From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Fairfax’s new app: Gittins’ picks. The latest plan by Fairfax to recut its content to make a buck? Personalised article selections from Ross Gittins, apparently. Users of Fairfax’s mobile sites may have seen a survey asking for feedback on new products. What do you think of this idea?

It’s not a new idea: The New York Times recently launched its NY Now app, which aggregates Times stories and outside sources. The Fairfax brainwave would seem to be on similar lines. Those who took the survey were asked which writers they’d want to hear from (oddly, ex-columnist Mike Carlton was still on the list), what topics they’re interested in and, importantly, how much they’d be prepared to pay ($1-$2 a week was the suggestion). Wonder if Gittins and other Fairfax hacks mentioned (Peter Hartcher, Peter FitzSimons, Caroline Wilson, Ben Cubby, et al) know they’re about to be recruited for the project …?

Abbott decoded. This in from a tipster at last night’s launch of the Parliamentary Friends of the AFL at Parliament House. Seems like Tony Abbott is more of a fairweather friend than a real bestie to the AFL:

“Not only did Tony Abbott say ‘ARL’ instead of ‘AFL’, he referred to GWS and the ‘yellow scarf in his office’. AFL commentator and former player Matthew Richardson said ‘Why was Abbott saying yellow? It’s orange. Surely someone would’ve known that?'”

Markson v Williams — where’s the tape? Ms Tips hears, from several reputable sources, that the interview Australian media editor Sharri Markson conducted with former News Corp CEO Kim Williams (currently on his book tour) was originally going to be a video interview. However, after filming the fiery exchange, the Oz’s editors decided against uploading the video of the encounter. Markson can certainly do a combative interview, as her recent encounter with Clive Palmer on Channel 10 made clear. But this particular encounter with Williams was too fierce even for the Oz, with Markson repeatedly hounding Williams on whether he was the source of the leaked News Corp documents that were published by Crikey last week. A pity the video was spiked — we’d really love to see it. Particularly the part where, as Markson’s print piece on the encounter reveals, she put to Williams that he was the only one “Machiavellian enough” to leak the accounts. We bet that particular question went down a treat.

Hockey’s new staff in for tough job. The diminishing staff numbers in Joe Hockey’s office have been well reported, as has the need for better advice in selling the budget — presumably from someone who knows not to anger motorists. He’s already commissioned the services of a speechwriter who disagrees with his policies and we know that Hockey is considering applicants for a new senior political adviser. We wonder who is up to the job of helping the Treasurer resurrect what’s left of the budget. We hear from a tipster that one name in serious contention is Sarah Cruickshank, who currently works in strategic communications in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and also worked under Helen Coonan and Brendan Nelson in the Howard government. We put that to Hockey’s office and were told that while a number of people were being considered for the role, they would not be commenting. Cruickshank is currently on leave and not available for comment. If you know who is in the mix, drop us a line.

Throwing stones in glass houses. The Sydney Morning Herald published this wrap of social media users confusing the recently deceased director Richard Attenborough with his brother David Attenborough, the TV wildlife guru, who is still very much alive. Only problem is, as a tipster has pointed out to us, that the SMH has been just as confused — publishing this headline in the paper’s iPad app yesterday.

Abbott cold as ice. It’s now a week since Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg nominated his boss — the Prime Minister — to take part in the ice bucket challenge to raise money for motor neurone disease. In that time, quite a few pollies have taken on the challenge, with Sarah Hanson-Young this morning accepting the challenge from Christopher Pyne. The Greens Senator’s bucket looked to be more ice than water, which seems painful. Now we know that Tony Abbott has a busy schedule, jetting around the world and running late for his own party room meetings, but surely he has time to pour some cold water on himself for charity. It would make a good headline at least, and he needs those.

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

Peter Fray

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