Bungled reporting at the MercFriends and family of missing teenager Emily Peachtree would have breathed a sigh of relief upon reading The Mercury‘s pronouncement that she’d been found safe and sound — but it was short-lived. The print edition of the Hobart newspaper carried the headline “Teen found safe” on page seven above a brief story that said the police had released a statement saying she’d been found. But by mid-morning, a strikingly different story appeared on The Merc‘s website, saying that Peachtree had been found dead …

The Mercury

The Mercury

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What happened? Late on Sunday night, Tasmania Police released a statement saying Peachtree had been found, with no further details. Crikey understands the Merc made several attempts to clarify the missing teen’s status with the police but, to quote the report, “no more details about her health or the reason for her disappearance were available”. With no more details, the Merc ran with the headline that she had been found alive. It is common practice for police to say if someone has been found dead in the initial release.

By Monday afternoon, Tasmania Police had released an apology to The Mercury, admitting that its release had been incomplete and failed to state Peachtree was deceased when she was found on Sunday afternoon. “Tasmania Police has visited family members today to apologise for the confusion and the extra pain caused by the resulting misunderstanding. Tasmania Police also apologises to media outlets for the lack of clarity in the information provided.” That statement is carried on page two of today’s Merc, along with an apology from the newspaper. — Myriam Robin

Women the majority (finally) on Q&A. It was a rare moment on the ABC’s Q&A last night when three female panelists joined the discussion. While the panel show has featured all-women panels previously, to specifically discuss women’s issues, its number of female guests during regular shows has rarely outnumbered men.

The three women who appeared on last night’s panel demonstrated why more women should be there: not because it’s the “right” thing to do, or because the panel needs a token woman, but rather because the input of women actually matters when it comes to discussing national issues. Indeed, as panelist Lisa Wilkinson said in response to a question from the audience about quotas being a form of “reverse discrimination”: “It’s interesting that question comes from a man because maybe you would have to be a woman to get exactly what this is all about.”

And that’s the point about seeing women visible in the media, and having women represented at all levels of business, the community and politics. Last night’s discussion gave a significant amount of time to quotas and potential changes to gender reporting guidelines for companies with fewer than 1000 employees, but that’s not the sole reason why women needed a voice on the panel. Other issues discussed such as changes to racial vilification laws, the Chinese appetite for Australian property and indigenous quality of life also require multiple female perspectives. And, sometimes, you need to be a woman to get what it’s all about. — Angela Priestley (read more at Women’s Agenda)

Fox goes global with Cosmos. Rupert Murdoch’s Fox TV network is certainly aiming high, remaking the most popular science program of all time: the legendary Cosmos, which was hosted by the late US astronomer Carl Sagan. Its new version is called Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, and it aired successfully in the United States on Sunday night with 5.8 million viewers on Fox’s free-to-air network. It also aired on a collection of Fox cable channels (making 10 networks in all) and pulled in a total of 8.5 million viewers. That launch method alone startled US TV experts, because no one had tried a blanket launch of a new program across free-to-air and cable TV.

Fox reckons the final figure will be higher than 8.5 million because it expects the program was recorded by many viewers who wanted to watch Resurrection, the new program on ABC. And network executives think that because the show will be seen on subscription TV in a host of other markets around the world over the next five days or so, the total audience could easily reach 40 million people. In the US, the series debuted on Fox, National Geographic Channel, FX, FXX, FXM, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Mundo and Fox Life. Internationally, the series debut will be available on a total of 220 channels in 181 countries this week.

The total global audience for Cosmos (it was made by the Public Broadcasting System) was more than half a billion when it aired in the 1980s. Interestingly, the executive producer of the new series is Seth MacFarlane, one-time Oscars host (and Family Guy writer-producer) along with Carl Sagan’s widow, Ann Druyan (Sagan died in 1996). Glenn Dyer

Front page of the day. As the desperate search for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 enters its fourth day, some still hold out hope that their friends and family members will be found …

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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