History lessons at a late stage of life

In 1987, I got a job in Dubai, to work for a newspaper named Khaleej (Gulf) Times. I was chosen because the interviewer was a jolly Briton who came down to Bombay to do the interview on 12 June.

Malcolm Payne, the first editor of the newspaper that had been started in 1978 by Iranian brothers named Galadari, told me that he had always wanted to come and pick some people to work at the paper. By then he had been pushed out of the editorship by the politics of both Pakistani and Indian journalists who worked there.

For some strange reason, he took a liking to me. At the end of about 45 minutes of what was a much more robust conversation than I had ever experienced in earlier job interviews, which were normally tense affairs, Payne told me, “You’re a good bugger, Samuel. I’ll see you in Dubai.”
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In Australia-China spats, the media only gives one side of the picture

Australia has been imposing hefty duties on Chinese steel, aluminium and chemical imports for more than six years, despite a letter from the Chinese side in 2014 saying that holding talks with Canberra on this would be of no use.

Recently, China said it would impose tariffs on Australian barley and also block beef imports from four Australian abattoirs. This latter story has become a big stamping ground for patriotic Australian journalists, a crowd who accuse Chinese scribes of being one-eyed, but act exactly the same way.

But the fact that Australia has been imposing huge tariffs? Only one journalist to date, Angus Grigg of the Australian Financial Review, has written about it.

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With two-vote majority, Morrison still fears he will lose leadership

When Scott Morrison led the Liberal-National Coalition to victory in the last federal election in May, he was greeted as some kind of superman, mainly because all the polls had predicted a Labor win, and by a substantial margin too.

All the political pundits crowed that this win gave the Australian Prime Minister complete authority to govern as he wished, and the chance to implement policies of his liking.

Nobody pointed out that after the dust had settled, Morrison still only had a majority of two, just one more than his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull enjoyed for much of his tenure.
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Whatever happened to the ABC’s story of the century?

In the first three weeks of June last year, the ABC’s Sarah Ferguson presented a three-part saga on the channel’s Four Corners program, which the ABC claimed was the “story of the century”.

It was a rehashing of all the claims against US President Donald Trump, which the American TV stations had gone over with a fine-toothed comb but which Ferguson seemed convinced still had something hidden for her to uncover.

At the time, a special counsel, former FBI chief Robert Mueller, was conducting an investigation into claims that Trump colluded with Russia to win the presidential election.
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Journalists Savva and Karvelas knew the polling was wrong. Yet they kept quiet. Why?

Over the weekend, the Australian federal election ended in a manner that was the exact opposite of that expected by the public if one were to go by the opinion polls – Newspoll and Ipsos – that ran in the major media outlets. Both predicted a win for Labor. The result, as you are well aware, could not have been more different.

But surprisingly there were some people who were aware that the polling was not correct and kept mum about it. [Watch this video from 11:29].

ABC journalist Patricia Karvelas mentioned during election coverage on the network that she had been told of internal polling by the Labor Party that indicated that the reality was different. Karvelas said on the Insiders program on Sunday that Labor sources had told her of internal polling that indicated that things in Queensland were quite different to what was being reported in public.
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Three weeks on, Pell supporters retain their blinkers

“It is a capital mistake to theorise without data.” Sherlock Holmes, the creation of the late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and still the most famous detective of fiction.

It is not surprising that nearly 20 days after after the verdict on Cardinal George Pell was announced, the Australian lobbyist Gerard Henderson keeps trying to cast doubt on the verdict. Henderson is a staunch defender of the Catholic Church and one who thinks he knows all about journalism – even though he is just a lobbyist who rallies to causes on the right of politics.

Henderson runs an organisation known as The Sydney Institute which he characterises as “a privately funded not-for-profit current affairs forum encouraging debate and discussion”. Two of the companies that supply those funds are the airline Qantas and the telco Telstra. There are other organisations that fund Henderson’s war against the left too.
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The ABC is a good example of inefficiency in Australia

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is a government-funded news organisation that is quite wrapped up in itself. It has radio, online and television news services and a lot of what it broadcasts is about the ABC itself.

TV outlets tend to promote their wares during breaks between programs; the ABC goes one better and treats many of its own programs as being worthy of being news items.

If these were major investigations or ground-breaking programs, then it would be fine. That is not the case; the most trivial program often merits a slot on the ABC News channel that runs around the clock.
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All your gods have feet of clay: Sarah Ferguson’s fall from grace

The year that ends today was remarkable for one thing on the media front that has gone largely unnoticed: the fall from grace of one of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s brightest stars who has long been a standard-setter at the country’s national broadcaster.

Sarah Ferguson was the journalist’s journalist, seemingly a woman of fierce integrity, and one who pandered to neither left nor right. When she sat in for Leigh Sales, the host of 7.30, the main current affairs programme, for six months while Sales was on a maternity leave break, the programme seemed to come to life as she attacked politicians with vigour and fearlessness.

There was bite in her speech, there was knowledge, there was surprise aplenty. Apart from the stint on 7.30, she brought depth and understanding to a long programme on the way the Labor Party tore itself to bits while in government for six years from 2007, a memorable TV saga.
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Hillary Clinton should disappear into the sunset

Two failed bids for the presidency notwithstanding, it looks very much like Hillary Clinton is intent on making a bid to be the Democrat candidate for president in 2020.

That is possibly the only reason why she continues to scour the world for opportunities to gain publicity, instead of accepting that she was beaten fair and square in the 2016 elections and retiring from public life.

Clinton was on the Australian ABC TV channel on Monday night, getting a soft interview with the normally ferocious Sarah Ferguson which ran for all of 50 minutes.
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Sage advice

A wise old owl sat on an oak;

The more he saw, the less he spoke;

The less he spoke, the more he heard;

Why aren’t we like this wise, old bird?



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