One for the “The Wall Street Journal has really gone downhill since Rupert took over” file. An article by Canberra academic and firearm enthusiast Alex Robson savaging the Government appeared with only the acknowledgement that Robson was “a senior economist at Concept Economics in Canberra”. While it’s probably a bit much to expect the Journal to tell its readers Concept Economics is a nothing more than a clutch of right-wing commentators, climate sceptics and former Howard advisers, it might have disclosed that Robson was an adviser to Malcolm Turnbull last year.

As to the ABC’s quality crisis: do we blame management or budget, perhaps we ought to see them as conjoined? Take the pay of “junior managers” in Radio National, those are the editors who preside over content areas. They get no more pay than program EPs who in turn get no more than senior producers.

Of course, they all do it for love and the prospect of secure super down the track but the big figures only go to the “executive directors” who, thanks to Jonathan Shier, were elevated to corporate superstar status on handsome six figure sums commensurate with their lack of ability and willingness to conform to the Howard board’s wishes and their capacity to wangle “bonus” payments based on dubious interpretations of “positive” audience measurement statistics.

The bloated areas are those, like Paul Chadwick’s “editorial policies” division, where false consciousness reigns supreme, and of course, the pussyfooting legal department which no longer serves the public (and its program makers) but equally dubious interpretations of the “public good”.

To understand why people are fleeing Afghanistan, you may like to consider this report from Kabul on one small demonstration for women’s rights. Then consider the result From a friend in Kabul Just an update — I think I told you that there was going to be a rally against the Shia law outside Mohsini’s madrassa on Wednesday (last week). Well that went ahead and has resulted in violence, as I think I predicted a few weeks ago.

Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of information because I was away and rather isolated from electricity/news/etc. The rally went ahead and as part of that the principal of this really good school here in Dasht-e Barchi (best school in West Kabul) spoke out about Mohsini and the law. As a result Mohsini’s people have gone to the school, destroyed it and in the process two students were killed and others were injured.

The main section of yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald comprised just 20 pages. Only six news pages (25 stories) and only two world pages but the usual supplements featuring double-page spreads on such vital issues as “the future of fashion magazines in Australia”. Soon there will be no news at all!

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW