From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Journo junkets. How many of the journalists reporting from this week’s Boao Forum in China had their travel and/or accommodation paid by Twiggy Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group — a major sponsor of the gabfest? Crikey hears some of the travelling hacks had help from FMG to get to the Middle Kingdom. We’re checking with Twiggy’s crew and the journalists, and will let you know.

And the winner is … We asked, and you delivered. Yesterday, intrigued by this photo snapped at the launch of the Coalition’s broadband policy this week, we launched a caption competition. What was Turnbull thinking? After a deluge of entries we can announce the winning caption was submitted by Denise Marcos, who walks away with a Crikey DVD or book of her choice.

Denise beat off a magnificent shortlist of entries:

  • “Crikey! I think the boss is few fibres short in the node” — Ken Boyne
  • “I knew I should have voted for myself” — Jackson Harding
  • “MySpace? Tony, Jesus, I’m looking straight into it” — anon
  • “Good grief – I can see daylight” — Ian Clarke
  • “Damn you Godwin Grech” — Gareth Perkins
  • “Dear Lord, how did I ever lose leadership to this ninny? There are liquid paper marks all over his computer monitor” — John Donovan
  • “You know, I should really upgrade his firmware. He’s still running DLP1953v1.2.4” – anon
  • “Please, God, ‘fibre to the node’, not  ‘fibre-to-the-Noah'” — Jim Parker

Methode over madness. Yesterday Tips reported on the roll-out of News Limited’s new Methode publishing system by Eidos Media. It’ll mean journos sub their own work, adding headlines, images, video, stand-firsts and search engine optimisation words. And the training? A 15-minute online course. Here’s the latest from another Murdoch mole, who says Methode is rolling out from tomorrow at News’ community papers — starting with The Mount Druitt Standard in western Sydney. Don’t listen to the bleating from the technophobes, they say:

“The Methode course is generally half a day but you pick up the full gist of it later as you go along. It is an easier system than what it will replace, namely Cyber, which took a week of 9-5 instruction and then three months to get it right. Cyber was just too complex with too many options but after, say, 10 years you could do wonderful things with it. Like being a master blacksmith. Bit pointless nowadays. Cyber required one to learn function commands which were placed before and after words. Very labour intensive and not necessary.

If you can’t get the basics of Methode in four hours you should try a less taxing career, say, driving a cab in a small country town.”

Multi-tasking MPs. Crikey‘s story on NSW pollies whiling away their time on Facebook during committee hearing into medical marijuana continues to elicit responses from readers. One parliamentary watcher writes:

“All you need to do is sit in the public gallery during question time to see that most are otherwise occupied with their smart phones and other digital devices. And this is not new. In the days before Facebook and other digital distractions, a colleague working with NSW Parliamentary committees regularly observed committe members, and indeed committee chairmen, planning and organising travel on the public purse during public hearings. It was not a good look then, and it’s not a good look now.”

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