The old pretender is back on form. Rupert Murdoch is a master of doing something, and saying something complete different. Take his latest effort. He was in Australia for a week recently to start the 2008 Boyer lectures for the ABC; to shake up his empire, replacing two editors (David Penberthy at the Sydney Daily Telegraph and Bruce Guthrie at the Herald Sun), to meet investment analysts and to attend this year’s awards for News Ltd journalists. They are the internal awards for the best stories, headlines, graphics etc started several years ago when News Ltd editors grew unhappy that the traditional Walkley awards were being dominated by the hated Fairfax papers and the ABC. So News started its own in house awards system.

So guess what the old stager had gone and said in the third of his Boyer lectures? He’s decried the rise of media awards. Mr Murdoch in fact criticised journalists for what he described as their “fetish” for awards:

When I started out in the business anyone who dared parade a prize for excellence would have been hooted out of the newsroom for taking himself too seriously.

But today the desire for awards has become a fetish. Papers may be losing money, losing circulation and laying off people left and right, but they will have a wall full of awards — prisoners of the past rather than enthusiasts for the future.

I see the same thing every day. Instead of finding stories that are relevant to their readers’ lives, papers run stories reflecting their own interests. Instead of writing for their audience, they are writing for their fellow journalists. And instead of commissioning stories that will gain them readers, some editors commission stories whose sole purpose is the quest for a prize.

All he had to do with the News Ltd awards was so ‘no’. He could have said “stay with the Walkleys and lift your games,” which some did, such as Hedley Thomas. but News Ltd couldn’t keep that talented journalist in its midst. So let’s see an edict from Rupert to all News Corp editors around the world, ‘no more nominations for awards’ folks. OK? And, why does The Australian describe itself as “Online Newspaper Of The Year“? — Glenn Dyer

Apology: An article published in The Weekend Australian on July 22, 2006, (MP with stars in his eyes for killers, page 1) referred to former MP Peter Breen’s support for, and feelings towards, two men jailed for their part in the r-pe and murder of Janine Balding. Any inference that this support was based on a romantic love for the two men was not intended and is incorrect. The Australian apologises to Mr Breen for any distress caused. — Regret the Error

Channel 7’s s-xpo ad blue. Mook is far from prudish but it was completely inappropriate for Channel 7 to air an ad for S-xpo during this evening’s 6pm news bulletin. Especially since it aired just before Channel 7’s Myer Christmas Parade show was due to begin, meaning families with kids would have been switching on to watch at that time. ACMA ruled earlier this year that advertising S-xpo during a PG rated program was a breach of broadcast licence conditions. — Media Mook

How South West News got its divorce scoop in Second Life. While flesh and blood reporters and photographers banged on the door of the couple’s homes, virtual ones were trying to doorstep Laura Skye and Dave Barmy in Second Life. The two virtual reporters that found them were Jashley Gothley, all snug-fitting T-shirts and tight black trousers and Meggy Paulse, who wears a red mini-skirt and a black slip top. Not sure where her notebook is kept. Both were alter egos of journalists for the press agency South West News, which supplies national and international media organisations with stories. — Guardian

Britney big in Poland. According to Britney Spears’ official website, a fan from Krakow, Poland, sent the following email about how he plans to promote the upcoming release of Brit’s new album Circus: “Here in Poland, they don’t promote new CD’s… So that’s why I’ve decided to start doing my own promotion. I’ve printed about 50 copies of that promotional Circus poster and I started to stick it everywhere in my city… Usually in high-traffic areas: schools, churches, bus stops etc.” — Radar

Obama’s wi-fi White House speaks to the YouTube age. It was a fireside chat for a wi-fi world. Barack Obama yesterday launched his first regular weekly update to the American voters by YouTube. It was an ultra-modern echo of how Franklin D. Roosevelt’s regular folksy radio broadcasts, complete with the sound of a fire crackling in the background, helped guide America through the Great Depression. Now Obama is also facing a massive economic crisis and he is reaching out to the American public with a YouTube video. The move is part of a hi-tech revolution in politics that Obama has promised to bring to Washington when he takes office. Technology and the internet are set to be a core part of the new administration, bolstered by Obama’s massive online army of supporters. — Observer

HSBC’s bizarre lumberjack Ad: What does a violent environmental protest have to do with banking? Forgive me for asking so crass a question about such a poignant tale — but does any of this make you want to open a money-market account at HSBC? While no bank will emerge from the global financial crisis unscathed, HSBC has weathered the storm far better than most. (Among other things, the bank is in the habit of keeping more deposits than loans on its books — fancy that.) Which raises another question: At a moment when many Americans are suffering financial shell shock, does it make sense to build your brand around an unsettling clash between policemen and protesters? Wouldn’t it be better to talk about your bank’s 140-year history, its 100 million customers worldwide, its $1 trillion (and change) in deposits? — Slate

John McCain’s campaign concedes Fox News is biased. Let’s count the stupid: First they presumed that Couric would be easier on Palin because they were both women. Of course, Couric had an incentive to perform at a high level due to her low ratings and expectations. Plus, a woman reporter would actually have more leeway to be aggressive when interviewing a woman candidate. It was political malpractice for McCain and company not to recognize this. And it opens them up to charges of sexism as well because it presumes that a woman reporter would not be as probing or professional as a man. — News Corpse

Peter Fray

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