May 16, 2018

Inside the story of the decade: how the media covered the Trinity Grammar haircut

Just how did the media manage to dedicate 50,000 words and hours of airtime to this issue?

Emily Watkins — Media reporter

Emily Watkins

Media reporter

If you can believe it, it's been just two months since The Age broke the story of a deputy principal sacked at a prestigious Melbourne private school for cutting a student's hair. Since then, incredibly, almost 50,000 words have been published in Australia on the story.

The Age's editor Alex Lavelle told readers in the few days after the original story that it had received 400,000 page views. That's not even to mention coverage on breakfast television, talkback radio and the ABC's flagship current affairs program 7.30.

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29 thoughts on “Inside the story of the decade: how the media covered the Trinity Grammar haircut

  1. Rais

    It’s good to know that we’ve got our priorities right. We could be wasting our time and our words on bagatelles like climate change, inequality, murder of innocents by armies in several countries, you know, things that slip past us as we listen to breakfast radio. But a haircut? Now that’s news. And congratulations to Crikey for bringing us the haircut news that others won’t report.

  2. AR

    Hopefully this is not about a haircut but a broader issue – conformity, obedience, independence of thought, little thing like that?
    Or am I dreaming?

  3. K

    And you don’t see the irony in writing about it?

  4. Ken Gratton

    Part of the reason this story has had ‘legs’ is because it affects the reader in so different many ways, especially if the reader happens to be a parent. We celebrate, for instance, that the people power of parents and students has overturned a perceived injustice and put the educators back in their box – they answer to the (paying) parents, not vice versa.
    But we also feel like Michael Davies has been hounded from his office. Is he the victim though, or a troublemaker who was more concerned with ATAR scores than the proper social integration of his students?
    Some parents send their kids to private schools wanting a benign learning environment and ATAR scores are ultimately irrelevant if your child is either brilliant or dumb. The school with the highest ATAR score in all creation will make little difference to the child’s outcome in either case.
    There’s a counterargument though: maybe Dr Davies was right to want better ATAR scores for Trinity; it helps the brand, sells places at the school and makes money. Education is a business in the 21st century.
    The haircut was a side issue…

    1. MAC TEZ

      Is it possible the haircut was a short back and sides issue ?

  5. Woopwoop

    Why is it “a very Melbourne yarn”? Just because it’s a contrast with our usually very Sydney-centric media? (Even The Age is full of stories from Sydney these days).

  6. Bloss

    “Scotch College” – plenty of scotch might well be imbibed by staff & students, and they no doubt study its making and history, but I suspect you mean Scots College . . .

    1. Arky

      Possibly the most famous private boys’ school in Melbourne (” alma mater of 3 governor-generals of Australia!” as widely advertised; “alma mater of Jeff Kennett!” advertised slightly less these days) would be appalled at the lack of recognition.

      They are indeed Scotch College.

  7. Bob the builder

    Thanks Crikey, I really enjoyed reading an irrelevant story about an irrelevant story, making largely irrelevant points.

    Could I have some real news now, please?

  8. Desmond Graham

    I saw the email subject matter – I thought it was about the poor Sydney barber, the small business man, who was reportedly some nutty mother [ or offended consumer – to be more politically correct] to some discrimination commissioner [ we have so many commissioners I lose count] for not cutting her daughters hair.

    It seems hair cutting is a dangerous occupation or political correctness has just gone to our HEADS????

  9. Arky

    I was hoping for a “how the sausage is made” story on how a story about internal politics at one school received high profile coverage (e.g. someone at the school was owed a favour by someone at The Age and used it to push their agenda, or someone at The Age was a Trinity old boy, or whatever) but no. Just a story pointing out that hey, this small local story somehow got an unnatural level of coverage.

    If the reason for the coverage was that it genuinely did well in page views/ratings, then some further analysis would be nice (perhaps this is aspirational voters all over again, interested in reading about the goings-on at the type of school they wished they went to/wished they could send their kids to?). Even then though, it would beg the question of all the column space given to it and prominent web site space given to it before anyone knew what the page views would be like….

  10. kyle Hargraves

    Fifty thousand words : well – what an achievement. I suppose that quantity of contributors necessary to compose that quantity of words can’t be wrong. I wonder if democracy, in any sense, is vindicated.

    AR : I wonder if, on occasion, you afford your fellow humans just too much credit. On my reading, little but in general, damned all argument was concerned with the “broader issues”. Secondly, ALL clubs have rules. The “cost” of membership is observance to the rules.

    “they [the educators] answer to the (paying) parents, not vice versa.”
    Well, perhaps in god’s zone Oz but not in every part of the world. There are instances where the parents pay for the advice/tuition of the educators. For “real” schools (as has been observed) “Education is a business in the 21st century. The haircut was/[is] a side issue”.

    As for Rais : yep. No discussion as to whether (e.g.) a parametric or a non-parametric approach to polling popularity (of a political party) ought to be applied but, hey, we know all about haircuts!.

    1. Woopwoop

      Kyle – use punctuation as an aid, not a crutch.

      1. kyle Hargraves

        I’m open to your tuition. Which item presents as a “crutch” – in your opinion?

        1. Woopwoop

          The 22 unnecessary quotation marks, brackets, dashes, slashes, capital letters etc.

          1. kyle Hargraves

            .mmm oh.. I see. so (it seems) we’re insisting upon YOUR style! I presume that we are referring to my post of 16 May 17:39. As for the quotation marks, well it is possible that I mis-counted but, my estimate is 8; 12 for brackets (I think you intend the word ‘parentheses’) but I didn’t bother with the capitaliSED (as opposed to capital) letters. The quotes are necessary so as to refer to the remarks of others. The slashes refer to the sense depending .. never mind.

            Your reply did provide me with the opportunity to re-read the post and I did see the superfluous (and hence incorrect) terminating ‘!.’ OMG; had you mentioned that (unintentional) error you would have had me!

            Lastly, as to (my) style – did your major in Philosophy include symbolic logic? I refer (as you may know) to Georg Cantor, Carl Hempel and (obviously) George Boole along with numerous others. Wittgenstein, sits across the spectrum, as it were. If not, your elementary “crash course” (that I found) could begin here :

          2. Bob the builder

            Oh no, Gerard Henderson has assumed a nom de plume.

          3. Desmond Graham

            Strewth -are you guys trying to beat the 50,00 words regarding a punctuation mark- what would you like me to write to contribute I am practically illiterate – so I could write a lot .

          4. Jim Egan

            Abraham Lincoln was very fond of the semi-colon;;;right Kyle???

        2. kyle Hargraves

          I’m having to use this “slot” to reply to Jim
          > Abraham Lincoln was very fond of the semi-colon;;;right Kyle

          Should the current President of the USA issue a large body of tweets that quote Lincoln then it will only be a matter of time before Oz is asked (demanded upon?) for a division or two.

          As to grammar, nowadays, we could insist that the topic becomes a component of the National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN). However, two questions present themselves : (1) who would teach the topic? Thousands of former teachers would have to be “pulled” from retirement (or the grave) and (2) USA “experts” are ranting at the number of “big” words that are rewarded for compositions to be assessed under NAPLAN – without a hint of criticism or rebuttal from an Ed. Dept of any State.
          P.S. Jim : I have an embargoed reply to your post on “that topic” that the filters of Crikey seem to have an obsession.

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