Editor and columnist Frank Devine is dead. Writing on The Oz website, friend and former NSW Opposition leader Peter Coleman writes: “[Coleman was] an indomitable cavalier. A bon vivant who loved long lunches, he was a conviction journalist whose religious faith was central to his life.”

The future’s bright; the future’s… a year old. If you were harbouring any fears about the gloomy economic outlook of the past few months, the Business Review Weekly is here to allay them. The 2009 BRW Fast Starters list is here to prove that entrepreneurialism has saved the day.

“The relentless enthusiasm, confidence and drive of the entrepreneurs behind Australia’s fastest-growing start-up companies is what distinguishes them,” gushes BRW editor-in-chief Sean Aylmer in his editorial. “They may have started their businesses in the good times, but they are not cowed by the changed economic circumstances — and their success has never been more critical to the nation’s economic future.”

There’s just one hitch: the Fast Starters are ranked according to revenue reported from period July 2007 to June 2008. That is to say, just before the world’s economic and financial system spluttered to a halt and the term ‘GFC’ began to creep into casual conversation. Without wanting to play down these young guns’ undoubtedly deserved successes, you have to wonder whether their 2008-09 figures would have looked quite so robust — and whether the list says much of anything about those companies that really are doing well in These Challenging Times.

“The thing about our Fast Starters list is that if we don’t have vigorous figures, no one’s going to believe them,” Aylmer told Crikey. He reckons the 2007-08 figures were the best BRW could do until solid 2008-09 figures start to emerge. But, he hastens to add, BRW did make a few calls to the companies in question to make sure they haven’t gone the way of the global economy. (Or, as he delicately puts it, “to make sure they’re still growing subsequently.”) “It would be better if we could have used figures from the [2008-09] period because of everything that has happened, but at least anecdotally we do know that those companies are still doing well,” he says.

Aylmer did admit that the magazine published a couple of months late this year; usually the list comes out in April. Next year, BRW will be going back to an April publishing date.

“These are the companies the government and regulators should rely on to lead the economy out of recession,” Aylmer’s editorial continues. Well, perhaps. But first let’s see how well they deal with a period of genuine economic downturn, rather than simply the tail-end of the boom times. — Crikey intern Sophie Tarr

Mumbrella isn’t the cause of your problem, Mr Hartigan. My name is Timothy James Burrowes. Occupation: journalist. I am, I must admit, in equal parts surprised and flattered that earlier today, the boss of News Ltd selected Mumbrella as one of two examples of Australian websites that are leeching off journalism in Australia (I paraphrase only slightly). — Mumbrella

Washington Post cancels lobbyist event amid uproar.
Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth said today she was canceling plans for an exclusive “salon” at her home where for as much as $250,000, the Post offered lobbyists and association executives off-the-record access to “those powerful few” — Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and even the paper’s own reporters and editors. — Politico

Chase Carey’s return to News Corp pays off handsomely. Documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission reveal that Carey … received a signing bonus of $10 million and will earn a base salary of $8.1 million. Carey’s five-year contract also includes bonuses that could earn him as much as an additional $25 million annually. — LA Times

Black reporters on the beat of Michelle Obama. The White House press corps remains predominantly white, although several black correspondents have joined the beat since the president’s election. Callie Crossley, an African American commentator based atHarvard University, says it is hardly surprising that black women would jump at the chance to cover Michelle Obama. — Washington Post

Helen Thomas: Not even Nixon tried to control the media like Obama. Veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas told CNSNews.com that not even Richard Nixon tried to control the press the way President Obama is trying to control the press … “What the hell do they think we are, puppets?”– CNSNews

The Economist target “intellectually curious”, circus performers in new ad campaign:

— via The Wire

The looming Facebook privacy fiasco. Many of Facebook’s users are still in high school. Some are even younger than that (it isn’t hard to lie about your age on the Internet). And many of these people simply don’t understand that Google is forever.– TechCrunch

Ice-cream advert banned over seductive nun. An ice cream advert for Gelato Italiano which showed a priest and a nun in a ‘seductive pose’ was banned after readers complained that it was offensive.


Why reporters won’t shut up about their encounters with Michael Jackson. When death arrives unexpectedly, we journalists tend to drop our standards and stuff our readers with pious lies and banalities about the deceased. The readers eat it up. — Jack Shafer, Slate