Today in Media Files, the NT News delivered an instant classic front page over the weekend, Google is funding robots to write news stories in the UK, and a drone photographer has been fined over video of Nine personalities Peter Stefanovic and Sylvia Jeffreys’ wedding.

Front page of the day. The NT News put out an instant classic front page on Saturday, with the headline “Why I’ve got a coin in my groin“. The story (with X-ray) was one of those only-in-the-NT classics: Stu (who didn’t want to give the paper his surname) skolled a schooner after his mates dropped $2.70 in change in it, during Territory Day celebrations on July 1. Surgeons tried to remove the 50c piece from his oesophagus, but it had gone too far through his system, and as Stu delicately put it, he instead “went fishing for turds” to recover the coin, which he has now framed. The $2 and 20c coins had also passed naturally.

Predictably, Daily Mail Australia ripped off the story, but with a mistake, as eloquently pointed out by the story’s original journalist, political reporter Hayley Sorensen on Twitter:

News robots to produce local stories. Google is funding a news robot for a UK wire service to automatically pump out news stories. The Press Association (with data start-up Urbs) will develop a program to spit out 30,000 news stories a month for local media, funded by a Google grant. The project — Reporters and Data and Robots (RADAR) — uses journalists to identify open databases and create story templates, and the program then uses natural language generation software to produce multiple versions of stories. The Press Association said it would use the grant to create database tools, develop auto-generation of graphics and videos and find related pictures. The project will also employ five journalists.

Today‘s wedding of the year earns drone fine. A drone pilot who took video footage at Peter Stefanovic and Sylvia Jeffreys’ wedding has been $900 for flying a drone in a hazardous manner by the air safety regulator. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) confirmed it fined the guest at Today‘s “wedding of the year”. It is against the law to fly a drone within 30 metres of other people. The video was shown on Today as part of extensive coverage of the wedding of its newsreader Jeffreys, which included detailing the couple’s outfits and wedding venue.

Usual crowd silent on ABC reporter’s Trump takedown. ABC political editor Chris Uhlmann’s “brutal takedown” of US President Donald Trump has, as they say, gone viral on social media over the weekend. The commentary Uhlmann gave to Insiders yesterday described Trump as a lonely figure at the G20 summit, and it has been widely shared on social media and reported in US media. But the usual ABC critics have been surprisingly quiet. Andrew Bolt gave it a half-hearted go on his blog, but prolific tweeter Miranda Devine, who most recently has been running with claims the ABC’s children’s news program Behind the News encourages Islamic extremism, has been silent, as has Piers Akerman. And there was nothing in The Australian, which loves nothing more than an opinionated ABC journalist or presenter. Could it be they can’t use their usual ABC leftie refrain, given Uhlmann’s rep as a conservative?

Crabb’s farewell column. ABC presenter and Fairfax columnist Annabel Crabb has submitted her last Sunday column over the weekend. Crabb, who has been published in the Sun Herald and Sunday Age for the past five years told readers in a note on yesterday’s piece it would be her last for the time being. She told The Australian she was going to be spending more time with her family after filming The House, a six-part series announced by the ABC last week. In her note, she thanked readers for their “support and good humour”, and signed off with, “Keep buying papers! With thanks, Annabel Crabb”.

Crabb’s departure is one of many from the Fairfax pages over the last few weeks as part of redundancies and cost-cutting. Herald cartoonist Alan Moir was cut back from every day to just Saturdays, columnist Alan Stokes wrote his final column last month, as has The Age‘s Martin Flanagan.

Bauer’s shuffling deckchairs. Bauer Media has moved quickly to announce a replacement at OK for editor Nicole Byers. Lucy Walker steps up at the celebrity weekly, starting today, after Byers was elevated to editor-in-chief at The Australian Women’s Weekly to fill the gap left by Kim Doherty’s sudden departure last week.

Good soldier Salusinszky is back. Heeeeeee’s back. Imre Salusinszky, long-time teacher of postmodern literary theory at publicly funded universities turned Hayekian classical liberal for News Corp, turned post 9/11 Western civilisation defender, turned media-spinner for Christian fundamentalist wowser Mike Baird, and now Fairfaxista is writing in the SMH about how terrible the feral right are. The Good Soldier Schweik of the Australian culture wars, whichever empire he happens to end up in, Imre knows the words to the anthem by heart. Departing the subsidised world of academia for Murdochland 15 years ago, he became a firm opponent of subsidies; having once presented an unlistenable yahooish radio show on the ABC, with (now Daily Tele opinion editor) Tim Blair — “The Continuing Crisis”, which set the cause of right wingers on the ABC back years — he has now concluded that they was the ones wot dun his boss in.

The analysis is an interesting one:

“In the corridors of News Limited, where I spent more than a decade, [the Tele‘s fake 2019 cover] is referred to as ‘cheeky’ — an in-house euphemism for ‘infantile’. The ‘cheeky’ attacks on Labor by the Tele, in the 2013 and 2016 federal election campaigns, probably cost the Coalition votes, particularly last year in western Sydney.”

Really? The Tele‘s 2013 attacks on Rudd and Labor, a relentless barrage of smear, half-truths and outright exhortion to dump them, hurt Abbott and the Coalition? That’s primo media analysis, that is. It gets better, i.e. whinier, when he considers the right-wing onslaught on the greyhound ban:

“Part of the puzzle in all of this is that people are self-defining what ‘true conservative principles’ are supposed to be. Nowhere in the texts of Milton Friedman or Friedrich Hayek, or the memoirs of Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan, is it stipulated that a ‘true conservative’ cannot take strong action to end animal cruelty.”

One can concede that nowhere do these divines deal explicitly with greyhound racing, videoing your cat riding a Roomba, etc. But Baird’s action was to ban an entire free activity on the grounds that some participants were treating their legal property — dogs — in a criminal manner. I would have thought Baird’s actions, and the results, violated just about every point made against such in The Road To Serfdom. In another cosmic clue, Baird’s wowserish attacks on the legal right of law-abiding people to drink late (save at the monopoly-control casino) had the effect of turning inner Sydney into a drab ghost-town, with a distinct Eastern bloc air (or Third World: Pinochet’s Santiago. Maybe it was Hayekian after all). God forbid, having parroted all this classical liberal stuff, you’d actually have to live by it.

Yes, there are many people to blame for a premier’s downfall at the hands of the media — but not, it would seem, his media adviser. Fairfax, still operating as if it was 1987 and people had no choice but to read it, throws its op-ed gates open for another mate. Whistling a new tune, amid the rubble, the good soldier Salusinszky marches on. — Guy Rundle

Canada’s biggest newspaper company waiting to go broke. Canada’s Post Media Network is high on analysts’ lists of major print media companies in the world waiting to go broke. And for the second quarter in a row, Canada’s biggest newspaper chain’s deep cost cutting and debt restructuring gains have managed to make a bad result look far better than it really is. The company revealed last week that its third-quarter profit resulted from one-off cuts to employee benefits. But in the real world, its print advertising and circulation continue to slide, forcing the company to warn of even deeper cuts to come as the transition to a digital future takes longer than expected. While the third quarter boasted a 23% jump in digital ad income, print ad revenues fell 19% in the quarter. Postmedia recorded an 8.5% slide in total in circulation in the quarter from last year’s third quarter. The real story, though, was in the 11% slide in total quarterly revenues to CAD194 million in revenue, from CAD218 million a year earlier. It is slowly fading to red. — Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer’s TV ratings. The final of House Rules 2017 on Seven was mugged last night by the debut on Nine of the Australian version of a Japanese game show called Sasuke. It is on NBC in the US. However you describe it, Australian Ninja Warrior was successfully introduced to Australians (the US version has been on SBS) grabbing 2.32 million national viewers with 1.68 million in the metros and 648,000 in the regions. Nine was a very clear winner in the metros. The winner announcement on House Rules on Seven averaged a solid 1.84 million and the grand final part 1.64 million. 

A year ago, the 2016 final of House Rules averaged 2.14 million national viewers for the winner’s announcement and 1.95 million for the final. The shortfall can be easily explained by the rush of viewers to Nine for the Ninjas.  Looking at Ninja last night, I wonder how it will go as the season continues. It is on Nine tonight and Tuesday, and with Wednesday’s third and deciding State of Origin game, we will see Nine win the week easily. But you do wonder how many of last night’s big audience will return in coming weeks. Ten’s Masterchef Australia was badly squeezed and could only manage 828,000 national viewers. And if anyone is interested, Seven started Yummy Mummies last night at 9pm.  Two episodes, the first 1.21 million (more than OK) and the second just 638,000. Even accounting for the late start to episode two, it is a big thumbs down from viewers who didn’t feel compelled to hang around. 

Ninja wasn’t quite as popular in regional markets. Seven News topped the night with 703,000, with the House Rules winner’s announcement equal with 703,000.  Australian Ninja was third with 648,000, the House Rules Grand Final was 4th with 633,000. Nine/NBN 6.30pm News was 5th with 468,000. In mornings Insiders (with the Chris Uhlman piece to camera on Donald Trump at the G20 meeting that has gone viral) had a total of 549,000 viewers on ABC and ABC News from 9am and was the most watched program. — Read the rest on the Crikey website

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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