Blimey! Will you Harry me? The English press has reacted with the restraint you’d expect to the news of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement, announced from the UK overnight. Today’s front pages are almost exclusively dedicated to the news, and the Daily Mail has gone all out with a 24-page special liftout, and its sister website Mail Online has coverage including (but far from limited to) Markle’s beauty makeover, a full story about the actress’s former co-star’s tweet, and a body language expert’s analysis of how he knows the couple truly is in love. Even The New York Times has gone in hard on the fashion implications of the announcement.

Our own women’s weekly magazines no doubt breathed a sigh of relief at the news — the royal-loving rags will have plenty of speculative content to prop up ever-dwindling sales over the next year or so, covering the engagement, wedding and “baby bumps”.

The revolving door. The Age‘s well-respected chief AFL reporter Caroline Wilson is stepping down after 19 years in the role. A Walkley Award-winner (among many other honours), Wilson will continue to file columns for the Fairfax newspaper and its footy podcast, but the paper reports she said that it was the right time to reduce her workload: “Although this is a melancholy day for me I’m so happy to be continuing as a contributor to The Age. Writing a weekly column during the football season and being involved with the podcast is the ideal transition for me to do other things and I’m so proud to be handing over the baton to my great friend and long-time colleague Jake Niall.”

Niall will be moving back to The Age from Fox Sports, where he worked for two years between stints at The Age.

Is Huff Post Australia about to fold? Rumours have been flying about the future Australian arm of Huff Post, which has failed to really make a splash since it launched here in 2015. Nine’s Red Ink column reported last week that a joint venture with Fairfax Media was officially “under review”, but Crikey hears it could be all over for the local website. Do you know more? Let us know.

How not to report science. Fairfax gives us a master class in … how not to report science:

“In deep space it’s kill or be killed. Australian scientists have photographed two galaxies including the Milky Way, teaming up to bully and consume another smaller galaxy…”.

No it’s not. No, they didn’t. No they aren’t. Larger galaxies pull smaller ones into towards them, the process breaking up the smaller galaxy and incorporating the smaller galaxy’s stars into its own pattern.

Galaxies don’t have intent, plans, or morality. This may look like a harmless way to make physical processes more interesting — though one would have thought they were pretty spectacular anyway — but it’s really smuggling God back into the explanation. It’s bad enough when it is done with blind evolutionary processes (“the long beak is designed to seek honey…”), but it’s absurd to do it with basic physics.

Scientists shouldn’t do it either. The ‘bullying’ quote comes from ANU astronomer Professor McClure-Griffiths. The universe has no explicit or immediately present purpose. It is a near-void of futility and action without meaning. You’d think they get that principle, at Fairfax. — Guy Rundle

Hottest 100 decision warms up culture wars. The usual suspects have reignited the culture wars against the ABC, following youth radio station Triple J’s announcement yesterday it would move its Hottest 100 countdown from Australia Day to a weekend close to the same day each year. The public broadcaster conducted a survey that found most of its viewers thought the countdown should be moved — something viewers and the musicians it plays have been increasingly calling for in recent years, given that the date is a day of mourning for many Indigenous Australians. Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has inexplicably jumped into the ring, saying the move was an attempt to “delegitimise” Australia Day, and that he would be asking the ABC Board to reconsider the decision. In explaining its decision, Triple J said it the countdown had only been held regularly on January 26 after 1998, and in 2004 it was on January 25. The first Hottest 100 was held on March 5, 1989.

Katie Hopkins gone from Mail OnlineControversial Mail Online columnist Katie Hopkins will no longer write for the UK sister website of the Daily Mail newspaper. The website said that its contract with Hopkins, a far-right writer, had been ended “by mutual consent”. She has often rightly attracted criticism for atrocious and racist opinions, and her weekly radio show was stopped in May over a tweet where she called for a “final solution” for Muslims in the UK after the Manchester Arena terrorist attack. There’s no word on where she’ll be writing next.

Glenn Dyer’s TV Ratings. In the aftermath of the Don Burke scandal, someone had the good idea that he should appear on A Current Affair in an exclusive interview with Tracy Grimshaw to try and soften the blow from the 7.30/Fairfax disclosures. That was a bad move for Burke, and if it was an attempt at media manipulation it was a total failure. Grimshaw slowly filleted him, producing gems such as self-diagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome, claims that it was all a witch hunt, confirmation of extra marital affairs, admissions that he was difficult, and denial after denial. It nicely set up the 7.30 report which paid Grimshaw tribute by screening excerpts from her Burke interview at the end of the program. 

Viewers responded, especially to 7.30 which ended up the third most watched program on the night nationally with nearly 1.2 million people. ACA did well with nearly 1.15 million. It was a rare example of where rival media outlets fed off each other and acknowledged the work of others.

Nine, Seven, Ten and the ABC all shared the honours last night — Ten’s Have You Been Paying Attention averaged 1.06 million viewers and won the 8.30pm slot. The ABC returned Back Roads at 8pm and the story from Heather Ewart on Corryong in northern Victoria was one of the best in the whole two and a bit series so far. It deserved its 1.09 million national audience last night and more. In breakfast another win for Seven’s Sunrise which got another 300,000 plus metro audience. These have been coming more frequently since Nine gave Lisa Wilkinson the push and Georgie Gardner won’t change that in 2018. For so late in the year it was a solid night of TV and one where the virtues of TV current affairs interviewing and reporting were underlined. 

In the regions Seven News topped the night with 532,000, followed by Home and Away with 454,000, then Seven News/Today Tonight with 446,000, followed by Back Roads with 348,000 and then the 5.30pm bit of The Chase Australia with 339,000. 7.30 averaged 332,000. — Read the rest on the Crikey website

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey