Wacko bloggers pile on at the Hun. What do Boag’s Draught, AMP Banking, the alcohol.vic.gov.au website and ANZ all have in common? Two things:

1. They are all subject to laws that forbid them from publishing racist and homophobic content; and
2. They all advertise on the Herald Sun website.

If a Lion Nathan Limited (makers of Boag’s Draught) employee used his/her employer’s intranet or e-mail server to make racist remarks against another employee and/or members of the public based on their ethnicity, the company would have no option but to take action against that employee. If the ANZ Banking Group Limited published homophobic remarks on its website, it could be sued or even prosecuted.

Yet certain blogs on the Herald Sun website aren’t subject to the same standards and laws. And if you don’t believe me, read some of these comments from a popular Herald Sun blog:

Case replied to Wacko
Mon 02 Mar 09 (05:46pm)
Lok at it in a positive light-Sydney leads the rest of Oz again.
Well, at least as far as mardi grARS it does!

Pacific Islanders are probably the most common suspects in Sydney home invasion imo using their bulk.
Crime Rep (Reply)
Mon 02 Mar 09 (03:36pm)

Crime Rep replied to arnie
Mon 02 Mar 09 (06:41pm)
There is an element for sure. Islanders are heavily over-represented in home invasions.

There’s been a few other incidences of Islanders invading homes.
Mostly pistol whipping people and robbing them.
The worst was in the Suburb of Claymore where a woman was raped deliberately in front of her kids. This was a few years ago. The one man caught was named [name deleted] …
Crime Rep (Reply)
Mon 02 Mar 09 (03:42pm)

The comments were made after the blogger in question listed three completely unrelated incidents in Sydney to reach this conclusion: “That police seem to play down the violence, and that the tired counter-accusation of racism is used, only makes clearer some of the reasons we got to this point”.

One of those incidents was an attack at a Catholic independent school located in the Sydney suburb of Auburn. The motive behind this attack was described by one student at the school who told The Australian that “he believed the incident was a payback for a failed romance at the western Sydney school”. Sounds perfectly racial to me. — Irfan Yusef

Two cities, one article, zero substance. The pages of Crikey are burdened with discussion about why Fairfax is in trouble. Is it corporate greed? Management misjudgment and incompetence? A perfect storm of technological advance and recession? Yes, yes, and yes would seem to be the answers but there’s also a more basic one that’s being overlooked in the rescue plan — publishing very bad stories.

To wit, The Age. Under the searing headlines of “A Tale of Two Cities” and “Talk of The Towns“, it yesterday devoted more than 5000 words — count ’em — to a supposed joust between two no-name writers about the merits or otherwise of Melbourne v Sydney. 5000 words?!

Let’s think about this. Seven of Australia’s top 10 trade partners are in recession, our troops are going to Afghanistan to die fighting an idea, we’re faced with more of nature’s fury and Paul Ramadge decides to pour in 5270 words of a story about Melbourne versus Sydney? What were they thinking, that this is somehow an original idea? Of what possible value is this story? Moreover, Ramadge pumps it off the homepage, and runs a net vote app on it.

The observations are penetrating; “I’ve learned that Sydney, like all great cities, like Melbourne even, is a place that eludes definition” and “There are things about Melbourne that get to me: the winters are long and damp and cold. It is flat. Flat flat flat flat.” They must getting paid by the word!

Kudos for the patience of the various worthies the writers approached for comment, presumably with openers such as this. “Hi, I’m from Sydney and I’m writing a very interesting piece on the difference between here and there. Could you speak to that?” Poor bastards. — Crikey reader Dave Long

Magazines take the axe to job numbers. Several sources claimed ACP, owned by PBL Media, had recently retrenched 30 to 40 employees from editorial and sales jobs in its women’s lifestyle division. Affected titles were said to include Cleo, Cosmopolitan, Dolly and Shop Til You Drop… NewsMags (owned by News Limited, publisher of The Australian) laid off 11 employees last Wednesday. They included Matt Raudonikis, the editor of Truckin’ Life, Overlander 4WD and Truck and Trailer, as well as ad sales, business, creative and production staff. — The Australian

Courier Mail: ABC’s new QLD HQ puts Aunty in middle of state’s cultural and artistic fabric. The ABC’s South Bank location should be a signal that the corporation is ready to add a new vitality to its role in the public life of Queensland. That role has diminished over the years as cuts to the ABC’s publicly-funded budget caused the corporation to wind back its presence in Queensland and surrender its dominance of the state’s electronic media services. — Courier-Mail

News Corp shakeup could see James Murdoch and Rebekah Wade promoted. News Corporation chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch is planning to relinquish substantial powers to son James and for him to take a major role in the US, leaving Sun editor Rebekah Wade to assume greater control of the media group’s UK operation. — The Guardian

Violence against journalists in Cambodia. The Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ) said Thursday that 22 cases of violence against journalists were recorded in the second half of 2008 and the first two months of 2009. These included cases in which journalists were detained and cases in which threats or accusations were made against them “by individuals, groups, authorities and court institutions”, according to a CCJ press release. — The Phnom Penh Post

American reporter detained in Iran. 31-year-old Roxana Saberi has reported for NPR, “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer”, and Fox News Channel, among others as the Tehran bureau chief for Feature Story News. Her press credentials were revoked by the Iranian government more than a year ago, but she was being allowed to file short stories until her arrest about a month ago. — TVNewser

Copyright challenge for sites that excerpt. Some media executives are growing concerned that the increasingly popular curators of the Web that are taking large pieces of the original work — a practice sometimes called scraping — are shaving away potential readers and profiting from the content. With the Web’s advertising engine stalling just as newspapers are under pressure, some publishers are second-guessing their liberal attitude toward free content. — New York Times

FT ad revenue down but profits leap 32%. FT Publishing’s ad revenue declined 3% in 2008, although overall the company managed to increase pre-tax profits by 32% year on year, boosted by its digital and subscription activities. Owner Pearson said today that FT Publishing’s total revenue increased by 13% in 2008 to £390m and its pre-tax profits increased to £74m. — MediaWeek

“Journalists should swap patches to avoid cosiness”. The chair of the Scott Trust has suggested that political journalists should be forced to spend time covering another subject to prevent too cosy relationships with the governing class. Speaking at the Convention on Modern Liberty in London on Saturday, Dame Liz Forgan — who chairs the Guardian and Observer owner — highlighted the danger of journalists becoming “too much a player“. — Press Gazette

Peter Fray

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