Rinehart stepping down? Reports in News Corp and Fairfax this morning suggest Gina Rinehart plans to relinquish her seat on the board of Channel Ten. According to The Australian’s Media Diary column, she is stepping back from the board role to focus on her development of the Roy Hill mine. In a story published later this morning, Fairfax’s Business Day appears to have confirmed the reports. As Crikey neared deadline, no formal indication of the story had been made to the sharemarket. — Myriam Robin

No neutrality possible in War on Terror. Jailed Australian journalist Peter Greste expressed his concerns about the the stifling of press freedom in today’s conflicts in a speech he wrote from Egypt’s Tora prison. Greste blames the establishment of the “War on Terror” for placing journalists in the crosshairs.

“It was George W. Bush who set the ground rules in the wake of 9/11 when he declared that you’re either with us or with the terrorists,” Greste said in a speech delivered to the London journalism awards last week. “That single statement made it impossible for reporters to hold to the principles of balance and fairness without being accused of acting as an agent for the enemy.”

According to Greste, the number of journalists being incarcerated, kidnapped and killed while reporting wars has risen dramatically in recent years compared to conflicts in the past few decades. He argued that because wars are now being fought over ideologies, rather than tangible things such as land or resources, journalists who attempt to cover the opposing sides are being targeted as they are considered representative of the enemy’s ideals. “The compelling worldviews seem so widely divergent that to even try to understand the other side is to commit what many governments now consider to be treason,” he said.

Greste said he knew the public still valued quality, fair and balanced journalism and situations such as his own had reignited debates surrounding press freedom.

He also took aim at journalism organisations that increasingly relied on freelancers to deliver coverage from conflict zones as he paid tribute to two journalists recently killed by Islamic State.

“Both James [Foley] and Steven [Sotloff] paid the ultimate price for working in an industry increasingly reliant on brave, committed freelancers. They occupied a space where risk-averse news organisations are increasingly outsourcing coverage itself. Of course the extremists who murdered them weren’t concerned about who they worked for. What mattered was that they were journalists, and that they were Westerners.”

The full speech is published in today’s Australian. It was dictated to his family members during their visits to the prison, as he’s only allowed to write two letters a year. The speech was read out at the awards by one of Greste’s colelagues, Al Jazeera correspondent Sue Turton. — Crikey intern Tom Heath

Can Australia handle a craggy-faced woman? The ABC’s Virginia Troli received some well-meaning advice about her appearance that was, well, not very encouraging. She shared the letter on her Twitter, where it promptly went viral, prompting condemnation from many. The letter-writer urged her to cut her hair short, seek out light-coloured frames to avoid looking “owlish”, and get rid of black and dark clothing, as well as clothes from “charity shops”. “This letter is not meant to insult you but so that you look 40 not 60,” the writer concluded.

Writing in the Weekly Review, Trioli reflects on the letter and what it means for women in television:

“… one day, with luck, I will be 60, and if I don’t fall victim to vanity and cosmetic surgery, I might even look 60. I will be nowhere near retirement and nowhere near ready to give up work. Nonetheless I will still hope to have a meaningful career, perhaps still on TV. Is that an impossible aspiration in Australia, when looking 60 is such an abhorrent thought?

“The American experience cuts a great contrast to us, where women such as Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer and Christiane Amanpour have enjoyed long and illustrious careers in the public eye even as they age. But the mere appearance of ageing in a woman on Australian TV is enough to have most executives yanking her off air and replacing her with someone younger.

“This is going to be an interesting challenge. Will a craggy-faced women be as acceptable to you on the box as, say, a craggy-faced Barrie Cassidy is? (Said with love, Barrie.) I am lucky to be part of a formidable generation of women journalists, at the ABC and the commercial stations, who are all going to become wiser, better and older in front of your eyes: you OK with that?”

Front page of the day. A questioning splash for Mike Baird by the SMH. After the premier appeared in an ad for the Daily Tele, we wonder whether that paper would have asked the same question …

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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