Media junkie Hillary Bray has been keeping an ear on the radio, an eye on the TV and reading between the lines to produce this first weekly wrap of the Australian meeja news for Crikey.

First, it’s nice to see that even with all the media at their disposal, the Packers had to resort to dumping out a three par statement at eight on Friday evening just like anyone else trying to bury a story.

Second, three cheers to Nine for their straightforward coverage of the story on the late news and to the hacks at the Tele who managed to get the story on page one of the first edition. A honourable mention too for News Limited’s webmasters who had the story up on their site that evening while all Fairfax had to say was “Last updated at 3:59 pm”.

That’s where it ends. Packer power has won the day as the slim Sunday stories show. No-one wants to speak out.

Even the journos seem to have been too scared to make the obvious comment Kerry Packer will die without knowing if there will be an heir to carry on the family name for a fourth generation.

No-one seemed willing to crunch the cost of the short-lived marriage. James and Jodhi were married on 23 October 1999. They enjoyed 69 days of wedded bliss that year, 366 in 200, 365 last year and announced their separation on the one hundred and sixty fifth day of 2002.

All up, they were wed for less than 1,000 days 965. The big day was estimated to have cost $10 million. That means the marriage cost $10,362 per day before we factor in what’s contained in the pre-nup.

Instead, journos like the Smellie’s Phil Koch were forced to quote Relationships Australia and “the Australian polo community” to fill up their stories while keeping them anodyne.

All we have are the euphemisms: “Packer women are never centre stage, the men are indulged”. What exactly does that mean?

Finally, how spectacular of the Sun Herald to lead with Jodhi’s tits. Nothing like Fairfax quality.

They’re listening

Rupert Murdoch seems to have lost none of his clout, if the European currency markets are anything to go by.

In the wake of his comments in the Financial Times on Tuesday that his British papers would campaign against the single European currency, sterling staged a comeback against the Euro.

The pound bounced up 0.5 per cent – the largest one day increase since February – after Rupe’s remarks and closed half a cent up against the dollar.

Revenge journalism?

Four Corners producer Linda Larsen pulled no punches in last Monday’s report on the dodgy dealings of lawyers Clayton Utz and their friends in the tobacco industry.

In an amazing coincidence, Four Corners have kept copping flak about the story on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s conduct over the fatal loss of the Tasmanian fishing vessel Margaret J also produced by Larsen from (wait for it, wait for it ) Clayton Utz. But Larsen says she only found this out after the smoking story went to air.

Blow the cover-up and blow the story

Forget kids-in-the-watergate. The buzz around Canberra for months has been that the story of what the Government knew about SIEV-8, the refugee boat that sank with the loss of 353 lives, and what it told us is even more interesting.

The official line has been that the Government didn’t know it had put to sea. Now the suggestion has emerged at the kids overboard enquiry that the Prime Minister’s people-smuggling task force was aware that it had left Indonesia but decided not to rescue the people on board and passed the name onto another boat after the drownings. That’s one hell of a story.

So why has the Sydney Morning Herald let Margo Kingston run with it? She’s got plenty of passion on the subject and no credibility as an objective reporter whatsoever.

Know your product

Are the creative types at the Australian’s new ad agency, Clemenger BBDO, unsure about the latest product they’ve been paid to push? This letter to all Clemenger staff from boss Mark Pearce isn’t exactly reassuring:

“I suspect most of you know that we have been awarded The Australian business. Obviously we are delighted to be working with The Australian to help them reassert their leadership as Australia’s quality broadsheet newspaper.

“To celebrate this new partnership the Editor in Chief, David Armstrong, has very kindly offered to provide a copy of The Australian delivered to your desk every day for four weeks, absolutely free of charge. Please see David’s letter attached, providing further details.

“You don’t have to do anything. Simply enjoy the best national and global news reporting in the country.

“Best regards, “Mark Pearce”

Video nasty

Senior Labor figures must have been squirming when the 7:30 Report’s Heather Ewart ran excerpts from Andrew Theophanous’ wedding video after he went down for six years on Tuesday. There was best man and then Labor leader Kim Beazley doing the Greek thing and shaving the low-life for his big day, giving the speech and getting down on the dancefloor Zorba-style not to mention Simon Crean, Mumbles Ferguson, Stephen Conroy and Bob McMullan in supporting roles.

And who provided the tape? None other than Theophanous’ loyal wifey, Kathryn Erikkson. A case of getting her own back?

Is that an apology?

There were plenty of raised eyebrows on Wednesday when the Oz ran a full page ad opposing the Government’s terror laws from uber-conspiracists the Citizens Electoral Council of Australia.

The CEC waded the tips and sewers of Australian politics to get an amazing list of signatories that ranged from unreconstructed old lefties like Whitlam deputy Jim Cairns and Nuclear Disarmament Party Senator Irina Dunn to One Nation officials.

Political correspondent Dennis Shanahan used up his entire column on Friday explaining it all. Do we take that to mean that the Oz editors were a little embarrassed when they saw what the spacefloggers had been up to?

Feedback to [email protected]

Peter Fray

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