Brunton’s whinge. “ABC staff lied to board” was the headline on a story that turned out to be a whinge from former ABC board member, Ron Brunton, a conservative appointee of the Howard Government not renewed by the Rudd Government. Gee, tales of staff/managements lying to managements/boards are up there with “cheque’s in the mail” and “would I lie to you”?. They are old hat and not very convincing. So what are we to make of the latest?

“The ABC’s most recently retired director, Ron Brunton, claims the public broadcaster’s staff and management deceived, lied to and withheld information from the board to stop changes being made to the ‘culture’ of the ABC … Dr Brunton, a conservative anthropologist, says the board was treated with such contempt that in 2003 he was made to sign a statement he was not sure was correct. In his second year the annual report was printed containing ‘assertions I do not accept’ before being shown to him.”

So why should we be upset and surprised? The ANZ Bank board has just made the same claim about the bank’s lending to the Opes Prime Group, and no doubt top other margin lenders, it has happened at the NAB in the $360 million forex options losses affair and it has happened countless other times in other corporate boards. But it’s no defence to say you were lied to. Why didn’t Mr Brunton go public and resign and make a statement. Why wasn’t he brave? What did he think he was on the board for?

Brunton wasn’t shy, according to MediaWatch last year, in commenting on a blogsite in response to complaints about Phillip Adams by a woman formerly known as Helen Demidenko, a literary hoaxer who also went by the name Helen Darville and now Helen Dale. Will Ron Brunton be supported by Janet Albrechtsen, a fellow conservative appointee? Or is she thinking of penning a story or two about her time on the ABC board? — Glenn Dyer 

First the journalists, now their families. Another day, another death list. Despite having an arsenal of anti-press laws at his disposal, the leader of Zimbabwe’s junta, Robert Mugabe, has resorted to using brute force and the threat of assassination to silence the independent media. Yet another list, prepared by Mugabe’s Central Intelligence Organisation, is doing the rounds of internet websites. I take a cursory look at the list, and yawn. The same old names are there – all the stalwarts of our profession who endeavour constantly to bring to the world’s attention the appalling atrocities being committed in the name of sovereignty by the Mugabe regime. – Guardian

George Orwell would have been a blogger. Aug. 12 began as a hot morning in Aylesford, Kent, England, only to be followed by a powerful thunderstorm in the afternoon. Meanwhile, the blackberries were beginning to redden. Aug. 12, 1938, that is.

The observations were made by George Orwell, whose copious diaries are now being published every day in blog form, exactly 70 years after they were made. The scholars behind the project say they are trying to get more attention for Orwell online and to make him more relevant to a younger generation he would have wanted to speak to.

“I think he would have been a blogger,” said Jean Seaton, a professor at the University of Westminster in London who administers the Orwell writing prize and thought up the idea of the blog. — New York Times

Crowd funding. You think your local water supply is polluted. But you’re getting the runaround from local officials, and you can’t get your local newspaper to look into your concerns. What do you do?

A group of journalists say they have an answer. You hire them to investigate and write about what they find. The idea, which they are calling “community-funded journalism,” is now being tested in the San Francisco Bay area, where a new nonprofit, Spot Us, is using its Web site, spot.us, to solicit ideas for investigative articles and the money to pay for the reporting. But the experiment has also raised concerns of journalism being bought by the highest bidder.

The idea is that anyone can propose a story, though the editors at Spot Us ultimately choose which stories to pursue. Then the burden is put on the citizenry, which is asked to contribute money to pay upfront all of the estimated reporting costs. If the money doesn’t materialize, the idea goes unreported. — New York Times

Peter Fray

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