Neil Mitchell at The Age

If Ron Walker is really pushing Neil Mitchell to be editor of The Age,
it just shows why he shouldn’t be on the board. Mitchell is an
impossible choice as editor – isn’t this the guy who let Premier Jeff
Kennett refuse to talk to all other media outlets except, of course,
for his weekly chat with Mitchell? If Mitchell had an ounce of
journalist ethics he would have banned Kennett from the radio show
until he fronted everyone. Instead, the biggest ego in the business
thought he alone could provide true scrutiny of the new Government.

The biggest problem for any new editor of The Age is Hilmer’s absurd
new structure, which means the Spencer St leader is certainly not
master of his own destiny. Want to demand improvements at Tullamarine?
Oh, you’ll have to talk to the chap who’s in charge of all production
sites – that’s Peter Graham, in Sydney. Want to know what your
advertising or marketing strategy is? Head to Sydney again, that’s Alan
Revell’s baby. Fed up with your IT systems, or human resources? Sorry,
they’re in Sydney, too. If you don’t have “group” in your title you’re
just not in the game.

Given those realities, and even though this muggins thinks Garry
Linnell would make a great editor, Age journos should realise that Tom
Burton would be a good choice. He can dance the Darling Park Waltz, and
aint no fool.

Remember that it was Tom, as a member of the house committee, who
negotiated a new enterprise bargaining agreement that included a share
of the profits. When Fred was frantically cutting costs to pump up the
profit report and therefore his own bonus (didn’t he receive nearly a
million dollars as such in one of the early years?), the journos also
found a nice little cheque in the mail. Wouldn’t the lesser-paid News
Ltd hacks love to have that sort of deal?

Interested observer

New start for predictable Age

Under Gawenda, The Age not only lost credibility it lost readers.
Reading the vapid nonsense for example dished up by former editor
Hywood and journalist Tony Parkinson as serious commentary alienated
many readers, not just because the political spin affronted the
chardonnay socialists, but also because their unconvincing analysis too
often flew in the face of logic and fact. The sad truth is that The Age
became too predictable under Gawenda.

The editorials too often were equivocal; the Saturday edition
gravitated towards froth and bubble where lifestyle matters ruled and
the Business Section was in radical need of surgery. I do not want to
read a newspaper where I happen to agree with one side or the other; I
want serious investigative journalism, fearless independence of
political commentary, and genuine debate about crucial issues.
The fact is Gawenda blew it! The Age is downright boring and its
“demographic” knows it.

Gary Gippsland

The new West – not worse, not better

I sent the West an email on Wednesday giving my opinion on its new
look. I advised that the new layout had less words per page, so it was
easier to read, but it also had fewer articles per page, with the
result that we’re now getting less news items. The quality of the
stories is even worse than before, with Monday’s paper leading with a
story about the West Coast Eagles thinking about buying a pub.

The ‘new’ newspaper is now closer to being a ‘tits and bums’ tabloid
newspaper than a genuine NEWS paper, so I’m far from impressed with the
make-over. Surprisingly, they’ve published a few letters to the editor
saying how good the new paper looks but none putting a contrary point
of view!

Bernie Masters
Independent Liberal member for Vasse

John Howard, man of conscience

You probably heard our Prime Minister talking about Stuart MacGill’s
commendable decision not to tour Zimbabwe yesterday – and these

“I always admire somebody who, in his own way, forms a conscientious
objection on something. I’m sure it’s properly based and it’s genuine,
and I congratulate him for his strength of character.”

So he feels the same way about Andrew Wilkie, too?

It’s a pity that John Howard dose not admire himself, after being a Bush clone over the war in Iraq


The underperforming ABA

ABA has not updated the CVs of its own Board members, so what do we expect re more weighty matters?

Malcolm Long, part time Board member, is now Managing Director of the
Australian Film TV and Radio School. Ian Robertson is one of I
think two members due to ‘retire’ later this year.

Meanwhile where is an ABA which is willing to truly be a watchdog with
teeth and independence in the ever more complex/converged broadcasting
and communications environment in Australia?

And when are we going to truly recognise that the Australian
Communications Authority and the ABA should have amalgamated functions,
as happens in the UK, as many of the issues overlap. Would require top
dog not only with teeth, but brains and independence.

Prof Flint’s ABA appointment

On the matter of how come Prof Flint has been around for more than 5
years, the answer is simple. The maximum term is five years, and
you can be appointed twice. Thus the maximum time any member can
serve is ten years. Prof Flint’s term will be well less than this,
since his initial appointment was I think for three years. I believe
his second appointment will expire some time this year.

Kerrie Henderson
Former ABA member

What sort of a watchdog is the ABA?

If what is happening at the ABA weren’t so very serious, it would make
a wonderful Mel Brooks comedy musical with David Flint playing himself
of course. As soon as the Howard Government came into power one of the
first things it did was to pull the teeth of most of the watchdogs in
our society.

In order that whatever power was used as the government wanted, it then
stacked most boards and the “new” so-called watchdogs it put in their

Thank Heavens for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and shame on
Flint and his co-horts for doing their best to make sure that we, the
public get no real idea of what is happening in our world.

Just go to the American media to see media that champions the
government at every turn and as for Fox Television – they behaved
like sponsors and cheerleaders for the war in Iraq and NO-ONE at the
time dared to say anything contrary for fear of being ostracised,
losing their job or being imprisoned for treason.

The fourth estate as it used to be known was always famous for having
in its employ, people who were informed and curious and sceptical.
Hardly any of this remains as news and advertorial become ever more
entwined and the same people who own television and magazines make
programs that scratch each other’s backs and call it news and current
affairs. I despair: I really do.

At every turn we are having our democratic freedoms pared back. The
absolute non-critical way that our media except for the ABC, handles
what can only be described as one scandal after another is breathtaking!

Penelope Toltz

Bring on the Butler bashing

It’s a bit difficult to work out why MG (Yoursay, April 19) is so upset about the flak that Tasmanian Governor Richard Butler has been copping.

Butler is getting hammered because he isn’t doing the job – the
job, the whole job, and nothing but the job. It is as simple as that.

The job does not include political comment, whether about his state,
his country or overseas. If he feels that political commentary is
his ‘thing’, then all he has to do is resign, and take up another
job – or just write letters to Crikey.

As for Butler’s “putting them [‘Tassie’] on the map”, and reckoning
that this justifies everything or anything, well, Pol Pot, Hitler and
Saddam definitely put their countries “on the map”. It’s a bit like
being described a ‘passionate’ or ‘true’ believer: it’s what the
passionate believer believes in that’s important: again, Pol Pot and
Hitler were ‘passionate’, very ‘passionate’, about their beliefs, as
tens of millions found out to their cost

State Governors seem to have something in common with cricket or
football umpires; they do their best work when no-one notices
them. Ego-mongers, therefore, need not apply –
there’s a plethora of other jobs for them.

Leonard Colquhoun
Invermay Tasmania

Eddie’s influence at the Logies

Did you notice that, after Eddie threw to the opening medley performed
by Shannon Noll and Guy Sebastian, all of Shannon’s dancers (who were
dressed up in trucker singlets to look like mechanics) were wearing
nondescript blue singlets except one. That one was wearing a
Collingwood guernsey.


Tony Watson


DJs, Westfield, Fairfax and overdevelopment

I was in Bondi Junction today, and happened to be reading this week’s
Bulletin story about David Jones, their longstanding relationship with
Fairfax due to their founders’ both being 1850s contemporaries and
Congregationalists, and DJs’ likely loss of support from Fairfax in
their current battle over the proposed redevelopment of Centrepoint.

Three Fairfax board members are also on the Westfield board, so the
thrust of the argument is that that could limit the fearlessness of
Fairfax’ reporting of the matter.

David Jones is a member of Concerned Residents and Businesses Against
Centrepoint Overdevelopment, which campaigned for a ‘vote against
overdevelopment’ in the recent City of Sydney election.

Meanwhile, back at Bondi Junction: that’s a huge development going on
there, it’s been going on for some considerable time at immense public
inconvenience, and has involved both David Jones and Westfield.

Where was DJs’ concern when they agreed to that?

Still, it will be interesting to see how Fairfax deal with the
Centrepoint issue. I wonder whether they will take account of DJs’
ambiguous position on development?

Arnold Ziffel
Hooterville, near Sydney