Rescue Minister. Alexander Downer is getting all sorts of kudos for his remarks about Australian citizens on holiday who get into trouble being too “lazy or stupid” to look after themselves. Leaving aside the point that people are innocent until proven guilty, that Australians travels in countries where police corruption is frequent and shakedowns common, and that no-one is expecting the government to do anything other than ensure people are treated fairly, the remark raises the question: what happens when it’s the foreign minister who needs rescuing?

Cue this AM transcript from 2001:

MARK WILLACY: By his own lofty standards it’s been an ordinary week for Australia’s Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer … with revelations that while attending the Forum for East Asia Latin America Cooperation in Chile, our top man in Foreign Affairs referred to less well off nations as “busted arse countries”. While dismissing the claims as “tittle-tattle” Alexander Downer is not denying that he may have used the offending phrase in private.

MINISTER ALEXANDER DOWNER: Well you have probably said all sorts of things in private and I have said all sorts of things in private. And all Australians have said all sorts of things in private and I’m not going to canvass any of the things that I’ve said in private, because ipso facto — they’re comments that are made private.

REPORTER: Are you concerned now that this has got out, that the rumour is going around, that these countries will be offended?

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Of course not. This is just, this is just gossip and tittle tattle. It’s not a serious issue.

MARK WILLACY: Far from tittle tattle, Labor warns that Mr Downer’s alleged use of the term “busted arse countries” could cause a deal of diplomatic affront. And always one to stick up for the little guys, the ALP spokesman on foreign affairs Laurie Brereton, is positively mortified.

LAURIE BRERETON: They now all know that in private Alexander Downer refers to them as the “busted arse countries”. I’ve been told that in private the expression “BAC” was used so often that people were commenting on it as being “boorish behaviour”. It was offensive in Santiago, it is now offensive around our region and quite frankly it is inexcusable.

MARK WILLACY: While in Santiago, Laurie Brereton could’ve caught up with his opposite number for a hit of tennis. This morning the Fairfax press is reporting that despite his packed program at the forum, Alexander Downer cut class for a round of tennis. Where the staff is saying that the game was an important way of building contacts.

LINDA MOTTRAM: Mark Willacy reporting from our highly esteemed national capital.

Great days. Great days. — Guy Rundle

Story of the day. From the Townsville Bulletin:

John Farnham has escaped! Juxtaposition of the day:

ABC covers the (impending?) death of Australian newspapers. The 7.30 Report on the death of newspapers, with an appearance by Crikey’s publisher Eric Beecher, plus interesting interview with former journalist and creator of The Wire, David Simon, who says,The internet is a marvellous tool, and clearly it is the information delivery system of our future. But thus far, it does not deliver much for its generation of reporting. Instead it leeches that reporting from mainstream news publications. In short, the parasite is slowly killing the host.” Read the transcript or watch the footage here.

Advertising “isn’t a guilty pleasure”. People working in the advertising industry need to stop seeing it as a guilty pleasure, the chairman of the Australian Association of National Advertisers said in a speech last night. In an address given after the Advertising Federation of Australia’s AGM, Joe Talcott told the audience:

Advertising is well and truly in the spotlight. The public have a love-hate relationship with this business. They love Mad Men, they love The Gruen Transfer in the way they loved Bewitched. Then they will go out and buy a PVR so they can skip the commercials. Lots of us are in the spotlight, like it or not. But we accept too many of the criticisms. Someone said to me working in advertising is a guilty pleasure and that’s got to change because it’s not true.


Indians in Australia beware! From today’s Deccan Chronicle:

Vox Pop of the Day: The Geelong Advertiser rocks, baby:

Radio reporter shot by militia dies of injuries, fourth journalist to be killed this year. Somali journalist Nur Muse Hussein of Radio Voice of Holy Quran died yesterday as a result of a bullet wound he received on 20 April. He was the fourth to be killed this year in Somalia, which is the most fatal country for media in the world. Muse Hussein, aged 56, was shot in the leg as he and three colleagues were covering clashes between pro-government militia of the Hiran region and members of the Islamist Hisbul Islam movement operating in the south and centre of the country. Fighters opened fire after they introduced themselves as journalists in the town of Beledweyne about 300 km north of the capital Mogadishu. — Reporters Without Borders

Mexican journalist killed in northern state. The body of a veteran crime reporter was found in an irrigation ditch early Tuesday in the drug-plagued northern Mexican state of Durango, hours after he was kidnapped by gunmen from his home. Eliseo Barron was abducted by gunmen who barged into his home late Monday in the town of Gomez Palacio, beating the journalist in front of his wife and two daughters, said Ruben Lopez, spokesman of the Durango state prosecutor’s office. Barron worked 11 years for the newspaper La Opinion de Torreon in the neighboring city of Torreon. Police made no arrests and had not determined whether his killing was related to his work. — Associated Press

Charging for online: salvation or suicide? The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is a rarity among large US newspapers — it’s selling more weekday copies than a decade ago. In Idaho, the Post Register‘s circulation has remained stable, while many other print publications have lost readers to the internet. How can this be? The executives behind the Arkansas and Idaho newspapers believe it’s because they’ve been giving free access to their Web sites only to people who subscribe to the printed edition. Everyone else has to pay to read the Democrat-Gazette and the Post Register online. Meanwhile, most publishers have been giving away their stories and photos to all comers on the internet. — Editor and Publisher

Twitter TV. Twitter, the Web site that asks what everybody’s doing, says it wants to be doing a TV series. The social-networking site has teamed with Reveille productions and Brillstein Entertainment Partners to develop an unscripted series based on the popular site, which invites 140-character postings from members around the world. The show would harness Twitter to put players on the trail of celebrities in an interactive, competitive format, the show’s producers announced Monday. — San Francisco Chronicle