To nominate Editor-in-Chief Andrew Jaspan’s fortnight from hell — showing no signs of abating — for a Wankley just seems too obvious. Still, shall we recap? Long simmering resentment at The Age over Jaspan’s interference with editorial content finally boiled over…

  • 7 April. Media Watch has a great yarn about Earth Hour promoter WWF feeding trivial story ideas to The Age, a fellow Earth Hour partner. Jaspan laps them up unquestioning.  
  • 11 April. Margaret Simons reports that 235 journalists at an Age stop work meeting on 10 April voted unanimously for a motion accusing Jaspan of “degrading their ability to produce independent journalism”. They produce a damning list of stories where they believe the paper’s independence had been thwarted by Jaspan and The Age‘s partnerships.
  • 11 April. Crikey releases audio of Jaspan discussing his decision to publish a lengthy clarification of a Grand Prix story in The Age about falling attendance numbers. Jaspan downplays the follow-up piece but journalists in the room are audibly unsatisfied with his duck-and-weave response — perhaps because the GP Corporation is chaired by Ron Walker, also Chair of the Fairfax Board and a Jaspan backer.
  • 16 April. Crikey reveals that Jaspan and his deputy, Paul Ramadge, will no longer be participants at the 2020 summit, but will go as “observers”. It’s a response to Age journalists’ concerns that participating affects objectivity.
  • 17 April. Pained to have to report it, but in pursuit of the truth, The Australian reports that Melbourne’s “so-called top end of town” is turning on Jaspan after Age staff endorsed a motion that Jaspan had “pursued an undeclared campaign” against the Victorian Government’s dredging of Port Phillip Bay.

In summary, some amazing stories coming from The Age. Not that a peep of it was reported in Age publications. And that’s the real disappointment — the lack of any mechanism for self-criticism and introversion. The Age could do with something like the NY Times’ Public Editor, who’s given a blog to analyse whether the paper is meeting its own journalistic standards. That or the Guardian‘s Roy Greenslade. Readers of The Age deserve better.

Ok, enough of the serious. To FHM which scored quite a coup with its poll: do men prefer their women skinny or curvy? Ah, that old chestnut.

The Sunday Age picked up the report on April 6:

According to the figures, the jury is in: men will choose a Rubenesque size 14 over a stick-figure size 8 when it comes to their ideal woman. Admittedly, the science could be seen as somewhat superficial. It is based on an online survey — not the most accurate means of obtaining information — of 60,000 men conducted by laddish men’s magazine FHM. The relevant issue is published tomorrow.

So the paper acknowledged the report’s lack of substance, and the fact that it’s really about publicising the latest issue of FHM — out on stands tomorrow! — but still gave it a decent page 12 run.

The saving grace came with a quote from Julie Thomson, general manager of the Butterfly Foundation, who had issues with a survey that “objectifies women … it still is perpetuating this ideal that men do look at women externally only.”

The following week, the paper got a bollocking from female readers. “It is very liberated of The Sunday Age to advise us women it is now acceptable to be a size 14″, wrote Di Cousens. “As it happens, the average size of Australian women is size 16 [pointing] to the fact that a lot of women are larger than size 16.”

The Courier-Mail‘s take on the poll was more colourful. Ladies, it said, you can now “crack a beer and hoe into a hamburger” and men will still find you attractive. It’s the dream, isn’t it.

Not content with the rigour of FHM‘s survey, The Dubbo Liberal did its own. Their conclusion, “chunky is funky”:

Dubbo men agree, claiming a s-xy woman has to have meat on her bones … The Daily Liberal hit the streets of Dubbo with pictures of Beyonce Knowles, a size 14 and a size eight Keira Knightley, to find out just what body type appealed most to local men.

A staggering 100 per cent of men asked, all claimed that size eight was just too skinny and that a real woman had to have curves.

Staggering. Anyone feel like we’re flogging a dead story yet?

Not Today Tonight which last night, almost two weeks later, ran the story. A Wankley for all responsible for giving the story oxygen.

It’s time to cut the fat.