A stern rebuke. The first stern rebuke I received from a reader after starting to write for Crikey was for failing to include a link to the source of a quotation I had used in a piece I wrote. Surely I realised, the dressing down began, that it was the practice of giving links to original documents that was one of the strengths of Crikey. It helped people interested in a subject easily get more information. It was an eminently sensible piece of advice about using one of the advantages the internet page has over the printed variety and I have tried to remember to follow it.

That it is difficult for journalists to get out of the habit of thinking in terms of the printed page and not the screen where so many people now read their words was well illustrated in this morning’s coverage of the Federal Government’s taxation discussion paper. Of the nation’s three broadsheets, only The Australian on its internet coverage of the story linked to the Treasury website containing the full text of the report. The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald did not. I expect my rubuker to chastise these broadloids immediately!

Keeping off the tele. Sometimes you can just have too much of a good politician and the way Kevin Rudd kept bobbing up on the television newscasts last night that time is surely coming for our Prime Minister. Story after story seemed to have a 20 second clip with a comment from Mr Rudd and I don’t think I’m different to most viewers in saying that this morning I can’t recall one thing he actually said.

Over exposure starts affecting people like that as the Barack Obama team are recognizing in the United States. The Democratic Party candidate is about to take a week off to holiday with his family in Hawaii after the Pew Research Group found that the mush-discussed “media dominance may not be working in his favor.”

A Pew poll conducted over the last few days found that almost half — 48% — of those surveyed said “they have been hearing too much about Obama lately.” The Los Angeles Times reported one possible upshot: According to the Pew pollsters, “by a slight, but statistically significant margin — 22% to 16% — people say that recently they have a less rather than more favorable view of the putative Democratic nominee.”

Our Prime Minister should take note of that and treat his visit to Beijing for the opening of the Olympic Games as more of a holiday than an opportunity to add sport to the range of subjects on which he covers on the television news as an instant expert. Then, on his return home, he should settle down in front of the tele in the Lodge and watch until the Games are over.

Looking on the bright side again. We journalists seem to love giving bad news a bigger run than better news so with my continuing determination to be an optimist about the weather I bring you this drought update from the Australia Bureau of Meteorology.

In the first of the three maps below you can see that grim drought conditions over the last 12 months continue to affect considerable parts of the continent.

 But then observe that in the map of rainfall anomalies covering 6 months the areas with severe deficiency or the worst on record is smaller.
 

  

On the three months map they have got smaller again.

As for the future well the Bureau reports that the outlook is mixed. The national outlook for total August to October rainfall shows moderate swings in the odds towards below-normal rainfall in central WA and also in a band extending from northern Queensland through to central SA. In contrast, higher than average rainfall is favoured in the southwest of WA. Over the rest of the nation, late-winter to mid spring rainfall totals have a 40 to 60% chance of exceeding the three-month median. So the chances of being wetter than normal are about the same as the chances of being drier.

Peter Fray

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