Unhatched chickens. Like everyone else, let us admit upfront that Crikey was shocked by what happened to the government’s carefully-constructed Senate majority yesterday. So this next bit apportions no blame, only a little bit of jesting.

Journalists across Australia have been talking for days about the carbon tax’s imminent death. Here’s Phillip Coorey on the front page of yesterday’s Australian Financial Review:

“Australia’s climate change policy will be in limbo from Thursday with the Senate due to abolish the carbon tax … “

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Laura Tingle echoed the same in her analysis piece, also in the AFR:

“But the carbon pricing mechanism that was established after much angst by Labor in 2011 is due to be repealed by the Senate on Thursday … “

In the Oz, a headline blared: “Carbon tax set to be axed today“.

At least none of the newspapers did this. “Barring any more sudden Ricky Muir-like surprises, it looks as if the Senate will repeal the carbon tax,” begins the editorial in this week’s Spectator Australia. “So allow us a little gloating.” The gloating got onto the front page …

We’ve seen quite a few columns and bits of analysis recently about how the government can’t hope to rely on anything playing out as planned in this new parliament. Journalists would be well advised to remember that goes for them too.

Massola melts the ice. Fairfax’s Canberra political bureau hasn’t had the best access to the Abbott government. Critical reporting, like that story on Treasurer Joe Hockey “selling” access to himself for a high price, has seen many Fairfax reporters in the deep freeze from the prime minister’s office, without the backgrounding and favourable treatment so crucial to breaking stories in Canberra. That’s why today’s exclusive interview with the prime minister is so intriguing — Fairfax senior reporter James Massola has managed to secure the first major interview with Tony Abbott since the Senate changed over.

But is this kind of exclusive really great journalism? Here’s the lead:

“Prime Minister Tony Abbott has urged voters not to ‘stereotype’ him, dismissed ‘shouting from the sidelines’ in the new Senate and promised to keep his government’s explicit election promises — including the repeal of the carbon tax — as a day of political chaos unfolded in Canberra. In an exclusive interview with Fairfax Media, Mr Abbott said voters should not pigeonhole him as a defender of the status quo as he invoked the reformist credentials of conservative prime ministers John Howard and Margaret Thatcher.”

Write favourable stories and your odds of getting the drops goes up. But for readers, it’s hardly an improvement on Fairfax covering things like the price of access to Joe Hockey. Thanks to Massola, the ice may be melting, but we hope it’s not the end of Fairfax’s fearless reporting.

Daily Fail to disclose (temporarily). We were intrigued by a post on Daily Mail Australia’s infamous “sidebar of shame” yesterday on the top 10 moments in Australian sport, written by Daily Mail sports writer Michael Gadd. It looked like a normal Daily Mail listicle, heavy on images and containing a poll. Nothing on the post itself mentioned anything about a sponsor, or that the post was an advertorial. No company names were mentioned, but yesterday the sidebar had a hint that the article might be a sponsored post and who that sponsor might be …

Was this an Optus ad? Advertorial? A sponsored post? Did someone tick “Sponsored” by accident? We contacted Daily Mail Australia for an explanation, and they were as surprised as we were. Turns out yes, the post is sponsored by Optus, but that detail had accidentally been left off the article due to an error in the production process. Daily Mail Australia quickly remedied the problem once we made them aware of it, and now the article carries full disclosure.

When writing about writing … it pays to be extra careful. Here’s this from an article in today’s Oz by ACU senior research fellow Kevin Donnelly on school standards …

Front page of the day. It’s Palmer everywhere today, so we’ve decided to look further abroad. The ousted American Apparel CEO makes a photo-shopped appearance on the front cover of Bloomberg Businessweek 

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Australia has spoken. We want more from the people in power and deserve a media that keeps them on their toes. And thank you, because it’s been made abundantly clear that at Crikey we’re on the right track.

We’ve pushed our journalism as far as we could go. And that’s only been possible with reader support. Thank you. And if you haven’t yet subscribed, this is your time to join tens of thousands of Crikey members to take the plunge.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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