A double whammy on the front page of The West Australian yesterday.

Firstly the photo story. The West (owned by Kerry Stokes) ran a story about the success of the TV Telethon event the previous Saturday on Channel Seven (owned by Kerry Stokes). The event was a success due to a last minute donation by a rich benefactor of ONE MILLION DOLLARS (cue Dr Evil laugh). The benefactor was … Kerry Stokes, who was gracious enough to appear in his TV studio, and on the front page of his paper.

The lead story was a beat up about the State’s largest employer, Woodside, being in favour of extended trading hours, currently a political hot potato in the state, and a fave campaign of the newspaper. I heard the VP of Woodside, Rob Cole, being interviewed on ABC radio 720 at 8am yesterday morning, by none other than Paul Murray — former editor of the West, current part-time somnambulist columnist, and stand-in breakfast presenter for the absent Eoin Cameron.

Cole stated that Woodside only commented on the issue when directly asked to by the West. They conducted a hasty non-scientific email poll of their staff, of whom only 700 out of 3500 cared to reply, of whom the majority stated they were in favour of extended hours. The West then stretched that issue into saying that Woodside thought that trading hours were a significant hindrance to their ability to attract out-of-state staff.

Cole said on radio that there was only anecdotal evidence to support this, and was very surprised the story had made the front page.

I’m not sure what is most wrong with this: that the West sought comment to bolster its own campaign on favour of extended trade, that it inflated Woodsides comments, that a journo paid by the West spruiked the newspaper and the story on the ABC, or that Murray conspicuously failed to follow a line of questioning that would have exposed the story as a beat-up.

If only they could have worked Kerry Stokes into the story…