalists in the piece, but to someone of my age, (50s) Dr Stupid earns his/her name by revealing all that esoteric knowledge about the goings-on of this irrelevant pair. Does he/she actually reserve room in his/her brain to store this stuff, day in, day out ???? Rubbishing of journalists who create this twaddle is fun, (but at least someone’s making money out of it I suppose) but the apparent assumption that the content is worth commenting on in the first place is an even better target for ridicule, surely. It’s repeated inclusion in newspapers as “news”(?) is tragic, not funny. It’s like laughing at the “losers” in Hitler’s concentration camps. (Slight exaggeration.) The laugher needs to ask why he laughs. Perhaps my sense of humour is simply out of date.

Harry

Dr Stupid: Harry, on a certain level, I agree with you. Tom and Nicole are irrelevant showbiz idiots. But on other levels the whole Tom-Nic saga is interesting and important, not the least being that it shows – yet again – how incompetent is our press. If they can’t get details about this pair right, what else are might they be getting wrong?

Some of those levels might include the need to properly scrutinise celebrities – who do, after all, exercise significant economic and social power. Is it right, for example, to give Cruise and his dodgy religion a free pass simply because he married an Aussie? I bet the parents of kids lured into Scientology don’t think so.

To ignore her would be wrong. Who knows; she could be building a dynasty here. With her earnings (she shares with Tom a half-billion dollar fortune) it might rival the Ford Foundation.

Another thing which makes celebrity distress stories interesting is that often they reveal the links between big media and big showbiz. In the case of Tom and Nic, I’m sure you noticed the total crawling provided by Mark Day – husband of Ms. Kidman’s manager.

As for my trivia-stacked brain … well, most of my info comes from research, rather than recall. Check any alleged “fact” in the papers and it’s most likely wrong. And the bigger the story, the more wrong it usually is.

I guess my decision to go big on the Tom and Nic story boils down to this: the papers went wild about it, sent loads of people to cover it, devoted huge resources to it, and still managed to make idiotic errors about it.

More cerebral stuff in the future, however, Harry, I promise.

Yours, Dr Stupid


Ripped off blind by the NAB

Dear Stephen,

Thanks for your great site and insight.

I have a problem with the National banks $30 reference fee which I continually get hit with for the smallest overdraft amounts. I know, simple answer, don’t overdraw the account!

Wrong, not so simple.

Firstly, I am in receipt of a pension – $318.50 per fortnight. This is my only income most of the time. 1 reference fee is nearly 10% of my already meagre income.

Secondly I have no control over such things as petrol prices which can vary by up to 15% from day to day, let alone bank charges, etc.

I am not an accountant, nor do I have the skills in financial wizardry to forecast or predict what my exact account balance is at any given time, let alone the time or inclination.

There are just too many different factors. AND THEY KNOW IT AND USE THIS TO THEIR GREEDY, PENNY-PINCHING ADVANTAGE.

What on earth is a fair go anymore sure beats me.

As far as I can see, all bank employees have 30 pieces of silver in their back pockets and their social club is expanding by the minute. What can we do?

Regards, thanks for your time, Francis McMahon

Crikey:Funnily enough, I’m actually on Kim Beazley’s side with this. The banks have ripped everyone off and should be clobbered back into line. Their return on shareholder equity has been above 20 per cent for the last five years yet stick your money in the bank and you get about 3 per cent. There are literally thousands of millionaires that have been created from all of this, and the likes of these $30 reference fee are a big part of it.


Lose the media couples and stick with Hillary

Crikey

Yes I’m still around – but there seems to be considerably more of us ‘sole subscribers’ these days! If Crikey isn’t careful, he could find himself having to pay for the defo defence.

BTW, when I told you to enjoy your Christmas, you didn’t have to take me so seriously – are you going to make the pregnant Paula keep paying the bills?

Now to Austereo – is anybody else old enough to remember when album-oriented FM radio first hit us – here in Adelaide it was a guy called Paul Thompson and SA-FM, long part of the Austereo stable. As I recall it was Thompson who flogged Austereo to Village, who seem to have spent every day of their ownership handing out free frontal lobotomies to DJs and killing any original idea to raise its ugly head. These days commercial FM radio is as predictable as cold in the Antarctic, and a damn sight less interesting – tired, formulaic, with zero tolerance for risk and innovation. Even JJJ seems more ‘market-driven’ than it once was, but is at least still willing to crack some new talent. It’s little wonder that music enthusiasts end up listening to community radio stations (I still chuckle when I remember that in Adelaide the original MMM was a community broadcaster on Magill Road, with the obligatory recycled insulation batts to keep the echo down and stolen (sorry – borrowed!) equipment etc!).

So it’s interesting to see Paul Thompson re-enter the fray with DMG – maybe he’ll give commercial FM radio a poke in the date and it’ll get worth listening to again. In the meantime, keep Foxy MMMegan talking – – it somehow seems appropriate that management there has taken what must surely have been a tongue-in-cheek publication and has decide to run with it – it says lots about their perspicacity and sense of humour.

Some bouquets – I love Hillary (Hillary, Hillary, who the &%#$ is Hillary) – how well does he/she know Lynton Crosby? Personally I’ve never met a more political political animal – I think his bloodstream carries Hansard! I caught the Australian’s Media take on Hillary, and I think I agree with the theory that Hillary is a multi-headed beast – – how else could he/she/they get the volume of material out while still staying part of the action? Dr Stupid fills the gap still empty of Media Watch, and Dan is fairly entertaining as well (even if he is having an affair with Ros). And now that AFL is stirring again, will we see the return of the sportsmeister?

BUT ….

Lose the ‘media couples’ unless you can demonstrate that some of them are being less than professional because of who they are seeing, or there is something more to the story – I don’t really care who’s up who (whom?), but stuff like the background of the Stan and Tracey affair (more than the affair itself) was worth reading.

Anyway – time to pack it in for the night. May your god go with you

Ric

Crikey: If only it was Christmas Ric. Paula is due on Aug 5 so we’ve got less than six months to get our act together when we go from two incomes for two, to one income (if you can call Crikey that) feeding three. I can confirm that Lynton Crosby is not Hillary and thanks for all the other interesting feedback.

Peter Fray

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