Jan 22, 2009

How does The Age publish a column ‘in error’? Here’s how

Part of the lesson of the Backman controversy is about the continuing importance of sound sub-editorial judgement, writes Margaret Simons.

Picture The Age newsroom at the end of silly season. To be clear, picture it on the afternoon and evening of Friday 16 January, the day on which the column by Michael Backman made its way in to print resulting, as I reported yesterday, in horror, embarrassment and apology.

Today more details of how the column made its way to print have come to light. The account below has been stitched together from half a dozen sources observing the action, although several of those who know most are not talking.

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16 thoughts on “How does The Age publish a column ‘in error’? Here’s how

  1. Tom McLoughlin

    This is an important development: advert in the SMH 22nd Jan 2009 which I’ve copied and posted here given the VIP list of names which is extensive. It’s not friendly to Israel. One wonders if such opinion feeds into the stalling of Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State given her allegience to the New York diaspora. Just saying, shalom to peace striving lefty greenie beautiful Jews and Arabs everywhere:

  2. Irfan

    Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia call themselves “Islamic states”. But only a wacko holds Muslims responsible for the actions and policies of these states. Why should Jews be held responsible for Israel, even if it is the world’s only self-declared Jewish state? Some nuance please!

  3. The Colonel

    Al Taylor insults crikey readers-most of the comments accompanying Ms Simon’s piece were critical of Israel which cannot be compared to the rediculous Adelaide Institute which is a Hollocaust denier. Big difference.

    There is no link to Blackman’s supposed racist column so it’s difficult to judge it but it is time to call the various Jewish lobby groups on their continued stiffling of any criticism of the Israel government’s actions in Gaza (or indeed-at any other time)

    One who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is , is the long time British and Jewish MP (and minister in several governments) Sir Gerald Kaufman, who in a speech to the UK parliament has likened Israel’s atacks in Gaza as the “nazi solution” (much to the chagrin of Bernard Keane !).Kaufman-a lifelong Zionist, friend of David Ben Gurion and Golda Meir has slammed Israel’s continued declaration of the democratically elected Hamas as a “terrorist” group and says we may as well say those who bravely fought the Germans in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising were “terrorists” (after all-the Nazi regime was the elected government).

    The powerful and loud Zionist voices-most who choose not to live in Israel, have used the “racist” tag for too long and to often. If they are not accusing those who criticise Israel as being “anti-Semetic”, they call or imply Kaufman or Antony Lowenstein are “self-hating Jews”. when they dare to knock Israeli government actions. Where can one read Blackman’s column. Yesterday’s Age is as rare as hen’s teeth.

    disclosure: The Colonel is a self loving Jew.

  4. JamesK

    Kevboy aka the Loon will be thrilled to discover that the Israelis lost and it was a failed genocide.

    His “brothers” in Gaza have confirmed this. No need to worry about Backman censorship.

    He can be certain of this because its ABC reporting:

    Hamas declares victory in Gaza

  5. Kevin Charles Herbert

    The Colonel: thanx for a reasoned, balanced argument from a self loving Jew……nice one

  6. lazarus

    Have we not heard enough of this story? Boring!

  7. The Colonel

    In Defence of Blackman:
    (thanks for the link JamesK)

    Is Michael Blackman saying these things are true or stating that these are impressions of Jews ?. Certainly I would agree about bombings in the UK s being a result of Mid East/Jewish policies. That doesn’t mean it’s right or good.

    Is he right about “young Israelis” in Katmandu ?. Never been there so I don’t know but does anyone deny that Jews carry this reputation (for good or bad) ?. Yes they do. Similalry-I’ve spent my life -being blond and blue-eyed -hearing “but you don’/t look Jewish !”. As a youngster with my then blond and green-eyed wife on a beach in Spain we were “accused” of being “a Germans Hitler would have been proud of” by Brits for getting to the beach too early and taking the best spot. These stereotype images abound.

    Just as Australia once had a poltical party that decried the “Aboriginal Industry” and claimed they “got 2 pensions”, “sit down money” and every other bogus nonsense. We even had a PM who covertly promoted these sentiments purely for political gain (I doubt he is actually racist)

    Maybe young Israelis do behave badly. Certainly young Aussies do when abroad. Has anyone beem to Gallpoli before booze was banned ?. It was like the gretaest piss-up of all time. Likewise young British backpackers run riot at Kings Cross and Bondi-but they aren’t really that awful. And have you dealt with young German backpackers ?. They are extremely civil and well behaved-on the whole. National characteristics are not a myth and if young Israelis act arogantly-then it’s just a failure of parental training-not a national disgrace.

    There in a nutshell- is a good example of the over-reaction of Jewish lobby groups-that Jews can never be criticised. Blackman has ennunciated the unthinkable and stimulated debate.
    Margaret Simons is right to draw attention to Blackman’s piece but Gawenda ia a wimp for apologising.

  8. Pamela

    Sorry what am I missing here? Are journalists not allowed to criticise Israel? Is there a fatwa on such opinions?
    I have read worse opinions of Islam.
    Perhaps this piece was”snuck” into the business pages because it would never get up on the Opinion page.
    We do Israel no favours by ignoring their warmongering.
    Maybe it is time to name this country for the Rogue State it has become.

  9. AI Taylor

    “As anyone who has read the comments on my blog after yesterday’s post can see, they are not alone in this view.”

    I read the blog comments, and wondered if I’d walked into a branch meeting of the Adelaide Institute by mistake


    As a 200% certified philo-Semite who admires Israel, wishes we had more Jews in Australia and wouldn’t mind if 50,000 people had been killed in Gaza if there was a good chance that the running sore in the Middle East was likely to be cured, what worries me is the damage done to Israel and its support in the West by the ridiculous reactions of Rubenstein, Leibler and other lobbyists as evidenced by many comments on this blog. Take a cool look at a pretty standard piece of opinion journalism, no more tripe than most, and expressing a point of view with some, if thin, evidence, that many share in large part.

    Israel and its supporters ought to be grateful for the setting out so clearly for them what problems they face in winning the world’s opinions even if they wouldn’t think much of the main point which was to suggest that Israel has made Palestinians greater enemies than they had to be. The anecdotes about young (often recently ex-IDF) Israelis in Nepal? Just a commonplace observation and highly relevant if anyone is seriously interested in why Palestinians might find a lot of Israelis hard to take. (Even our sainted professional soldiers in East Timor were not universally regarded as friendly nurse maids and My Lai and Abu Greib are reminders of what young men – and women – from civilised countries can do).
    The reference to “punishment for killing Jesus” was only a “careless” way of putting his point about Muslims, unlike Christians over comparable long periods, not having a religious problem with Jews/Israel if you factor in the hypersensitivity which means that many Jews and self-censors in the media will find a way of interpreting something that isn’t as clear as a mathematical formula as anti-Jewish. Read it without that starting point and it is just a way of illustrating his point. Continued…,,,

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