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Media briefs

May 8, 2014

Media briefs: schoolgirl media … ABC spin … Fox results …

Another Australian flack is off to the ABC's spin bureau. Plus why did the Aussie media wake up to the story of the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls? And more media tidbits of the day.

Another ex-Oz media writer to ABC. Mere months after former Australian media editor Nick Leys turned up at the ABC, his former colleague Sally Jackson has done the same. Jackson, who took a redundancy from the Oz in April, starts at the ABC on Monday, where she’ll be media manager for the news and current affairs division, reporting to Aunty news boss Kate Torney. “I’m thrilled to have Kate Torney as a boss — I am a big fan,” Jackson told Crikey yesterday.

Based in Sydney, she’ll manage internal and external comms for the division. Her appointment is surprising given the ongoing animosity between the Oz’s media section and the ABC. Nonetheless, Leys has made the plunge before, so it can clearly be done. Jackson was a media writer at the Oz for 12 years before her redundancy. Her father, Keith Jackson, headed ABC corporate affairs in the 1980s. Myriam Robin

Aussie media wakes up to schoolgirls. On Tuesday Crikey brought you a story on how the Australian media and government had largely ignored the abduction of 250 schoolgirls in Nigeria. In the two weeks since the students were taken on April 16, there had been just 60 mentions of it in the Australian media (we compared that to the 2446 mentions of the plane MH370 in the two weeks after it went missing). As of Tuesday morning, the Australian government had apparently done little to help the Nigerian schoolgirls.

Here’s an update. Since the Crikey story was published, the Australian media has picked up the story with gusto. There have been 183 media mentions of it on May 7 and 8 (i.e. between Wednesday morning and 9am today). The ABC has continued to lead the coverage in Australia (it was on 7.30 last night), and the local version of The Guardian has gone hard. led with the story for part of yesterday and today …

The Daily Telegraph has the story today, on page 24. The Herald Sun ran it yesterday on page 25. The Australian ran an editorial today calling for action to save the girls.

So what made the Australian media sit up and take notice, almost three weeks after the girls were kidnapped? A catalyst was the release of a terrifying video from the militant Islamist leader involved in the abduction, which adds to what we know about the story and provides images for the media. The kidnappers have perpetrated further crimes in the last few days. The US government ramped up its rhetoric and actions to help the girls, and high-profile figures have raised the issue, including actress Angelina Jolie (cue tabloid coverage) and these tweeters:

Also, the Australian government made its first statement about the issue on Tuesday afternoon. The take-home point? The media spotlight burns or dims for reasons all of its own, but strong images and the involvement of high-profile people helps. — Cathy Alexander

Gongs for Moss and Briggs in blogging. There’s plenty of life outside the mainstream media, if the winners of the Australian Writers’ Centre’s blogging competition, announced yesterday, are anything to go on. The commentary round was won by Croakey contributor Kelly Briggs, who writes The Koori Woman. Judge Greg Jericho said he found it the posts “very thought provoking and interesting”. Tara Moss’ insider account of the Manus Island riot won the outstanding advocacy award. The overall winner was Christina Song for her food blog, The Hungry Australian. There were 1125 blogs entered in the comp. — Myriam Robin

Tories round on each other. Right-leaning commentators tend to stick together a little better than those on the Left, so it was with interest we read Niki Savva slamming her former boss Peter Costello as a “hypocrite” in The Australian today.

Savva was Costello’s press secretary for six years. In today’s piece she says cabinet ministers are deeply annoyed with Costello’s explosive op ed on Tuesday that said the proposed deficit levy on higher-income earners was a bad idea and not needed. Here’s Savva:

“[Cabinet ministers] read with dismay his words, which stepped away from his own budget of ­broken promises while disowning the very measure that symbolised its fairness and gave it its integrity — the superannuation surcharge on higher-income earners. Inside the government, there was speculation about Costello’s motives: jealousy, ego, relevance deprivation.”

Ouch. Could be all three. Read Savva’s spray here (it’s paywalled).

Murdoch’s Fox banks on cable. The Murdoch family’s primary company, 21st Century Fox, has underlined how remote it is from Australia in its March quarter report. The only mention of Oz came in an update on the company’s delisting of its shares from the ASX. That delisting happens at the close of trading on the ASX today. Apart from that, it was all about the company’s revenues and profits in the United States, Europe etc.

Fox’s quarterly report again confirmed how it is really a US cable TV network (based on Fox News), with some add-ons in free-to-air TV, direct broadcasting and film and TV studios. The company reported a sharply lower profit in the three months to March compared to a year ago, despite a rise in revenues, helped by Fox TV’s broadcasting of this year’s Super Bowl and some NFL playoff games. While revenues rose 11.8% to US$8.22 billion, net profit dropped 63% to US$1.05 billion, compared with a profit of US$2.85 billion a year ago.

The growth in revenue was driven by a US$338 million increase at the Fox TV network, led by the broadcast of Super Bowl. Revenue at the company’s Cable Network Programming business jumped 11% to US$325 million. The cable business benefited from an 11% increase in the cash it collects from cable and satellite companies, and an 8% increase in domestic ads. News Corp reports its third-quarter results tomorrow morning at 6am Sydney time. — Glenn Dyer

TV shows that get a second life. It’s a pretty rare thing for a cancelled TV show to have a second life, years after its cancellation. Series are usually cancelled because they’ve failed to capture the imagination of the viewing audience for a variety of reasons, and subsequently haven’t drawn the ratings networks rely on. But occasionally, networks realise years down the track that changes in taste and the TV landscape mean that there’s new thirst for something that was previously unsuccessful.

That’s what has happened with HBO’s 2005 comedy The Comeback, starring Lisa Kudrow as a formerly successful, washed-up sitcom star returning to a completely different world of TV. It was a stroke of genius by Kudrow and co-creator Michael Patrick King to have Kudrow play the role directly after she wrapped up 10 years as Phoebe Buffay on Friends. A mockumentary about the making of her new sitcom and a reality show which follows her “comeback”it was a stripped-back satire of the entertainment industry which took a unique approach to storytelling. While it was generally positively received by critics and earned Kudrow an Emmy nomination for her performance, the show was dropped after just one season of 13 episodes.

The Comeback isn’t the first series to be rescued after a cancellation. Here are some of the most notable examples of when networks have looked beyond the initial ratings to see if a show has something else to offer its audience … — Ben Neutze (more at Daily Review)

Front page of the day. Another classy effort from the New York Post.

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3 thoughts on “Media briefs: schoolgirl media … ABC spin … Fox results …

  1. Robert Smith

    Peter Costello undermines his position when he chooses not to remember the lengths he went to in denying the super surcharge was a tax and therefore not a broken promise, and to insist the GST was a state tax and not a federal tax. Sound familiar?

  2. David Penington

    There have been numerous massacres of 100+ people in Nigeria that have not rated a single mention in Australian media (including Crikey). It seems that whole families being murdered don’t count – it needs to be school girls. Very prejudiced.

  3. Kevin Herbert

    The Boko Harum rebels are likely to be financed by the CIA via the Saudi Arabian sponsored Wahabi radical Islam movement.

    Just another destabilisation of an authoritarian African country which has substantial oil reserves that the NATO thugs want to get their hands on.

    When the token black US President’s wife is pictured supporting the ‘rescue’, a ruse becomes more likely…shades of her presenting an Academy Award to the unlikely winner of a movie denigrating Iran.