Jan 15, 2014

Qantas gets its money’s worth from the best journo junket around

Print, TV and radio journos schmooze with mostly Australian celebs in Los Angeles, but is it actually worth our tax dollars? It certainly got plenty of fawning coverage back home.

Matthew Knott

Former Crikey media reporter

You've got to love Aussie summers. Citronella burning and cicadas croaking. Lleyton slugging it out at the Open. The washing drying before you can peg it on the line. And, of course, Crikey's favourite silly season ritual: the tsunami of news stories from G'Day USA -- the week-long corporate and taxpayer-funded shindig promoting ties between Australia and the United States. News stories hardly come any more manufactured or frivolous than G'Day USA, now into its 11th year. But for media outlets and journalists, the offer of subsidised travel to Hollywood (courtesy of the organising committee and/or sponsor Qantas) during awards season inevitably proves irresistible. As journalism junkets go, this one's hard to top. The commercial TV networks lapped up this year's event, with Seven, Nine and Ten giving G'Day USA prominent coverage on their morning chat shows and nightly news bulletins. The love-in was a particular gift from the gods for the beleaguered Channel Ten, which was able to use it to cross-promote one of its most popular shows after creators of Modern Family confirmed they would film an episode of the show in Australia this year. Entertainment gumshoe Angela Bishop put her investigative skills to the test by tracking down the details (apparently Sydney, the Blue Mountains and the Great Barrier Reef are possible shooting locations -- but others are on the cards).

Speaking of beleaguered companies, the event was a PR bonanza for the flying kangaroo. Ten kindly announced that Bishop was reporting from the "Qantas Spirit of Australia party", and the red carpet veteran noted that attendee John Travolta, filmed in front of a Qantas logo, was an ambassador for the airline. On the Seven's Morning Show, Melissa Hoyer reported that Kylie Minogue had "nailed it" in an acoustic set at the event. As well as singing Locomotion, Hoyer revealed: "She also did a great version of I Still Call Australia Home because Qantas have got a lot to do with this G'Day USA thing. It was perfect for them ..."

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