A craven cur. An atrocity was certain to occur at last night’s farewell dinner for the Sydney Morning Herald‘s veteran political commentator Alan Ramsey held at Canberra’s Old Parliament House. The surprise was that Ramsey himself didn’t committ the atrocity. That honor went to former Herald columnist Mike Carlton who was summarily dropped three months ago when he supported striking journos rather than submit his weekly column. During proceedings Carlton climbed onto his chair in the packed dining room where around 150 guests were enjoying Fairfax-provided food and wine and shouted in stentorian tones: “The editor of The Sydney Morning Herald is a craven cur.”

Later Carlton was observed heading towards a cluster of Fairfax executives which included editor Alan Oakley and there appeared to be a restrained exchange of views. Apart from the vivacious Annabel Crabb, the Fairfax table appeared to comprise graceless, shamefaced nonentities who nobody knew (or wanted to know). Their grim presence supported one of the memorable moments of Ramsey’s farewell speech when he said the Herald seemed to have “a death wish”.

One former Prime Minister — Paul Keating — attended the dinner which gave Ramsey a standing ovation — with the sole exception of Tony O’Leary, the appalling press secretary from the Howard era, who stayed riveted to his chair as the room showed its respect for the retiring wordsmith who, along with Carlton, made Saturday’s Herald a must-read edition. Now Oakley is offering Miranda Devine — a key element of his “death wish” strategy. — Alex Mitchell

AAP hiring someone to do their dirty work. Yesterday, Crikey reported on a series of cutbacks at AAP. But things are looking more serious than cutting back on cab rides and air conditioning. Looks like AAP are hiring an HR person on a short-term contract to indulge in a little axing. Termination and redundancy experience a must:

Foreign journos bashed in China. A Belgian journalist said he and his team were beaten and robbed as they attempted to meet Aids activists in Henan, central China. Local residents told him the assailants were hired by officials in the province regarded as the centre of the Aids crisis, due to unsafe blood selling. “We thought they were going to kill us; they were acting like animals who lost control. It was complete chaos, we were crying,” Tom van de Weghe said in a statement — The Guardian

The news on the Wal-mart death. The willingness of people to walk over another human being to get at the right price tag raises the question of how they got that way in the first place. But in the search for the usual suspects and parceling of blame, the news media should include themselves. — The New York Times

Huffington attempting to reinvent journalism. Where’s the kind of news gathering and reporting that doesn’t have a partisan or ideological edge going to find its Daddy Warbucks? Outside of the Knight Foundation, that is? Clearly Huffington has a burgeoning business model that is attractive to venture capitalists in ways that newspaper companies are not. (Some think even her setup is in for a big fall after the elections and she’ll have to cut costs, i.e., journalists. But this was written before the money came through.) — Ink-Drained Kvetch

Jounalism dying? People do know what they want, and they know how to go out and find it. If we’re not willing to give it to them, because we have a high-and-mighty view of ourselves and the importance of our work … They will find it elsewhere, and totally ignore us. — News Videographer

Cutting back on anchors. I think single news anchors (doubling up with the weather anchor) will be the norm in the next two to three years, largely out of necessity. That is, unless current anchors and their agents understand the new reality and dramatically flex their salaries accordingly. — Lost Remote

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.

 

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW