From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Decisions at The Age. Last Tuesday morning a young woman was hit and killed by a truck while crossing Collins Street in Melbourne. The incident happened right outside Media House, home to The Age and 3AW, meaning that reporters and photographers were on the scene soon after the accident. The Age decided to publish images of the distraught truck driver and of the pedestrian’s boyfriend as he grieved nearby. The images were powerful, but some on social media thought they went too far. The contentious use of the picture was addressed in an email to staff from online editor Michael Schlechta on Wednesday, in which he stood by the decision. The full email, obtained by Crikey, gives an insight into how such decisions are made and the time frame that online reporters have to work with. Schlechta told his fellow reporters he was “comfortable” with the decision to publish:

“But the picture of the lone man sitting in grief on the pavement caused a good number of people to be upset by its publication. Emails came in, calls were made, many on social media expressed outrage. When I was considering whether to publish it or not, most on the digital desk felt we should not.

“There was a great deal of concern that we were crossing the line. That he deserved some privacy at such a tragic moment. While I shared their concern, I still decided to go ahead and publish.

“I felt the picture captured the horrific consequences of the accident while portraying him in a very dignified way. While he was not outwardly emotional, when you look at him his pain almost reverberates off the photo.

“I accept that for some people it was too much. I suspect a couple of subscriptions were cancelled. But every day we report on tragedy and the decisions we make on the detail we publish in words, pictures, video or graphics are difficult ones. I am comfortable with the decisions I made yesterday, but I accept that may not always make them right.”

Broadbent takes a swipe. Liberal backbencher Russell Broadbent seems to have changed his tune on asylum seeker policies. The Victorian MP has been known for breaking ranks on the Liberal Party’s line on asylum seekers and refugees, both in government and opposition. He has previously criticised offshore detention and temporary protection visas, but in an interview with press in his local electorate of McMillan, Broadbent made it clear he is less than happy with refugee advocates:

“Well they are inhumane, they are supported by both parties at all levels, and my question to those refugee action groups, after they’ve had their scream, after they’ve whinged about human rights, after they have acknowledged that there are flaws in Australia’s treatment of refugees, I then say to them: what is your solution?”

Cui bono? One minister whose star has risen in recent weeks has been Small Business Minister Bruce Billson. A Victorian backbencher through most of the Howard years, he became shadow small business minister in 2009 — a role he kept when the Liberals won and had the position moved to cabinet for the first time. A former small business owner himself, he’s been involved in his portfolio for years. But in recent weeks it’s been possible to detect a certain broadening of his priorities. So far this month, Billson has given a high-profile media interview every two or three days. His website contains no fewer than 12 transcripts of such broadcast media appearances just in February. He’s done more media these past three weeks than he did in the first six months of 2014. Half the time these days, Billson doesn’t even get asked about small business. A recent transcript on a Sky News appearance last Friday is typical. He was asked about David Hicks, the Bali Nine, and the Liberal leadership. A firm supporter of the Prime Minister who gave him his support pre-spill and who walked beside him on spill Monday, Billson repeats points favourable to Abbott in all his interviews. And no wonder. When it comes to television and radio appearances, the Prime Minister’s Office plays a big role in deciding who will and won’t go on to front the media. Billson is being suggested more and more often.

Stop the press. Ms Tips was shocked to receive a press release yesterday proclaiming “Telstra Young Business Woman of Year gets cooking!”. So she’s back where she belongs? Is this the joke? Turns out that DVE Business Solutions director Jo Schneider will be among many CEOs taking on a cooking challenge for charity, probably with quite a few men, too. We’re not sure if the title was unintentionally in bad taste, but it succeeded if it was, because we opened the email.

Of whistleblowers, musicals and puns. After winning the Academy Award for Best Documentary for Citizenfour yesterday, director Laura Poitras and subject of the film Edward Snowden took to Reddit to take part in an Ask Me Anything, which led to this exchange about Snowden’s new life in Moscow. Snowden’s username “SuddenlySnowden” is a reference to this show tune from Little Shop Of Horrors.

 The full AMA is here.

A new story by Newman. What do you do after getting booted out of government after just one term? Write a book, of course. Former Queensland premier Campbell Newman has announced today that he will be publishing a “tell-all” book about his career, written by Gavin King, a former journo who was also ousted in the election that claimed Newman’s job. We hope it will be a cathartic experience for them both.

Boys out enjoying themselves. The headlines regarding the drugs scandal that has engulfed Queensland rugby and led to Karmichael Hunt being charged with supplying cocaine continue, but one tipster has reminded us of an interview he gave last year.

When Hunt announced that he was leaving the AFL’s Gold Coast Suns for a career in Super Rugby last year, he was asked by Triple M Brisbane’s Grill Team what the major differences between the AFL and NRL were, and he compared the attitudes to partying.

“In terms of the culture of going out and enjoying yourself after every game, that does not happen [in the AFL],” said Hunt. “Whereas in rugby league … you could find boys out enjoying themselves.”

“I certainly did when I was younger because I knew that the next week it would not affect me.”

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Peter Fray

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