Rouge faced hysteria over shark attacks. The spate of recent shark attacks in Western Australia has made international headlines — the latest fatality being a 32 year-old American. News organisations, experts and locals are debating if this is the act of one shark or three separate attacks. Yesterday’s New York Post wasted no time in drawing a visual link between the the water playgrounds of Perth and the fictional town of Amity Island (where Jaws is set) with the below headline and article:

Meanwhile, in Australia, News.com.au should be red faced with the misspelling of “rogue” as “rouge” — not once but twice — in this online article yesterday. In the battle for breaking stories and eyeballs what harm does a little hysteria and cosmetic application do we wonder?

Perhaps great white sharks will prove to be the great white hope of News Limited’s upcoming paywalls. — Leigh Josey

Why John Carroll was wrong in The Oz. Things we’ll miss now the paywall is down department: conservative sociologist John Carroll bestirred himself in The Australian last week to offer comment on the English riots, modern alienation, etc. The article is exactly the sort of thing I suggested was most ridiculous about interpretations of the riots from right or left — the argument that there was a single event at all, rather than multiple events and processes sharing the same space.

Carroll applies what he claims, rather pompously, to call the “spoilt brat” theory to the UK, Greece and Aboriginal Australia — the highly original argument that living off public funds saps your self-reliance, etc. He notes on Greece: “The Greek people have responded with their own brand of dependency: on government for jobs and welfare. About 75% of the population lives off the public purse. The remaining 25%, who generate the national wealth, pay minimal tax …”

That’s a shocking statistic, and would be even more so if it were true. But it bears no relation to the facts. Greece’s total labour force is 4.97 million out of an adult population of about 8 million. Its total public sector workforce is 880,000, or 18% of total employment. The public sector accounts for 40% of total economic activity, and Greece has about the same ratio of public employees to general population (1:13.5) as the US. The notion of Greece as a passive society is the reverse of the truth: the country has one of the highest proportion of self-employment and micro-businesses in the world, taking up 57% of the private economy, compared to 20-35% for most western nations.

Yet on these false stats, Carroll builds a whole argument about the nature of the current western crisis based on the notion that it arises from some sort of moral failing, rather than the machinations of markets. Anyone whose job depended on getting to the truth might ask whether the possibility of default (and the consequent crisis) preceded talk of it in the markets, or whether the talk produced the (very profitable) crisis.

But of course there is no pressure on Carroll. Why? Because he’s one of these unproductive public employees he writes about. For decades he has been employed at Latrobe University teaching sociology and writing books. When you add together salary, office accommodation, support staff, etc, taxpayers have spent literally millions of dollars subsidising Carroll’s “sit-down money” for the writing of books such as The Western Dreaming. Should Carroll not voluntarily join the private “wealth generators”? But then, what could he possibly do that people would pay their own money for? — Guy Rundle

I was not involved in internal inquiries: Hinton

“Les Hinton revealed today that he was not personally involved in either of the internal investigations conducted into phone hacking during the time he was chief executive of the company.” — journalism.co.uk

SBS unveils 2012 news, current affairs line-up

“SBS has unveiled its news and current affairs programming line-up for 2012.” — mUmBRELLA

Why not Occupy newsrooms?

“Forget about occupying Wall Street; maybe it’s time to start occupying USA Today, a place Gannett has bled dry by offering less and less news while dumping and furloughing journalists in seemingly every quarter.” — The New York Times

Linking is not libel — at least not in Canada

“Bloggers rejoice, eh! The Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled that online publications and websites cannot be charged for libel for linking to defamatory material.” — Mashable

Peter Fray

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