Age journos need clearer sponsorship guidelines. The Age independence committee writes:

Monday, 14 April, 2008
To Don Churchill, Fairfax Victoria MD,

Thank you for your reply to the concerns expressed in a motion that was supported unanimously by staff at their meeting on Thursday, 10 April.

We welcome your stated commitment on behalf of the company to the principles of independent journalism.

We accept that sponsorship contracts contain standard clauses that insist on an appropriate separation between the commercial and editorial arms of the business.

However, we still believe that it is necessary to more clearly define how sponsorships and corporate relationships entered into by the company are to be treated by its journalists. This need is urgent, especially given the depth of feeling expressed by many staff at Thursday’s meeting, along with the accompanying documented examples where journalistic integrity appears to have been threatened by such arrangements.

Indeed, Sunday Age editor Gay Alcorn acknowledged at the meeting that there were “grey areas” around the paper’s coverage of Earth Hour that warranted further discussion.

It is our strong view that there is a need to map out clear guidelines for reporters and editors who may be asked to cover such events and on other matters in which the Age has a corporate stake.

We maintain our belief that there is scope for management, in consultation with representatives of the Independence Committee and the House Committee to draft an appropriate internal protocol. This would guarantee the continuing integrity of the journalism that has underpinned this media entity for more than 150 years.

Posted on The Age Independence Committee website.

Leckie’s sore finger leads to coma? is reporting that Channel 7 boss David Leckie has been placed in an induced coma, battling complications from a recent injury to his finger. Leckie is in a serious but stable condition in St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, a Seven spokesman said. Leckie injured the finger in closing a car door two months ago. The top of the finger was damaged and one operation failed to repair it and another was scheduled to try and repair and complete a skin graft. Leckie has been in considerable pain in recent weeks and is understood to have cancelled a mid year holiday because he was worried about the state of the injury. — Glenn Dyer

Divine language at The Vine. Fairfax has been unable capture the youth market with its current range of publications, so its digital arm teamed with youth marketing company Lifelounge to create The Vine, a website aimed at 18-25 year olds (i.e. Gen Y). It’s a mix of gossip, entertainment and s-x, with a little bit of news thrown in. It has reader-generated content — because “our job is not only to seek out the best in emerging news, entertainment, music and fashion, but to encourage the ‘citizens’ of to create engaging content of their own,” says editor-in-chief Annie Fox. Its smutometer has been pinging in recent days, as the pictures below show. Perhaps that’s just how you speak yoof. Still, its tabloid tone is only echoing the most read stories at parent websites The Age ( “Keanu’s most excellent interview adventure”), Brisbane Times (“Cabbie had s-x with unconscious woman”) and The SMH (“Police on trial for shooting unarmed groom on wedding day”).

Pipe down Jim. The Western Australian branch of the journalists union has demanded the state’s Attorney-General, Jim McGinty, stop his public attacks on reporters. After months of hostilities between Mr McGinty and Perth journalists – particularly those from The West Australian – the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance faxed a letter to the Attorney-General asking him to “cease unwarranted public attacks on WA journalists and lift a ban on dealings with reporters from The West Australian newspaper”. In February, Mr McGinty effectively black-banned reporters from The West Australian by cutting them off from the Western Australian Government media office’s text message alerts about press conferences. — The Australian   What to do about Tupac writer? Nearly a month after publishing its now infamous story about a rap industry shooting that relied on fake FBI records, the Los Angeles Times has still not determined the future of staffer Chuck Philips, who wrote the piece. Editor Russ Stanton, who is in town for the Capital Conference combined media convention, told E&P that Philips “remains active and on the payroll,” but added “what he is going to be doing in the future is still in the process of being defined.” — Editor & Publisher   Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
Border Security was tops with 1.584 million, Seven news was second with 1.582 million and Today Tonight was third with 1.469 million. Home And Away was 4th at 7pm for Seven with 1.384 million and Life In Cold Blood debuted at fifth with 1.301 million people. That made a mockery of the dumb idea to schedule The Power of 10 for two weeks in that timeslot. Nine News was 6th with 1.288 million and Sea Patrol was 7th with 1.269 million people. Seven’s 8pm program Serious Crash Unit averaged 1.260 million at 8pm. Desperate Housewives averaged 1.241 million for Seven at 8.30pm. And A Current Affair 1.226 million in 10th spot. The Biggest Loser on Ten at 7pm, 1.206 million people, and the results episode of So You Think You Can Dance on Ten at 7.30pm, 1.164 million. Good News Week on Ten at 8.30pm, 1.064 million, the 7pm ABC News in 14th spot with 1.058 million and Two And A Half Men ‘s repeat on Nine at 7pm, 1.045 million. Andrew Denton’s outtakes episode of Enough Rope at 9.30pm, 975,000. It beat CSI New York with 950,000 at 9.30pm for Nine. Australian Story down to 878,000 on the ABC at 8pm.   The Losers: Dirty Sexy Money on Seven at 9.30pm: 728,000 people. The episode of Four Corners last night at 8.30pm on the ABC, 759,000 – everyone knows property developers are dodgy and the NSW Government even dodgier. Law And Order on Ten 678,000.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market while Today Tonight won everywhere bar Melbourne. Ten News At Five averaged 913,000, the Late News / ports Tonight , 350,000. The 7.30 Report , 728,000, Lateline , 328,000, Lateline Business 163,000. Nine’s Nightline , 234,000. World News Australia at 6.30pm on SBS, 209,000,  the 9.30pm edition, 133,000. 7am Sunrise down to a low 328,000. Today on Nine from 7am within sight with 285,000. That’s the closest margin for sometime.

The Stats: Seven won 6pm to midnight with 28.5% (29.0% a week ago); from Nine with 27.5% (23.3%), Ten on 21.7% (22.0%), the ABC with 16.3% (19.4% ) and SBS on 5.9% (6.3%). Seven won Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Nine won Brisbane and Adelaide. Nine leads 28.8% to 27.1%, In regional areas a big win to Nine through WIN/NBN with 30.2%, Prime/7Qld with 27.5%, Southern cross (Ten) with 18.6%, the ABC with 17.3% and SBS with 6.3%. In the 6pm to 10.30pm battle Fusion Strategy says Seven won with 24.56% (25.1% a year ago) from Nine with 23.05% (20.69%), Ten With 18.88% (21.24%), the ABC with 14.31% (12.65%), Pay TV, 14.00% (14.61%) and SBS 5.19% (5.62%).

Glenn Dyer’s comments: David Attenborough’s last wildlife series, In Cold Blood , did as it was expected to do last night and made Nine more competitive. But why did it take a flop like The Power of Ten to force Nine’s hand? This is a program that should have been in the schedule from the start of ratings to give Nine the biggest oomph against Seven and Ten that it could manage. Imagine the ratings wins Nine would have had with this, Underbelly in Melbourne and the benefit of the boost from the late start to the One Day international cricket in February and early March. Tonight it’s It Takes Two on Seven, with struggling All Saints . NCIS on Ten and Moment of Truth on Nine at 7.30pm. Then there’s swearing Gordon Ramsay at 8.30pm and Ladette to Lady at 9.30pm. Ten has Bondi Rescue , one of the programs of the week at 8pm.

Source: OzTAM, TV Networks, Fusion Strategy reports

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