Correction:

Jim Carroll, Head of News, Network Ten, writes:  Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 7). A quick fact check shows your tipster (Ten Misses the Boat on Earthquake) is seriously misinformed about Network Ten’s coverage of the Japanese earthquake disaster.

No live pictures were missed in our Friday evening coverage. TEN went live with images of the year’s biggest news story at around 5.30pm, minutes after the Reuters footage became available. Meanwhile, Seven and Nine continued with their afternoon quiz shows. TEN delivered disaster updates and fresh images throughout the remainder of the Ten News at Five bulletin and kicked off 6pm with George Negus with breaking news of the tsunami.

After anchoring Friday night’s edition of 6pm, Hamish MacDonald, TEN’s senior foreign correspondent, immediately hopped a plane to Japan and was one of the first Australian journalists on the ground in the disaster zone around Sendai. And for the record, Hamish MacDonald and Hugh Riminton have appeared as regular Friday night hosts of 6pm since the program launched in January.

Correction II:

Nick Kennedy, Media Adviser to Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 7). Your anonymous correspondent at the International Women’s Day breakfast was sadly mistaken in claiming Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman was doing some electioneering by publicly championing the women in his Cabinet for their admirable work during the flood crisis.

In fact he reserved the most praise for Opposition Labor Councillor Helen Abrahams while also nominating the tremendous work of four women senior managers within Brisbane City Council — Sue Rickerby, Sharan Harvey, Vicki Pethybridge and Sherry Clarke — as well as four LNP women councillors.

He highlighted that 11 of Brisbane’s 27 councillors are women and they head three of the seven major portfolios within Civic Cabinet.

The only person politicising his speech was your correspondent.

Japan:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “‘Worst crisis since WWII’: Japan reels from earthquake tragedy” (yesterday, item 1). Thank you, Crikey, for your coverage of the Japanese disaster.

When tens of thousands of people have died, it is appalling the media is spending so much time on the nuclear power plants, which in this horrific context is a relatively minor problem.  If meltdown is averted, are we expected to be relieved?

The attitude seems basically sensationalist:  earthquakes, tsunamis, they’ve been done, but nuclear disasters are rare.  It’s an obscene indifference to human suffering.

David Ashkanasy writes: Re. “Nuclear myths erupt in Japan’s post-quake confusion” (yesterday, item 3). Ben Sandilands wrote:

“This morning there was an elevated radiation level emergency declared at the Onagawa nuclear plant, which comprises three reactors, and is 120 kilometres from the NE outskirts of Tokyo, compared to about 240km for the nearest Fukushima plant.”

I think he got Tokyo confused with Sendai. The Onagawa plant is about 400km from Tokyo. It’s in the same prefecture as Sendai, the city most affected. In fact it is slightly north of Sendai and in the Miyagi prefecture, the one most affected by the Tsunami.

That statement, like a lot of media articles on what’s happening (I’m currently in Japan), was unnecessarily alarmist.

John Talent writes: As usual we have “surprise” that historically earthquake-prone Japan should have a natural disaster. We also have shock that this has interfered with the long and frightening “safety record” of an obviously dangerous industry. The “truly safe” model of this “clean, green” program is always on the horizon but never built.

The lies are starting to come out of the nuclear energy disaster in Japan. We saw on TV last night the explosion at one reactor — explained away as hydrogen. The Hindenburg was full of hydrogen which burned a distinctive yellow flame. The TV showed high pressure steam — complete with visible shock wave.

It would be insensitive for the moment to point out and quantify the tera-watts of wave energy lapping Japan’s shores every day, the tera-watts of wind and solar and the untapped tera-watts of geothermal energy beneath the surface.

Fortunes have already been made for uranium miners and exporters as well as proponents of the nuclear power plants — no doubt already safely ensconced in hydro-powered Switzerland.

Isn’t it time we learned to recognise and adapt to nature?

7.30:

Victoria Collins writes: Re. “Like cooking pancakes, don’t judge 7.30 on the first one” (yesterday, item 15). Oh dear, here we go again.

Crikey drags out one of their so-called authoritative experts, in this case Margaret Simons, who even comes with the snappy title of, “Crikey Media Reporter”, to supposedly give us, it’s dear readers, an authoritative analysis of the first week of 7.30.

All I got out of it, and this from someone who is a lecturer in journalism and author of books about her chosen subject, was a cold rehash of opinions I had read elsewhere already about the new swirly background, a bit of name-dropping about her conversation with Kerry O’Brien after his last appearance on The 7.30 Report wherein he regaled her with a comment of no particular perspicacity from one so long in the tooth in “the trade”, and a reference to the fact that, yes, in case we had forgotten, Ms Simons is a journalism lecturer of impressionable but on the other hand, world-weary 18 year old journalism students.

Not only that, but then, to top it all off, Ms Simons showed her total lack of familiarity with the most dynamic sections of her profession, the Blog world.

If she was across her brief she would not, therefore, have been lamenting the lack of political satire in the modern Australian media.

She would especially not have made the frankly embarrassing assertion that Q&A is the only place one can find “that kind of irreverence”, or that it “IS breaking new ground”. Instead, she would have been able to direct the consumers of the daily Crikey e-mail to Australian political blogs like Ash’s Machiavellian Bloggery, or pieces written by Acerbic Conehead on The Political Sword, for example, who regularly, humorously and cleverly, take the micky out of the stuffed shirts in our federal parliament. For free, unlike Crikey.

Such analysis from Ms Simons might then be worth the price of subscription to Crikey, but as it is, you pays yer money upfront, and you takes yer chances for the rest of the year. Sigh.

So, could I just suggest, in the interests of constructive criticism, that Ms Simons does more than just inhabit her cosy little Journoland world, full of gamine little 18 year old Eliza Doolittles waiting to be shaped by her experienced hand, or the crusty curmudgeons like Mr O’Brien she hobnobs with after school, and actually does some investigative journalism and reports on the media in ways that might actually inform the subscribers to Crikey?

Thank you.

Peter Fray

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