From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

New News news. The New News conference opened last night in Melbourne, and it was so firey Ms Tips wished she had brought popcorn. Margaret Simons from the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism introduced the event as “for those who consume the journalism” as opposed to industry insiders, but it still offered plenty for the industry types present. The panel “What’s Happening in Australian Journalism?” featured an all-star line-up, with Herald Sun editor Damon Johnston, ABC news director Kate Torney, The Age‘s news director Mark Forbes and Guardian editor Emily Wilson. They weren’t afraid of a bit of debate — or talking up their own products.

While the panellists almost always had something to say, they were at a loss when Simons asked them to name the worst moment in journalism for the year. Johnston nominated the beheading of journalists overseas, but Simons pushed for an example of the Australian media not making the grade. The panel was silent until a call from the audience “the front page of The Age!”. Oh yeah, that. The panel went on to discuss the photo, which Forbes called a “blue”, saying “you can’t defend that”.

When the conversation moved to revenue streams, everyone was optimistic, and Wilson revealed that The Guardian‘s membership scheme would be rolled out in Australia “in about a year”. She did say to the laughs of the crowd, “It’s not the Guardian way to make money”.

Too many people want the paper! On Wednesday we reported that News Corp was telling readers of its local Leader newspapers to remove their “no junk mail” signs in order to receive their newspapers, but we have been told by another tipster that there is more to it:

“The real reason for non delivery of Leader newspapers to “no Junk” letterboxes is that the company will not increase its print run to accommodate more households. It is a real problem in outlying suburbs with new estates. So no delivery to “no junk” letterboxes.”

Is this really the case? We asked News Corp and were told by a spokesperson:

“We are addressing the rapid growth of households in Melbourne by increasing distribution to these areas. From next week some areas that have large numbers of ‘no junk mail’ stickers will receive stickers saying ‘no junk mail — leader only’ so our distributors know where to deliver to.”

Deluxe gets SBS contract. Ms Tips hears that Deluxe Australia has won out over rival Ericsson in its bid for SBS’ play-out services. As Crikey reported last week the multicultural broadcaster is outsourcing the engineering and production of its content on SBS One and Two, after doing the same for its pay-TV stations World Movies and Studio. On Tuesday, managing director Michael Ebeid told staff that whoever won the tender would be expected to take over employment of the 60-something technicians who put SBS to air. But the move is internally controversial, with engineers fearing the precedent it sets for skill development within the network.

Deluxe Australia is the local branch of Deluxe Entertainment Services Group, itself a subsidiary of MacAndrews and Forbes Holdings. The global company provides play-out and distribution services to entertainment industries in the USA, Europe, India, and Hong Kong.

Aussie history told by Brits. As part of this year’s commemorations of the 100 years since the start of World War I, the History Channel is showing a documentary series called The Memorial: Beyond The Anzac Legend, focusing on the Australian War Memorial and Australia’s involvement in WW1 and we got this in from a tipster:

“I understand it is bank rolled by the Australian War Memorial. Why then have we imported Neil Oliver, a British historian to host it? Was there nobody at the Memorial who could see the irony of a Pom narrating our war history? Are we unable to muster our own historians? It is both sad and scandalous.”

We asked the Australian War Memorial about the funding and choice of host for the series, and a spokesperson was very keen to make sure that no one was upset by Neil Oliver’s role:

“The documentary series The Memorial: Beyond the Anzac Legend is an Eyeworks Television Australia and Foxtel production and is not funded by the Memorial. It will be shown in Australia and internationally. The series aims to tells two stories, the first is the Australian involvement in what was a world-wide war. The second is the behind-the-scenes operations of the Memorial and its staff, as we prepare for the centenary of the First World War and present the story of Australia’s military history. The series is hosted by internationally renowned Scottish historian and archaeologist Neil Oliver. Neil brings a wealth of experience to the series and is quite detailed in exploring Australia’s involvement in the First World War.”

Don’t stiffle debate. Ms Tips couldn’t help but giggle at this typo in a press release from the deputy opposition leader in the ACT, Alistair Coe:

What wasn’t published. While many in the media world have been singing Lateline host Emma Alberici’s praises since Wednesday’s interview with Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman Wassim Doureihi, the week didn’t start out so well for the ABC star. The Oz’s Media Diary ran the story that Alberici had refused to appear at a Lifeline event without a fee for her work. This morning The Australian published this letter from Reverend Graham Long, pastor at the Wayside Chapel in Sydney:

It definitely paints a different picture from what was reported in Diary — but even the letter published wasn’t the full story. Ms Tips has seen the full letter that was sent to The Australian. Running at 357 words, it is much too long for most newspapers’ letters pages, but our tipster thought it was interesting what had been cut included the line “I suspect the facts of this matter are wrong”:

“Dear Madam or Sir,

Its distressing to read an attack on someone who you know to be a person of integrity. The Australian this week implied that Emma Alberici showed insensitivity and greed in relation to a function for charity. I suspect the facts of this matter are wrong. Emma Alberici has given her time to The Wayside Chapel this year with a generosity of spirit that is nothing short of inspiring. Ms Alberici has not only given us literally hundreds of hours but she has given her hours to difficult and sometimes tedious service of others.

Many famous people are prepared to give small parcels of time to assist us but none have matched Alberici’s giant heart that embraced a job that required many hours over many months. Alberici offered to make a film that explained our work that would help in our constant education programmes for volunteers and corporate partners. It has become a tool in the hand of our busy staff, saving them valuable time. It’s impossible for me to calculate the cost of this gift to us. I know that in addition to her time, Alberici leaned on many of her friends who are the best in their field, to likewise give their time to this project. The dollar value of this gift will have been in the realm of $100,000. The value to us over time will be a higher figure than that. We never got a single bill from Alberici or anyone else who gave their time to this project.

This same kind of generosity has been given by Ms Alberici to other charities too and so I know in my bones that what I read was wrong and unfair. Alberici never sought any thanks from us or any acknowledgement at all; no one would ever know it until I saw her being attacked for being mean spirited. With nothing to gain by expending the serious effort she made for us, I pay honour to a professional journalist at the top of her game whose capacity to sacrifice for others is an example for all to follow.

Yours faithfully,


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