Press Council rules on eating roos. In January, The Australian’s food writer John Lethlean wrote a feature on shooting and eating kangaroos. A month later, the Australian Society for Kangaroos complained about the article to the Australian Press Council. The case has since then become emblematic of News Corp’s complaints about the press standards body.

In early August, as the Oz waited for the adjudication to come down, legal affairs editor Chris Merritt said the complaint “raises the question of whether the complaint-handling processes of the Press Council are too easily captured by activists seeking to punish journalists who express opinions with which they disagree”:

“In the hands of Julian Disney’s Press Council, ‘the kangaroo case’ has become the stuff of legend. It has become a marathon of complaint notifications, summar­ies of the principal issues, debates about the relevant standards of practice, multiple responses and a formal hearing.

“This one case has consumed so much management and editorial time at this newspaper that the file, if printed, would run to 100 pages. But the end is near. A provisional adjudication has been produced and the next step will be a final adjudication.”

For those playing along at home, the case has indeed finally been decided. The Oz carried the Press Council adjudication in its weekend edition, which revealed the body had thrown out complaints about whether Lethlean was correct in describing the kangaroo harvesting method as “world’s best practice”. However, the Press Council did rule that the publication should have been more open about who paid for the trip. The article carried a disclosure that the trip was paid for by Liquid Ideas. However, it didn’t explain that Liquid Ideas was the promotional company for kangaroo producer Macro Meats, who had proposed and paid for the trip. According to the adjudication:

“[T]he involvement of Macro Meats in proposing and sponsoring the trip amounted to a potential conflict of interest and should have been disclosed explicitly to readers. Accordingly, that aspect of the complaint is upheld. The publication’s subsequent disclosure in the online archived version of the article is welcome but does not eliminate the breach.”

The adjudication doesn’t by any means mark the end of the Oz’s campaign. Veteran media columnist Mark Day writes in this morning’s edition that the council has been taken over “by a legal and bureaucratic elite in thrall of social justice ideals”. Too many of those deciding on adjudications come from backgrounds “trained to pick apart the entrails of the law, especially in the fields of privacy, social justice and the protection of minorities,” and are not representative of “ordinary people”. Disney is soon to step down from the council, and Day hopes his replacement views the media’s job as “to tell it like it is, not as some would wish it to be”. — Myriam Robin

Who wore it better? Tanya Plibersek and Stephen Conroy have missed two crucial public inquiry hearings into the government’s new laws to boost ASIO powers, reported The Daily Telegraph this morning.

This came after the Labor frontbenchers reportedly requested to be appointed to the committee, leading to this photoshop job…

It’s a well-rehearsed trope for the Tele, which last photoshopped Labor ministers into the film in February. We’re glad to see Conroy ditched the teeth in his latest outing. — Myriam Robin

Bill Shorten Stephen Conroy photoshop

Lewis to the ABC board? The thought of former Seven West Media CFO Peter Lewis on the ABC board has drawn a rapid condemnation from the ABC Friends, who describe his recent employment at Seven as constituting “a clear conflict of interest”.

Mumbrella’s Nic Christensen reported on Friday that he understood Lewis, who wrote the recent efficiency review into SBS and the ABC, was a frontrunner to fill a casual vacancy on the board.

If the appointment of Lewis pans out, it will add further pressure on the ABC to reform along the lines suggested by the Lewis Review. Late last month, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull told Crikey it was in the ABC’s incentives to cut programming rather than to undertake the more difficult, but ultimately more rewarding, steps to reduce its base operating costs. “The Efficiency Study was designed to encourage the public broadcasters to make the tougher, but more worthwhile, decisions to save costs by cutting waste and inefficiencies which will enable them to significantly reduce their cost base over the long term,” he said.

First Dog still reads Crikey? Last week Bernard Keane wrote a piece on the things most likely to kill Australians (hint: it’s not terrorism). We found it odd that Crikey‘s former resident cartoonist First Dog on the Moon has an eerily similar list in his latest cartoon

Front page of the day. All smiles in Adelaide today, but they’re crying in Tigerland …

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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