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Sep 1, 2017

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Today in Media Files, Fairfax farewells veteran soccer journalist Michael Cockerill, and The Conversation is ready for Indonesian launch. 

Vale Michael Cockerill. Fairfax Media soccer columnist Michael Cockerill has died from cancer, aged 56. He’d reported on the sport for nearly 30 years. Sydney Morning Herald sports editor Ian Fuge told Fairfax:

“As a journalist, Michael was the consummate professional. He had great contacts, a razor sharp news sense and never lost his zeal for calling those in authority to account. As a friend, which he was to many who worked with him in SMH sport and in the wider sports community, Michael was generous, funny and fiercely loyal. He will be sorely missed personally and professionally.”

A new Conversation for Indonesia. Academic news and commentary website The Conversation will launch an Indonesian edition next week. The Conversation now has editions in Africa, Canada, the UK, France, the US, and a global edition, and was founded in 2011 by Andrew Jaspan, who was forced out as editor-in-chief earlier this year.

Masking the problem. When you’re posing for a newspaper photographer, you’re sometimes asked to do things that aren’t exactly natural. But the NT News went a step further with this illustration for a story about the health effects of chocolate. And yes, the health effects are for chocolate consumption, not for chocolate applied topographically. 

Forecasting more weather newsThe ABC has announced a new weather vertical across all platforms funded by a regional funding package it announced in March. In a press release, the public broadcaster said ABC Weather would provide science-based weather stories with increased video, online and mobile coverage. The ABC announced the $15 million in regional funding as part of a restructure.

Front page of the day.

Glenn Dyer’s TV ratings. Nine’s night — but forget that because it is clear the expensive revamp of The Footy Show is going to dust before the network bosses’ eyes. Melbourne has fallen out of love with Eddie, Sam and the others.  So down, down, down she goes — the Melbourne audience is now 43% lower than its opening figure on August 10. The program averaged 218,000 in Melbourne last night against 381,000 for the relaunch. Overall, the regional audience of 93,000 is unchanged from the August 10 figure, while the national audience last night of 343,000 was down 229,000 or 36.7%. That’s getting towards terminal.

The Australia-Japan World Cup qualifier was watched by 445,000 on Nine’s GO and 208,000 on Fox Sports for 653,000 in total. The NRL game on Nine last night was watched by 820,000.

In regional markets Seven News led with 591,000, Seven News/Today Tonight was second with 507,000, then Home and Away with 472,000. The 5.30pm part of The Chase was fourth with 382,000 and A Current Affair was fifth with 380,000. — Read the rest on the Crikey website

Film & TV

Aug 22, 2017

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Today in Media Files, US media goes all out with coverage of the solar eclipse, and Daily Mail Australia went all out with a write-up of the ABC’s attempt to wipe Israel off the map without waiting for an explanation.

Solar eclipse of the heart. The total solar eclipse has sent US media into a frenzy, with live coverage from most networks, Time showing a 360-degree view of the eclipse, and NPR putting a team of 22 videographers on the story. Front pages across the country were dedicated to the eclipse, and the American ABC has been flashing back to its coverage of the last solar eclipse, in 1979, where anchor Frank Reynolds threw forward to yesterday’s eclipse with: “May the shadow of the moon fall on a world at peace.” But the weirdest eclipse coverage has to be an interview CNN did with ’80s pop star Bonnie Tyler, crossing into the network from an eclipse cruise, where she was due to sing her hit Total Eclipse of the Heart during the eclipse. CNN’s bizarre interview finished up with Tyler singing her favourite line from the song, while anchor John Berman waved a lighter, after he’d asked her what the difference was between a total eclipse of the heart and a total eclipse of the sun.

No explanation necessary. A Daily Mail Australia story on Saturday covered an Israeli activist’s outrage over an ABC TV news graphic that was purportedly part of the ABC’s attempts to “wipe Israel off the map”, without waiting for an explanation from the ABC. The graphic was used in an ABC story about Lebanon changing laws that allowed rapists to escape punishment if they married their victims, and showed countries that either had repealed this law, or where activists were campaigning for it to change. Avi Yemeni posted on Facebook that Israel’s exclusion was an attempt by the ABC to “wipe Israel off the map” in an attempt to “appeal to the Jew hating crowd”. Reporter Fiona Connor wrote up the story on Saturday night, and gave the ABC an hour to respond before publishing the story without a response. The ABC responded on Sunday to explain that Israel had not been included because it had never had such a law. The Mail has since updated its story.

Breitbart apologises for photo on migrant story. Conservative news website Breitbart has apologised to German footballer Lukas Podolski after using a picture of him on a jet ski to illustrate a story about illegal immigration. Podolski threatened legal action over the use of the picture on a story about describing gangs trafficking migrants from Morocco to Spain on jet skis. Breitbart has now added an apology to the story in an editor’s note, saying the image was included “as an illustration of a person on a jet ski”. “Breitbart London wishes to apologise to Mr. Podolski. There is no evidence Mr. Podolski is either a migrant gang member, nor being human trafficked,” the apology said.

Front page of the day. The NT News‘ front page headline today is only rivalled by the online head for the same story: “Old fella has a reptile dysfunction“.

The Project expands to Sundays. The dying Ten Network isn’t going down without a fight. It has found the money and resources to take the current affairs fight right up to the lazy Nine and Seven networks, and for that matter the ABC and SBS. Ten will add an edition of The Project to its Monday to Friday nights from this Sunday at 6.30pm.

The panellists this Sunday night include Peter Helliar, Dr Chris Brown, Natarsha Belling and Rachel Corbett. Apart from Insiders on Sunday morning and the weak weekend editions of Today and Sunrise, the day and early evening schedule is short of any sort of current affairs. While 60 Minutes is a Sunday night regular, it’s soft, having morphed to become more public affairs than current affairs. And Seven plays programming ducks and drakes with Sunday Night — running it for weeks, then pre-empting it, as it has done for this Sunday night to allow yet another Princess Diana special to start at 8.30pm after debuting (finally!) Little Big Shots. The ABC doesn’t have any current affairs on Sunday evenings (Insiders is a hard act to follow for the politics obsessed ABC newsrooms), nor does SBS.

During the week, The Project has carved out a solid national audience of up to a million some nights for the key 7 to 7.30pm second half of the program. That part of the program regularly pulls more viewers (especially in metro markets) than the ABC’s 7.30, so it must be doing something right. — Glenn Dyer

Bernstein: journalists should investigate Trump’s mental health. Veteran investigative journalist Carl Bernstein — of Watergate fame — says journalists should be investigating whether US President Donald Trump is fit for office. Bernstein appeared on CNN over the weekend and told the network that some Republicans, intelligence officials, military officers and business leaders were “raising the very question of his stability and his mental fitness”. “We need, as journalists, to make this our primary function right now,” Bernstein said.

Glenn Dyer’s TV ratings. The Block once again dominated viewing last night with 1.656 million national viewers, helped by Karl Stefanovic’s This Time Next Year with 1.168 million — far more viewers than anything Seven or Ten had. In fact, they had flops — Australian Survivor on Ten, for example, with 778,000, outranked by the program that followed, Have You Been Paying Attention with 869,000 (it is being held back by Survivor). Hell’s Kitchen on Seven — 841,000 nationally. Seven’s The Story Of Diana — 688,000. Doubleflop. Q&A at 9.35pm — 614,000, which is a bit more than recent episodes. It won the time slot for the full hour.

The ABC’s Four Corners other take on property also did well (well, we are all supposed to be into property, aren’t we?). However, last night wasn’t the first look at what the ABC says is our property bubble. Back in May of last year there was a report entitled “Home Truths”. Last night’s was entitled “Betting The House” (well, in gambling the house never loses). Both were worthy efforts, but both were more of the same from the ABC.

In regional markets Seven News led the way with 675,000, followed by Seven News/Today Tonight with 543,000, The Block was third with 513,000, then Home and Away was fourth with 485,000, and The Chase Australia’s 5.30pm half-hour 5th with 466,000. — Read the rest on the Crikey website

Media Files

Aug 9, 2017

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Today in Media Files, a press gallery Twitter spat between Phillip Coorey and Samantha Maiden, and The Australian Financial Review hits the wrong button again.

Good feud guide. Press gallery colleagues Phillip Coorey and Samantha Maiden descended into a public spat on Twitter yesterday. The Australian Financial Review‘s Coorey went so far as to call Sky News’ Maiden a “dimwit” in the brief squabble yesterday, sparked by Maiden suggesting Coorey would know the answer to his question about plebiscite dates if he just watched Sky News.

Fox’s ‘fake news’ case could be considered in Sky bid. A lawsuit against Fox News in the US, accusing the media company of colluding with President Donald Trump to disseminate fake news could further delay Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox bid for Sky in the UK. The court action lodged last week claims Fox fabricated quotes in a story about the murder of Democratic aide Seth Rich. Four senior UK MPs have lobbied the government to ask Ofcom, which is considering the Sky deal, to consider the court case in its decision. In response, Ofcom has said it is “seeking further clarification” on representations that have been taken to the minister. This will cause yet another delay on the A$18 billion mop-up bid for Sky. In its report published on June 20, Ofcom said that while it did have concerns about corporate governance, there were no grounds to block the deal on the basis that the US company would not meet broadcasting standards. But Ofcom did raise concerns that the deal would hand too much power over the UK media to Murdoch. Ofcom now has until August 25 to provide advice on the new submissions, meaning any final decision is unlikely to be taken until after the UK Parliament returns in the first week of September. — Glenn Dyer

AFR hits the wrong button, again. Reading the Rear Window column in today’s Australian Financial Review is enough to make you hungry. In what looks to be a cut-and-paste mistake that wasn’t picked up, the last sentence of an item about some innovative kebab-shop marketing in Kalgoorlie was instead tacked onto the end of an item about a business journalism awards scandal in New Zealand. 

Foxtel TV pirate sentenced. A Sydney man has been given an 18-month suspended sentence for selling unauthorised access to Foxtel. Haidar Majid Salam Al Baghdadi was convicted of charges related to his role in operating a network that allowed more than 8000 people free access to Foxtel broadcasts. Foxtel CEO Peter Tonagh said in a statement the ruling sent a “strong signal”. “Foxtel takes intellectual property theft very seriously as it severely undermines the creative industry including every business and individual that works so hard to deliver us the movies, sport, drama and entertainment we love,” he said.

Front page of the day.

Glenn Dyer’s TV ratings. Nine’s night again, Ten’s problems continue, Seven is trapped with no way out of its hole. The House, Annabel Crabb’s new series on ABC TV, was a solid effort — and while the inspiration is a BBC program, the flavour was distinctly Australian. Last night’s first episode confirmed what I had thought was an urban myth — that Parliament House is unfinished and that there is a huge, concrete-lined cavern — is, in fact, true. The myth was that part of the building was not completed for cost savings reasons in the late ’80s and to ensure it was ready on time to be opened for the bi-centennial in May 1988 by the Queen. The House managed a solid 974,000 national viewers last night. That made it the second most watched program on the ABC last night after the 7pm news (1.111 million nationally) and in front of 7.30 with 925,000 nationally — and should have more with federal Parliament back and the government selling its dodgy same-sex marriage policy. Perhaps viewers are over that and 7.30?

The top non-news program was of course The Block with 1.459 million for Nine with True Stories with Hamish and Andy grabbing 1.335 million as well, and winning the night for the network. Seven’s Hell’s Kitchen at least steadied — its 944,000 showed a little hope for Seven. That was up from 817,000 on Monday night but still under the 1.189 million for Sunday night’s debut. Ten’s second most watched program was the fading Shark Tank at 7.30pm with just 654,000, after the 7pm part of The Block with 738,000. Not impressive at all.

In regional areas, Seven News was tops with 658,000 followed by Seven News/Today Tonight with 608,000, then Home and Away with 502,00. The Block was fourth with 455,000 and the Chaser Australia’s 5.30pm bit was fifth with 442,000. Read the rest on the Crikey website

Media Files

Aug 1, 2017

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Today in Media Files, the toughest newsroom in the country shows how to deal with uninvited guests, The Australian reports 100% of voters go for the Greens, and news media ad revenues just keep falling.

Territory tough. It’s hard to imagine anyone in a soft, southern newsroom reacting this calmly to a huge snake in a video-editing suite. A Nine News Darwin cameraman returned to the office with a cuppa yesterday afternoon to discover a two-metre visitor on his desk. But while news director Kate Limon was still working on calling a snake catcher, smartly dressed program manager Alexia and sales executive Myk stepped in to catch and release the snake using a coat hanger and a reusable shopping bag. Limon later tweeted a video of the operation, taking the opportunity to sledge the NT News, which had a front-page photo yesterday of a snake with its head in a VB can with the headline “On the hiss”.

Hate mail from soft, southern newsrooms here

The confused voting of Melbourne Ports. An explanatory bar graph in today’s The Australian poses more questions than it answers. Apparently based on data from the Australian Electoral Committee, the graph is supposed to show how first preference votes have changed in the electorate of Melbourne Ports over the past four elections, but someone has got the placing of the bars around the wrong way:

News media revenues fall. News print advertising revenues have dropped by 14.5% in a year, according to data from the industry insights body. NewsMedia Works released its News Media Index figures yesterday, which show total news industry revenue is down 10.9% from the 2016 financial year to 2017, and digital is up 7.5%. The data showed that news media websites received only about 11% of programmatic ad revenue, which NewsMediaWorks CEO Peter Miller said in a statement should change: “News media continues to deliver large, highly engaged audiences who trust their preferred news source. Digital readership continues to grow and in a number of cases print readership has also bucked the trend.”

Isentia cuts content marketing agency. Media monitoring and insights agency Isentia has cut its King Content brand, making an announcement to the ASX this morning. Its offices in New York and Hong Kong will be closed, the value written-down, and jobs have been cut, as the assets will be rolled into the Isentia brand. The announcement also showed revenues would be lower than expected.

Isentia bought King Content in 2015, saying at the time it was a market leader in an area of “growing need”, Mumbrella reported.

Glenn Dyer’s TV ratings. Calling for CVs: anyone who wants to host the Today Show — male, of course —  send your career highlights (make it a SIZZLE REEL) to Nine because Karl might be finally joining prime time after the success of This Time Next Year last night. Yep, Karl Stefanovic could soon get the ticket he has always wanted (remember the horrid The Verdict) out of the dawn and into the evening. This Time Next Year averaged 1.282 million and was the most watched program in the metros, just ahead of The Block with 1.259 million. These, plus a solid performance by the news, gave Nine a solid win in metro markets with daylight second and third, to Seven in fourth.

The ABC should take a long hard look at itself for last night’s Australian Story. I caught up with it on iView, and it wasn’t the most dispassionate pieces of TV about Labor Senator and one-time Chinese donation and expenses recipient Sam Dastyari. It managed 616,000 metro viewers (which again tells us people would sit and watch anything). Ten’s Survivor averaged 656,000 metro viewers — which is barely enough. Have You Been Paying Attention suffered, and its audience dipped to 620,000. Read the rest at the Crikey website

Media Files

Jul 31, 2017

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Today in Media Files, the ABC has announced a new role that will straddle the radio and news divisions, and the NT News is celebrating the anniversary of what it says is its most famous front page with another doozy.

Another RN shake-up. In what could be a controversial move at the public broadcaster, the ABC has advertised for a managing editor of audio current affairs — a new role that will lead radio current affairs teams (which sit in the news division and include high-profile programs AM and PM), and some of Radio National’s flagship programs, including RN Breakfast hosted by Fran Kelly, Correspondent’s Report and Background Briefing.

The role reports jointly to the head of spoken in the radio division and the head of investigative and in-depth journalism in the news division. 

“Harnessing the resources, skills and expertise of our audio current affairs programs, the managing editor will lead the program teams to reach the widest possible audience now and into the future across multiple platforms and devices,” the job advertisement reads.

Radio National staff passed a vote of no confidence in management in November last year after changes were announced, which included the axing of all music programs and the Sunday Nights religious program.

Last week, the ABC announced it would merge its radio and news divisions in the Canberra office but said it had no plans to do the same elsewhere.

Marius Benson retires. The ABC NewsRadio political editor has retired after 42 years as a journalist, delivering his final weekly political wrap on Friday. Benson worked in print, wire services, TV, radio and online throughout his career, starting out at The Daily Telegraph, reporting on the Dismissal of the Whitlam Government, and also worked in South Africa covering the transition from apartheid to democracy.

Front page of the day. It’s a vintage NT News front page this morning: animal, booze and a good dose of wordplay.

Today is also the fifth anniversary of another classic (and Walkley Award-winning) headline from Darwin’s daily newspaper. To mark the birthday of the “Why I stuck a cracker up my clacker” headline, the paper has written about how it came to be, quoting then-editor Matt Cunningham: “I remember saying in the morning that we needed to find this bloke because I wanted to run a headline along the lines of ‘Why I stuck a cracker up my arse’. Then (Deputy Editor Paul) Dyer pops up with ‘Why I stuck a cracker up my clacker’, and the rest is history.”

A tweet from the paper’s account this morning said the anniversary deserved a public holiday.

Lyons’ Cater problems don’t make The AustralianWell, fancy that. In his memoirs of his six years as The Australian‘s Middle East correspondent based in Jerusalem associate editor John Lyons wrote extensively about how he and other correspondents in the region were monitored and harassed by Jewish lobby groups in Australia. According to a report in Guardian Australia, Lyons seems to have had as much trouble closer to home — at The Australian and specifically with Nick Cater, then-editor of The Weekend Australian (now director of the right-wing Menzies Research Centre).

“Lyons says pressure also came from inside his own paper. He says the former editor of The Weekend Australian Nick Cater refused to publish his work and the pro-Israel lobby bombarded editors with criticism of his reports. ‘I phoned Cater and he confirmed that he’d asked for my work to no longer appear in Inquirer [The Australian‘s Saturday opinion section],’ Lyons writes. ‘I let [editor-in-chief Chris] Mitchell know that, from my point of view, the exclusion from Inquirer was just the latest in a long series of disagreements with Nick Cater … he intervened and told Cater that excluding me from Inquirer was not acceptable.'”

That sounds very much like censorship of free speech of the sort that Cater has complained about at length in the past couple of years (google “Nick Cater and censorship” you get numerous hits, many in The Australian as the director of the Menzies Institute, such as this example).

So according to Lyons, Cater has a a graduated view of free speech when it comes to Israel? Imagine our surprise that in a story by Lyons in the media section of The Australian this morning headlined “Objectivity doesn’t come easy when filing from Israel“, there was no mention of the problems Lyons had with Cater. 

But he did write that Australian editor Chris Mitchell said he had refused to take calls from the head of the pro-Israel lobby group AIJAC, Colin Rubenstein, describing him as a “bully”, after Rubenstein called The Australian reporter Elisabeth Wynhausen “a self-loathing Jew”. Since Mitchell’s retirement, the current management of The Australian last used a commentary from Rubenstein on July 3, when he claimed that the ABC was breaking its charter by using Al Jazeera. — Glenn Dyer

Where were her spidey senses? A Fox News TV reporter continued to report during a live cross as a spider crawled down her bare arm. Shannon Murray, who works for local station Fox 4 Dallas, later said she felt something, but didn’t realise it was a spider until a viewer pointed it out on Facebook.

The Grey Lady defends swearwords. The New York Times‘s deputy managing editor, Clifford Levy, has defended the paper’s rare use of the word “fucking”, which appeared in a story about White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci. Scaramucci went on a foul-mouthed tirade against his White House colleagues in a phone call to The New Yorker‘s Ryan Lizza, who wrote about the conversation last week. In reporting the story, the Times used “fucking” in full, and Levy explained the decision in a series of tweets, saying it was discussed by top editors before deciding that it was newsworthy, and “we didn’t want our readers to have to search elsewhere to find out what Scaramucci said”.

Glenn Dyer’s TV ratings. Up at the Willoughby, the Sydney HQ of the Nine Network they were confident that The Block would return last night bigger and stronger and rate its socks off. The confidence about the return of this ratings giant for its 13th season was firm, unlike the hesitancy about how Australian Ninja Warriors would go (it flattened the opposition). Unfortunately for Nine and Ten the royalist streak in Australians — especially female viewers — emerged thanks to the appearance of Princes William and especially Harry in the ITV special on Princess Diana that was the Sunday Night program on Seven last night. 

The ITV doco had 2 million national viewers making it the second most watched program after Seven News and the most watched after 7pm — it had 1.334 million in the metros (No. 1 on the night) and 666,000 in the regionals (second most watched after Seven News). The Block managed a solid 1.616 million nationally — 1.117 million in the metros and 499,000 in the regions. Australian Survivor was watched by 639,000 metros viewers, 190,000 in the regions for a weak 839,000 nationally. One thing to remember is that The Block starts slowly as viewers dip in and out as the story is established and audiences build as the backbiting develops.

And why did Seven code (for the ratings) a doco as Sunday Night with an intro from Mel Doyle done in London on a recent trip? Easy. It boosts Sunday Night’s audience figures for the year in the battle with 60 Minutes on Nine. High ratings means more money in ad revenues. 

The result was Seven easily won the night as the special flattened the return of The Block and squashed Australian Survivor — which if it doesn’t improve soon will be lucky to be seen next year. A million national viewers first up would have been more impressive. Nine quite rightly pointed out that The Block won the demos, which it did, but the Diana doco won the night because of its appeal to female and older viewers. So much for the triumphal march of the returning series of The Block. It will do this time round — it is more than a match for the confected stuff that is now Australian Survivor on Ten.  — Read the rest on the Crikey website

Media Files

Jul 10, 2017

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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

Film & TV

Jun 19, 2017

5 comments

Today in Media Files, it’s feuds all around, with journalist Ginger Gorman calling out the Daily Mail for ripping off her work (again), Chris Kenny getting legal advice over a Gillian Triggs interview published by Fairfax, and former Fairfax journalist Michael West hitting back at Australian Financial Review columnist Joe Aston.

Good feud guide. Freelance journalist Ginger Gorman has gone for another round against the Daily Mail after it published a rewrite of her Fairfax piece over the weekend about her relationship with an online troll. Gorman’s piece told of her experience over more than a year dealing with a troll whom she’d interviewed for a story. She tweeted this morning that the Daily Mail had plagiarised her story, calling the website “slow learners”:

The Mail‘s story, published yesterday, had nothing new to add and was published under the headline,”‘I was trolling a girl who got hit by a train’: Shocking admissions of an internet troll who spends 30 HOURS a week on his sickening habit.”

Gorman has previously called out the Mail and Mamamia for ripping off a story she’d written for news.com.au about mothers who sexually abuse their sons.

Chris Kenny’s feelings hurt. In an exit interview with The Age‘s outgoing political editor Michael Gordon, Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs talked about coverage of her and the commission by The Australian during her tenure, and she had this to say about the paper’s associate editor, Chris Kenny:

“He keeps swirling the same facts over and over again and they are not true for a start — and that’s all he’s got. I’ve never met him. He’s never phoned me or made any attempt to understand anything. It’s just been a full-on attack.”

The Australian has responded today in the paper by suggesting Triggs could face legal action over the comments, with Kenny saying:

“I will seek legal advice because this sort of abuse in lieu of facts must be countered. My approaches to her office by phone and email over many months for interviews for The Australian and my television shows have been numerous and always rejected.”

Kenny sued the ABC for defamation over a Chaser sketch broadcast in 2013, where Kenny was photoshopped mounting a dog on The Hamster Decides. The case settled with an apology and cash from the ABC to Kenny.

Michael West v Joe Aston. Also stepping into the ring this morning is former Fairfax business journalist Michael West, who now runs his own business news website. West had written about Australian Financial Review columnist Joe Aston’s pursuit of CPA Australia CEO Alex Malley, and Aston has written this morning in his Rear Window column that West had known Malley for many years, something West has denied:

“Failing to call the subject of your insults before publishing is not just cowardice, it’s a matter of basic journalistic protocol. Journalists are required to make the phone call in order to allow their subjects to respond — and get the facts straight … A detailed rebuttal of Joe’s petty claims would be a waste of time.”

Introducing the newest NT News reporter, No Byline Please. The subs at the NT News must have checked out a bit early when putting Saturday’s sports pages to bed on Friday night. Neglecting to pick up a note from the reporter asking to not have a byline, the request was published where the reporter’s name should have been. Of course, the NT News is never one to shy away from taking the piss, tweeting on Saturday, “our new reporter no byline please is really starting to make his mark at the paper”.

The Parrot calls in from sick bed. There isn’t much that will keep 2GB broadcaster Alan Jones down. Recovering from a health scare last week that took him off air and into intensive care in hospital over the weekend, Jones called into his own show this morning (covered by colleague Chris Smith) to let listeners know that he’s on the mend and should be back on-air next week. He said he’d been “at the exit door” over the weekend, but was now feeling weak, but OK. Jones took an extended break at the end of last year following multiple operations on his back and neck.

Symons apologises for “racist” interview. ABC radio presenter Red Symons has apologised for a controversial interview with colleague Beverley Wang, in which he asked her if she was “yellow”, and asked, “what’s the deal with Asians?”. Symons opened his program on ABC Radio Melbourne this morning with an apology about the interview, which the ABC has since removed from its website:

“The plan was to take on a serious topic, race and culture, and talk with Beverley about a range of related issues. I came across as racist and I was wrong in the way I conducted the interview. This is not who I am, but I acknowledge on this occasion I caused offence and hurt, not only to Beverley but also to our listeners. I offer my sincerest apologies. We need to talk about these issues, but be careful how we consider them.”

The ABC apologised for the interview going to air in a statement on Friday, and said it would review the editorial processes around the content and its use.

Game played in heaven, ignored on earth. Rugby union might still boast it’s the game played in heaven, but in Australia it’s the game now being ignored. It was a case of netball one, AFL and rugby union nil after Saturday’s games, with viewers less interested in what are usually the more mainstream sports.

The Australian Rugby Union might be holding an emergency general meeting in Sydney tomorrow to discuss a lot of issues — the fate of CEO Bill Pulver, the fate of one or two Super Rugby teams and, of course, the loss to Scotland in a one-off test on Saturday. What should be top of the agenda (but won’t be) is the damage that the incompetence, moaning and groaning of the past year is doing to fans’ support.

More people watched the inaugural grand final of the national netball competition on Nine on Saturday night than the Rugby Wallabies v Scotland test on Ten earlier in the day (it was simulcast on Fox Sports, but this comparison is for free to air TV).

Oztam ratings issued yesterday showed 447,000 people watched the netball on Nine on the network’s main and digital channels. Oddly the pre-match figure was 505,000, so nearly 60,000 people tuned out after watching the lead-up — perhaps they were off partying on a winter’s Saturday night?

But the rugby test could only manage 274,000 national viewers on Ten. That was after a pre-match audience of just 113,000. The post-match audience leapt to 450,000 — that’s a real slap at the game and the sport when more than 200,000 supporters can’t be bothered watching the game and tune in afterwards to see the size of the loss.

And the AFL can’t crow because the netball final also had more viewers than the Swans v Richmond game on Seven and 7mate on Saturday afternoon. The Saturday night AFL game had a total of 586,000 viewers, so the netball’s figures stack up nicely. — Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer’s TV ratings. It was Nine’s night in the in total people and the main channels and Seven’s in the regions. The Voice has lost more ground for Nine — 1.37 million nationally last night for two hours from 7pm (the final half hour making the difference between winning and second to Seven). House Rules was the second most watched program on the night nationally with 1.84 million. But it ended at 8.30 pm and viewers went to Sunday Night which managed a decent 1.31 million nationally. Ten’s MasterChef finished well behind its rivals with 1.01 million nationally. The Voice should really have done better, being the Top 10 elimination. No one qualifies as a must watch at this stage.

In the regions House Rules topped the night with 742,000 viewers, followed by Seven News with 673,000, Nine News 6.30pm was third with 506,000 viewers, Sunday Night was fourth with 496,000 and Nine News was fifth with 460,000. The Voice could only manage 404,000 and MasterChef 278,000. — Read the rest on the Crikey website

Northern Territory

Nov 29, 2016

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The following are excerpts from Crocs in the Cabinet — Northern Territory politics an instruction manual on how NOT to run a government, by Ben Smee and Christopher A. Walsh. Published by Hachette Australia and available in good bookstores today.

Introduction

Adam Giles stopped answering calls about 12.15am the night he was rolled as the Northern Territory’s chief minister. It had been a sweaty, nervous night in the middle of the Wet, and the heat had hit his penthouse apartment overlooking the Arafura Sea at the end of the Darwin Esplanade. As a thunderstorm roiled in the distance, his phone was resting 12 floors below, at the bottom of the building’s swimming pool.

The police had tapped his phone, Giles was sure, as he settled in for a few beers and to plot his next move with his last remaining ally, Dave Tollner.

We had spoken to him about four times that day as the coup unfolded. Giles’s mood had changed from denial, to anger, to bargaining.

He first denied any knowledge of an unfolding coup. Later he raged about the stupidity of it. And in our last conversation, just after midnight, before the phone was hurled from the balcony, he seemed to think there was a way to fight on.

“I haven’t resigned, make sure that’s clear,” Giles said. There was surely no way back. All but five members of his government had signed a letter demanding his removal. Giles’ own resignation letter had been prepared and hand-delivered to him by cabinet secretary Gary Barnes, where it sat unsigned on his kitchen table in a blue folder.

As Giles and Tollner lit cigars, the rough outline of a conspiracy started to take shape. They sipped beers from Country Liberal Party stubby coolers that depicted Giles as a frontier cowboy, wearing a broad-brimmed hat and riding a bucking horse. The legend of the Territorian ideal of maverick and manliness, created on the frontier the CLP had ruled for twenty-seven consecutive years, was embodied in the boy from the NSW Blue Mountains.

He wasn’t going to back down because a few wimps said so.

What followed over the next 24 hours was one of the most remarkable episodes in Australian political history.

Giles, the dumped leader, simply refused to go. During a shambolic caucus meeting the following afternoon he kicked the table and threatened to take his few remaining allies to the crossbench. Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) were in tears as accusations and threats flew across the room. The plotters had botched their plan by assuming Giles would resign graciously and go.

The chief minister survived to fight another day, with a few scuff marks on his usually well-polished RM Williams boots as battle scars.

Throughout an extraordinary four-year term, commentators were always trying to count the numbers, or to divide the party into factions as a way to chart and explain the internal turmoil. The truth was, the CLP wing had no firm allegiances, no factions or groups. There were 16 factions of one, and between 2012 and 2016 at least seven of them made leadership bids in some form or another.

The team that won the 2012 election included a dogcatcher, a goat farmer, a publican, a gift-shop owner, a shock jock and a mango grower. Seven of the original 16 MLAs resigned from the party.

There were 18 cabinet reshuffles and eight different deputy leaders, most of them forced out through resignations or sackings. One minister was ousted after sending lewd videos of himself masturbating to a woman.

Another was threatened in a seedy Tokyo girly bar after racking up a $5000 bar tab he couldn’t pay.

Yet another found himself in hot water for dealings with his Vietnamese mistress’ company, and shouted “We are in love!” on the floor of Parliament.

The term “circus” barely does the NT class of 2012 justice.

In Canberra, the same few years had been a constant power game of scheming and shifting alliances.

But Territory politics is not played by counting numbers. It’s a blood sport. Kill or be killed.

Every member of the CLP government will walk away from politics feeling some bitterness about those four years and few will look back fondly on Giles as a great leader.

But Giles was not the chief minister because he was popular with his colleagues, or had the numbers to win a leadership vote.

He was there because he was the alpha male, the strongest performer — the most ruthless and the most willing to strike to defend his territory.

In the croc-eat-croc world of the Northern Territory, Adam Giles was the biggest crocodile in the cabinet.

***

Sex, Lies and videotape

On Valentine’s Day 2016, the same day Willem Westra van Holthe resigned from cabinet for blurring the lines between business and pleasure, a man nobody had ever laid eyes on named Steven James took to Facebook to offer the object of his affection a stirring testament of his undying lust. Her name was Kendra Morris and, like her suitor, nobody had ever seen her before either.

This was a secret love blossoming in the form of florid prose on social media. There was something hot and exhilarating about the secrecy of it all, Steven thought to himself while he penned, “Oh darling. My heart is a flame for you … not just a spark but a bonfire.”

“Of course it is,” she responded. “Anything less and you wouldn’t be dating me.”

“And my loins are stirring for you baby …” Steven wrote back right away.

“Are they really?” Kendra asks. How could she not know?

“You should do something about that … with me.”

“Should I Valentine you baby?” Steven asked.

“Always, not just today. You’re so sexy, Steven. I can’t wait to get a hold of you.”

That was about the greatest thing a woman had ever said to Steven James. Few who befriended him on Facebook knew Steven James had a big secret and it extended much further than his dirty private messages to Kendra.

Steven James’ real name was Nathan Barrett. And he’d recently been told by the chief minister that he would be the next Treasurer of the Northern Territory.

Steven James was cool and confident and could get away with telling a woman his loins were burning for her. Or telling the chief justice of the Northern Territory that he was a loser and soft on crime. Or laughing at small business owners who went out of business after 40 years. He didn’t take shit from anybody and he always said what he thought. At least on Facebook.

The photo of Steven on Facebook was of a young guy in his late twenties wearing a T-shirt with a strong, tight frame.

The real Steven James — or the man behind Steven James — was actually a short, albeit muscular, man in his early 40s with a penchant for ill-fitting suits, with sleeves that extended far past the wrist, down to his fingers. That man had three kids and a wife he first met at school when she was a teenager and he was her 23-year-old teacher. He taught “religious perspectives” at a Darwin Christian school, danced at nightclubs in bright gold day-glo underwear, ran a gym, worked on the wharves and studied for an MBA before entering politics.

Nathan Barrett was a deeply religious man, a pillar of the community from the Apostolic Church in Palmerston, who took great pride in community affairs and was known locally for quietly going out and painting over the giant spray-painted phalluses that gifted teenage artists loved to share with the public on cement canvases all over the satellite city. He respected the Bible and all its theological teachings including, presumably, the sections about the lust of the flesh.

Four months after Valentine’s Day, a video surfaced of the minister pleasuring himself in his parliamentary office.

We broke the story.

***

Foundation 51

Much of Darwin’s modern character was forged in the aftermath of the Japanese bombing of 1942 and Cyclone Tracy in 1974. Razed twice in 32 years, the city was a frontier that was never finished, where wild days seemed to never end.

It also attracted all sorts — accountants, tradesmen and businessmen — as well as shysters and shonks looking to make a quick and an easy fortune. By the 1980s Darwin was a booming little metropolis, with cash pouring in from Canberra and the rebuilding efforts from Cyclone Tracy still keeping people in good work and healthy libations. The population was soaring on the back of high wages and a prosperous economic outlook.

It was known that one of the best ways to make a buck was to be in the government’s good graces. A Four Corners episode in 1991, “Big Bucks Country”, highlighted the extent to which the then-government was “in bed with big business”. Chief minister Marshall Perron told the program the NT government rarely went to tender for major projects, “particularly in the development area, where you encourage entrepreneurs to come forward with proposals which will have a benefit clearly to themselves, to government and to our constituents”.

Companies that made big donations to the CLP consistently won government contracts. That trend of big donors winning public work continued apace under the new CLP, though there’s never been any evidence that those companies were unduly favoured.

Graeme Lewis was CLP Treasurer and president in the 1980s. Party figures in the old days tended to take on backroom positions as a way of earning their stripes to run for Parliament, but those who knew Lewis then say he didn’t harbour those same ambitions. He was a CLP man with a CLP heart and, to back it up, a CLP wallet. The party had a special place for a smart accountant who could handle large sums of money discreetly.

Lewis set up a company, Carpentaria Pty Ltd, to manage donations and other party funds. He told Four Corners that Carpentaria was “a body set up for the members of the Country Liberal Party in order to simply fund our election campaigns”.

Lewis was charged by the Electoral Commission in 1987 for failing to provide them with information on Carpentaria, an offence that was proved but no conviction recorded.

By 2001, when the CLP lost power, people like Lewis had withdrawn to other quiet pursuits. But during the 2008 election, Lewis had been brought back into the fold. Donations had dried up in opposition, and the party’s coffers were bare.

Lewis started pumping his own money into the party, as did others, and he again took an active role in polling and research.

In early 2008 Lewis, as party Treasurer, got together with Opposition Leader Terry Mills and his chief of staff James Lantry to hash out a plan to connect a group of inexperienced MLAs with members of the local business community. Foundation 49 was concocted to give the CLP’s class of 2008 a free-market education. The “49” came from the 49 companies and individuals who had donated to the Country Liberals before the 2008 election, but since the name was already taken according to ASIC records, Foundation 51 became the handle.

*This article was originally published at Crikey blog The Northern Myth

Northern Territory

Nov 28, 2016

5 comments

Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage. Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary, 1911

As true as that 105-year-old observation of the nature of men and their affairs in the United States was then, so it is too for the Northern Territory today. And no greater proof of the universality of Bierce’s satirical — but nonetheless accurate — observation is needed than a dip into the pages of what for mine is the finest, and undoubtedly the laughing-out-loud funniest, book of the year that will be the stuffing in many a Christmas stocking this season. A great read for the beach, the hammock or those boring overs at the cricket.

For the Country Liberal Party — the Northern Territory’s own, and a party with a self-proclaimed right to rule — it all started with so much promise just four short years ago when Terry Mills led his party back to power after 11 years in the wilderness of opposition. But even in that first flush of victory, seasoned observers and party insiders were worried that the CLP was unprepared for a return to government and was already riven, like termite-rotted wood, with indecision, rank incompetence and internal jealousies that had the new government all-but-doomed from the start.

Now the public blood sport that was the Terry Mills/Adam Giles governments has been laid bare by Ben Smee, deputy editor at the NT News and his senior political writer, Christopher A. Walsh, in a book that documents, in excruciating detail, the tepid rise and self-inflicted fall of the worst Australian government — bar none — in living memory.

Crocs in the Cabinet — Northern Territory politics: an instruction manual on how NOT to run a government may have a clunky title and a cheesy cover but it makes up for those minor flaws in spades with the telling of a gripping tale of … well, I can do no better than this grab from the Authors’ Note:

“This book is about the fall of an empire — about the power struggles and missteps and flawed characters that took the CLP from the Northern Territory’s dominant political force to near extinction, from an election win in 2012 to holding just two seats in Parliament four years later. As the empire crumbled, the internecine nature of Darwin’s elite society was laid bare. The carnage exposed a sort of frontier Gotham City; corrupted by an interconnected web of public service fiefdoms, lawyers, judges, police, politicians, businesspeople and the media.”

Smee and Walsh note that the CLP’s parliamentary wing had no firm factions but, at least before it started shedding members like a dog with too many fleas, consisted of 16 factions of one.

“… at least seven of them made leadership bids in some form or another … seven of the original sixteen MLAs resigned from the party. There were eighteen Cabinet reshuffles and eight different deputy leaders, most of them forced out through resignations or sackings.”

The fishbowl nature of NT politics and journalism — and the minuscule size and occasionally toxic and grog-fuelled character of what passes for local political elites — means that writing politics in the NT can sometimes be a dangerous gig. Journalists get the cold shoulder one minute and a shoulder-charge the next. Trusted sources dry up because of threats and bullying, and favouritism and paranoia rule, particularly when the public service is treated with contempt by a government seemingly as fixed upon leaking against itself than running the Territory.

Towards the end, the Giles government (March 2013 to August 2016) cabinet, according to Smee and Walsh, had just gone MAD:

“… [the government] was held together not by alliances or relationships of mutual respect, but by the threat of mutually assured destruction. Forget the media or the opposition: ministers were more terrified of salacious information turning up in the hands of their colleagues.”

Many in the south regard the NT News with a begrudging contempt that cannot see past the regular stream of crocs, dick jokes, masturbating pollies (and drivers) and mango-madness that fills much of the Territory’s only daily newspaper. What they fail to grasp is that — and I’ve been called out for saying this before — the NT News (and its sister the Sunday Territorian) serve as the NT’s journals of political record.

Crocs in the Cabinet is proof, if it was ever needed, that Smee, Walsh and their colleagues at the NT News bat well above Darwin’s hot and sweaty weight, no less so because much of the book consists of their daily news pieces, columns and editorials written during the CLP’s latest run at government from 2012 to 2016.

One failing of the daily grind of journalism is that sometimes the threads that weave a whole cloth of a story together are spread across months, if not years. Crocs in the Cabinet draws those threads together into a coherent and highly entertaining account of the Mills and Giles governments that in its death throes:

“… provided a script of high farce, a fall-of-Rome epic of backstabbing and buffoonery.”

But back to Ambrose Bierce’s observations on the fundamental corrupting nature of politics.

Here is Smee and Walsh on the final days of the fall-of-Rome-on-the-Arafura-Sea:

“The Country Liberals had a great time in government over the past four years at public expense, and their excesses, poor judgement and bad decisions had finally caught up with them … No more cowboys. No more ‘little boys’. No more crocs in the Cabinet.”

*This article was originally published at Crikey blog The Northern Myth

 

Media briefs

Nov 11, 2016

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Most of Australia’s leading print newspapers suffered hefty year-on-year circulation falls in the latest Audit Bureau of Circulations figures.

In metropolitan weekday papers, the NT News and Canberra Times both posted double-digit print circulation falls (10.50% and 12.70% respectively), while The West Australian declined 8.3% year-on-year, The Daily Telegraph 7.10%, the SMH 8.70%, The Courier-Mail 7.0% and The Age 9.3%.

Australia’s best-selling weekday paper, the Herald Sun, posted a relatively small 5.3% decline. The Adelaide Advertiser and Mercury both declined only 4.8% year-on-year.

The actual audit figures show Fairfax’s SMH and Age declining by 60.9% and 49.9% year-on-year, but this is a definitional error. The Audit Bureau has begun to count digital and print subscriptions together to give a total sales figure, but Fairfax a few weeks ago stopped reporting the digital sales figures of its two biggest papers.

In national papers, The Australian posted a 3.6% print decline (but a total sales boost due to rising digital subscriptions), while the Australian Financial Review recorded a 9.8% weekday print decline. — Myriam Robin