Afghanistan: A war in pictures. On Thursday morning newsstand browsers could not have helped but notice the bold display on the front page of that morning’s edition of The Age. “SAS nine ambushed” screamed the type above an image that but for one right hand column filled the remainder of the folded page. It showed a soldier in what may well have been, given the context established by the headline, a gesture of something between exasperation and despair.

The sense was, and nowhere did the paper do anything to disturb this impression, that the solider was in some way related to the action. It was all a con of course, a Defence force stock image of one of our fighting men crassly manipulated to provoke an editorial effect.

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The image can be found here on the ADF website.

It was taken on July 11. This is the caption:

A soldier from the Reconstruction Task Force provides security for the Deputy Governor and government officials of Oruzgan Province who arrive in a CH47 Chinook helicopter for a Super Shura, a major meeting of community leaders, facilitated by Australia.

The soldier is not in the SAS. He is shielding his eyes from the dust kicked up by a helicopter landing behind him. The photo is not news.

We asked acting Age editor in chief Paul Ramadge to explain the image selection. He did not reply by deadline. — Jonathan Green

The Strip worked for the Nine Network last night averaging more than 1.4 million viewers on its first outing and holding most of those. That should allow it to settle in and hold up the night for Nine when The Footy Shows disappear at the end of this month.

It’s only 13 programs: Nine has done it as a mini series (which is supposed to have continuing theme/s through it) so it isn’t the answer to their black hole of TV drama which is still as wide as ever. Nine makes 13 part mini series because the Government funding body was convinced a few years ago to increase the number of programs in a mini series from four to 13 (or around a third of a normal Australian run). That way Nine maximises the tax benefits available now through the producer rebate.

But like Sea Patrol, which the Navy put in millions of dollars for the first two series as a recruiting promotion (did it work?), Nine has put its hand in another government pocket as well: the Queensland Government, which is desperate to show off its tourism virtues and especially those of the Gold Coast. The Queensland Government put money into Sea Patrol as well: its getting to be indecent.

This press release last month gushed about The Strip.

“Queensland’s spectacular Gold Coast will take centre stage in the much-anticipated Australian drama series The Strip when it premieres on Channel Nine at 8:30pm on Thursday night (4 September).

“Arts Minister Rod Welford said The Strip, shot on location on the Gold Coast, would boost Queensland’s reputation as a base for the production of quality film and television.

“The Gold Coast is regularly used as a production base for international film and television production because of its natural beauty and proximity to the world-class production infrastructure at Warner Roadshow Studios,” Mr Welford said.

At least The Strip looked in context for the Gold Coast: fairly shallow, a quick and easy once over and a bit of glamour with the now standard Miami Vice quick cutting, thumping bass-driven music, sunglasses and cool dialogue between the two main characters, who may or may not fall into a clichéd clinch and then do things with each other. — Glenn Dyer

Palin kills it on TV as well as on the hunt. Early TV ratings in the US suggest that the the Republicans’ Vice Presidential Sarah ‘Moosekiller’ Palin, went down a treat with US viewers. She was almost as popular as Senator Barack Obama in his acceptance speech a week ago, and on a proportional basis, probably a bit more popular. Early Nielsen ratings say an estimated 37 million people watched Ms Palin’s speech at the Republican National Convention Wednesday night. That was less than the 38.4 million who watched the Obama speech. But it was carried live on 10 US TV networks, her speech was on six. — Glenn Dyer

A note from Bruce Wolpe, Director, Corporate Affairs, Fairfax, leaked to Crikey today.

To All Staff

Over the past few days, since the announcement by David Kirk and Brian McCarthy of the company’s comprehensive restructure and business improvement program, Fairfax Media has been the subject of a great deal of unfair and biased media coverage. We feel it is important that we set the record straight on a number of these issues that have been twisted out of context and to reiterate that Fairfax Media remains committed to maintaining quality across its mastheads and is optimistic about the direction and long-term growth of the business.

There are a lot of legitimate issues on the table about the future of major newspapers, quality journalism, the evolution of the media industry, and how to face the future. They are all fair game and worthy of serious discussion and debate.

But along the way, we have heard a lot of nonsense about what Fairfax Media is doing and why.

So we wanted to provide some straight talk on what our plans are and where we want to go. Just the facts.

And that is just what we will do. Starting today.

The new website is at:

Bruce Wolpe
Director, Corporate Affairs
Fairfax Media

Obama agrees to Murdoch’s Fox News grilling. In an attempt at counter-programming John McCain’s nomination acceptance speech, Barack Obama has agreed to appear tomorrow on The O’Reilly Factor, a popular programme on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News channel. The Obama interview comes after months of behind-the-scenes peacemaking between the candidate and the Fox News chief Roger Ailes — talks brokered by Murdoch himself. Widespread Democratic concern over the Murdoch channel’s conservative slant had fuelled a de facto boycott of Fox News by the Obama camp. — The Guardian

400 websites shut down. (Thailand) The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Ministry has detected more than 1,200 websites that violated the Computer Crime Act – of which 344 had content deemed insulting to the monarchy. — The Bangkok Post

It’s All Performance: St. Paul Police Capture Show They’re Part Of. In a particularly modern twist, a police officer at a protest in St Paul during the RNC cheerily captured video the action on his digital camera as he and his baton-wielding colleagues filed in to surround the park. It was a strange enough scene that is made the press — which, of course, had itself swarmed around the police — laugh. This was participatory, all around, with everyone rather clearly playing a part. — Techpresident

YouTube Payola: Is Anyone Paying For Views? YouTube has always been very clear about the separation of editorial content and sponsored ads on its site: While the site is eager to sell advertising, placements as “featured” or “promoted” videos — incredibly valuable, high-traffic spots on the homepage — are not for sale. — Silicon Alley Insider

Why pageview journalism can’t really save newspapers. “What gets more clicks?” is probably the go-to question for anyone crafting a headline on the internet. There are entire courses written on squeezing out those extra page views. Like everything, journalism that caters to the click is neither entirely bad nor entirely good, but it does embody a significant shift in the way reporters work, and it has some larger effects that shouldn’t go unnoticed. — eat sleep publish

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Peter Fray
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