How not to write a short report. Every editor, no matter how grand, should be ready to leap into the fray and pound out a quick report if necessary. It was undoubtably in that spirit that UK Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger supplied a short item for this morning’s edition about a Covent Garden opening night performance that was moved impromptu to the bar, after a power failure in the auditorium.

Great example, shame about the copy.

  • In paragraph one, the audience flocks to “London’s Covent Garden for the London premiere…”, making the first “London” redundant.
  • Paragraph two has “George Benjamin’s new opera” being “his first opera”, and of course it can’t be both.
  • “The first half” was a Harrison Birtwistle work, paragraph three tells us, adding that it was “short” which suggests that “first item” would have been a better description.
  • We’re also told that “the house went dark 10 minutes into the Benjamin work, the opera stopped, and…” — confusing, since appositional terms (“the Bejamin work” and “the opera”) attach to different verbs. Apparently it was announced that the power cut affected “only the theatre”, ie the auditorium, which would have been a clearer choice of term.
  • Paragraph four begins with “The audience was offered free drinks in the bar while technicians tried to establish the cause”. Surely the cause was obvious — to make up for the interrupted opera. But why were the technicians investigating Covent Garden’s comping policy when they should have been fixing the power?
  • “London premiere” gets needlessly repeated in paragraph five, and Rusbridger closes with “Technicians were working overnight to ensure no repetition for today’s performance” — suggesting that they have bullied Benjamin into rewriting the work from scratch, or have redone it themselves. Presumably they’ve got time on their hands, now the free drinks investigation is done.

Wow. Compulsory reading for every cadet and intern — how not to write a short report. Was Rusbridger’s copy allowed to run unsubbed? And given that this was the Guardian, does that count as special treatment, or the absence of such? — Kim Serca

Underbelly win. Underbelly did well for Nine again last night with more than 2.4 million viewers from just after 8.30pm to just after 9.30pm. It helped the appalling Aussie Ladette to Lady average more than 1.43 million after Underbelly. The program suffered a small fall in viewers on the opening two eps last week, but it was surprisingly strong last night for what was certainly a poor episode. This series is not a patch on the original last year which had drama, pace and action. Matthew Newton’s limitations became apparent last night, the storyline seemed to be s-x scene after s-x scene, with a casino and party shot scattered between ad breaks. There was at least nine ads in one break, or so it seemed. Characterisation has gone. Newton now only has one look, and that’s a blank stare.

Underbelly one did best in Sydney because Melbourne was shut out — it is Sydney’s story. But even there, the producers have shied away from linking politicians to the corrupt police. It won everywhere bar the Queensland regional market for the second week in a row where Nine finished second to Prime/7Queensland. — Glenn Dyer

SMH may have missed the last year in politics. Interesting choice of caption for the photo of Julie Bishop — cutting costs is one thing, but this is more than a year out of date!

Crikey reader David Mackay

Automated advertising. SMH has outdone itself in cross-promotion-promotion-placement on its web site. In this instance the interviewee says a “video is bone-chilling”… meanwhile on the right hand side of the same page an advertisement for a video with bones is displayed. That’s so neat! And yet disturbing.

Crikey reader Troy Online

East Timor presses charges against Jose Belo. East Timorese journalist Jose Antonio Belo has returned home from Australia where he was seeking support against an upcoming prosecution over his attempts to expose official corruption. Belo is the editor and founder of popular Timorese weekly newspaper Tempo Semanal. He is facing a six year jail sentence after being charged with criminal defamation. Last year Belo wrote an article that suggested Justice Minister Lucia Lobato had improperly awarded government contracts to friends and business contacts. The article was based on text messages the newspaper had received which suggested corrupt dealings by the government minister. — Woolly Days

Kiwis change their avatars to all black in protest. New Zealand now has arguably the world’s harshest copyright enforcement law. Sections 92A and C of the amended Copyright Act establish a guilt upon accusation principle that can see anyone accused of “copyright infringement” getting his or her Internet connection severed. What’s more, under the new law, anyone who provides any form of services over the Internet is an ISP. Black out your Twitter avatar, Facebook/Myspace pages, or even websites to protest against the insane new law that will come into full force on February 28. — The Techsploder

Jacob Weisberg, Chairman, Slate Group: can it go global? Time was, Franco-US relations stopped at “freedom fries”. But Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive is wiping the slate clean — the Slate.fr, to be precise. The French-language offshoot of Slate.com, which was launched last week by an all-star list of French newspaper and online editors, is the first, tentative play in what could be a major international expansion, including a possible UK edition — PaidContentUK

Twitter taking off among Washington journalists. So what can Twitter do for a journalist? The 140-character message or “tweet” format allows me to get my blogs and stories out via a tweet to hundreds of people almost instantaneously. Some of those might “retweet” my message to hundreds more. I can “live-tweet” an event such as President Barack Obama’s press conference, allowing people to follow an event via my observations and gobbets of reporting as it happens. By following interesting people, I also get links, morsels of information and thoughts as soon as news breaks. — The Telegraph

Tel Aviv women fight back against free p-rnography. At 10.30am on Friday, as the regular clientele of the cafes on Ben Yehuda Street were sipping their first cup of coffee of the day, Dorit Abramovitz, who manages campaigns for women’s organizations, and some 30 feminist women and a handful of men jolted Tel Avivians awake with a thunderous, radical chant: “Indifferent residents of Tel Aviv: Trade in women must be prohibited.” “All the women’s organizations decided to launch protests against the free distribution of p-rnographic magazines like Banana and Seximo in Tel Aviv, where they are handed out gratis at certain convenience stores and newsstands,” says Abramovitz. The activists enter a nearby convenience store, gathering the magazines into a black garbage bag. — Haaretz

This just in: the market is still dead. To engage their audience, business journalists need to act like things are changing all the time. As it turned out, what didn’t change much was the fundamental lessons: have a diversified portfolio, don’t buy more house than you can afford, don’t take on more debt than you can support, or trade on the margin. — The New York Times

Al Qaeda, online. There’s a holy war online. On one side is a network of Al Qaeda propagandists eager to use the Web to spread their message and broaden their influence in the Muslim world. On the other is a group of Saudi religious scholars who are prowling the Internet for Islamic extremists who they can convert to moderation. — Mother Jones 

L’Oréal to exit Oscars, leaves glam telecast beauty free. With just a week to go before ABC hosts its 34th straight Oscars telecast, the network is scrambling to find replacement sponsors, as one of the program’s greatest endemic categories has all but abdicated. Sources last week said that L’Oréal Paris will sit out the Feb. 22 spectacle, effectively leaving American network ABC without a beauty brand. — Mediaweek

Could the clampdown on the F word preserve it for posterity? Until very recently, it seemed that television in the UK was on the verge of achieving a world first. True, making the F word commonplace on mainstream TV was never going to be considered one of the medium’s great moments, to rank alongside Baftas, Emmys or heroic journalism, but it did appear to represent a small victory for free speech against the forces of darkness and repression. — The Independent

Death of a Hollywood Cliché. Confessions of a Shopaholic, a romantic comedy starring Isla Fisher opening today, has got a serious case of bad timing. Not only is the happy-go-lucky tale of a journalist who begins dispensing financial advice while $16,000 in the hole set before credit-card debt was a national emergency, it’s also an artifact from a time before magazines were downsizing like gastric-bypass patients. Shopaholic may be the last hurrah for one of Hollywood’s most time-tested archetypes — the sassy magazine editor as romantic-comedy heroine. — Daily Beast

Peter Fray

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