It is with great reluctance, and some trepidation, that I feel bound to express strong disagreement with the editorial judgment of my editor. The decision to disparage the Melbourne Herald Sun by awarding it last week’s Wankley Award was an appallingly insensitive mistake.

The Wankley award winning story

Do not get me wrong. My stand is on serious principle, not dissatisfaction that my own nomination for the award, Ban on ‘naughty corner’, easter egg hunts, was disregarded –  although I admit that was humiliating. No. My concern is at the complete heartlessness of the Wankley Award judges in disregarding the emotional power of this Herald Sun story of murder and mourning.

If the claim in the award citation that “We’re pro-swan here at Crikey” was really true rather than a guilty attempt to show balance, my editor would have been searching for a solution to that black swan’s grief. We could have gone further than the tabloid we mocked and provided a blue tractor to comfort the swan struggling over eggs to become a single father. Schwani, a swan in the village of Velen in western Germany, for example, has decided that a blue tractor is the love of his life and it would appear to be a long-term thing.

Hermann-Josef Hericks who runs the farm where the swan lives, told the tabloid Bild that Schwani has been beak-over-heels for a blue, 39 horsepower tractor for several years. “Ever since we bought the tractor three years ago, Schwani has been following it everywhere it goes,” Hericks told the paper.

And then there was the example of the love-struck black swan Petra.

I know our financial resources are limited, but surely Crikey could run to a small plastic pedal boat?

And if not, then how about providing an old rubber boot. That has worked wonders for a Sea Life penguin in Constance, Germany, who has fallen for one.

Reports Der Spiegel:

Recently, the gentoo penguin has taken to following his trainer around the enclosure — in the vain hope of getting a little time alone with one of the trainer’s rubber boots.

The boots, black with a white sole, look like a female penguin lying on the ground, according to one possible explanation for Bonaparte’s behavior. “I have never seen such a thing before,” Bonaparte’s keeper, Dennis Kübler, told a local paper.

That may be true. But last year also saw Sea Life having breeding troubles in their penguin enclosure. A pair of birds that seemed deeply in love — and even built themselves a nest together — ultimately proved unable to have babies. They were, as it turned out, both males.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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