For she’s a jolly good comrade. Media types gathered in Melbourne’s Trades Hall yesterday to see off Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance secretary Louise Connor, who in two decades with the MEAA stared down media bosses and managers to secure better wages and conditions for workers in the media and entertainment industries. Her farewell was a star-studded affair, of which the highlight was an unexpected song composed by Casey Bennetto (of Keating! fame) in Connor’s honour. It wasn’t the only musical interlude, as it was followed by Alan Fletcher (who plays Dr Karl Kennedy on Neighbours) leading the audience in a full-throated rendition of “For she’s a bloody good comrade”.
In his speech, Ben Butler — formerly of the Fairfax union house committee (before he took a job at The Australian) — paid tribute to Connor’s resolute sledging of his old bosses during the opening of the current round of union negotiations, saying without her steely recitation of their failures the recently accepted Fairfax agreement would have have been unlikely to keep the conditions it did.
It’s been a difficult few years for the media industry. Connor has been a supporting figure at every strike and negotiation and is taking a rest before deciding what to do next. She’s taking long-service leave and told Crikey she intended to spend some of her newfound time renovating an old newsagency she had bought, which has been empty for 20 years. She doesn’t plan on removing the Herald Sun sign up the front, but is expecting she’ll gut the inside to create a liveable house out of the place. “After so long building things up, it’ll be nice to tear something down for a change,” Connor said. — Myriam Robin
Getting shirty. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has threatened to do something to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s clothing during the G20, though we’re not 100% sure what. It seems Fairfax was also unaware of the term “shirt-front” (or “shirtfront” or “shirt front”) until Abbott used it yesterday. The same story by James Massola leads The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age (pictured below, left), but the papers decided on different style conventions for the term.
Fairfax’s formidable style guide used to be a must-have item for all subeditors. Of course, most of those have lost their jobs, with subbing, such as it is, being outsourced. Perhaps in-house subs served a purpose after all? — Cassidy Knowlton
Exclusive watch. They love a good exclusive at The Australian – or at least they love the “EXCLUSIVE” tag, which is on no fewer than 25 stories in this morning’s paper, including every single story on the front page. Among the government drops and advanced copies of reports was this gem: “Aussies taller, fitter, richer than ever, says report”. It’s an “exclusive” story recounting an Institute of Public Affairs report about Australians’ standard of living. According to the IPA, the disparity between rich and poor is only growing worse “if you measure poverty relatively”. Says IPA senior fellow Mikayla Novak:
“Absolute measures of poverty actually show that Australians have never been richer: we are living longer, we own more and better cars and electrical appliances, our houses are bigger, we’re better educated.
“We’re even getting taller.’”
Richer, taller and healthier than what?
“Average male height of 170cm for those born in the 1870s had increased to 178cm for those born in the 1970s, according to data presented in the study.”
“Male life expectancy at birth has increased from 59 to 80 since 1921, thanks in large part to a dramatic slump in infant mortality, which plummeted from almost 140 per 1000 births in 1875 to three in 1000 today.”
So we are healthier now than people were in the 1870s, and the IPA has released this ground-breaking news in order to argue against increases in social welfare. Only in The Australian.
ABC delivers for Nine. Good news for Nine (matching that for Seven). Gotham (the Batman prequel with some absolutely unbelievable characters) has been given a full season by Fox in the United States. It joins the two ABC programs picked up by Seven, How To Get Away With Murder and Black-ish, in being the first new season’s programs to move to a full run. And while Gotham has been doing OK with numbers in the overnight ratings, it has seen a surge in the three- and seven-day delayed record and watch figures for PVRs (or DVRs as they are called in the US). Gotham is almost as popular on this basis as How To Get Away With Murder in the US. Fox ordered a further six episodes overnight to bring it to a full season 22 episodes. Gotham lifted its seven-day delayed viewing by a more than 80%. It is now the equal top drama on Monday nights and is the Fox Network’s most watched fall new drama in 14 years, according to the US website deadline.com. The reason why Gotham is on Nine here and not Ten, despite being on the Murdoch clan’s Fox network in the US, is because the producer is Warner Brothers, which is Nine’s main supplier from the US (The Big Bang Theory, for instance). Gotham debuted on Nine on Sunday night with a solid national audience for the first of two episodes of 1.239 million viewers. — Glenn Dyer
Baby Murdoch takes aim at Google. Oh dear, shareholders in 21st Century Fox and News Corp are all a’worried this morning — James Murdoch has been let out of his New York office to kick a few heads, much in the way he was kicking heads in his now infamous McTaggart lecture in Edinburgh on the cusp of the eruption of the News of the World phone hacking scandal. Some ask, what new atrocities are there lurking for the Murdoch empire to confront?
Overnight, at the huge MIPCOM TV conference and market place in Cannes, James Murdoch joined the News Corp attack on whether search engines such as Google are doing enough to remove links to piracy sites. Robert Thomson wrote to European competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia last month, calling Google a “platform for piracy”. Google in return said it “has done more than almost any other company to help tackle online piracy”. But true to form, James Murdoch disagreed with Google’s contention (there’s none so blind as a Murdoch male with his eyes full of family self–interest).
The Guardian quoted James Murdoch as saying, “There’s no question that they can do more. A lot more. Certainly Google’s not right in saying they’re doing more than anyone. That just isn’t true,” he said. Murdoch continued:
“The problem with Google … Actually, let’s not personalise this. The problem with search–driven discovery, if the content is there and it’s illegal and you’re just selling clicks as a big ad network, you have every incentive for that illegal programming to be there. That’s fundamentally not really good enough.
“It’s important for governments to take it very seriously, for regulators to take it very seriously, and for infringers to be taken seriously, and for those who enable infringement to be held accountable.”
Meanwhile, the News Corp papers’ scandals continue in London for James, daddy Murdoch and the companies. Six current or former journalists at the Sun went on trial yesterday. The Guardian reported that the six are “accused of plotting with public officials in pursuit of exclusive stories over nine years. The group are variously charged with conspiring to commit misconduct with police officers, members of the armed forces, prison officials and staff at Broadmoor hospital between March 2002 and January 2011”. — Glenn Dyer
Ten not out of the woods yet. Three days to go till Ten Network’s 2013-14 financial results are released and the market remains very unimpressed. The shares hit yet another new, all-time low of 19 cents yesterday. That was down 1.5 cents, or more than 7%. Now where are the foreign bidders? I suppose the shares will spike once the loss (estimated at more than $70 million by some analysts) is out of the way. Ten’s ratings continue to edge higher from the lows earlier in the year, but ad revenues remain sluggish and negative. — Glenn Dyer
Front page of the day. Thank goodness, Kim Jong-un has been found …