More evidence has emerged today of how the
new regime at Fairfax is deferring to Sydney’s dominant media power,
the Packer family.

According to the gossip column in The Australian’s Media section, sensitive Sydney Morning Herald management led by new editor Alan Oakley have responded to complaints from the Packers about mentions in the SMH
(especially its CBD finance gossip column) about the attendance of
James Packer’s “friend” Erica Baxter and sister Gretel at his appearance as a witness at the One.Tel court case over the
past two weeks.

The mentions described Baxter’s smart appearance, impressive collection of shoes and brands of clothing worn to court each day.

Last week there were suggestions that CBD had been warned off, but according to Amanda Meade’s column in The Australian today a note came down from editor Oakley after Wednesday’s CBD mentioned Gretel’s attendance, along with that of Ms Baxter.

The
column also reported that a news story written about the friendship
between Lachlan Murdoch and James Packer in “the context of the One.Tel
proceedings” was “pulled at the last minute without explanation.” And
that SMH business writers were told last week not to refer to Ms Baxter because “we don’t write about partners, girlfriends etc.”

That novel approach is obviously absent at News Ltd’s Telegraph and Australian, not to mention PBL’s Women’s Day and NW.

Peter Fray

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