The 9/11 conspiracy on Melbourne radio. The Victorian Trades Hall Council has had to pour cold water on the beliefs of president Kevin Bracken this morning, after he publicly stated he thought the September 11 terrorist attacks were an inside job.

The backpedalling began after ABC 774 Melbourne heavy-hitter Jon Faine took a talkback call from September 11 conspiracy theorist “Kevin from Fremantle” — aka Kevin Bracken, MUA Victorian Branch Secretary and President of the Victorian Trades Hall Council. Calling from Western Australia, where the MUA National Council meeting is being held all week, Bracken surprised Faine by calling for a “proper investigation into the events of September 11”.

Halfway through Bracken’s opening rant, which rehashed many of the ‘9/11 truth’ conspiracy theories favoured by internet forums and late-night television specials, Faine interrupted to ask whether the call was a hoax: “No and I’d love to debate you on a publicly Jon, if you think it’s ridiculous.” Faine declined saying that there was “nothing to debate”, before going on to mock Bracken by asking his thoughts on the JFK assignation and moon landings.

Half an hour later, Bryan Boyd, secretary of the Victorian Trades Hall Council, called Faine to publicly admonish Bracken for his tirade. Asked by Faine whether he was comfortable with the MUA secretary holding such “extremist views”, Boyd said that Trades Hall did not endorse the conspiracy theory — which Bracken has held for some time.

“Ninety-nine per cent of the time Kevin is a very good Trades Hall official, in terms of the presidency,” said Boyd. “We’ve had big debates with Kevin about this, this is his personal view on this particular issue. He’s welcome to them, but he’s dead wrong.” Boyd went on to say that he was “embarrassed” by Boyd’s outburst and that he felt compelled to call and “correct the record”. — Tom Cowie

The 40-day strike? Fairfax wishes. As Fairfax Community Network staff in Victoria walk off the job this afternoon to prosecute their below-CPI pay parity claims, company insiders have told Crikey of a famous management meeting during a previous dispute in which the company accountant was asked how much was being saved in wages from the vacant newsroom. When told the strike was leaving the company $100,000 a day better off, the executive responded he would be chuffed if striking hacks took “the next 40 days off” in order to repair the masthead’s bottom line.

Contemporary Age staff, who were gathering on the grass outside the company’s gleaming Media House as Crikey went to print, backed their suburban comrades, issuing the following statement today:

We express our strong concern that the company is awarding its senior executives with pay rises of up to 52 per cent while clamping down on the pay and expenses of staff on the work floor where the newspapers are produced, and providing minimal money for upgrades. We call for: 1. management to increase the inadequate pay offer to FCN; 2. start work on formulating a decent pay offer for The Age staff at the coming enterprise agreement.

Age and Sunday Age staff have agreed to pay a levy each week into the union’s fighting fund to help FCN journalists maintain the rage. — Andrew Crook

Pollie pedals journalism ethics. On September 19, Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph beat up some of the usual weekend tabloid fodder: the “part-time pollies” taking on second jobs.

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Clearly, the story didn’t go down well on Macquarie Street — and yesterday one Labor pollie, Shaoquett Moselmane, spewed forth on an article that “sought to portray politicians as people hungry for money, undeservedly pocketing public funds”. His rant on journalism ethics is worth reproducing in full…

This adjournment speech is not about this article or its author or whether the information it contains is factual. It is, however, generally about ethics in journalism and the unnecessary race to the bottom by some journalists. This short piece seeks to highlight, in my view, the importance of ethics, fairness and balance in reporting. There are, however, some media articles that seem to find their way into the press that are patronising, so simplified and shallow that any sense of accuracy is sacrificed, the concept of balance and objectivity is non-existent, the stories trivialised for mass consumption and the journalistic code of ethics trashed. In the process, accuracy, honesty and integrity are lost. Journalists should follow their code of ethics and the high standard that their profession dictates. They have a duty not to abuse their power. As the fourth estate, the media in all its forms is an important element of our democratic system and to a great extent can mould public discourse and set the political agenda…

The media can, without a doubt, not only influence community perceptions, but shape and mould community opinion and future decisions. Journalists must, in playing this powerful role, collate and disseminate information in an objective, truthful, fair and balanced manner. Like any institution with inherent power and influence, the press has great responsibility not to abuse this power. Indeed, it has an obligation to maintain a sense of objectivity in giving a fair and truthful account of the news.

Today it seems no longer a political fight or competition between governments and opposition. It is between governments and the media. Each is trying to outdo the other. The government and opposition are vying to get their messages through, while the media is always looking for new and innovative ways to profit. Each manipulates the news to its own ends to the ultimate disadvantage of the citizen, voter or consumer. With the advent of the internet and satellite broadcasting, politicians and governments are paranoid about the speed and the rapid flow of ideas and stories journalists have to put out at every news cycle. The media hunger for stories that politicians cannot manufacture fast enough to meet the ferocious appetite. In the process, politicians churn out press releases and the media spits out its news stories to the point where the politicians and the government cannot meet the demand…

Journalists, in their endeavour to meet the needs of a ferocious appetite for news and demands of the media cycle, must stay focussed, ethical and not forget decency and accuracy in reporting.

Jason Whittaker

Time zones be damned on Q&A. Obsessive #qanda (the well-known Twitter hashtag used for discussing ABC’s Q&A) fans Australia wide can now type angrily in unison around the nation, with Q&A to be simulcast live across Australia on ABC News 24. This means that Queensland, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia viewers can now watch and interact with the show live rather than watching a pre-taped recording. ABC1 will also still continue to show Q&A at 9:35pm local time.

The much-anticipated former PM John Howard Q&A special on October 25 will herald the start of the ABC News 24 simulcast. Expect the #qanda hashtag to go rogue. — Amber Jamieson

NT News. Not quite ‘Headless body in topless bar’, but…



Infographic: evolution of the geek

“When one hears the word geek, images are conjured of pocket protectors and nightstands made out of old comic books. That old notion of geek-dom has since evolved into a new tech-savy, and dare we say cool geek.” — Flowtown

Is the iPad’s influence overstated?

“Now, six months after the iPad’s launch, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at which newspapers have taken advantage of the digital platform, and the state of the market today.” — Mashable

Hillary Clinton agrees that It Get’s Better

“Hillary Clinton has made a straight-person version of the ‘It Gets Better’ videos for gay teens, in which she says, ‘It will get better for you.’ That’s a better line than, say, ‘My gay friend alleges that it gets better.'” — Gawker

Why does that ad look so familiar?

“It’s amazing how often crowd sourcing takes just minutes to turn an ad that looks startingly creative at first glance into something, erm, less original. Sometimes it’s coincidence, sometimes the inspiration may have seeped into a creative’s subconscious. And sometimes it looks like a smash-and-grab raid. Here, we offer Mumbrella’s top 20 copycat Australasian ads.” — Mumbrella

Google as a weapon against the Republicans

“How many clicks does it take to soil a candidate’s online reputation? A prominent liberal activist would like to find out.” — Politico