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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A small step for Australian women, a giant leap for Tracey Spicer

A year and nine months after she founded NOW Australia claiming it was meant to focus on the problem of women being sexually harassed in the workplace, former TV newsreader Tracey Spicer is once again avoiding public appearances in order, she claims, to focus on her own mental health.

Spicer has retreated like this on earlier occasions too: she disappeared after actor John Jarratt was cleared of harassment charges and also when actor Geoffrey Rush won a case against the Daily Telegraph that had accused him of sexual harassment.

After a series of incidents that can only lead to one conclusion – Spicer’s embrace of the #MeToo movement was meant more to embellish her own image than anything else – the women’s movement in Australia has been put on the back foot and left wondering how it will recover from the Spicer show.
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RWC commentators need to be lined up and shot

While many people have raised questions about the quality of refereeing at the ongoing Rugby World Cup, nobody, surprisingly has questioned the quality of commentary that is available. If one were to compare the two, the commentators would lose by a mile.

There is a strange kind of logic that has prevailed in management circles for quite a while now, namely that a person who is good in one sector of an industry would also be equally good in another. It is this kind of logic (?) that leads managers to appoint rank and file employees to positions of leadership. It flies in the face of logic to argue that someone who is good at following orders would be equally good as a leader, but that’s the conventional wisdom that has prevailed and will never go away.
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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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Joyce affair: incestuous relationship between pollies and journos needs some exposure

Barnaby Joyce has come (no pun intended) and Barnaby Joyce has gone, but one issue that is intimately connected with the circus that surrounded him for the last three weeks has yet to be subjected to any scrutiny.

And that is the highly incestuous relationship that exists between Australian journalists and politicians and often results in news being concealed from the public.

The Australian media examined the scandal around Deputy Prime Minister Joyce from many angles, ever since a picture of his pregnant mistress, Vikki Campion, appeared on the front page of the The Daily Telegraph on February 14.
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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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The AFR has lost its dictionary. And its style guide. And its subs

The Australian Financial Review claims to be one of the better newspapers in the country. But as is apparent from what follows, the paper lacks sub-editors who can spell or who have any knowledge of grammar.

Fairfax Media has an almighty big style guide, but the AFR seems to have thrown it out, along with any competent sub-editors.

All this is taken from a single article titled “Malcolm Turnbull wins support to water down race hate laws” on 21 March. Just imagine how many screw-ups there are in the entire paper. And the paper still complains it is losing readers. Guess why?
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When the US bombed Al Jazeera, were journalists not prevented from doing their jobs?

The moment a Western journalist is treated in the Middle East in a manner that is deemed to be different to that in his own country, the West does tend to get rather heavy on the moralising and judgemental pronouncements.

Peter Greste, a journalist for Al Jazeera, the TV network that has revolutionised coverage of the Arab world, was given a sentence of seven years jail on what seem to be trumped up charges of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

The Brotherhood came to power in elections in Egypt after the so-called Arab Spring had resulted in the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak who, at one stage, looked like having a permanent mortgage on leading the country, either on his own or through his descendants.
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