Michael Lynch, chief soccer writer at The Age, writes: Re. “Age staff stop work for a word from their sponsor” (Wednesday, item 20). It was with some surprise that I saw the item in Crikey suggesting I was on the point of relinquishing my position as chief soccer writer at The Age because I am under pressure to spin stories for Melbourne Victory. Nothing could be further from the truth. As anyone who knows me can attest, I am committed to the game and certainly have no plans to get out of journalism or football for a long time to come. And I must correct the impression that I am put upon to write positive stories about the club. In the three years that Victory has been in the A-League (and The Age has been a sponsor) I have never been directed to write puff pieces about them. Those in the game would know I am Victory’s most trenchant media critic. It hasn’t always made me popular with the club, but that is not really an issue. I have continued to do my job as one of the country’s most experienced soccer journalists without worrying too much about the opinions of Victory coach Ernie Merrick or his board. All of the sports editors I have worked under while covering Victory (Charlie Happell, Warwick Green, Peter Hanlon, Mark Fuller and David Dick on the daily and Saturday Age, Alex Lavelle on the Sunday) have certainly backed me whenever I have been the subject of a complaint from the club about anything I have written and have given me their fullest support. No-one has had a word, discreet or otherwise, that I should pump up the Victory or consider my position. I would ignore the advice anyway and just call their games as I see it.

Roz Rubbo, Granada Productions, writes: Re. “Nine turns off the Power of 10” (yesterday, item 20). Glenn Dyer wrote: “The Power of 10 and Monster House … was the responsibility of Hilary Innes, the head of Light Entertainment (at Nine).” Can you please note that Hilary Innes has been with Granada Productions since 2005 and has nothing to do with the above programs. A correction would be appreciated.

An Opes Prime Royal Commission:

Jenny Morris writes: Re. “Let’s just say this again: It’s time for the Opes Prime Royal Commission” (yesterday, item 1). I don’t understand Stephen Mayne’s call for a Royal Commission into the Opes Prime collapse (Thursday, item 1). Sure, the gangstas provide a bit of colour for the normal peeps like us with nary a Coles Myer share to our names, but what justification is there for a Royal Commission? We’re not talking about a bank, a credit union or a health insurance fund – bodies just about everyone has to be a part of to live today. It was a speculative investment scheme with some bizarre elements that didn’t seem to bother investors when there was the hope of large returns. Even I know that if you invest, you have to be able to afford to lose the money – all of it. This is a failure of the market… It’s no basis for washing millions of taxpayers’ money down the drain on a Royal Commission.

Linda Hornsey and the 2020 Summit:

Peter Lloyd writes: Re. “Rudd’s 2020 ringmaster no stranger to cut and thrust” (yesterday, item 3). Crikey’s revelations that the repugnant former Tasmanian ‘public servant’ Linda Hornsey has been parachuted into a nice little spot managing the 2020 Summit positively turns the stomach. In Tasmania we have grown used to a level of shameless corruption that Morris Iemma could only dream about, helped by the fact that forest industries own both the Labor party and the Liberal “opposition”. Mainland politicians come and go (especially during elections), and we quietly hope that a Peter Garrett or Mal Turnbull will one day call time and pull the pigs away from the trough. Hornsey’s appointment shows only that the corruption is approved all the way to the top of the Labor Party, a party that is every bit as beyond redemption as Mark Latham said. No wonder the Tasmanian ALP were the earliest and most virulent Latham haters (Bernard Keane take note).

Vale John Button:

Bob Smith from Richmond, Melbourne, writes: Re. “Mungo: Button was a truly good human being” (Wednesday, item 15). John Button was a rare politician who used his manifold personal and intellectual skills to question “certainties” and open minds. In talking over a fence or in the street in Richmond, however casually, he continued to be exceptional – a quizzical grin on his face and astringent assessments and unanswerable questions on his lips. I wish that there were more of him.

Rundle on Tibet and China:

Paul Gilchrist writes: Re. “US08: Tibet, the torch and the mysterious (b)east” (yesterday, item 2). Guy Rundle says we are hypocrites for criticising China. What is it with the left and their love affairs with dictatorships? Last century, it took the left 50 years to admit they were wrong about the Soviet Union, here we go again with China in the 21st century. George Bernard Shaw visited the Soviet Union briefly and decided it was a paradise. What is your evidence Guy? Oh yeah, we’re all hypocrites because Australia was a criminal country in 1956, Tibet is a “cuddly insurgency” and even worse, “spiritual, i.e. medieval” and the west wants to “construct it as the enemy”. I suppose Guy is trying to be entertaining, and this phoney academic drivel sure is entertaining, but how about a little more content? Has Guy ever wondered why his “made in China” socks and power drills are so much cheaper than anything made in the evil west? Oh, of course, sweatshops are ok in a dictatorship. I will construct Guy as an ideologue in love with powerful, dominating dictatorships.

Editorial independence:

David Hardie writes: Re. “Beecher: Editorial independence requires editorial competence” (yesterday, item 16). In the post-mortem of last year’s Federal election, the cliché was that the electorate had just stopped listening to the incumbent Prime Minister. The only reason that he was being heard in the first place was, well, he was Prime Minister. The word on the street in Perth is sounding somewhat similar in relation to the West Australian. The only reason it continues to be read (albeit in decreasing numbers) is that there is no option. However this does not mean that people are actually paying attention.

Brendan Nelson:

Joel Dignam writes: Re. “Nelson’s listening tour a triumph of stage management” (yesterday, item 10). Brendan Nelson may indeed be hapless, but to his credit he at least tries to overcome the pettiness of his minders. When he visited St. Ignatius College in Adelaide, he made an effort to respond to my particularly curly question on the Iraq War, and he even managed to avoid the O-word. Less can be said for Christopher Pyne, who tried to laughingly dismiss the same question.

Walter Hawtin writes: Graham Bell (yesterday, comments) mucks his folks up. Bernard Keane got it pretty right with Dr Nelson, and Keane’s read is similar to the Fairfax’s weekend magazine cover story on Nelson, concluding that he is a mixed bag of bathos, earnestness, raw intelligence, and gregariousness. This current role of Nelson’s as Opposition leader smacks of an audition for the role of an understudy. His comments in the Good Weekend were something along the lines of: “People have always underestimated me”. This comment alone is insightful, and whether a fact or a misguided attempt at humility, it does not reflect the leadership attributes Australians look for in a Prime Minister. To a man (sadly they are all men to date) Australian Prime Ministers have possessed singularity of purpose, a certain ruthlessness to take the job, a thick mongrel streak up their backs, plus a lick of good luck and timing. Australians certainly like a nice bloke, but they elect bastards to represent them as PM, albeit indirectly through parliamentary party systems. If Dr Nelson really has been underestimated in the past, he is by definition very unlikely to get the opportunity to compete directly for a federal election, barring a tumultuous event. The Liberal Party would never let him run.

New media lessons :

Nicholas Roberts writes: Re. “New media lessons from Election ’07” (yesterday, item 18). It seems to me that the YouDecide2007 team are making their own journey from AM to PRO and the “preditor” term derives from that. The w#@kword preditor may fly in the Web 2.0, but in the real world, will quickly be shot down. So, please, stand-back while I take a few cracks… As anyone who has actually worked in a large journalism organisation knows, at its nucleus there is a complex editorial ecosystem of publishers, editors, journalists, artists, production, management and support staff in symbiosis with life-support business functions such as advertising, executive and production. Without dedicated business functions of advertising, marketing, production, accounts, IT and circulation the entire operation will simply die. Editorial species from Pro-AM, and few to many: Editor-in-Chief, Editor, Section Editor, Production Editors, Sub-Editor, Managing Editors, Letters Editor, Photo Editors, then journalists, post-amateur cadets, and very importantly the often amateur letters writers and contributors who are drawn from the community of readers. Without the engagement during news gathering, letters and contributions the organisation would again die. Online you also now commonly have Web Editor and Producer and various Interactive, Designers etc. I’d suggest that the “preditor” paper is basically more about the YouDecide team learning this the hard way.

Australia divided:

Ian Farquhar writes: Re. “Australia Divided: Women v Men” (yesterday, item 5) Crikey intern Dara Conduit wrote: “Less than 50% of the male population dies of old age.” You don’t die of “old age”. You die because of some disease or illness. Maybe that’s a chronic disease which typically affects older people, but it’s the disease which kills you, not the fact that you’re old.

The Streisand effect:

Mike Smith writes: Liz Purdue (Wednesday, comments) wrote: “It appears that everyone you speak with has either borrowed or owns a set (of Underbelly)!” This would be the Streisand effect in action. “The Streisand effect is a phenomenon on the Internet where an attempt to censor or remove a piece of information backfires, causing the information to be widely publicised.”

AFL rules:

Campbell Fuller writes: Is Les Heimann (yesterday, comments) serious in saying that the long-term future of NRL as Australia’s national game is at stake? Please confiscate his keyboard, beer and rose-coloured glasses. NRL has never been the national sport. Never will be. I’m not even aware that the NRL really believes it’s the national sport. Until I was 10 my Melbourne mates and I didn’t even know rugby league existed. Yes, league is popular in two states and has a following elsewhere. But Les seems to have a blind spot (as does Glenn Dyer) when it comes to Australian rules. No-one can doubt it’s Australia’s major football code. Massively popular in most of the country (including big chunks of southern NSW), and fast rivalling NRL in certain regions of Sydney and Brisvegas. Beats soccer and rugby union in just about every market. Then again, netball probably has the status as the nation’s national game when you look at the number of participants. The NRL’s biggest threat is becoming further marginalised in its key markets as soccer and AFL continue to score with kids. It matters not a jot that Melbourne Storm is a highly successful team and draws strong crowds (and yes, I enjoy occasionally going to a match), nor that a decent TV slot attracts OK audiences down south. Melburnians love sport. But they love some sports more than others. That’s why the NRL is – at best – Australia’s third national sport. In Melbourne, AFL, netball, cricket, soccer, retail therapy and farnarkling would probably rank higher. By the way, my tip is for Storm-Roosters and Geelong-Collingwood grand finals. Carlton to finish 12th and the Bunnies to stay on the bottom. But what do I know?

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