From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Reluctant to leave The Oz. The mood has been grim in the newsroom at The Australian this week, with staffers petrified about getting tapped on the shoulder to take forced redundancies. Yesterday was the day of the long white envelope at Holt Street — and worried reporters took to social media to voice concerns about their jobs being axed. Crikey understands the business section will be the hardest hit, with two biz reporters and one IT journo made compulsorily redundant yesterday. A video journalist was also given the heave-ho. Apparently Managing Editor Helen Trinca is in Melbourne today to deliver the bad news to Victorian troops. Last week, we heard that some high-profile and well-paid reporters were sounded out by their bosses about taking redundancies. But — despite it being made clear they were surplus to requirements — the hacks weren’t keen to go anywhere and knocked back the offer. They seem to have survived the purge so far. At least one photographer and several section editors have also taken voluntary redundancy.

University challenge. We continue to hear murmurs that Victorian universities are considering merging. Apparently a senior figure at La Trobe University “has twice asked senior management to consider merger with the University of Melbourne as a strategic option for the future”. We put the persistent rumours to La Trobe in May, and a spokesman declared “it is completely and utterly incorrect!”. Tips is keeping an eye on the situation …

Opinion poll fail. Another day, another push poll. Tips enjoyed this one on The Daily Telegraph online today:

We spent a pleasant few minutes gaming the poll (words to describe Tony Abbott: potato, Bambi, balderdash). We’ve been running readers’ experiences of being polled lately; this reader is in a polling hotspot:

“We have a landline for our internet connection which means we occasionally get polled. I picked up a call from Galaxy research about a year ago and was asked about who I would vote for if an election was called tomorrow. They also asked quite a few market research questions, including what furniture stores I shop at and how I would feel about the use of retina and/or fingerprint scans to authorise bank transactions. It was quite odd in the end.

Now when the phone rings I just let my partner pick up — he is quite happy to tell pollsters how he feels about Australian politics. I have also noticed them calling more frequently lately (1-2 times a month), though I’m unsure if this is because they know we will answer the phone or because there is an election coming up.”

Quite a few readers have told us they were asked voting intentions then market research questions (on everything from how often they ate mangoes to vitamin use and now retina scanning). One delightful constant is how many Crikey readers take the opportunity to game the poll or lecture the pollster — we expect nothing less of you.

Garrett tuckered out. Peter Garrett has certainly deserved a break after years of ministering away (he’s leaving politics) — this Twit captured him on a plane … and it is worth noting that the former Oils frontman has a track record of nodding off on political planes when reporters are waiting for their exclusive interviews with him …

Winning PR names. Tips was startled yesterday to receive a media release from Winsome Wild — yes, it is her real name (despite the evocative moniker, the media release was about rather unexciting trading and investment seminars later this month). This follows on from receiving an email from Golden Noble-Harris, media adviser to outgoing ALP Senator Trish Crossin. And don’t forget the grandly named Paris Lord, who worked for Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young. Do you know any memorable or catchy names of people working in PR, advertising or communications? It’s certainly a field where an unusual name can help one to get ahead … send in your entries here.

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to [email protected] or use our guaranteed anonymous form

Peter Fray

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