Internships at The Punch:

Professor Wendy Bacon, Head, Journalism, Information and Media Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences University of Technology, Sydney writes: Re: The Punch defends its use of interns (yesterday, item 23) UTS has a large internship program which includes the ABC, AAP, Fairfax publications both print and online, News publications both print and online; Eureka Report, Crikey, ACP magazines, Pacific magazines, Channels SBS, Ten, Nine and Seven; radio stations all over Sydney and many other media organisations small and large.

Internships are highly valued by our students who learn ‘on the job’ from experienced journalists. Most internships are unpaid, but a few which involve regular shifts are paid. We have had a proposal from David Penberthy this week and have written back to him explaining that we can only consider the internship arrangement after the publication has been in operation for some time. The question of unpaid work experience in the current environment in which the media are seeking new business models is an important one for journalism education. We are raising it with colleagues at other universities so that we can develop a consistent approach which would include appropriate supervision of each intern by experienced journalists.


Former Commonwealth Employment Service worker Marcus L’Estrange writes: Re. “Unemployment figures leave everyone gobsmacked” (yesterday, item 2) & “Ask the economists: focus on the future, not the present” (yesterday, item 3). All the commentators have still and wilfully missed the point that there are three official ABS surveys of unemployment but inexplicably only comment on one ABS employment unemployment survey — the monthly “Labour Force” survey.

When you read this and the file in DEEWR on the formulation of this survey you see clearly that this survey is based on a political, not economic, definition of unemployment. No one in his or her right mind should take any notice of this survey.

The other two ABS surveys on employment / unemployment are the: “Persons not in the Labour Force” and the “Householders Survey”. When you read these last two surveys you realize that the real unemployment figures show that we have a real unemployment level of 2 million plus chasing around 100,000 vacancies.

Crikey and its contributors, particularly economic commentators, need to explain why they don’t mention these surveys. Is it slackness, are they lazy researchers or are they obeying an official or unofficial “D” Notice put out by Labor and Liberal Governments alike to not to tell the truth about the real unemployment figures in order to prevent a mass uprising against the current economic order?

Additionally, how can Crikey repeat the claim that we only have around 650,000 plus unemployed but have a total of 1.75 million on one of the six dole payments and another 400,000 unemployed Australians who cannot get the dole because of the income/assets test? Don’t these figure make a mockery of the monthly “Labour Force” figure and consequently the articles, economic analysis in Crikey and the media as a whole?

Years ago in the UK the word went out to Government Employment Office Managers: (For Christ’s sake) get the unemployment figures down and we don’t care if you do it by hook or by crook! As instructed they did exactly what they were told. Hey presto! The monthly unemployment figures went down but their Disability Support Payments figures went up by a million plus. The ultimate spin doctoring out of dealing with the real unemployment figures.

By the way. Try getting the latest Australian six-dole payment figures. It is even harder than getting an audience with the Holy Father. Additionally much comment is now emerging on how the ABS has the temerity to produce the ABS “Labour Force” monthly figure. Even in advanced economies such as Singapore or Germany they don’t count a person as unemployed until workers work 15 hours a week during the survey week. Why not the ABS?

Surely Crikey should be asking for is a Royal Commission into how the monthly “Labour Force” figures are concocted and the economic consequences of Governments using dodgy unemployment figures in formulating their employment, education, training and immigration plans and indeed their whole economic strategy.

The last word should go to Steve Crabb, a former Victorian ALP (Labor Unity faction) Employment Minister and himself an actuary when he said: “The ‘(Labour Force Australia) survey is not only misleading; it causes real harm.”

He then asked why the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) officials produced this “load of old cobblers”.

Why doesn’t Crikey ask the same thing?

Rosemary Swift writes: I don’t pretend to have any expertise in economics, but I’m rather fascinated by the outpouring of shock at the figures released yesterday. Could the fact that no-one expected any improvement have something to do with the non-reporting of anything except mass sackings?

Crikey’s Sack Watch is a case in point. I realise that 100 sacked workers staging a noisy protest is a lot more newsworthy than two extra people turning up for work on Monday morning at Harvey Norman, but something seems to be happening out there and it’s being missed in the general coverage. I

ncreases in employment aren’t going to be on a grand scale — we won’t see footage of hundreds of newly-employed people marching en masse into their new workplace — but one more in the local hairdresser, another one at the plumber, a couple more in the shops … there does seem to be a small positive effect from the stimulus at the local level.

Just a thought…

NSW is not luminous:

Karin Vesk writes: Re. “Sydney’s Luminous arts festival is un-Australian” (4 May, item 6). When I tried to book a “three nights for two” promotion quoting “Enliven your Senses” (the weekend of the first full colour splashy press ads) the hotel I contacted hadn’t heard of the promotion and asked me to send them the website. Good work Events NSW. Great promotion to your stakeholders, great use of taxpayer money.

My next try was to book a “two for one” dinner at one of the participating hotels. Having mastered the messy Enliven website (the promo is as bad as the Australia Council’s Books Alive) I thought this would be easy I requested a reservation at Pier One hotel at the wharf but no go: weekday lunches only — and the staff member who called me couldn’t pronounce “Enliven”. Again, marketing job well done NSW. I haven’t bothered deciphering anything else.

Luminous is confusing and though yesterday’s article in the SMH regarding the installation at Sydney Observatory aroused my interest, all the date info was so mixed I didn’t know what started when so gave up. I’m not stupid, worked in the arts (as an editor) for over 15 years, i.e. am a “motivated consumer”. No longer, not for this.

And I agree — why Eno? All Tomorrow’s Parties was fabulous — and expertly run. Because they didn’t let (non-arts) public servants near it I bet. Would love to see more scrutiny of this “event”.

And Luminous is such a great title — given NSW’s propensity for blackouts.

Jeff Gieschen:

Mark Duffett writes: Re. “Why it’s time for AFL umpire boss Jeff Gieschen to go” (yesterday, item 24). So Ralph Horowitz thinks AFL umpires director Jeff Gieschen (and umpires coach Rowan Sawers) should be sacked, apparently for no reason other than that they’ve been there for 10 years, and this is longer than most AFL coaches. Like the hiring and firing of AFL coaches is a paragon of human resource virtue?

Yeah, right, Ralph. I can see why The Footy Show was funnier when you produced it. Sure, it might be the current trend to turn over positions (especially senior ones) every three years or less, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that that’s “best practice”, not by a long shot.

That sort of thing has been particularly all the rage amongst senior executives in the financial sector, and look where that’s got us.

No bikie love:

Anthony McClellan, AMC Media, writes: Re. “AustCorp in the hands of voluntary administrators” (yesterday, item 29). Whilst it is undoubtedly flattering to be listed by Alex Mitchell as having represented the bikies in their fight against the anti-bikie laws, I’m afraid it just ain’t so. The confusion probably comes about as I was interviewed by ABC TV News recently as a commentator on the idea of the bikies holding their media love-in; I was not a participant in the love-in, or an adviser to the bikies.

Melbourne vs. Sydney — a classic Crikey stoush in the making:

A friend called me a Melbourne whinger when I told her you published my Bleak City suggestion yesterday. This is how I responded:

  1. I am an expert in the fields of Sydney-ology and Melbourne-ology, having done extensive research in both fields.
  2. Compare Brumby to Rees, compare Baillieu to whoever is in opposition in NSW. Compare Doyle to … actually don’t do that. Jeff Kennett now runs a footy club. Compare AFL to NRL — Melbournians go to games. Actually, Melbournians even support the northern code more than they do. Compare Alan Jones to Neil Mitchell. Actually, like for like compare ANYONE to ANYONE of similar position and it’s more than likely a Melbournian is, more likely to be able, less likely to have had cosmetic surgery and more likely to be top shelf. Oh and they’ll probably be happier, too.
  3. Gordon Gekko’s house is in Bronte, not Toorak.
  4. The transport system doesn’t work in Sydney. Actually it’s stuffed here as well but trams are fun.
  5. Our questionable inhabitants are also entertainers; Mick Gatto’s a blast and will even let the kids take a picture of him with their mobile. And Roberta Williams is hilarious. And Vince Colossimo lives here.
  6. No-one who was born in Sydney seems to live there, whereas everyone who leaves Melbourne comes back as soon as they can.
  7. CBD vs. CBD — there’s a reason Clover was hanging out here. Melbourne is groovy; apart from King Street, Sydney is a ghost-town.
  8. Melbourne no longer needs to criticise Sydney — thanks to cheap air travel every Melbournian has been to Sydney (and knows it’s a body of water with a few morons lounging around it making TV shows about rescuing people from Bondi or treating a dog for an overdose of Botox) but only a few professionals suckling from the corporate teat from Sydney have been to Flemington to take cocaine and bemoan the fact that the Melbourne Cup is not in Randwick.

Quad erat demonstrandum, I say!

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey