May 30, 2012

Thomson ‘scoops’ … new Drum ed … Fairfax outsources …

In today's Media Briefs: Front Page of the Day ... New The Drum editor announced ... Fairfax to outsource production to NZ ... A news site front page archive ... BBC mistakes Halo logo for UN emblem and more ..

Fairfax sub jobs shipped to New Zealand. Fairfax's decision to move its regional sub-editing jobs to New Zealand has infuriated staff, who say the company is ignoring how profitable local papers can be for Fairfax. Sixty-six editorial production positions at the Newcastle Herald and the Illawarra Mercury will be taken over by Fairfax Editorial Services across the Tasman. A Newcastle-based MEAA spokesperson told Crikey that the changes -- including a loss of 41 staff from the Newcastle Herald, totalling 45% of the paper's workforce -- make no sense because the paper is one of Fairfax's most profitable. "We're one of the best mastheads in Fairfax," they said. "We have a monopoly market and a strong regional identity. Most locals aren't interested in Sydney papers ... we're two hours of inconvenient driving from Sydney." Newcastle Herald staff have embraced a digital makeover and had a plan set in place with Newcastle management on how to cope with falling sales and the move online. "Staff have been highly committed to change," said the spokesperson. "People have been working with Newcastle management on putting together seven-day rosters, round the clock coverage, plans on how we're going to migrate content online. "We've got a very good plan that everyone has endorsed. Everybody had been consulted widely, rationalisation was likely but in an orderly matter. All the subs had been trained in online work. We have a highly committed workforce who knew what they had do. "We have the time and the opportunity and the leisure to use the profitability of our print product and experiment online." If anything the issues with online content is due to Fairfax's "one size fits all" approach, says the spokesperson. "We've been hampered by Rural Press's hopeless cookie cutter website format." And decisions from city-based managers aren't appreciated. "We don't need some drongo from Fairfax butting in," said the spokesperson. "If the business circumstances dictated that was necessary, we wouldn't argue. But we feel there's an element of spite. Fairfax management have to be seen to be doing something and they chose some regional bunnies as a scapegoat." -- Amber Jamieson Independent advice on media matters. Crikey usually displays the upmost scepticism when it comes to the affairs of Kathy Jackson but a bevy of strange media events in recent days requires a response. Last night, website Independent Australia reported the "breaking news" that Jackson had received a "$1/2 million" payment from her former No. 3 branch in Victoria. In fact, the $500,000 figure had been reported over a month ago by Age workplace editor Clay Lucas who'd been browsing a declaration of membership lodged by the branch with Fair Work Australia. Lucas' yarn included a denial from Jackson, who produced a letter from her accountant, Agostinelli Perlen director John Agostinelli, explaining that the signed-off amount was incorrect and that she was actually paid $75,884 in that year (Jackson also received $151,000 from the national office in her dual role of HSU National Secretary). Blogger and small business owner Peter Wicks then claimed in his "ground breaking investigative report" that the half-a-million-dollar payment was "in addition [emphasis added] to Jackson’s $270,000 salary". In fact, it was widely reported five weeks ago that the $270,000 figure only kicked in after the merger of the Victorian branches with the NSW and ACT branches to form HSUEast at the tail end of financial 2010. The new remuneration figure was influenced by the existing salary structure of Michael Williamson's NSW branch. Then, in another claim -- IA stated it "broke" the story of a complaint letter written by Jackson's partner, Fair Work Australian vice-president Michael Lawler, to the NSW Police. ABC 7.30's Leigh Sales has also shown some interest in the letter in recent days. But it wasn't news either -- the letter, sent on December 21 last year, was obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald's Kate McClymont way back in February and followed up by The Australian three days later. Lawler was irate after former HSUEast Victorian divisional secretary and ex-Jackson ally Carol Glen (nee Carmichael) wrote to outgoing FWA president Geoffrey Giudice complaining he had verbally threatened her over a planned resignation that would have eroded her power base. The actual news, covered extensively elsewhere, was that new FWA President Iain Ross had told Senate Estimates there was no evidence Lawler had intervened in FWA's report into Craig Thomson. Crikey is all for new independent media players. But it might help to check the clippings before leaping into print with "revelations" that were actually discovered by the same "corporate media" IA purports to lampoon. -- Andrew Crook Front page of the day. A tip of the hat to Daily Telegraph editor Paul Whittaker -- who Crikey understands is a fan of this section --  for today's Star Wars photoshop effort:

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8 thoughts on “Thomson ‘scoops’ … new Drum ed … Fairfax outsources …

  1. shepherdmarilyn

    Ah Andrew Crook, tut tut to you.

    Most of the work by Peter has been to show that it is the MSM caught up in the nonsense of pretending that it could not be the truth that “Thomson was set up.

    He showed it comprehensively that the MSM had all reported the very set ups they claimed could not exist.

    Spite is tedious because 7.30 took 6 months to bother to report the interference by Michael Lawler and that is Peter’s entire point.

    They are so besotted with Jackson that they refuse to point out that she is shonky.

    So read the articles again Andrew because Crikey has been as guilty as the msm of condemning Thomson over nothing at all.

  2. klewso

    All these “ex’s” in the HSU? What was Thomson paying for it for?

  3. shepherdmarilyn

    What does that even mean Klewso? Thomson has not been in the union since 2007, the financial report of 2010-11 is nothing to do with him.

    There is an astonishing amount spent on cars by this mob – over $240,000 in a year.

    $630,000 in wages.

    There is no evidence that any of the money was spent on any members at all.

    And the AGE didn’t publish the report, Wicks has and it has been signed off and approved by both the auditor and Michael Williamson so how can Jackson claim it is wrong now?

    What’s amazing is that it was in 2009 that the Australian predicted that Lawler would be a problem because of his relationship with Jackson and they also showed exactly how Thomson was set up.

    But then they pretended it could not happen.

  4. klewso

    “The allegation being played up by the Righteous, for their own political ends, is :- Thomson is supposed to have been paying for sex – while all these other elected reps were “playing away””?

  5. Peter Wicks


    I am sorry I did not respond to your Thomson “Scoops” post earlier, I was unable to read the article as I don’t believe in having to pay to read online articles as your publication requires, fortunately a friend set up a temporary account and I was able to read and print it.

    Firstly, neither I nor Independent Australia has ever used the word “Scoop” in relation to any of our posts on this issue, so your headline is both misleading and incorrect.

    Independent Australia, you may have noticed had links throughout the article that pointed to previous articles on most of our points of interest. We did not claim to break those stories, or we would not have put a link in to a previously published article, that would be a bit silly….

    We did not claim that we “broke” the story of a complaint letter written by Lawler, in fact we put in a link to an article in The Australian to justify it. Far from “not being news” as you state, it was worthy enough of news content for News Ltd to run with it.

    Your claim that Jackson produced a letter explaining the $522,570 figure signed off in the auditor’s report was incorrect is wrong. According to Age, and John Agostinelli ,who signed the report and whom I spoke to, Jackson has no letter only an email, there is a distinct difference that I shouldn’t need to point out.

    What we did do, is publish leaked documents for the first time, As far as I am aware no other publication has done that.

    Most of what I have reported is not new, however, I have not seen anybody put all the pieces in one article, as judging from the reaction it paints a different picture to the one the mass media has painted.

    The point I emphasise, is as you rightly say, I am a blogger and a small business owner, doing this as a hobby. This is a journalists living…

    If I have got access to these documents, and put all the stories together, what the bloody hell have the media been doing?? Waiting on Jackson, Lawler and Pyne press releases for information?

    I notice you make no mention of the travel expenses marked HESTA, we have produced, or the child care centre payment receipts, denied by Jackson that we have produced. Nor have you mentioned the massive “postage” costs receipt we have produced, or the honorarium payment of $63,000 while she was supposedly asking for a pay cut…. maybe you missed the 2 companies she set up to charge consultancy fees to the unions whilst also receiving a wage there… a substantial wage as even she admits.

    Clearly, it is more important to write articles that criticise myself and Independent Australia than to actually research the story.

    However to the thousands that have contacted us in support of our un-newsworthy articles, we will continue to look into this matter. We would be doing more if we didn’t have to respond to articles such as Andrew’s.

    In your article, Andrew, you say;

    “Crikey is all for new independent media players. But it might help to check the clippings before leaping into print with “revelations””

    I thank you for your kind advice, and can only suggest you follow it yourself.

    Peter Wicks

  6. Steven Warren

    So 25 hours later and Andrew Crook still hasn’t bothered to reply to this rejoinder?

    Way to keep it classy, Crikey.

  7. Michael de Angelos

    Andrew Cook : you forgot to weave into this piece that Kate McClymont also dredged up a lot of rubbish previously printed about a private investigator who was working for Thomson, in her campaign to demolish the MP.

    In fact crikey is “guilty ” of endlessly dredging up past media mentions to support a current thesis.

    It’s what good journalism is about-joining the dots to produce what may be the truth.

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