Donald
Rumsfeld might be jetting in later today, but Adelaide is still
recovering this morning from Rupert Murdoch hosting a glittering
black-tie function celebrating the best of journalism that News Ltd has
to offer.

The inaugural News Awards have immediately outclassed
the 50-year tradition of the Walkleys, at least that’s what Melbourne’s
paper of record, the Herald Sun, declared this morning with a page two story which began as follows: “The Herald Sun has been honoured for excellence in journalism at Australia’s premier media awards.”

You
had to wait for the seventh paragraph to learn these were a one-company
competition, albeit a dominant one with 36 titles and almost 70% of the
Australian newspaper market.

The Herald Sun described the
night as “a glittering awards ceremony in Adelaide,” although Rupert
used the occasion to attack the Walkleys for being, like the Pulitzers,
too “politically correct.”

The Australian took issue with
Crikey’s comments about the awards night to Virginia Trioli on ABC
Sydney yesterday as you can see from this item in today’s Strewth column.

Unfortunately,
we all know that journalism is not a mistake-free profession. The
shorter piece about the awards night in Rupert’s flagship, managed to
misspell the name of the paper as The Australia. Oops.

Similarly, my report yesterday about Rupert’s dinner at Machiavelli’s last week was also wrong in respect of The Australian’s
editor Michael Stutchbury, who did attend. Stutchbury also attended
last night as he featured in the photograph of Rupert with all the
winners of the News Awards on page 18 of The Advertiser today.

Jenny
Dillon and Mike Sheahan were standing either side of Rupert and poor
old Matt Price was the only one obscured as he was poised right behind
Sheahan, perfectly placed to put something into Rupert’s back if his
objection to the Iraq war was strong enough.

That’s all for now as it’s time to head down to The Advertiser’s glittering new glass-fronted headquarters in Waymouth Street for Rupert’s first ever “shareholder information meeting.”

It looks like there will also be a press conference as The AFR’s
Chanticleer columnist John Durie and Business Sunday’s
Ross Greenwood have flown in for the meeting, joining a posse of
Murdoch loyalists still in town following last night’s awards. And
Rupert isn’t just going through the motions. With 200 or more
shareholders in attendance, he’s certainly putting on a good show
– complete with the News Corp showbags, which this year include an Electra DVD, Geraldine Brooks’ book March, a Foxtel program guide, the latest issue of sports mag Alpha and the July-August issue of Donna Hay.

We’ll probably be too late for today’s edition but here are
some of the questions I’m hoping to get up today:

Is it right that we’ve really dropped $600 million
bankrolling the NRL over the past decade? Is there any chance we’ll
ever get a return on that investment?

Donald Rumsfeld jets into Adelaide today and had an opinion piece in The Australian
this morning. Are there any commercial implications from so strongly
backing the Iraq war when public opinion seems to be moving against it?

How
are relations with the Packers and Telstra? There has been talk of
shareholding arguments at Foxtel. Have you met Telstra’s new CEO and
are you and Mr Packer comfortable with what he’s doing?

You seem
to have a strong backer in Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal who owns
5.5% of our voting stock. We’ve just published a very favourable
biography of his life. Does he want anything else in return for his
voting support against John Malone? Is there any pressure for the
Muslim world to be portrayed any differently in News Corp outlets?

Today
is partly about nostalgia and I note you were at Old Parliament House
for the 30th anniversary of The Dismissal last Friday. Thank you so
much for helping get rid of Whitlam and what were your reflections from
last Friday’s tour? Is it right that we suffered quite a commercial
backlash and The Australian was under great financial pressure in the aftermath?

Have
we got rid of the corporate jet that used to be based in Australia? How
many leased or owned jets are their in the global these days?

I’ll probably get shut down after just a couple but nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say.