Bludgeoning the bludgers. The Daily Telegraph’s hate affair with dole bludgers continues today with an article entitled “Turn back the bludgers”:

“Dole recipients are ripping off millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money by exploiting a loophole that allows them to knock back jobs without losing welfare payments”.

According to the article, “the bludgers are rejecting jobs because ‘shifts fall on their golf day’ or they don’t want ‘to work hard’”.

“The Daily Telegraph went to Bondi Beach looking for bludgers, and saw plenty of candidates lying in the sun on the taxpayer’s dollar,” the article stated. Because naturally everyone who goes to the beach on a Monday is getting Newstart — even the tourists. Alas, it seems the paper couldn’t check. “Not surprisingly they weren’t too keen to talk to us, or have their ­picture taken,” the article reads.

The dole bludger beat at the Daily Tele has a long history. In May 2011, the Tele published an article, “Rush to dob in a dole-bludger”, and argued that “ordinary Australians have turned public spies for the Federal Government as the number of informants dobbing in welfare cheats is set to reach the highest on record”.

In June 2011, the paper linked disability support pensions and Australians injured in warfare. “More residents of NSW are now on the disability support pension than the total number of Australians injured in 127 years of warfare”, claimed the opening salvo. Exactly why the comparison between these two groups was so shockingly scandalous wasn’t clear. Which partly explains why the front-page splash eventually lead to an adverse ruling from the Press Council.

Three years later, the Tele updated the public on this warfare-to-welfare comparison with a front-page spread on May 23, 2014, writing that “NSW Disability Support Pensioners now outnumber Australia’s total war wounded by more than 44,000”.

On January 14, 2015, the Tele published an article labelling the young unemployed as “job snobs”, “dole-bludgers” and “too lazy to pick up $250 a day picking fruit”.

By July of the same year, the paper wrote another article entitled, “Milking the system”, arguing that “more than 70 per cent of people on the dole have been milking the taxpayer for more than a year”. The article didn’t discriminate, though, noting how it’s both the young and old who are “milking” taxpayer money and forcing the government to battle “an annual welfare bill that is now double the entire NSW budget spend”.

In September the paper reported:

“Almost 40,000 dole bludgers who were making no effort to find a job have been told to ‘get off the couch’ and find work as part of the federal government’s new Jobactive scheme”.

— Crikey intern Zara McDonald’

Markson’s side. Australian journalist Sharri Markson says she does not believe, and never said, criticising Israel is anti-Semitic, after being served with a lawsuit over her characterisation of NSW Labor MP Shaoquett Moselmane for a speech he gave in Parliament (she wrote in an opinion piece earlier this month that he gave voice to anti-Semitic sentiment” when he used terms like “cancerous and malicious” to describe the Australian Israeli lobby).

Yesterday afternoon, Markson tweeted that she had “never called anyone anti-Semitic for criticising Israel”.

“In a clearly labelled comment piece, I expressed my honest opinion. I hope this case doesn’t try to stifle freedom of speech.”

Markson’s comments follow Mike Carlton and Peter Slezak, as well as Moselmane’s lawyer Rick Mitry, yesterday telling Crikey the charge of anti-Semitism is often levelled against critics of Israeli policy to shut them up. — Myriam Robin

Finally … After months (years?) of pressure from commercial media operators, it appears the government has finally put together a media reform package. Reports this morning say a package was taken to cabinet yesterday. The proposal reportedly scraps both the population “reach rule” and the “two out of three” ownership rule, which stands in the way of many media mergers. However the anti-siphoning list, which forces many sports codes to air on free-to-air television, has, for now, been left untouched. The proposal also reportedly tries to protect regional news services through an expanded “points” system. — Myriam Robin

Open house. In America, getting a pass to attend White House briefings isn’t controlled by a gallery of journalists representing mainstream media outlets, the way it works here. Which means freelancers of various levels of credibility are able to turn up and (try to) ask questions of the president and his spokespeople. The Washington Post has profiled some members of the “other” White House press corps:

“Reporting from the White House is a prestigious assignment, the pinnacle of many a mainstream journalist’s career. But access to the heart of the presidential news operation isn’t just for the famous of face or the prominent of publication. This is America, remember.

“‘We take seriously our responsibility to work with journalists and outlets of all stripes,’ says White House spokesman Eric Schultz.

“And some of those stripes are decidedly, well, unusual …

“People such as Gavin, who says that all he needs to do to get a day pass into the briefings is submit his date of birth and Social Security number and say that he makes videos for YouTube. (Access to the executive mansion is via either a coveted ‘hard pass’ — a renewable two-year permit — or a day pass, which must be applied for each time you want in.)

“‘There’s a part of me that’s surprised that I’m let in,’ says Gavin.”

Video of the day. This is sweet …


Peter Fray

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