Bias? Don’t know that word, says The Age editor

Another Saturday, and there’s a fresh dose of wisdom from Gay Alcorn, the venerable editor of The Age, a tabloid that is one of the two main newspapers in Melbourne. Once again, Alcorn’s gem was behind a paywall in the morning but is now free to read.

As with her effort some weeks ago — which was dissected here — Alcorn is again trying to play the balance card even as accusations of bias arise. This time, a federal election campaign is in full swing and thus the shrieks from the gallery are that much louder.

Alcorn claims the newspaper, part of once what was a large stable running under the name Fairfax Media until it was taken over by Nine Entertainment, has not moved to the right.

[I worked for the website of The Age for nearly 17 years, from June 1999 until May 2016.] Continue reading “Bias? Don’t know that word, says The Age editor”

Important news from The Age. It’s the sainted editor speaking…

An indication of how far The Age, a tabloid newspaper that is published from Melbourne, has sunk can be seen from a letter to subscribers [note, not those who read it free] from the editor, Gay Alcorn on 2 April.

Perhaps to imbue said document with importance, Alcorn chose to place it behind a paywall. [The Age home page can be read without payment and a limited number of articles are also free to read, before the paywall kicks in.]

But Alcorn apparently considers her writing so important that it has to be paid for. Of such stern mettle are editors [and journalists too] made. Heaven forbid that the common man should be able to read this important missive.

[I worked for the website of The Age for nearly 17 years, from June 1999 until May 2016.]
Continue reading “Important news from The Age. It’s the sainted editor speaking…”

Blah, blah, blah: Scott Morrison goes on and on and on

Listening to the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speak is a painful experience. The man does not seem to know when to stop, even when he is answering pointed questions; he just waffles on and on, giving one the impression that he is trying to exhaust the time available to keep the questions to a minimum.

His verbal acrobatics take him from topic to unrelated topic and the whole thing sometimes makes no sense.

No end of jaw: Scott Morrison. Courtesy YouTube

What came to mind while I was forced to listen to one of his media conferences — I was driving — was the description, in Mark Twain’s 1883 classic Life on the Mississippi, of the pilots who guided steamers down that river during those years.

These men needed to know the river intimately, every swell and literally every rock, in order to avoid getting stuck on a sandbank, or, worse, hitting an obstacle and sinking. They had to develop extremely good memories.

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Don’t go overboard with the sentiments, Warne was just another flawed human being

There is an unwritten rule in most human societies that one does not speak ill of the dead. You can be the worst murderer, thief, rapist or sociopath and beat your wife every day of the week, but the moment you die, you have to be treated as some kind of saint.

This kind of hypocrisy is so embedded that at least in one language there is a specific word to describe it: Sinhalese, the language spoken in Sri Lanka. [Despite all my efforts, I just cannot recall the word which was told to me when I was in the eighth standard many moons ago.]

Courtesy: megapixl.com

That rule appears to be asserting itself in Australia following the death of cricketer Shane Warne, a player who revived interest in the art of spin bowling when he came on to the international scene in 1992; this was after fast bowlers, predominantly from the West Indies, had ruled international cricket for two decades.

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Stan Grant shows he is incompetent to host ABC’s Q+A

The ABC should find a regular presenter for its Q+A show, instead of shuffling through three of its employees week after week, after one of the trio, Stan Grant, proved conclusively on 24 February that he is incompetent at the job.

Stan Grant talks more than most of the Q+A panellists. Courtesy YouTube

Grant asked a member of the studio audience to leave after the man, a Russian-Australian named Sasha Gillies-Lekakis, asked a question about the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which contained an erroneous fact. It did not appear to be popular with the audience and the panel which was heavily tilted towards Ukraine.

Gillies-Lekakis would do well to consult a lawyer about his ejection; as an Australian taxpayer, he is also one of those who fund the ABC which receives a little more than a billion dollars from the Federal Government each year.

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The world has become the domain of liars

There’s a common element to much, if not most, of the news that flits across the TV screens: lies.

People attempt to add a touch of sophistry to lying, by trying to create classes of lies, but in the end it all adds up to the same thing: saying one thing when knowing that the opposite was correct.

One well-known example: the current president of the United States, Joe Biden, came to office promising a US$15 minimum wage for the country. He also promised to provide medical services for all and forgive at least a part of the billions in student debt.

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All the news (apart from the Middle East issue) that’s fit to print

The Saturday Paper — as its name implies — is a weekend newspaper published from Melbourne, Australia. Given this, it rarely has any real news, but some of the features are well-written.

There is a column called Gadfly (again the name would indicate what it is about) which is extremely well-written and is one of the articles that I read every week. It was written for some years by one Richard Ackland, a lawyer with very good writing skills, and is now penned by one Sami Shah, an Indian, who is, again a good writer. Gadfly is funny and, like most of the opinion content in the paper, is left-oriented.

The same cannot be said of some of the other writers. Karen Middleton and Rick Morton fall into the category of poor writers, though the latter sometimes does provide a story that has not been run anywhere else. Middleton can only be described as a hack.

Continue reading “All the news (apart from the Middle East issue) that’s fit to print”

Time for ABC to bite the bullet and bring Tony Jones back to Q+A

Finally, someone from the mainstream Australian media has called it: Q+A, once one of the more popular shows on the ABC, is really not worth watching any more.

Of course, being Australian, the manner in which this sentiment was expressed was oblique, more so given that it came from a critic who writes for the Nine newspapers, Craig Mathieson.

Hamish Macdonald: his immature approach to Q+A has led to the program going downhill. Courtesy YouTube

Newspapers from this company are generally classed as being from the left — they once were, when they were owned by Fairfax Media, but centrist or right of centre would be more accurate these days — and given that the ABC is also considered to be part of the left, criticism was generally absent.

A second critical review has appeared on April 5, this time in The Australian.

Mathieson did not come right out and call the program atrocious – which is what it is right now. The way the headline on Mathieson’s article put it was that Q+A was once an agenda setter, but was no longer essential viewing. He was right about the former, but to call it essential viewing at any stage of its existence is probably an exaggeration.

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AFR’s Aaron Patrick shows us what gutter journalism is all about

Australian journalists often criticise each other, with those on the right tending to go for those on the left and vice versa. But, generally, in these stoushes, details of people’s private lives are not revealed.

But there are exceptions, and one of those was witnessed on March 31, when Aaron Patrick, the senior correspondent with the Australian Financial Review, took a swing at Samantha Maiden, a reporter with news.com.au, a free site operated by News Corporation, over coverage of numerous issues around women. (News Corporation’s other sites are all paywalled.)

In February, Maiden exposed the story of a young Liberal staffer, Brittany Higgins, who had been allegedly raped by a colleague in Parliament House some two years ago.

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Peter van Onselen is no journalist. He is a political operative

Peter van Onselen is an academic from Western Australia who came to prominence in 2007 when he co-authored a biography of John Howard, the Liberal prime minister who reigned from 1996 to 2007.

Nearly 14 years later, Van Onselen has graduated to become a journalist who writes a weekly column for the right-wing broadsheet, The Australian, and also functions as the political editor for the tabloid free-to-air TV channel, 10.

Recently, however, Van Onselen has shown that he is no journalist, but rather a political operative who looks to back his powerful friends when they need his help. And nobody has needed his help more than the attorney-general, Christian Porter, a close mate of his and a source for many of his stories.

Porter was recently accused of raping a woman in 1988, when she was 16 and he was 17. The woman, known as Kate, died by her own hand last year, and did not make a police complaint, though she did toy with the idea. She is said to have been a highly intelligent person, but the alleged incident appears to have taken its toll, and she was described by many as having some mental problems.

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