From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Murdoch’s a nightmare? The audience at Melbourne’s Wheeler Centre last night settled in to see The Guardian‘s Nick Davies in conversation with Private Media’s Sophie Black, expecting a fair amount of Murdoch bashing, but they got some behind-the-scenes insight as well. Davies revealed that towards the end of the phone hacking inquiry in the UK, he contacted Rupert Murdoch (through layers of advisers), attempting to set up a video interview. Davies said Murdoch’s first reaction was to say yes to spending 10 minutes on camera with Davies, but his advisers talked him out of it. According to Davies, Murdoch’s advisers try to keep a tight rein on him — but they can’t keep him off Twitter. “I got to know some of the people who work quite closely with him, and what they say is he’s a nightmare. He says things on Twitter that are genuinely stupid and embarrassing.”  Davies had a bit of sympathy for Murdoch Sr, saying “at least he built his own empire”, but when it comes to son James it’s a different story. “James has this sense of entitlement. He’s a foul-mouthed bully. If you had to be stuck on a small boat in stormy seas with one of them, you’d be better off with Rupert. At least he has a sense of humour.”

Sky News jobs go. We hear that five jobs have gone at Sky News across the Sydney and Melbourne bureaux in recent months as part of a restructure, which TV Tonight reports is designed to make the network look more attractive to potential buyers for the network. It’s also been reported that staff are furious with the changes, with Sky already running on the memory of the smell of an oily rag. TV Tonight is reporting that two jobs went in Melbourne and three in Sydney, including senior producer David Peters. Crikey understands that one of the people to go was a recently hired junior video journalist in Melbourne. We’ve asked Sky about the report and if any more job losses were on the way and got the following statement from CEO Angelos Frangopoulos: “Sky News is undergoing a restructure of its newsroom operations. A small number of positions have been made redundant or contracts not renewed.”

UWA takes on the unpossible. Surely Australia’s universities can employ a spellchecker when it comes to very expensive re-branding and marketing campaigns? The University of Western Australia launched its latest campaign this week with the tagline “pursue impossible”. The advertisement in today’s Oz reads “For Edison it was light, for Newton gravity and for UWA’s Fiona Wood it was spray-on skin cells”. The campaign also features ads around the campus, as seen by one tipster:

“Hard to know where to begin with the spectacle that was UWA’s new brand launch. The fanfare around the ‘extensive consultation’ needed for a simple logo change was quite the contrast to … [previous, more weighty decisions], carried out without consultation or concern for the university’s reputation.

“Then there is the slogan, ‘pursue impossible’. Well, what can you say. Warwick University had already bagged ‘rejecting the notion of obstacles’.

“Icing on the cake: the atrocious motivational sculptures dotted around campus haven’t even been proofread. The students must be thrilled their tuition fees are being put to good use.”

Greenspill. We’re happy to hear that Scott Ludlam has been elected co-deputy leader of the Greens, but disappointed that we’ve lost our chance to have a leader of a major political party who has said the word “fuck” on the internet:

We’re also a bit worried for the tweeters at ABC’s 7.30, who took three tries to tweet the correct combination of co-deputy leaders:

QLD Rockhampton preselection.  It’s the battle of the mayors for ALP preselection in the central Queensland seat of Capricornia, with current Rockhampton Region mayor Margaret Strelow going up against former Belyando Shire mayor Peter Freeleagus. Capricornia has been held by the Labor Party for 85 of its 114 years of existence, due in no small part to the strong union movement in the region, which is home to Bowen Basin coal mines, major power stations, extensive rail infrastructure and industrial slaughterhouses.

Freeleagus was the ALP candidate for Capricornia — widely seen as a safe Labor seat — in the 2013 election, but was pipped at the post by the LNP’s Michelle Landry.  The seat had been held by ALP MP Kirsten Livermore for 15 years, who chose not to stand again in 2013.

Strelow has a long history with the Labor Party in Rockhampton and is a popular public figure. She retired from politics in 2008 after eight years as mayor, but her successor was deeply unpopular with Rockhampton locals, and she was coaxed back into politics and elected as mayor once again in 2012.

In the past year, Capricornia has dealt with drought, the mining crash and Cyclone Marcia. Landry has clashed with the region’s state MPs over disaster funding. Locals aren’t convinced she’s a strong representative for the region, but still feel alienated from the ALP after the Rudd/Gillard years. Locals say Strelow could be the best chance the ALP has of winning back the seat.

Purrfect pussy. Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm has found another way to leverage his feline companions to try to convert the masses to his libertarian way of thinking. Leyonhjelm has already written for The Guardian about why cats are natural libertarians, but now he’s turned to YouTube — the internet cat’s natural habitat. Tiffy the seal point Birman is shown to be having the best time enjoying getting brushed (but from very feminine hands — we assume they aren’t the Senator’s?) to a strange soundtrack. Of course Leyonhjelm didn’t upload the video just for his fellow cat-lovers — look at the ad in the bottom left-hand corner. The next suggested video is “who are the Liberal Democrats?”

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Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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