This weekend, The Australian held a shindig to farewell Sydney chief of staff Stefanie Balogh. She’s back to the Canberra bureau, and what better way to send her off than a farewell at the Wentworth Racing Park, famous for its greyhound racing. The venue isn’t accidental — Ms Tips hears it was chosen by the editor as a private and cheeky tribute to the paper’s favourite working-class pastime.

For those who’ve read the Oz’s greyhound coverage carefully, it’s been amusing to note the many connections the paper’s senior scribes have to the industry. Hedley Thomas’ highly sceptical take on the greyhound ban from last month carries a disclaimer that he “contributed $1000 three years ago for a minority interest in a greyhound”. Much of Thomas’ family races greyhounds. And he’s not the only one. In his media column, which isn’t charitable towards the award-winning Four Corners report that indirectly led to the ban, former editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell noted that his brother-in-law “is involved in the greyhound industry on the NSW mid-north coast”. Both Mitchell and Thomas hail from Queensland — many in that bureau have strong ties to the industry.

While we’re on the topic of the Oz, Friday night was the annual News Corp journalism awards, where the company rewards its best from a field conveniently shorn of competition. News Corp’s best scribes do well enough in the open-entry journalism contests, but the awards are still useful for showcasing what the company’s editors value. In cartoons, Bill Leak’s baiting of progressives with a modicum of sensitivity won him the cartoonist of the year award — an award the paper illustrated on social media with a picture he drew lampooning his critics. Ms Tips’ spies (fine, it was Miranda Devine on Twitter) say he yelled “suck on that, Media Watch!” as he accepted his gong.

Peter Fray

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