From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

ABC News Intern unmasked? Twitter’s greatest mystery could be undone tonight, as Radio National’s The Media Report is to air an interview with the mysterious @ABCnewsintern. The tweeter’s identity has been a mystery for half a decade, with furious guesswork as to which media insider controls the account. Last week, Crikey revealed the same person might also run the @Sharri2000 profile (which satirises the Oz’s media editor), but even we haven’t been able to crack who’s behind it all.

Crikey asked Media Report host Richard Aedy what we could expect on tonight’s show (5.30pm on Radio National), and got a suitably enigmatic response:

“I approached News Intern a few weeks ago. After some initial hesitation, the Intern agreed to come on the program. The interview went well, I thought. But this morning I learnt something that made me wonder if the Intern was 100% clear on what was going on.  I thought so at the time — now I’m not so sure. As for revealing the identity — you’ll just have to listen.”

3AW still doesn’t know how to google. The internet can be a big, swirling, confusing place and has proven to trip up 3AW drive host Tom Elliott before, but it seems he hasn’t learnt his lesson. Elliott tweeted an image of a man on a suburban train with what looks like a large cannabis plant, and it certainly doesn’t look like it’s for medicinal use.

Luckily, a few of Elliot’s followers were quick to point out the photo has been doing the rounds for a few weeks and was not taken in Melbourne at all. A quick search by Crikey reveals the picture was actually taken by a passenger in Austria riding on Vienna’s U3 underground. Ms Tips thinks Elliott, who has more than 8000 Twitter followers and regularly shares his listeners’ content, ought to rethink before he retweets.

Price rises all round. We know The Australian is losing money, and now one Crikey reader thinks they know how Chris Mitchell and Co plan to bring in more revenue. Our tipster sent us a screenshot of an email he received on Wednesday, informing him that the price of his digital subscription is rising to $6 a week. “We are committed to continually improving your experience,” the email reads, “and sometimes this means increasing our prices.” Crikey understands it used to cost $4, so the increase is considerable. Fortunately for our tipster, the email also states, “This change will happen automatically so you don’t need to do a thing”. What a relief.

SAlt Monash and Jewish students. The Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUSJ) is claiming victory after the de-registration of Monash University’s Socialist Alternative Club. A post on the group’s Facebook page has attracted around 450 “likes” and inspired a spirited debate about anti-Semitism on campus. The Monash Student Association (MSA) told Crikey there were claims the SAlt had denied a group of students entry to a discussion about the war in Gaza because they refused to sign a petition related to the conflict. Crikey understands the students were Jewish and the petition very much pro-Palestinian. An AUJS spokesperson told Crikey the de-registration comes “after years of Socialist Alternative harassment and intimidation of Jewish students on campus”. During a misconduct hearing representatives of the club did not dispute that refusal of entry took place, and the MSA deemed the conduct discriminatory and a breach of the constitution. The Socialist Alternative maintains the deregistration is part of a Coalition-down campaign by Liberals and Zionists to stifle progressive free speech, and they should be allowed to decide who attends their meetings. A spokesperson told Crikey that SAlt had appealed the decision, and the club has started a petition (what a surprise!) to be re-instated on the campus. The spokesperson said: “Would the vegetarian society be expected to welcome someone to their meeting who insisted on cooking a big, juicy steak at it?”

Spring rolls, Swanny and Hendrix. The stars came out to play in Canberra last night — at Old Parliament House, where John Howard was launching a Menzies exhibition. Meanwhile, Crikey was at the Fabian Society evening at the Uni Pub, where Bernard Keane (for it was he) and Wayne Swan were discussing values in politics, and Swanny was plugging his book. Much of the evening was given over to war stories of the GFC, during which Swanny revealed that he had held a crucial phone conference with then-US treasury secretary Hank Paulson from a friend’s teenage son’s bedroom during a dinner party, a poster of Jimi Hendrix looming over him. Hendrix also played a role in Bob Brown’s life, being brought into the emergency room young Dr Brown was working in London, 1970. The voodoo chile’s spirit passed into Brown, giving him a political mojo beneath his calm manner. Did he give Swanny strength, from the great Woodstock in the sky? “That’s a bit off-colour,” Swanny said after the anecdote, just in case the Fabians hadn’t noticed we’d switched off a discussion of inflation cycles (which is, for Fabians, colour). Aside from the speeches, the highlight of the night was the drawing of the raffle, which was won — we punk ye not — by ticket 18c. Crikey snackwatch: pale spring rolls and chicken bits provided by the Uni Pub — made of note by the fact that the Fabians queued patiently to gain access, giving the impression that the speeches and food and drink were all very nice, but the real deal was the opportunity to queue.

Nicolaou for the WA Libs? A caller to Fairfax’s 6PR in Perth on Monday suggested that John Nicolaou, the chief economist at the Western Australian Chamber of Commerce, had been offered a safe seat with the Liberal Party if he wants it. The rumour isn’t all that surprising — current Premier Colin Barnett was the WACC executive director before moving into politics. We asked Nicolaou if there was any truth to the murmurs, but were told he wouldn’t be commenting. The name Nicolaou will be familiar to those following ICAC in NSW — Paul Nicolaou resigned as CEO of the NSW branch of the Australian Hotels Association before the latest round of hearings. Are they related? Let us know.

UTS journos at the Oz. Yesterday we took umbrage at Miranda Devine’s claim that News Corp didn’t like employing journalism graduates from UTS because they were “brainwashed” by academic Wendy Bacon, and it seems that many journalists agree with us. One such journo told us that after studying post-grad with Bacon (who was labelled a “wonderful teacher”) he interned at the Oz:

“Like many of my peers, I applied for jobs, internships, cadetships etc with anyone who’d have me. I was lucky enough to score an internship with The Australian. This was in the early 2000s. For a month or so I sat in their newsroom and covered Sydney news, did research, and performed various other gophering duties. I actually sat quite near Chris Mitchell’s office and he seemed impressed with my work. So much so he was considering hiring me, though I was ultimately pipped at the post by another intern (who also studied at UTS and continues to work for the Oz today).

“Wendy Bacon encouraged me to apply for the internship and she and other teachers often made the point in the classroom that students shouldn’t restrict their job apps to the ABC and Fairfax, as a small group were wont to do. She made the point that if we wanted to be working journalists we shouldn’t let our personal views get in the way of who we work for. News Ltd had fine journalists, she said, and we should feel lucky to work for them. Unsure if she would say the same today.”

Another tipster directed us to this press release from UTS in 2012, when Rosie Lewis started at The Australian, where her father, Steve (also a UTS grad), was also a political correspondent.

This morning Crikey spoke to Jenna Price, current co-ordinator of the undergraduate journalism program, and she said: “I’ve had an email from Chris Mitchell, we’re — as we speak — organising placements for UTS students. He’s been absolutely helpful and courteous.” Names that also came up as UTS grads at News Corp included Natasha Robinson and Patricia Karvelas at the Oz, Angus Thompson at the Herald Sun, and many others who spent time there before moving to other jobs within the industry, such as Daniel Piotrowski, former Crikey wunderkind Matthew Knott, and Sarah Michael. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

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

Peter Fray

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