From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

No UTS students at News? News to us. Miranda Devine’s op-ed in this morning’s Australian threw many punches in the direction of Jenna Price, Wendy Bacon and Margo Kingston in support of The Australian media editor Sharri Markson, including one that seemed to have a go at all journalism students to have studied under Price and Bacon at the University of Technology Sydney:

“There was a period in Bacon’s heyday when News refused to hire UTS journalism graduates because they had been brainwashed so successfully into left-wing activism they were useless as reporters for any successful mainstream publication.”

It seemed a strange claim to make when many of the country’s brightest journos are coming out of UTS — surely they can’t have bypassed News, which employs so many editorial staff?

We asked Bacon for a response to the claims about her teaching and she said:

“There are the usual false statements, inaccuracies and misleading innuendos in Devine’s column, but that is par for the course. This is an ongoing campaign against myself and others. I can only assume they are threatened, which is the only part of their campaign that encourages a bit of hope.

“Those, including many News Corp journalists, who studied under me at UTS know how I taught journalism. Evidence is crucial, but sadly News Corp editors lost sight of that long ago.”

We hear that it was once a long practice for UTS students to intern at News for long periods of  low-paid work moderating comments on their websites. Ms Tips thinks that moderating comments on Devine, Bolt and Co. would be enough to put someone off a career in journalism, and we’d love to hear from any UTS grads who have worked or interned at News. How did you hide your lefty brainwashing?

It’s only a little bit religious. Parents at a private school in Perth are expressing their discontent with the announcement that the school will not only be locating and rebranding, but taking on a religious element as well. Murdoch College in Perth is an independent private school but informed parents on Monday that the school was “unsustainable” in its current form and that it would be moving to the inner city and becoming “Perth Anglican Grammar School”. Our tipster says he is “spewing” about the change — especially the new religious bent of the school. The letter to parents assures them that it’s no big deal, though, just religious studies and chapel once a week:

So just a bit of church and God in class, but not a big change at all then?

Jobs on the way out at Leighton? We’ve previously reported on problems at construction giant Leighton Holdings, and we have this in from a tipster on job losses:

“Staff are being dismissed without being offered redundancies. The company line is staff over a certain level do not have to be offered entitlements if deemed to be excessive to ‘current requirements’. Apparently Leighton Holdings has been inundated by lawyers’ letters as many so treated have been pursuing rectification through legal channels.”

We asked Leighton about redundancies and were told that “we don’t comment on speculation, nor on employee-related matters”. Know more? Drop us a line.

Rothfield and the AFL. Readers of Phil Rothfield in The Daily Telegraph would have been surprised to see the rusted-on rugby reporter write a glowing double-page spread on Monday about the AFL match between Collingwood and Hawthorn on the weekend. He includes conversations with AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan and Collingwood president Eddie McGuire and seems almost convinced that “aerial ping pong” isn’t all that bad.

One of our tipsters was annoyed however, that it wasn’t explicitly stated that Rothfield was a guest of the AFL at the match and that the league had paid for him to be there. We thought it seemed pretty obvious — Rothfield talks about McLachlan picking him up from his hotel in person and seems pretty cosy with the head honchos, but a short line at the end doesn’t hurt. We asked the Tele and were told:

“Phil Rothfield was a guest of the AFL. However, we believe he made this obvious to his readers in the last six paragraphs where he outlined how far the AFL went with their hospitality in an attempt to make the trip, and his column, a ‘positive’ experience.”

Moran and Turnbull at Mandarin launch. Our friends at The MandarinCrikey‘s new sister publication for the public service, cracked the proverbial champagne over the, err, server last night with an official launch at the National Press Club in Canberra — but the day was not without its hiccups, as enterprising Mandarin journalist David Donaldson and editor Jason Whittaker (formerly our own fearless editor) were earlier in the day unceremoniously ejected from the Senate press gallery thanks to a misunderstanding over the correct passes.

But the launch event went off without a hitch, with former Sydney lord mayor Lucy Turnbull the guest of honour. She mused on the challenges for public sector leaders, but it was manbag Malcolm who stole the show with his impromptu questions from the crowd.

The Communications Minister implored public servants to be more creative and drive innovation. But the nation’s former bureaucratic big cheese, Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Terry Moran, piped up, declaring it was pollies standing in the way of that. Big Mal demanded a “full-throated defence” from Moran, “like the ones you used to give Kevin Rudd”, but in the end the pair weren’t that far apart. Nice to see our ol’ friend Glenn Milne in attendance, too (perhaps he didn’t know The Mandarin‘s stablemate was arch-nemesis Crikey), who enjoyed the free plonk with News Corp veteran Malcolm Farr.

The Mandarins, led by publisher Tom Burton and Whittaker, then retired to salubrious restaurant Malamay around the corner, where Clive Palmer was hooking into the Asian-themed banquet with some mystery guests.

Muir to the rescue. The change of staff seems to have been a good move for Senator Ricky Muir — after appearances at the 4×4 show in Melbourne and this complimentary double-page spread in the Fairfax Drive section on Saturday, he’s starting to get in on the political game, as shown by yesterday’s press release. The deal to save the schoolkids’ bonus was really negotiated by Clive Palmer and his PUPs, with Muir along for the ride. But the Senator would have us know it was all down to him, the champion of people doing it tough — he just fails to mention how the changes to super that come along with the repeal will affect those on low incomes. Maybe he’s been playing us all along and he actually does know how to do this whole politics thing…

Brisbane blackface investigation. After we wondered yesterday which Brisbane Lions player thought it was a good idea to wear black face in order to dress up as LeBron James, one tipster tells us it could be Daniel Rich, the midfielder who has spent most of this year off the field with a knee injury. After a very scientific comparison of the photo with others of Rich, Ms Tips does think it’s possible he’s the one — but it’s very hard to tell. It wouldn’t be the first time Rich has got himself into hot water on Mad Monday; last year he was accused of assaulting a man in a wheelchair. We put the question to Brisbane’s media department but didn’t hear back before deadline.

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