A storm in a vegie pot, a tiff over a roasting pan: It’s parsnips at 20 paces in Sydney at the moment. A story that gripped readers of Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph yesterday was a spat over parsnips: Can you believe it? Parsnips. So much for the joys of MasterChef. The increasingly invisible Don Burke, the former guru of Australian gardens, doesn’t like parsnips and News Ltd cheffette and kitch queen, Donna Hay is troppo about them.

The Smellie reported: “Burke fired the first shot last week when he used his radio program to slam Ms Hay and the The Sunday Telegraph for publishing parsnip recipes in the Sunday Magazine.

“Mr Burke described Ms Hay as “wretched” for serving parsnips to people as they were not fit for pigs. I’m outraged, I’m angry, I’m upset, I’m crushed. I’m all of those things and a lot more,” he said on air.

“If you get that appalling newspaper today, The Sunday Telegraph, and get out Sunday Magazine … that wretched Donna Hay has got two pages of parsnip recipes. I respect pigs, I like pigs, but I wouldn’t give my pet pig parsnips.”

But Mr Burke may have bitten off more than he can chew, with Ms Hay and the parsnip industry rising up to defend this worthy vegetable.

Ms Hay said Mr Burke was “out of touch” and sent a box of parsnips with recipes to Mr Burke to challenge him to confront his prejudices.

“I was surprised he was having a go. It’s just a parsnip,” she said. “If Don cared to step into a modern restaurant he would find everyone’s using parsnips — they’re in vogue.” This is what passes for major debates in the Sydney media these days. So who is right, and whop has the bigger voice. Don has radio program, with few listeners and his ACP Magazines title, Burke’s Backyard (named after his old, successful TV program on the Nine Network) shed more than 16% of its sales in the year to June and now sells around 56,700 copies with each issue.

Ms Hay’s self titled magazine from News Magazines called Donna Hay, lost around 3.8% of its sales and now sells nearly 83,000 copies with each issue, or around 60% more than Don’a mag. Don also has a spot on A Current Affair most Fridays, which is the program’s worst night of the week. So, the public gives parsnipaphile, Miss Hay more support than the Parsnipaphobe, Mr Burke. And what do I think of parsnips? More please! — Glenn Dyer

Fairfax offers improved readability: This just in from Fairfax community newspapers:

Newspapers reject Amazon Kindle. The race by newspaper publishers to explore platforms to deliver their content digitally is hotting up with news that Amazon Kindle is, in effect, out of the running in Australia. Fairfax Media, publisher of the Herald, has rebuffed Amazon’s portable e-reader as the way to deliver digitised versions of newspapers to readers on the run. News Corporation has said that it too is looking beyond Amazon at other devices. The decision by Fairfax paves the way for a two-way contest between Sony and possibly Apple as the dominant reader for the digital generation. — The Sydney Morning Herald

Obama a ‘homeboy’. Damon Weaver made his name in journalism with a campaign-time interview of then-Vice Presidential wannabe Joe Biden. Now, a veteran reporter at the age of 11, the Florida boy sat down at the White House to pepper the President himself on issues important to American kids. Of his experience, Weaver said, “The president is a normal person.”As he ended the interview, Weaver declared Mr. Obama his “homeboy”.– CBS News

Weinteins need Basterd success.“Inglourious Basterds” is one of several must-wins on a slate of roughly 10 Weinstein films on their way in coming months. The first eight months of this year have been particularly dreadful for the Weinsteins. They have released only four films, in a limited number of theaters, and they have so far brought in a total of $1.3 million domestically. — The New York Times

Wall Street Journal Bias? Aside from their editorial pages, the Wall Street Journal is well known for its unique focus on reporting facts, keeping its reputation as an unbiased source of news untarnished. But since its acquisition by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. two years ago, has the WSJ succumbed to the alleged bias that has afflicted other News Corp. properties Fox News and the NY Post? Earlier this week the WSJ published a straight-news report on the current tactics used by the White House in the health care debate that raised a few eyebrows. – Mediaite

Publishers and advertisers clash. Publishers are at odds with advertisers who spend $3.8 billion in their pages each year over demands for daily circulation numbers to be released for newspapers, and weekly or monthly data to be made available for magazines. The demand for issue-by-issue sales data is set to come to a head at next month’s Audit Bureau of Circulations board meeting after media buyers and advertisers warned last year they wanted access to the sales information that publishers already have. — The Australian

Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail hit by bulk inquiries. The Daily Telegraph has been forced to remove sales of up to 62,000 copies each day and the Daily Mail up to 40,000 from their headline circulation figures in recent months as a result of the inquiry into distribution of “bulks”. Today the Audit Bureau of Circulations published revised national newspaper reports for the nine months between October and June. The reports showed the ABC made large reductions on newspaper circulations as a result of its inquiry into the distribution of bulk copies to airports and airlines. — The Guardian

Kyle and Jackie O in new scandal. Kyle and Jackie O are embroiled in a new scandal after revelations they broke a promise to donate $150,000 to the family of a disabled boy. Sandilands made a personal pledge of $35,000 on air after Wendy Koman appeared on the show to talk about the plight of her four-year-old son Josh, who is paralysed. She told the Today Show she was thrilled with the result which saw a total of $150,000 of money pledged by listeners and Sandilands, but the when the family arrived at radio station 2DayFM to collect the money they were instead given a list of names of those who had pledged money. — The Herald Sun.

Peter Fray

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