WALKLEY ISSUE 73 OCTOBER – NOVEMBER 2012 $9.95
INSIDE THE MEDIA IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
The UK issue
Leveson’s big chill Royal boobs, princely bollocks Fleet Street futures
Interviewing the data How to make number crunching sexy
Dispatches from Mahogany Row News bosses tell us their survival strategies
London 2012 Tweets, sweat and tears at the socialympics
THE 2012 FINALISTS ISSUE – WALKLEY AWARD NOMINEES ANNOUNCED
n CONTACTS AND SPONSORS
Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance www.alliance.org.au Federal Secretary Christopher Warren Federal President (Media) Stuart Washington Alliance Membership Centre: 1300 656 513 Alliance Inquiry Desk (for all other inquiries): 1300 656 512 FEDERAL OFFICE and NSW 245 Chalmers Street REDFERN NSW 2016 PO Box 723 Strawberry Hills NSW 2012 P: (02) 9333 0999 F: (02) 9333 0933 E: firstname.lastname@example.org VICTORIA Level 3, 365 Queen St MELBOURNE VIC 3000 P: (03) 9691 7100 E: email@example.com
The Walkley Foundation and the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance thank the following organisations for their generous support. PLATINUM PARTNERS
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ry: o t S e h t What’s L EDITION CAPITA
Leading Australian and international journalists discuss the latest issues and trends in a special Capital Edition of The Walkley Foundation’s annual media conference in Canberra. Once-in-a-lifetime sessions include: Capital Edition: Telling Canberra’s Story – Insiders talk journalism, media and life at the nexus of Australian political power Political Thrillers: How to Write a Best Seller – Learn to pick the best news stories for expanding into books, essays and feature articles How Fares the Revolution? – Insights into the transformation of Australia’s newsrooms from journalists on the frontline of the media revolution
Walkley Media ConferenCe 2012 november 29 & 30 • national film & Sound archive • aCT
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WHERE: National Film & Sound Archive WHEN: November 29 & 30 DETAILS: www.walkleyconference.com.au
Watching the hashtags 39 By Andy Miah What lasting changes have been made by social media at the London Games? London calling 40 By Karen Barlow The London Olympics were a rush of 21-hour days fuelled by coffee shots.
OUR MEDIA Now for the good news 5 By Richard Glover Richard Glover is happy to serve up the good news to capture an accurate, nuanced sense of the world. A grim winter, an optimistic spring? 11 By Neil Wilson and Ben Cubby Fairfax Media and News Limited have shed over 700 editorial staff. Hear from one who left and one who stayed. When the ink ran out 12 By Michael Yiannakis There are more than a few similarities between the Dow Jones newspaper experience and the current Fairfax woes. Start me up 13 By Charlotte Harper Beef up your business smarts, because the time has come to create your own job in journalism. Calling time at the last-chance saloon 41 By Matthew Ricketson It’s time to slaughter the sacred cow of self-regulation and make the media truly accountable. Putting together the A team 45 By Sharona Coutts Investigative reporting requires some heavy lifting, but news organisations can achieve a lot if they partner up. Torts, tweets and social media traps 46 By Mark Pearson Journalists and bloggers face new legal pitfalls in the Web 2.0 publishing environment. Sensationalist reporting is loading the killers’ bullets 47 By Glynn Greensmith and Bruce Shapiro Is the current reporting of mass killings leading directly to more deaths and how should journalists protect their emotional health?
All hands on deck and forget the masthead 16 By Matt Deighton and Sam Weir News Limited’s integrated newsroom fosters cooperation, not competition. The new house of Fairfax By Jack Matthews Fairfax needed a new newsroom model to survive.
APN flies its local colours 18 By Shane Rodgers APN’s newsrooms are being transformed to serve its regional markets.
SPOTLIGHT ON THE UK How fares Fleet Street? 19 By Jonathan Este British newspapers are facing the same basic problems as ours, so how are they managing it? Would you be the judge? 21 By Peter Bartlett Lord Justice Leveson will face a hostile press whatever he recommends. Truth and lies in the bizarre world of celebrity journalism By Chris Atkins A look at the British tabloids’ outlandish explanations to the Leveson inquiry.
Of royal boobs and princely bollocks 24 By Maxine Frith The public devours tittle-tattle and scandal, but does that mean we should always give it to them?
DATA JOURNALISM Swimming in the data stream By Edmund Tadros Care to interview some data? You could be surprised what you turn up from a set of spreadsheets.
Media explosion provokes regulation backlash 43 By Bharat Bhushan Editorial standards in India are falling but will proposed regulations only make things worse?
BOOKS & REVIEWS Give me a tome where the journalist roams 51 By Peter Ryan There’s a whole world beyond Washington’s Beltway and Michael Brissenden found it. The shaming of the Screws 52 By Alan Kennedy Tom Watson’s vivid account of the depredations that led to the downfall of the News of the World. Blog in a teacup? 53 By Chris Warren Bloggers and social media can add depth to the political debate, but their followers are few.
PAYING TRIBUTE Colin Menzies Ian Wolfe Tanya Price
10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW… … about the modern men’s magazine 54 By Rick Bannister The only tits you’ll find in men’s mag Smith Journal are birds that eat bats’ brains.
57TH WALKLEY AWARDS And the finalists are… 29 The nominees in the 2012 Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism.
ON THE COVER Dan Boermans updates the Sex Pistols artwork to reflect the current situation in the UK media.
Trick or tweet? 27 By Alastair Dant The Guardian joined with university researchers to try to make sense of the spread of rumours on Twitter during last year’s London riots.
FUTURE OF NEWS
The ABC of change management 15 By Kate Torney With growing demand for news at any time across any device, the ABC has to remake the way it delivers the goods.
Five screens of fun and Games 37 By Rod Savage and Toni Hetherington Knowing your audience’s habits across five platforms was the starting point for News Limited’s Olympic Games coverage. THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
A future under construction
I This past winter has seen about 700 jobs vanish from our craft
t’s that time of year when we celebrate the best of what our craft can produce. In this issue we announce the finalists for the 2012 Walkley Awards – and again, there’s some outstanding work to marvel at. When we announce the winners next month, you’ll be able to access all this great journalism through the new Walkley app. But right now, it doesn’t feel like there’s much to celebrate. This past winter has seen about 700 jobs vanish from our craft in the largest single loss of talent, skills and ability we’ve seen since the newspaper closures in the late 1980’s. It was about one in every seven newspaper journalists across Australia. It’s not just one paper or one company that’s been affected – the losses have been evenly spread across both Fairfax and the News group. This winter’s losses haven’t come out of the blue, of course. They follow the more than 1000 jobs that have leached out of our industry since 2005. There was a time when taking a redundancy was a way to kick-start your finances – take the money from one company and walk across the road to another job in the industry. But now, too many of our friends and colleagues have taken redundancy with the sad sense that this is the end for them in journalism. In this issue, we hear from some of those voices.
Editor: Jacqueline Park email@example.com Commissioning editor: Jonathan Este Editorial staff: Kate Bice, Lauren Dixon, Karol Foyle & Andrew Gregory Subeditor: Jo McKinnon Cover illustration: Dan Boermans Design: Louise Summerton Production management: Magnesium Media Solicitors: Minter Ellison Lawyers Address: Walkley Foundation Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance 245 Chalmers Street, Redfern, NSW 2016 Visit our website: walkleys.com Advertising inquiries: Barbara Blackman Barbara.Blackman@alliance.org.au To subscribe: visit http://www.walkleys.com/subscribe or phone 1300 65 65 13 Disclaimer: The views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of The Walkley Foundation or the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance.
CONTRIBUTIONS WELCOME The Walkley Magazine, the only forum for discussion of media and professional issues by and for journalists, welcomes contributions from journalists, artists and photographers. To maintain the tradition and be worthy of the Walkleys, The Walkley Magazine aims to be a pithy, intelligent and challenging read, and to stand as a record of interesting news in the craft and profession of journalism. It is published five times a year and guidelines for contributors are available on request.
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Fortunately, the skills that journalism brings are worth a lot – the ability to ferret out information, the curiosity to find out what’s going on and then the talent to write so it’s informative and entertaining. We tend to underrate these skills or take them for granted, but truth to say, they’re rare and valuable – and that should give journalists the confidence to strike out into new fields. But our craft and our industry is already the poorer for their loss. We’re all grieving– working our way at our own pace through the stages of loss; denial, bargaining, anger, sadness and, finally, acceptance. Those staying in newspapers have to grapple with the challenges of continuing to bring out exciting and innovative journalism, but now with significantly fewer resources and across many more platforms. All four of our major employers – News, Fairfax, the ABC and APN – are embracing the same approach of splitting input from output to deal with the need to produce material over more platforms, often with fewer journalists. Under this approach, reporters, writers, photographers and artists will prepare the inputs – what we used to call stories, features, pics, artwork – for an organisation-wide pool. Production staff will then take material from the pool for the various platforms and shape it to their own needs. In this issue, the architects of those changes explain their
plans and how they see them working. As part of this ongoing trend, we can see much of the industry is moving towards doing away with the craft of subediting – first through centralisation and outsourcing and, ultimately, by delegating the job to technology. These are the most significant changes to the structure of the workflow of journalism in a century. None of us can know what severing the connection between a journalist and his or her paper or program (to use those old 20th century words) will mean. But what we do know is this: journalists will continue to bring their deep professionalism and sense of craft to their work, and will continue to inform and entertain our communities. At the same time, we can all be excited about the growth of a new media ecosystem beneath – and at times within – the traditional media companies. This is happening on the web, through tablets and other mobile devices, in social media and some of it still in print. As we confront these changes to our craft and our industry, as we did for the past century, journalism will continue to shape our societies through the next hundred years. Christopher Warren Federal Secretary Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance
WALKLEY CONTRIBUTORS Chris Atkins Rick Bannister Karen Barlow Peter Bartlett Guy Body Dan Boermans Jo Brooker Bharat Bhushan Sharona Coutts Ben Cubby Alastair Dant Matt Deighton John Donegan Rod Emmerson
Brendan Esposito Jonathan Este John Farmer David Follett Lindsay Foyle Maxine Frith Andrew Fyfe Richard Glover Matt Golding Glynn Greensmith Charlotte Harper Toni Hetherington Alan Kennedy Simon Letch
Peter Martin Neil Matterson Jack Matthews Andy Miah Peter Nicholson Mark Pearson Matthew Ricketson Mike Rigoll Frank Robson Shane Rodgers Ann Roebuck David Rowe Peter Ryan Rod Savage
Bruce Shapiro Peter Sheehan Marcus Strom Edmund Tadros Kate Torney Assem Trivedi Sam Weir Andrew Weldon Cathy Wilcox Neil Wilson Michael Yiannakis Thanks to Newspix, AAP & Data Journalism Handbook
n OUR MEDIA
Now for the good news Richard Glover is happy to serve up hot, buttery chunks of life. It’s not hard news, but it paints a more complete picture of the world. Illustration by Simon Letch
n ABC Local Radio, in between the political news and stock-market reports, we sometimes invite talkback calls on what could be called “lighter” topics. A few months back, there was a discussion of clothing and the ages at which various styles became untenable. One listener, Mary, wrote in to complain. She thought the subject matter trivial and gave some advice: “Lift your game.” So why do we include such discussions? If we left them out, wouldn’t it allow more time for more substantial issues? Are we trying to be “downmarket” by discussing such matters? I’ve been pondering these sorts of questions for years – first as news editor and page-one editor of The Sydney Morning Herald then, for the last 15 years, as the presenter of Drive on ABC Local Radio in Sydney. In journalism courses at university, George Orwell is often quoted. “Journalism,” he wrote, “is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations.” I love Orwell, yet I believe this definition of journalism can end up producing a quite distorted picture of the world. I prefer a different starting point. I’d put it this way: “The aim of good journalism should be to leave readers and listeners with an accurate sense of the world.” I’d like to feel that if someone spent a fair amount of time with a newspaper or a radio show they would emerge with a nuanced sense of their city, their country, their world. The menu would contain plenty of hard news, much of it fairly bleak. Within those stories there would be at least some of what Orwell ordered: information someone wanted to keep quiet. Yet to only offer this sort of hard news is to hold up a distorted mirror, as if everything is conflict and collapse, crime and calamity. Much of the media does run such an agenda – partly, I suspect, because it’s easier
To only offer this sort of hard news is to hold up a distorted mirror, as if everything is conflict and collapse, crime and calamity
to achieve. It requires less thought and creativity, less time spent really listening to the world and trying to hear its various tunes, outside the hand-holding of the AAP news diary. Maybe, too, some believe the audience has a taste for the bleak – “if it bleeds, it leads” is the old news editor’s slogan. Some claim our epidemic of depression and anxiety might be partly due to the bleak sense of the world transmitted by the “hard news” media. Perhaps. Certainly people have an exaggerated fear of crime, presumably because of its over-reporting. So how do you try to deliver an accurate sense of the world during a three-hour radio program? My answer is to reach for a mix of subjects, some drawn from a “non-news” agenda of people’s own experience and lives. Talkback about, say, kids’ sport may seem trivial. A question such as “tell us about the relationship between your child and their coach” may seem soft-minded. Yet the stories that emerge are a way of saying: “Yes, our world contains shocking crimes that make you feel nervous on the streets, but it also contains young men, often from recent-immigrant communities, often with no children of their own, who give up their time to coach a ragtag team of local kids.” If you want to know what life is like in this city, right now, it’s good to have a sense of both these things. Many media outlets – newspapers and TV news – have difficulty accessing this day-to-day, happier world. They can’t just
suggest a topic and invite contributions. It’s a strength of both radio and the internet. Twenty years ago I worked at the Herald with Max Prisk, a fine editor. We’d talk often about how to break free from the straitjacket in which we felt ourselves constrained, caught in a self-referential world of lobby groups, political parties, the NRMA, the RSPCA and so on. I remember Max shaking his head in frustration. “I’d like to just get a reporter to walk down George Street, find some small doorway, knock on it, and tell the story of what was inside.” It was his way of dreaming about a journalism that could include the whole world and not just this news-agenda shadow of the world. I took his idea and proposed a series called “13 Church Street” in which I’d write about people who lived at 13 Church Street in various suburbs and towns. The idea didn’t work out, but it was driven by this hunger to smuggle a chunk of the real world into the newspaper. Which brings us back to the discussion about clothing and the process of ageing. It followed a quite harrowing discussion about the new refugee policy with David Manne, the lawyer who torpedoed the federal government’s refugee policy, and ranged from sharp banter about particular shoe designs – “are Crocs unfashionable at any age?” – to an acute observation from a 73-year-old woman about her “invisibility”. She could wear a hot pink mini-skirt and still the store assistant would serve the young person standing directly behind her. It was reality, served up hot and buttery, by turns funny and insightful. Some other time I’d like to write about the sexism that defines some subjects as “serious hard news” and other material as “lifestyle”. The overexcited boys’-ownadventure-sports-call of the bombing of Baghdad at the start of the second Iraq war would be presented by many as the perfect example of “serious journalism”; a life-changing discussion of, say, handling children after divorce would be labelled as “lifestyle”. Really? I don’t know that I agree. None of this, of course, is to say we make the right decisions all the time, or even most of the time. Just that our intentions are serious even when our topics are at their silliest, and that we set out each day to capture an accurate, nuanced sense of the world, scooping up at least part of its colour and variety. Richard Glover presents Drive on 702 ABC Sydney; richardglover.com.au Simon Letch has been illustrating for The Sydney Morning Herald since 1990
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
What will be the business model that sustains journalism through this century? That is the as-yet-unanswered question of the Great Transition from print to digital. One person who has done more than most in helping us understand the economics of the transition – or the “crossover” as he calls it – is Ken Doctor, author of Newsonomics: Twelve trends that will shape the news you get. After 21 years at Knight Ridder, he is now a media analyst at Outsell. Doctor spoke at this year’s Future Forum, hosted by the Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers’ Association on September 6. He told the industry confab in Sydney there were 10 lessons they needed to ponder as they attempted the crossover to the digital future. He notes that while we don’t yet have the formula for the future, we see its outlines in the form of digital circulation and the tablet. Not all of the Doctor’s medicine will be palatable to the local print giants at News Limited and Fairfax. He said it was hugely important to hold on to journalists at the top of your business model – just as 700 editorial jobs were being cut from those companies’ newsrooms. His first lesson for the coming year is that print isn’t over… but it’s ending. He strongly criticised the New Orleans Times-Picayune move to three-days-a-week printing, which saw it cut half its editorial staff. He strongly advised against such a move; what he called a “forced march to digital – a forced march which is not likely to work.” As Fairfax considers its shift to compact-sized metropolitan dailies, there is some suggestion it will skip this step and cut Monday-to-Friday printing out of its operation altogether. Doctor likens such moves to “burning down half your house to save your house”. So if his first lesson for 2013 is to resist the urge to put papers to death early, what are his other nine? Second is a reckoning between time spent consuming digital news and the ad spend in this space. Doctor says that ad spend tends to catch up with where people spend their time. In the US, people spend 43 per cent of their time watching TV and this is matched by ad spend. For internet it is 26 per cent of time against 21 per cent of ad spend. Newspapers attract about 15 per cent ad spend, but people are now only spending 5 per cent of their time in print. The audience spends 11 per cent of its time on mobile devices (phones and tablets) but this attracts less than 1 per cent of ad spend. The third lesson – and what Doctor says is our brightest ray of hope – is that reader revenue will outstrip advertising income. His fourth lesson is that digital circulation is real and if you don’t charge, they won’t pay. Number five is that weekend papers are like a night at the theatre, the “new play”. And number six is that “brand membership” is replacing subscription, giving rise to a deeper relationship between the audience and journalists – and, importantly, between audience and advertising. His final lessons include the “morphing of advertising”, with instant Twitter ads as an example. Number eight is the “emergence of GAFA: Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon” as dominant media players. Ninth is the strengthening role of digital video in a 4G world and finally, lesson 10, is that it’s going to be a five-screen world: desktop/laptop, phone, tablet, internet TV and connected cars. The tablet, he says, will be the most important for publishers. Good luck with the transition. You can see his speech at http://panpa.org.au/2012/09/07/ ken-doctor-2012-future-forum-speech/ Marcus Strom
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Walkleys on the app The Walkleys are coming to an iPad near you, with the first ever Walkley Awards app featuring winners and finalists of the 57th Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism. Scheduled for release after the Walkley Awards presentation gala dinner on November 30, the free app will be an interactive showcase promoting Australia’s finest journalism to the mobile media audience. The app will include the work of winners and finalists in all the award categories, while honouring the winners of the three major Walkley Awards: the Gold Walkley, the Outstanding Contribution to Journalism and Journalism Leadership awards. Photo slideshows and cartoons, audio and video excerpts, and samples of print entries will all feature in the Walkleys app. Walkley Advisory Board chairman Laurie Oakes said the inaugural Walkley Awards app represented an exciting step forward into the digital media space. “This app will offer the entire suite of Walkley Award winners and finalists at the readers’ fingertips: both a memento of the awards, and a reference to Australia’s finest journalism.” The Walkleys app is being produced in partnership with cross-media software specialist Woodwing, global software company Adobe, and IT services and solutions provider Creative Folks, using Woodwing’s multi-channel publishing software integrated with Adobe’s desktop publishing software InDesign, and using other Adobe Creative Suite programs such as Photoshop and Premiere Pro. While the 2012 app will only be available on the iPad, future editions will be available on a wider range of mobile devices.
The Cribb Greene Publisher Confidence Survey for Autumn 2012 found that compared to previous years, US newspaper publishers are beginning to feel more confident about the future of the newspaper business. But not that confident – asked whether they would want their children to follow them into the industry, only a third said they would.
Cartoon by Lindsay Foyle
Ken Doctor’s medicine for the digital crossover
Cartoon by Andrew Weldon
Staying mum for the Queen
When it all clicks The 2012 Nikon-Walkley Portrait Prize has been won by News Limited’s Sam Ruttyn, and Braden Fastier of The Manly Daily has taken out the Community/Regional Photo Prize. Ruttyn won for his portrait of five-year-old Josh Carter (shown above), taken for The Sunday Telegraph. It shows Josh one week after surgery for a brain tumour that had already taken half his sight and had been threatening his life. The judges said it was an instant choice. “An extremely moving work… The strong emotive contrast between the horrifically invasive surgery and the intimate nature of the portrait shows how Sam Ruttyn has earned the trust of his subject, allowing him to produce a winning photo.” The Manly Daily’s Fastier took out the Community/Regional Photo Prize with his photographs of Sydney’s northern beaches community. Judges said Fastier‘s entry “displayed a consistently high standard across a number of photo platforms” and “showcased his understanding of what light can do and his sensitivity to his subject matter.” The judges felt the overall quality of entries in the Community/Regional category was very strong this year. Jason Edwards, of Leader Community Newspapers, was highly commended. The winners were announced at an event at The State Library of NSW in October. The winning images, and those of the other finalists in the Nikon-Walkley Award categories, will be displayed at the State Library in Sydney until November 11, before touring the country. You can view them online at Walkleys.com/gallery.
The UK media’s rocky relationship with the British royals continues to generate its own headlines after a BBC correspondent disclosed offthe-record comments made by the Queen during a private conversation. The BBC apologised to Buckingham Palace within hours of its security correspondent Frank Gardner disclosing details of a private conversation he had with the Queen several years ago during an interview on BBC Radio 4. According to Gardner, the Queen had expressed concerns relating to Islamist preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri, accused of terrorism offences and wanted for extradition to the United States. In their conversation, the Queen expressed concern about why Abu Hamza had not been arrested, according to Gardner. It appears to be the rarest of indiscretions for Gardner, who was shot in the leg six times by al-Qaeda gunmen while reporting in Saudi Arabia in 2004. “This morning on the Today program our correspondent Frank Gardner revealed details of a private conversation which took place some years ago with the Queen,” the BBC stated in its apology to the Palace. “The conversation should have remained private and the BBC and Frank deeply regret this breach of confidence. It was wholly inappropriate. Frank is extremely sorry for the embarrassment caused and has apologised to the Palace.” The BBC’s apology has itself generated more news coverage and media debate about whether the apology letter was necessary, whether Gardner had actually done the right thing in revealing the comments, and issues surrounding press conventions at Buckingham Palace. Abu Hamza and four others suspected of various terrorismrelated offences were extradited to the US earlier this month after the UK High Court rejected their final appeals. The decision was the culmination of an eight-year legal battle that strained the British government’s constitutional relationship with the European court of human rights in Strasbourg. The Islamist cleric is charged in connection with a hostage-taking in Yemen in 1998 that resulted in four deaths; a conspiracy to establish a terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon, in 1999; and supporting violent jihad in Afghanistan in 2000 and 2001. Babar Ahmad and Tahla Ahsan are charged with operating a Jihadist website, while Adel Abdul Bary and Khaled al-Fawwaz are charged with conspiring with members of al-Qaeda to kill US nationals and to attack US interests abroad. Bary is also charged with murder; conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction; and other offences in connection with the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224 people.
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Guardian’s gay rights win A “digital first” policy continues to reap rewards for UK newspaper The Guardian, with its interactive feature on gay rights winning the Online News Association’s Online Journalism Award in the “explanatory reporting” category. The May 8 interactive feature called “Gay rights in the US, state by state” is a coloured wheel with sections for each state outlining rights on marriage, adoption, schools, hate crimes and hospital visitations. The interactive feature uses colours, shades and patterns to indicate the status of each aspect of gay rights, referring to text explanations of finer policy details in each US state. In a press release on guardian.co.uk, the newspaper’s US interactive editor Gabriel Dance, based in New York, says the team focuses on producing timely, contextual and relevant interactive content with “staying power”. “Our goal was to create a shareable and personal interactive that informed and engaged readers, and pushed the boundaries of interactive storytelling,” Dance says. Guardian News & Media announced last year that it would become a “digital-first” organisation by focusing on digital platforms in response to “inexorable” trends in media consumption. Investigative journalism site ProPublica, NYTimes.com and the Frontline page of US public broadcast television network PBS’s website won the Association’s General Excellence Award categories. Read Alastair Dant’s article on page 27 about another award-winning guardian.co.uk interactive feature – “Reading the Riots” – a collaborative project tracking the lifecycle facts and rumours on Twitter during the UK riots last year.
Photojournalist James Nachtwey shares his life’s work with Australian photographers “I am a witness. My testimony has to be honest and uncensored, powerful and eloquent, to do justice to the people I am photographing,” says photojournalist James Nachtwey. Speaking at the 2012 Nikon AIPP The Event conference, held in the Hunter Valley of NSW in August, he was probably the tallest man in the room, and his meticulously coiffed silver hair seemed at odds with the chaos of the wars and inhumanity he has documented. He stood straight, both physically and morally. A war photographer and humanist, Nachtwey spoke in measured tones about what he has witnessed. It becomes apparent the hair – not a strand out of place – reflects a calm assuredness about his mission. “The strength of war photography lies in its ability to evoke humanity. It can be perceived as the opposite of war,” he told the audience: “My photographs bear witness.” The now 64 year old was inspired by the actions of the Vietnam War photographers of the late 1960s. “The politicians were telling us one thing and the photographers were telling us another.” His parents subscribed to Life magazine and he recalls the work of Larry Burrows and “the anonymous wire photographers of UPI and AP” who brought the reality of war home to all Americans on a daily basis through the newspapers. The photojournalism moons aligned years later when his photo essay of a family living on the railway
tracks of Jakarta featured in the final issue of Life. After nine years preparing himself to become a war photographer, Nachtwey went to Northern Ireland in 1981. “When I arrived in Belfast I understood right away that I was doing what I was meant to do,” he says. His calmness can’t hide the emotion he still feels for his disenfranchised subjects. The words still catch as he describes the portfolio of inhumanity he has chronicled: the Romanian AIDS orphans – a gulag of thousands of children; the disintegration of former Yugoslavia and the genocide which occurred under the euphemism of “ethnic cleansing” as the West stood idly by; the Rwanda massacres; Afghanistan at war with the Russians, with themselves, and then with the West; post-Saddam Iraq; the AIDS and tuberculosis epidemics in Africa and Asia; clan warfare in Somalia, where starvation was used as a weapon of mass destruction; the Troubles in Northern Ireland, where terror was a normalised part of life; the intractable Palestinian/Israeli conflict... The room became awash with tears as sensible, mature men and women attempted to reconcile Nachtwey’s beautiful photography with the horror from which the images were born. He was asked how he doesn’t give in to despair after all he has experienced. He pointed to his subjects. “If these people can maintain hope, how can I not?” View Nachtwey’s work at jamesnachtwey. com. John Donegan
Best in the states Excellent coverage of indigenous issues has won AAP journalist Xavier La Canna the Northern Territory Journalist of the Year Award for 2012. Judges said La Canna’s coverage of the Briscoe death in custody case and other issues demonstrated “some of the best qualities of journalism – persistence, intelligence and a burning desire to get to the truth.” NT News journalist Meagan Dillon won the Marchbanks Young Journalist of the Year. The full list of winners is available online at ntmediaawards.alliance.org.au. In August, The Australian journalist Hedley Thomas won the Clarion 2012 Journalist of the Year for his powerful reports on the inquiry into the Queensland floods. His work on the inquiry also gained Thomas two other of Queensland’s top journalism prizes – Best Investigative Journalism and Best News Report (Online/Print category). Former Ten News chief of staff Steve O’Ferrall won the Clarion Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism, recognising the impact of his 42-year career. ABC Open journalist Miranda Grant won Queensland’s Young Journalist of the Year for “Aftermath: stories of disaster, resilience and recovery”. The Clarion winners were announced at a gala dinner in Brisbane on August 25. The full list of Clarion winners is at clarions.org. At the Northern NSW Journalism Awards, known as the “Prodis”, Newcastle Herald journalist Rosemarie Milsom took out the 2012 Journalist of the Year for her story “Out of Africa and in to Newcastle”. 8 THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
Milsom also claimed the Tom Barrass Award for Regional Journalism, along with photographer Simone De Peak, and the awards for Feature Writing and Commentary, Analysis and Critique. Ava Benny Morrison from The Northern Star won the PF Adams Young Journalist of the Year. The Prodis were presented at a gala dinner in Tamworth on July 20. The full list of Northern NSW Journalism Awards winners can be found at prodis.alliance.org.au.
Congratulations to the 2012 Clarion Award Winners.
Displaying a consistently high standard across a number of photo platforms, Braden Fastier’s “Pictures from The Manly Daily” won him this year’s NikonWalkley Community/ Regional Photo Prize.
It’s a man’s world Gender bias is alive and well in newspapers in the UK and US if a swag of recent surveys are to be believed. The Guardian, itself thought to be a bastion of progressiveness and gender equality, recently commissioned what it is calling: “The most comprehensive, high-resolution dataset available on news content by gender and audience interest.” With J. Nathan Matias of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology media lab and data scientist Lynn Cherny, the paper analysed all articles published in The Guardian online, the Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph between July 2011 and June 2012 and found that women wrote less than a third of articles. For op-ed articles, which Matias says are “an important measure of women’s voices in society” because they “shape a society’s sphere of consensus and open opportunities for writers”, only 26 per cent are written by women. This, he says, “is almost entirely due to The Guardian” for which about 33 per cent of articles are written by women, compared to only 20 per cent in the Telegraph and Daily Mail. The Guardian’s “Comment is Free” section publishes more pieces written by women than the Telegraph publishes comment pieces by men. But women come off better in the UK press than in the US, where only 20 per cent of opinion pieces are written by women, according to the Byline Survey Report 2012: Who Narrates the World (published recently by US campaigning group The Oped Project). The survey found that while women were responsible for only 20 per cent of opinion pieces in traditional (print) media, they wrote 33 per cent of opinion articles in “new” media such as The Huffington Post and 38 per cent in college newspapers. There is also evidence of gender bias in subject matter says the Oped Project survey, which found that the only subject areas where women were better represented than men were the so-called “pink issues” of food, family, style, gender and health. Meanwhile the Women’s Media Center, which monitors gender issues in the US press, released the shocking statistic that between 72 and 76 per cent of all coverage of the US presidential election during the Republican primary race between January and August 2012 was written by men. The study of 35 major newspapers in the US found that the paper with the greatest gender imbalance was The Philadelphia Inquirer, where only 4.3 per cent of election coverage was by women.
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
I AM LIMITLESS
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n OUR MEDIA
A grim winter, an optimistic spring? One in seven journalism jobs at our two biggest publishers disappeared over the winter as Fairfax Media and News Limited shed 700 editorial staff. We hear from two journalists: one who left and one who stayed. Cartoon by Andrew Fyfe
Out of the news cycle Neil Wilson gathers his thoughts after voluntary redundancy I’m sitting in my study looking down at a sheet of nice numbers supplied by the company’s “people and culture” office, confirming what the silence of our house has been shouting at me for a few days now. It’s convincing me to stop wondering why I’m not at work, covering today’s story on Qantas, Foster’s or whatever amid the clatter, chatter, wisecracks and hard toil of the Herald Sun newsroom. Just days ago I continued to chase down stories, as others among the 35 or so of us leaving wondered why I was bothering. I joked that I was in denial, touching the truth that I hadn’t had time to process, that a chapter in our lives was closing. When the inevitable “what are you going to do” question came, I had no more to offer than the honest: “I dunno.” The abruptness, less than two weeks from decision to door, left little time for reflection. I don’t feel redundant personally and, despite the congratulations from some, I’m still too young to “retire”. (From what? Life?) Now I’m mindful of the warnings I gave others who thought life as a checkout chick or a hardware store part-timer would be preferable to the newsroom grind. You might find it hard to open or bust in doors in the big world without the Herald Sun superman suit, I said, so realise you may never work in the news media again. And you’re unlikely to find another job with reporting’s autonomy, where you’re gloriously free to operate beyond the boss and write it as you see it. So why go? Because the old brain kicks in and tells you that limitations to staff and budgets mean multiple deadlines across multiple platforms give less time for that kind of freedom. There was no point hanging out, longing for the freedom and bonhomie of a journalistic home that no longer exists as you knew it. Foreboding over how those with power are to
be held accountable by a downsized, overworked media suddenly becomes secondary to your own future. The time was right to move, yet the heart feels the pangs of regret and a twinge of apprehension over an uncertain future. After the sentimental farewells, it’s time for a sober selfassessment. What are my real skills? How can I apply them to some other occupation? What are my true interests outside of news and can I make them pay? Can I adjust emotionally to not define my being as a “journalist”? Let’s not sell ourselves short. Progressing over the years in the egotistical, competitive atmosphere of a major newspaper means you must have something going for you. You’ve stood up under pressure, got the yarn, met the deadline, time and again. In a world where corporate managements and bureaucrats are vandalising the language as much as any gangsta rapper, your ability to sift out the bulldust and communicate clearly is becoming more valuable every day. Finally, I’m trying to take some time, chill out and remember the advice of an old song: “Make it Easy on Yourself”. By the Walker Brothers, I believe… Neil Wilson is a former journalist with the Herald Sun and was chair of the Media Alliance House Committee at the Herald & Weekly Times Ltd
Facing the facts and the future Ben Cubby said “no” to perhaps the biggest payday in his life to stick around A catamaran and four private yachts moored next to Fairfax Media in Pyrmont are worth more than The Sydney Morning Herald, according to a recent market valuation. You can see the boats from the newsroom’s fourth-floor window, bobbing gently on the harbour. In 10 years, their fibreglass hulls will be showing a few cracks, the engines will need replacement or overhaul, and getting insurance might be a problem. The Herald, on the other hand, has been around since 1831. It’s been part of Sydney for longer than the Bridge or the Opera House – for longer than Sydney has been a city (it was granted that status in 1842). The paper has been through a few overhauls and is in the midst of a large refit right now. There’s no lack of experts informing the journalists they’re aboard a sinking ship. Yet here we are still, telling the story of the city, and more people read it now than ever. I don’t think too many sensible people would argue this newspaper is worth less than a few boats.
Nevertheless, can the Herald survive, improve, keep growing? Like hundreds of my colleagues who were handed their voluntary redundancy “numbers” recently, I found myself giving this question serious thought. I’ve no qualms about sticking around, even though it meant saying “no” to the biggest payday I’m likely to see in my life. My instinct is that the Herald will end up thriving, and I think this is based on a hard-headed appreciation of the facts. First, there is a thirst for serious news, shown by the fact that millions of people buy Fairfax papers every week, even though much of the content is available free on the web. Ultimately, the commerce will follow the demand. Second, the digital future looks very bright. The structures now in place at the Herald are the equal of anything in the world. The potential for greater breadth and depth of coverage is exciting. Third, the prospect of a dead or diminished Herald is pretty grim. The consequences would
The paper has been through a few overhauls in its time and is obviously in the midst of rather a large refit right now flow for decades, influencing public life and politics, and the way other news organisations and blogs do business. The amount of unchecked, unnoticed bullshit polluting Australian culture would rise significantly. Stopping that happening is worth fighting for. Ben Cubby is the environment editor at The Sydney Morning Herald. Andrew Fyfe is a freelance cartoonist best known as the on-air cartoonist for Hey Hey It’s Saturday; andrewfyfe.com.au THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
n OUR MEDIA
When the ink ran out Michael Yiannakis sees more than a few similarities between the Dow Jones newspaper experience and the current Fairfax woes. Cartoon by Matt Golding “Newspapers are like anything else: they’re pure and incorruptible and noble – as far as they can afford to be.” The Imperfectionists – Tom Rachman
s a young journalism student in the 1980s hoping to catch a career break in the world of newspapers, I had my ambitions firmly set on the John Fairfax stable. The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian Financial Review and The National Times were all on my wish list. This was a vibrant time in Australian politics and business, when leaders were under intense scrutiny amid a culture of corruption. It was the time of The Age Tapes and the Costigan Commission into tax evasion; the excesses of 1980s corporate greed were in full flight; and it was the dawn of the Hawke-Keating era. An aspiring journalist couldn’t ask for more. These were also the days of Wendy Bacon, Robert Haupt, Mungo MacCallum and Brian Toohey – the titans of the industry all offering deep analysis and insightful coverage that you were hard-pressed to find anywhere else. While sitting in tutorials at Curtin University, it was the investigative stories penned by these journalists that we analysed, deconstructed and aspired to write one day. The problem was I lived on the vast Perth coastal plain on the other side of the Nullarbor. It may as well have been another country. While the destructive era of WA Inc. was offering its fair share of news stories, the prestige and power of the newspaper establishment remained on the east coast. After graduating and working for a year, I packed up and headed to Sydney – a city which I had never visited and where I knew a handful of people at best. In hindsight it was a brash move for someone who was yet to hone his craft. It was the eve of the Bicentenary celebrations and three months after the 1987 stock-market crash. There was an advertising downturn and Fairfax was under siege, with young Warwick Fairfax’s doomed, debt-laden bid for the company under way. Within weeks of arriving in Sydney I’d landed a “permanent casual” reporting role on the SMH at the old Broadway headquarters. On the old pay scale, a “D with a margin” was within my sights. But my good fortune was short lived. After the 1987 stock-market crash, the advertising market hit a wall and Fairfax needed to cut costs. The afternoon tabloid The Sun folded, 12 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
as did the short-lived Times on Sunday. Journalists hired on a casual basis, such as me, were shown the door as the company attempted to absorb as many of its displaced employees as possible. The company eventually fell into receivership. Over the next 20-odd years, it churned through a procession of chief executives as the postWarwick interregnum created a leadership vacuum that has arguably existed ever since. It took a few months and a lot of persistence, but I eventually landed a job at the Financial Review. Time moved on and so did I, working at a few other news organisations before returning to the AFR during the heyday of the tech bubble. In 2000, I left Australia for The Wall Street Journal Asia (WSJA) in Hong Kong – a newspaper where I worked for the next nine years and which was to go through its own convulsions and bloodlettings in the decade that followed. In October 2005, the WSJA’s then-parent company, Dow Jones & Co., decided to cut production costs by reducing the paper size of the WSJ’s Asia and Europe editions. The papers went from a broadsheet format to a tabloid size, or “compact” as it is referred to for marketing purposes. At the start of 2007, the US Wall Street Journal was also resized from a broadsheet to the smaller Berliner format. By shrinking the size of the physical product Dow Jones could reduce newsprint use and cut production costs. It also gave the publisher access to a greater number of printing sites across the US, which could not handle the larger broadsheet format. Dow Jones said at the time that trimming one column off the WSJ would bring about US$18 million in annual savings. The Age and the SMH will face a
Dow Jones said at the time that trimming one column off the WSJ would bring about US$18 million in annual savings
similar revolution when they change their format in 2013. While such a move will no doubt lower production costs, whether it stops the profit squeeze remains to be seen. Dow Jones was vulnerable: years of mismanagement, a floundering share price, the resizing of mastheads in the hope of cutting losses and a family with divided loyalties set the scene for what was to come. In May 2007, Rupert Murdoch made his move, eventually paying US$5.6 billion for Dow Jones, one of the oldest and most respected media businesses in the world. It ended a century of Bancroft-family ownership. (Less than 18 months after finalising the bid, News Corp wrote down the value of the investment by US$2.8 billion.) One thing that Dow Jones had understood early on in the digital media game is that readers accustomed to quality news coverage will pay for it. Confounding critics who said that charging for anything on the free-culture internet was doomed, Dow Jones had built a successful paid online platform. At first, Murdoch favoured removing the paywall on wsj.com. But in what proved to be an astute business decision, he changed his mind. Now the vulnerable brand of Fairfax faces its own set of challenges, including overtures from a deep-pocketed suitor in the form of mining magnate Gina Rinehart or a potential private equity bid. Let us hope its mastheads can afford to remain incorruptible and noble. Michael Yiannakis was a journalist at The Australian Financial Review. He now lives in Hong Kong and remains a Fairfax Media shareholder. Twitter: @YiannakisM Matt Golding is a Walkley Award-winning freelance cartoonist for The Sunday Age.
Rise of the journopreneur Stoke that inner hustle and beef up your business smarts, because the time has come to create your own job in journalism says Charlotte Harper. Illustration by Peter Sheehan
ormer Australian Financial Review (AFR) IT editor Grant Butler left Fairfax in 2000, and two years later invested nearly all his start-up capital for his editing business, $20,000, in the domain name editor.co.uk. Eight years later he sold it, along with a collection of related domain names, for some US$200,000. The managing director of Editor Group has spent the past 12 years building a global business offering editorial services for corporate and government clients. He employs more than a dozen full-time staff in Sydney, and uses a network of freelancers. Butler is hesitant to describe himself as an entrepreneurial journalist, but acknowledges he is “making a business out of journalistic writing and editing”. But what exactly is entrepreneurial journalism? US journalist and researcher Kim Nowacki completed a thesis on the topic last year, and wrote that “the idea of entrepreneurial journalism as something totally new – new distribution and revenue models, more audience engagement, a niche or hyperlocal focus – can be a liberating prospect for many current journalists either forced out by lay-offs or fed up with ineffective management.” Her conclusion goes some way to providing a definition: “The future of journalism and media will be defined by people who can seamlessly mesh – and reconcile – solid journalism with business savvy, sustainable revenue models, technological innovation and inner hustle.” Australian print journalists pondering their future could do worse than read Nowacki’s thesis and study the form of Butler and his fellow journopreneurs – Amanda Gome (SmartCompany, merged with Private Media), Alan Kohler (Business Spectator and the Eureka Report, sold to News Limited), Tim Burrowes (Mumbrella), Renai LeMay (Delimiter), Mia Freedman (Mama Mia and iVillage.com.au), Paula Joye (Lifestyled) and Stephen Mayne (Crikey, since sold to Private Media) among them. Butler himself was initially inspired by the stories he was writing for the AFR. “ was the tail end of the dotcom boom so I spent a lot of time interviewing entrepreneurs and thinking about start-ups. I guess I got the bug and wanted to give it a go myself,” he says. u
“The future of journalism and media will be defined by people who can seamlessly mesh – and reconcile – solid journalism with business savvy” THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
n OUR MEDIA
Serial digital start-up operator Amanda Gome also learnt much while still working as a business journalist. Gome left BRW in 2006 to launch SmartCompany. Despite her 20 years writing about entrepreneurs, the first two years in business were “a shock”. “There was so little help available, I vowed that once SmartCompany was established, I would start a publication to help others through those first years: hence [2010 launch] Startup Smart,” she says. In 2009, SmartCompany merged with Crikey publisher Private Media. Gome has since spearheaded further digital launches, including Property Observer, The Power Index and, most recently, Women’s Agenda. Another Melbourne entrepreneur, Phoebe Montague, started her fashion blog, Lady Melbourne, back in 2007 with no journalistic experience. “When I started, not many people had even heard of a blog so the thought that I might be able to do it as my full-time job didn’t even cross my mind,” she says. These days, it’s her main gig, supplemented by income from related teaching, guest speaking and books. “No-one pays you to sit down and blog every day so you have to find ways to market yourself or your brand as a product,” she says. In Montague’s case, this includes charging fashion labels up to $1000 to appear on Lady Melbourne – and on the editor herself as the site’s main model. Montague completed a Graduate Diploma in Journalism at RMIT in 2009 with a view to launching a career in print fashion media. She notes that there was little emphasis on online publishing in the course. “It was still very much focused on getting a cadetship or traineeship in print or at the ABC. I just looked all around me and could see the industry on its knees, losing advertising revenue and titles closing. I knew before I’d even graduated that I was going to seek a career in online publishing, and one that paid the rent at that.” She says that future journalism courses should examine the revenue and advertising
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dollars versus creative content and journalistic integrity dilemma closely. “Newspapers have ad sales people and leave the journalists to do their job; it’s just not the same when you start as a blogger or online publisher,” she says. “You have to wear so many hats as a startup, so I’d say foundation classes in how to manage multiple roles would be a great starting point. “On from that you’d want to be looking at content management systems, social media, legal issues, how to write for the web and how to build something that is sustainable in a supremely competitive marketplace.” Universities and colleges around the country are boosting their emphasis on digital and featuring guest lecturers like Montague and Gome, who is an adjunct professor at RMIT on entrepreneurial journalism. In the US, the City University of New York (CUNY) recently launched a 15-week entrepreneurial course of study designed for mid-career journalists. The course focuses on innovative approaches to journalism, business fundamentals, technology skills and new business models for news. Students develop a start-up project, present business plans and compete for awards from the university’s Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism to fund further development. Journalist and academic Jeremy Caplan is director of education at the Tow-Knight Center and Ford Fellow in Entrepreneurial Journalism with the Poynter Institute. He says students in the CUNY course get to dip their toes into a live start-up in New York City. “In the recent past they’ve worked with a variety of companies, including FourSquare, Meetup, Foodspotting, The Atavist, Percolate and The Daily Beast.” One graduate, Noah Rosenberg, launched his start-up Narrative.ly in September. It’s a project focusing on in-depth storytelling about the people of New York. Rosenberg used a Kickstarter campaign to crowd-fund
“Newspapers have ad sales people and leave the journalists to do their job; it’s just not the same when you start as a blogger or online publisher”
more than $50,000 in initial funding for Narrative.ly. Caplan says that training students in entrepreneurial journalism positions them as future leaders in the profession. “Given that a key objective for universities everywhere is to educate and prepare students to excel in the changing world around them, it’s a good idea for universities to empower students to lead change, not just react to it. “As the field of journalism evolves and as the media industries alternate between fragmentation and consolidation, there will be a growing demand for journalists who have entrepreneurial spirit and a knack for innovation.” Charlotte Harper is a former Fairfax journalist and web producer who recently launched a digital first book publishing business, Editia (editia.com), with a focus on short non-fiction and long-form journalism in ebook form Peter Sheehan is a writer, illustrator, designer and storyboard artist based in Sydney
Business basics for start-ups • Take small business courses run by local governments and institutions. • Attend industry events, courses and conferences related to your idea. • Read books like Ian Benjamin’s Consulting, Contracting and Freelancing, John English’s How to Organise and Operate a Small Business in Australia and Mark Briggs’s Entrepreneurial Journalism: How to build what’s next for news. • Regularly look at websites like Mashable, Flying Solo and Start-up Smart. • Seek out a designer, accountant, bookkeeper, lawyer, insurance broker and website developer. • Set up a well-equipped work area. • Write a basic business plan. • Register for an ABN, and if you expect to earn more than $75,000 a year from the business, register for GST. • Register a business name through ASIC. Register related domain names and social media profiles. • Start blogging, tweeting and using Facebook and LinkedIn. • Order and generously hand out business cards.
n FUTURE OF NEWS
The ABC of change management With growing demand for news at any time across any device, the ABC has to remake the way it delivers the goods, says Kate Torney
he immediate challenges for news organisations around the world are similar – how do we build audiences in this changing information age and how do we best manage our resources to deliver content across platforms? But there are important differences facing traditional print and broadcast news organisations. Audiences for ABC news on radio and television remain very strong – our toprating television and radio bulletins still attract audiences of more than a million people each day. While some news organisations are focused on making the transition from one medium to another, the ABC remains committed to traditional platforms of radio and television, while also seeking innovative ways to serve audiences wanting news on a range of devices, at a time of their choosing. To achieve this we began a review of ABC News operations earlier this year. This involved working with staff to identify the pressure points in our news-gathering and production teams, and a review of the way we allocate, deploy and organise our resources and commission stories. Importantly, it involved discussions and debates about journalism and the kind of news organisation the ABC should be in 2012 and beyond. At a time when technology has, and is, changing journalism and the way people consume it, clarity about our role has never been more critical. The role of ABC News is to offer independent, accurate, impartial and original reporting and analysis on issues relevant to the communities we serve – locally, nationally and internationally. The proposed changes are designed to ensure that we manage demand so that our talented and dedicated teams across the country, and the world, can produce their best work; where all ABC audiences are well served and where the news we cover matters to them. There are four pillars to our newsgathering project: • Story first: We will shift the focus from a platform-based approach to a story-based one. So instead of sending multiple reporters to cover the same story for television and radio, when
or more than five years, the Media Alliance has been researching, tracking and campaigning about the “perfect storm” that has ravaged the news media here and in other countries. A combination of economic malaise and digital technology has disrupted our industry, closing newspapers and magazines, putting broadcasters under pressure and bringing turmoil to those newsrooms that have survived. Alliance staff and members have campaigned hard to try to preserve jobs and working conditions and to provide training for those whose jobs have disappeared. It has been a stressful and, at times, depressing few years and many of us have often wondered whether the people charged with securing the future of their organisations have a plan and, if so, what it is. So we have asked management representatives from some of Australia’s largest media organisations to reveal their strategies for survival. On the next four pages are insights from four of them: the ABC’s director of news, Kate Torney, News Limited editors Matt Deighton and Sam Weir, the CEO of Fairfax Metro, Jack Matthews, and Shane Rodgers, the editorial director for APN Australian Regional Media. These are their plans, their visions.
possible, one reporter will cover the story for all our platforms. Critically, our news teams in the field will have better production support and enough resources will be deployed to meet all the demands on major stories. Streamlining our commissioning processes makes sense on several levels – it reduces duplication of resources and, if managed well, it will allow us to take reporters “off the roster” to spend time chasing original stories. • An input/output news model: We are creating a structured input/ output system to properly cater for continuous and scheduled news audiences. This will allow the one team to focus on gathering news as it happens and covering story developments throughout the day, while the output team will focus on delivering and value-adding to that content for our audiences across ABC platforms and programs. • Multimedia approach: As our audiences increasingly seek their news online, on tablets or on mobile devices, we must drive our content into those spaces as well as onto traditional platforms.
The ABC remains committed to traditional platforms of radio and television, while also seeking innovative ways to serve audiences wanting news on a range of devices
• News now: Historically we have produced content to meet “appointment” deadlines, such as the 7pm bulletin for television, or the 7.45am bulletin for radio. While those scheduled bulletins will always be central to our news offerings, we need to file content as soon as it becomes available, for use across our continuous news platforms. We will achieve these objectives through a range of changes to our network operations, including: • A cross-platform news-gathering desk • A central planning desk • A central production desk. In the states and territories, where so many of the ABC’s news teams are based, we are looking at uniform newsroom models, which draw on the best practices from across the ABC. We will be consulting with staff and unions about the detail of the proposed changes and, as we do, one issue will be of particular focus – quality. This has been a key focus in all our discussions about change at ABC News. The ABC is a trusted news source, so how do we maintain our reputation for accuracy, impartiality and fairness while managing growing demand and pressure on our news teams? We manage demand by being discerning about the stories we cover, by continuing to set and enforce high editorial standards, investing heavily in ongoing training for our news teams and developing further a culture of accountability at all levels of the news process. It now seems extraordinary to think that just two years ago Australian free-to-air television audiences only had access to television news bulletins a couple of times a day, and at times determined by the schedule, not the news. Throughout its history the ABC has adapted and changed to meet the needs of the audience. The changes currently proposed are designed to allow us to meet the immediate and future demands of the people we serve. Kate Torney has been director of news at the ABC since 2009. She has worked in local radio, news, current affairs and international broadcasting
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
n FUTURE OF NEWS
All hands on deck and forget the masthead Matt Deighton and Sam Weir believe that News Limited’s integrated newsroom fosters cooperation, not competition, and that’s improving journalism
ne city, one newsroom is, at its most basic level, about improving the art of storytelling. At News Limited, we’ve long talked about having some of the best reporters, the best resources and the best reach in the country. But we’ve never truly combined the strength of our local, city and state expertise. A fully integrated, seven-day newsroom seeks to redress that imbalance. It aims to put our readers at the forefront of everything we do – to give them news that is more immediate, dynamic and relevant. It aims to ensure we work as a unit, forgoing much of the internal competition that, in an increasingly fragmented world, will only hold us back and leave us vulnerable to competitors. So if it’s really about the art of improving storytelling, perhaps the best way to explain how it works is to tell one. And it’s true. In early September – a month after the launch of the integrated newsroom incorporating The Advertiser, Sunday Mail, Messenger Community News and adelaidenow – a community reporter from our southern suburbs gets a tip-off that a major high school in her area is planning a significant, symbolic statement. Every one of its 800-plus students will sign a pledge banning the derogatory use of the word “gay”. This will coincide with “Wear It Purple Day” – a US initiative to stop bullying, suicide and harassment surrounding gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex youth at risk – and is spurred on by one of the students reading the story of a 14-yearold US teen who took his own life. The reporter senses it’s an important story and immediately kicks it up the chain to her community editor (in our new world, community reporters are still attached to a local masthead and report to a community editor). The community editor subsequently pitches the story at the daily morning conference – a quick, 15-minute WIP (work in progress) standing around a table – with the senior community team in head office. It’s a process copied from The Advertiser’s newsroom transformation from several years back, led by then editor Melvin Mansell (now SA, NT and WA state director), to encourage a speedy exchange of ideas and quick decision making.
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It aims to ensure we work as a unit, forgoing much of the internal competition that… will only hold us back and leave us vulnerable to competitors
The community editor’s task is simple: just bring your best content to the meeting and don’t hold anything back. The issue of who owns the story isn’t mentioned. At this stage it’s all about the content. The meeting decides in an instant that it warrants wider coverage and it’s immediately placed on the electronic metro news list. In this brave new world, there are no secrets. The meeting ends and the community online editor moves into another meeting, this time The Advertiser’s morning WIP (similar to the traditional conference, but not as formal). The enthusiasm for the story is shared. It will be the next day’s “splash”. The meeting finishes and the newly formed engine room of the newsroom, the “superdesk” – consisting of the two metro editors, the community editor-in-chief and the heads of news, sport, online, production and lifestyle all sitting together – kicks in. Historically the daily, Sunday and community editors would rarely meet during a week, and their days revolved around trying to keep their best ideas a secret from each other. Now they are in constant communication. Arguably, the most significant cultural shift has been the relationship between the daily and Sunday editors. Every major story that comes across the superdesk sees the two editors working as a single unit. The issue of “protecting” mastheads is not discussed. They collaborate on everything from headlines to lead paragraphs and work on developing stories across the “marquee” days of Saturday and Sunday, and then into the next week. Back to the gay pledge story, and the superdesk shifts into gear by allocating resources and ensuring all bases are covered. The education reporter is assigned to assist the local community team in working it up. Discussions continue. “Let’s try to ‘Facebook’ Ellen.” “How about we contact Oprah?” “Do we know any high-profile people who went to the school... didn’t Fitzy (FM radio host Ryan Fitzgerald) go there?” There are no stupid ideas (it turns out Fitzy did go there). It’s early days but that’s the aim of the overall desk: harness creativity, generate ideas, get the best out of every yarn, get
people actually talking. Reporters come and go from these discussions and it soon emerges another Adelaide school is doing the same. The story builds. Meanwhile, the community editor is starting to think about what this all means for her paper, which is still six days away from publication. But it’s not as challenging or confronting as it might at first appear. For starters, she knows her community well and has a good feel for the stories that make it tick. She also has solid research and data to back up her gut feel (something we have embraced over the past two years). It tells her she doesn’t have to try to compete with the dailies. Instead, her readers want context and solutions; they want to know who the people and heroes are behind the stories; they want to know what other readers think; they want to have a voice. So the editor charges her reporter to focus on the students and their personal motivations for taking the stance. “Just try to get inside their heads,” she tells the reporter. She also knows that once the story breaks online, community response will be strong, providing plentiful reader reaction. Later that day, the story goes on adelaidenow, attracting a shade under 10,000 hits and hundreds of comments. The new newsroom also sees the community and online teams working as one. The community sites have been shut down and all content is fed into adelaidenow under the direction of the digital editor. This has increased local news hits four-fold, seen a sharp rise in comments and engagement and allowed the metro team to focus on breaking news of statewide significance. The story is sent right around the News Limited network, and is featured heavily on interstate sites. It appears on The Advertiser’s front page the next day under the headline “Gay Abandon”, becoming Messenger’s first-ever metropolitan splash. And a new version of the story appears on the front page of the Southern Times Messenger the following week. This is an integrated newsroom in action. And it’s happening every day. Matt Deighton is editor-in-chief of Messenger Community News Sam Weir is editor of The Advertiser
The new house of Fairfax The digital-first approach may still be a culture shock for traditional print journalists, but Fairfax needed a new newsroom model to survive says Jack Matthews. Illustration by Andrew Fyfe
ell, it seems the secret is finally out. It’s not “if” media organisations must change, it’s “how” and, more importantly, “how fast”. Actually, that secret has been out for quite a while, yet it’s not completely clear that publishers have fully embraced its implications. Many publishers still appear to want to live in the good old days where they could manage scarcity of both content creation and content distribution. Unfortunately, technology has destroyed that world. Today everyone can create and distribute content. But that doesn’t mean everyone can do it well. It’s why publishers with long traditions of quality, credibility and strong relationships with their communities can thrive in this new world. The reality of this new world is that power has shifted from the publisher to the consumer. Publishers have no alternative but to rebuild their businesses around that reality. Failure to recognise this will result in just that: failure. Fairfax has understood this new reality for quite a long time. The decision to keep our digital business independent from the print mastheads from which digital drew so many benefits was controversial, both inside Fairfax and in the broader media community. But in retrospect it has turned out to be absolutely right. As publishers around the world struggle to grow their audience and build viable digital business models, Fairfax has done both. Audience growth over five years of 30 per cent and digital revenues circa $300 million attest to that. However, despite that success we knew we needed to take the next step toward full integration across our various platforms because that is how our audiences consume our content – and it’s how our advertisers want to reach their markets. Eighteen months ago Fairfax established its Metro division consisting of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Canberra Times, Fairfax Digital and the Fairfax Community Networks in both Victoria and New South Wales. This was a profound change. Prior to Metro, each of these businesses existed in deep, historical silos – editorial/commercial, Sydney/Melbourne, print/online; each with its own culture, business model and competitive set. In the new world, that approach is unsustainable. The Metro division is built around
There was no alternative – we had to change. The audience demanded it three core competencies: creating great content, building innovative products, and selling across platforms. Each of these must be audience focused rather than platform focused. This requires a fundamentally different model for our newsrooms. Fortunately our journalists understand this and have been ready to support change. Several months ago a project team, led by Garry Linnell and Glenn Burge, was formed to develop this new model. The process was open and transparent, and the active involvement of editorial staff from all levels of our newsrooms was critical. We wanted a revolution to match the one undertaken by our consumers. And we got it, with our editorial teams now geared to meet the needs of our audiences 24 hours a day on their smartphones, laptops, PCs, tablets and in print. For 181 years our newsrooms were devoted to producing a daily newspaper. We now take a digital-first approach. We will treat our growing digital audiences with the same respect as our print readers: breaking news online, delivering the best analysis, video, images and interactive graphics and throwing the full weight of the Metro newsrooms behind our coverage. This requires editors and journalists who have traditionally had a print focus learning about the demands of online journalism and meeting multiple deadlines across the day. We have reshaped the Metro newsrooms in five cities, taking a national approach to coverage where appropriate, while always
retaining the unique local voice that is the hallmark of our mastheads. And, not surprisingly, our journalists have embraced these changes. The new role of news director is the linchpin of the newsroom. The news director organises the coverage in a 24/7 cycle, conscious of the requirements of each platform and working closely with the print, online and tablet editors. Topic editors – another new position – manage reporters so that stories are being delivered consistently to meet the audience demands and set the news agenda. If there is major news breaking at 7.30am, for example, then the news directors and the topic editors can harness the power of the entire Metro newsroom for our digital coverage – while also thinking about what will be needed for the newspaper the next day. It is an exciting change for those journalists who have previously focused only on producing the paper. Now they have the opportunity – indeed, they are required – to work on both digital and print products each day, reaching a much broader audience and learning new skills and ways of storytelling. So there is no secret. There was no alternative – we had to change. The audience demanded it. Jack Matthews is CEO of Fairfax Metro Media which consists of all print, online and mobile assets for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
n FUTURE OF NEWS
APN flies its local colours Regional and local news has been doing it hard. APN’s Shane Rodgers explains how its newsrooms are being transformed to face up to some tough challenges. Illustration by Rod Emmerson
PN’s Australian regional newsrooms are in the midst of a quiet revolution. The changes will allow us to fully embrace digital opportunities and enter a new era of dynamic journalism. There will be a major transformation of newsroom roles and structures, creating deeper career paths for our journalists and helping us to rapidly evolve our digital and print products. The changes, to be introduced during October 2012, coincide with the launch of new “community hub” digital sites across our regional markets and the adoption of a News Now philosophy in our newsrooms. News Now means we will publish news as it happens in the most appropriate way, on the most appropriate platform, at the most appropriate time. APN Australian Regional Media employs about 400 journalists across 12 daily and 58 non-daily newspapers and more than 30 websites across Queensland and northern New South Wales. These are the key components of the new structure: • Creation of five editorial regions across Queensland and northern NSW to encourage whole-of-area cooperation and greater hours of coverage • Appointment of specialist print editors and digital producers in the major sites to achieve state-of-the-art print products and constantly updated digital hubs • Appointment of news directors in major sites to drive content generation that feeds all available platforms • The launch of new websites that will evolve the current sites from news portals to genuine interactive local hubs that “own” local news, information and conversation • Greater editorial specialisation around key “pillar” areas such as business, motoring, employment, real estate, mining, rural and business. The changes, which are headcount neutral, come on top of a year of editorial rejuvenation that has included the restructure and redesign of more than 50 of our print publications, the launch of APN Newsdesk with bureaus in Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane and an upgraded training program. The new structure recognises that audiences require news and information in a variety of formats, and that digital sites should not just be a replication of print mastheads.
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Print newspapers need to be highly visual in line with contemporary reading habits, but they remain a great medium for analysis, for browsing, mulling over information and giving a sense of place and proportion. Digital is more about happenings in real time, searching for what you need now, real-time audience engagement, cross linking with related information, and dynamic features such as video and graphic interactives. We need reporters to be skilled across a variety of storytelling styles and mediums, while design and production requires high-level specialisation from experts who understand the audience nuances of different platforms. Equally, we must embrace the opportunities of social media to create audience interactions that can feed back to our formal platforms. The new structure will give us the flexibility to be in constant improvement mode, using regional editors-in-chief and the group structure to drive ideas and strategies, as well as staff development. The changes recognise that media companies in the digital age will be in a constant state of transformation and we need to have organisational models that deliver a nimble change agenda without stifling day-to-day newsroom operations.
News Now means we will publish news as it happens in the most appropriate way, on the most appropriate platform, at the most appropriate time
The digital age also means we can make the most of our highly valued local journalism by creating “content verticals”, such as our Rural Weekly product, that bring together the best of our stories from across the network. In the space of 12 months we have gone from a structure in which journalists could essentially be just reporters, subeditors, section editors, chiefs-of-staff or editors to an operation with more than 10 different job types within the broader editorial department. APN has unprecedented audience penetration across our regional markets through our daily print, community and digital titles. The future will be about evolving our business to capitalise on our extraordinary reach into some of Australia’s most vibrant local markets. The new structure is an important step in that direction and a reaffirmation of our commitment to quality journalism. Shane Rodgers is editorial director of APN Australian Regional Media Rod Emmerson is the editorial cartoonist for The New Zealand Herald
n SPOTLIGHT ON THE UK
How fares Fleet Street? British newspapers are facing the same basic problems as ours. Jonathan Este takes a look at how the UK press is meeting the challenge
The Guardian implemented a radical restructure of its newsroom before moving into purpose-built new accommodation at Kings Place in central London in 2008.
t’s known at The Guardian as the “Rusbridger Cross” – the gap that exists when you are losing money from the print version of your newspaper and your digital revenues haven’t grown sufficiently to cover the loss. Like Australia’s print media, the UK press has been stuck in the middle of this gap for some years now, so the upheavals and restructures being introduced at this country’s major news organisations have made for familiar reading on Fleet Street. And despite circulation figures which, with few exceptions, make for gloomy reading, there are signs that measures taken by some UK papers may be beginning to pay off. The Walkley Magazine spoke with representatives of three organisations to present a broad cross-section of differing strategies. The Guardian is a “quality” newspaper providing a wide range of general news and comment from the UK and internationally. The Daily Mail is the most successful “mid-market tabloid”, selling nearly 2 million copies per day and chalking up an impressive 100 million unique browsers per month on its MailOnline site. The Financial Times is the world’s most successful business-led paper and is one of the first newspapers for whom revenue from digital subscribers outstrips print.
To paywall or not to paywall? The FT introduced its digital subscription model in 2002 and in 2007 pioneered what it calls its “metered model”, allowing non-subscribers who have registered with the site to read eight stories per month before having to subscribe (this is similar to the model since adopted by The New York Times). This, says Rob Grimshaw, the managing director of FT.com, “allowed us to build up multiple revenue streams, balancing strong content sales with advertising revenues and creating a more sustainable and resilient business that has been less reliant on cyclical advertising”. The paper recently announced it had more than 300,000 digital subscriptions to add to the 297,000 subscriptions for the print version of the FT. In the first half of 2012,
– PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER
digital revenues (advertising and content) were up 17 per cent year-on-year. By the end of the year, the FT expects almost half of total revenues to come from subscriptions, with digital revenues representing 30 per cent of the total. This appears to tally with the purists’ paywall theory: that news organisations must move away from journalism’s traditionally heavy reliance on advertising revenue and build a strong base of subscription revenue. In contrast, The Guardian’s editor, Alan Rusbridger, is famously opposed to paywalls, instead pioneering what he calls an “open” system of journalism that invites readers from around the world to become part of the process of news creation. The Guardian has the second most popular newspaper website in the UK, clocking up 69.5 million unique browsers for August. But while Rusbridger says there are “more interesting things going on” than paywalls, he is careful not to rule them out: “The simple answer is, I don’t know. At the moment I don’t think it is right. I’ve never said we would never do it. I think you have to think editorially first.” Having been slower than some of its competitors in establishing its web credentials, the Daily Mail’s MailOnline now vies with the New York Times as the world’s leading newspaper website, having cracked the 100 million unique browsers barrier in August. MailOnline boss Martin Clarke stated two years ago that the paper’s website would remain unpaywalled, as the “website does not threaten our paper, it protects it,” adding that MailOnline “is now big enough to make the advertising model pay,” and that while a paywall might make a little money, MailOnline “will make a lot”.
“It’s not a time for cutting back; it’s a time to unlock the creativity at our disposal”
Newsroom restructure – what has this meant for jobs? The Financial Times was one of the first UK national papers to restructure its newsroom in response to the profound challenges of the digital era. The paper brought in the (at that stage quite revolutionary) Italian “Methode” editorial system – which has since been adopted by many news organisations around the world including, in May this year, News International’s UK mastheads. This enabled the FT to reorganise around an integrated newsroom which interweaves online and print editing, reporting and production into combined newspaper/website news desks across the whole organisation. The changes came at a cost of 50 editorial jobs. Staff rotas were reorganised to meet the demands of an international business newspaper, with large bureaus filing from New York and Hong Kong. “When we talk about the age of 24/7 news that’s the way we are living now, and we can do that because we have a worldwide newspaper,” the paper’s editor, Lionel Barber, said at the time. Before it moved into its spectacular new HQ at Kings Place in late 2008, The Guardian integrated its News, Business and Sport divisions across print and online platforms, creating four new roles: head of National News, head of Business, head of Sport and head of International News, reporting to the then deputy editor Paul Johnson, who assumed the role of head of Business, News and Sport. Reporters were organised into what were called “pods” (we might, on Australian papers, call them “rounds”) while, on the foreign desk, “pods” brought together reporters working in similar time zones or regions. This structure has remained largely unchanged since – “except we don’t tend u THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
n SPOTLIGHT ON THE UK
u to refer to ‘pods’ so much any more,” said a Guardian spokesperson. At the time, Rusbridger said there wouldn’t be any cuts: “It’s not a time for cutting back; it’s a time to unlock the creativity at our disposal.” But after the latest announcement of The Guardian’s financial losses, the paper announced it would be seeking to cut 100 editorial staff, adding to the roughly 300 jobs that have disappeared across the group over the past two and a half years. DMGT, which publishes the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, the commuter freesheet Metro and a stable of local and regional papers, has cut 800 jobs over the past 12 months (the group has cut more than 3000 jobs in four years). DMGT finance director, Stephen Daintith, commented that from now on, most new editorial appointments would inevitably be journalists with digital skills as the nature of the Mail’s core business becomes more platformneutral. “There are very few people who we would call pure print journalists,” Daintith said. “On the whole, people are now working across several platforms.” Who’s making all the money? The Mail, at present, is making money. DMGT announced at the end of September that advertising revenue for its newspaper websites (mainly the MailOnline) was up 72 per cent this year – admittedly from a low base. It’s been estimated that the paper will make almost £30 million (A$45 million) of revenue in the 12 months to the end of September, and perhaps more than £40 million of revenue the following year. This while newspaper advertising revenues continue to fall – by 7 per cent (although the newspaper remains profitable). DMGT has been developing a diversified strategy to create a portfolio of B2B businesses alongside the B2C media business. The media business now accounts for just under half of the total revenues and about a quarter of the profits. The B2B businesses are typically in high value information, often delivered digitally. More than 40 per cent of DMGT’s revenues are now digital. On the B2C side, aside from the success of MailOnline, the company has a portfolio of websites in jobs and property. These commercial areas had their roots in newspaper classifieds, but DMGT has developed them as stand-alone sites. Meanwhile The Guardian’s digital revenue is also beginning to show respectable growth, 26 per cent overall to £45 million, of which £14.7 million was from digital advertising, a 26 per cent increase (the balance is from paid iPad and Kindle apps and other online services, such as the paper’s Soulmates dating service). The Financial Times’ strategy is much more based on revenue from subscriptions than from advertisers although, as the paper 20 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
1 2 3 4
Print readers (000s)2
Digital readers (000s)3
Latest job losses reported4
Northern and Shell
70 at Express and Star, reported Mar 2012
Associate newspapers have lost 1200 jobs since 2009
Mirror Group Newspapers
75 job cuts, reported Feb 2012
Northern and Shell
See Daily Express
30 jobs in group, reported Jan 2012
20 jobs cut
Guardian News & Media
100 jobs cut by Mar 13, reported Jul 2012
Independent Print Ltd
20 jobs in merger of desks with Evening Standard, reported Nov 2011
Independent Print Ltd
See The Independent
100 jobs cut at Times and further 100 at Sunday Times, reported Oct 2011
Source: Audit Bureau of Circulation, August 2012 Source: National Readership Survey Source: National Readership Survey – daily average readership, based on joint Nielsen and UKOM survey of 35,000 people Anecdotal – based on newspaper reports over past 12 months
The Daily Mail’s massive online growth is enabling it to make the transition from midmarket tabloid with a distinctly “little Britain” feel to a global news brand
likes to point out, the information they have on their subscriber base: their professions, their locations, their likes and dislikes and reading habits, gives them a rich set of data to maximise ad revenue on a smaller global audience. And it helps that their audience, which includes more senior executives in Europe than any other media brand, as well as a fair proportion of high earners in the US and Asia, is about as wealthy as you can imagine. Digital revenues were up by 17 per cent year-on-year for the first half of 2012. Too little, too late? It’s “Sod’s Law” that the Rusbridger Gap has occurred in the middle of the deepest recession in living memory. Doomsayers have pointed to the volume of losses at The Guardian and predicted that the Scott Trust simply won’t be able to keep selling down the group’s other assets to maintain the paper for many more years. The paper aims to control the quantum of losses to £15 million a year within five years, while doubling its digital revenue to £90 million. It’s a gamble and the loss of so many journalists (an estimated 250 since 2009, with a further 100 to come) will threaten its ability to maintain quality.
One of The Guardian’s problems is that it doesn’t occupy, still less dominate, a lucrative niche in the same way as the Financial Times, which has a loyal army of subscribers and can offer a range of other top-shelf businessrelated products to help pay the wages bill. The “Pink ’Un”, as it is known, has access to growing markets in Asia which will help it balance the risk from recession in Europe and the US. The organisation has recognised that, in its case, quality will remain the key to its continuing existence, which is good news for its journalists. The Daily Mail’s massive online growth is enabling it to make the transition from midmarket tabloid with a distinctly “little Britain” feel to a global news brand, expanding its reach and opening bureaus in the US, Asia – and soon Australia. If reach really does equal revenue, the Mail is positioning itself well to be one of the survivors. And in these gloomy times for the newspaper business, any paper that is opening bureaus and hiring staff is a good news story. Jonathan Este is a freelance journalist based in the UK. He was director of communications for the Media Alliance from 2007 to 2012
Would you be the judge? Lord Justice Leveson will face a hostile press whatever he recommends, writes Peter Bartlett. Cartoon by Cathy Wilcox
was in London when the Milly Dowler phone-hacking story broke and when the last issue of News of the World was published. Since then, I have closely followed the developments in the UK and, like many of us who are close to the media, I have been appalled that such practices occurred. In my experience, such behaviour has not happened in Australia. The Finkelstein Report and Convergence Review were looking at possible ways of improving a system that actually works pretty well now. By contrast, in the UK, Leveson is preparing his report against a backdrop of the most extraordinary revelations of improper activity. Charges have been laid. The public is demanding action. It is demanding reform. If Leveson goes too far in recommending media regulation, he will be attacked by the media and free speech advocates. If he does not go far enough, the public and politicians will attack him. His task is a difficult one. I was in London again in May this year and had the pleasure of having a one-onone meeting with Lord Justice Leveson in his Chambers. I found him to be, not surprisingly, very impressive. I am pleased that he will be giving a talk at the Centre for Advanced Journalism (I chair its advisory board) in early December. Clearly the demand for press accountability in the UK is stronger than in Australia, due to some of its media’s clear ethical breaches. As well as examining evidence of phone hacking and other potentially illegal behaviour by journalists, the Leveson inquiry is looking at the relationship between the press and the public, the press and the police, and the press and politicians. It will make recommendations on “effective policy and regulation that supports integrity and freedom of the press while encouraging the highest ethical standards.” What a challenge. On the one side, we have the public, personified by horrific experiences of the media’s victims. David Sherborne, a barrister for some of the victims including Hugh Grant, Kate and Gerry McCann (parents of Madeleine) and Bob and Sally Dowler (parents of murdered Milly), told the inquiry: “The press is on trial here, and not simply in this room, but also out there in the court of public opinion, and they know it. That is why they are so scared at what evidence has been heard here.”
“Unless someone takes a grip, a very firm grip, of the tabloid press, we will be back to the same position as soon as the spotlight is turned off and the ink is dry on your report”
He added: “Unless someone takes a grip, a very firm grip, of the tabloid press, we will be back to the same position as soon as the spotlight is turned off and the ink is dry on your report.” On the other side are the media. Let us remember that the vast majority of journalists are very conscious of the ethical rules and work within them. The challenge for Leveson is to pitch his recommendations at the right level. He should not go overboard, assuming that all sections of the media need to be subject to overregulation. Then again, he needs to recommend a system where rogue journalists are brought to account. Leveson gave an insight into his thinking when former UK prime minister Tony Blair was in the witness box. He said any successor to the discredited Press Complaints Commission would have to be independent of the government, independent of the state, independent of parliament, but also independent of the press. It would need to have “journalism expertise on it or available to it” and “must command the respect of the press, but equally the respect of the public.” The judge indicated his report would cover: • The need to alert people who were about to be criticised in the media, prior to publication • The possible need for the media to have an ombudsman to advise editors ahead of publication • The need for swift resolution of privacy and defamation complaints • The need for sanctions (fines) against newspapers that breach standards • Regulation that covers the different forms of publication. He said: “I am struck by the fact that what the BBC does is covered by quite different rules to what The Guardian or News
International does, and yet you could look at their websites and on the face of it, they’re doing similar things.” Leveson will be conscious that many, many reports delivered to government gather dust on the shelves. He told Blair that he believed there was a need for “political consensus” if his recommendations were to be adopted. The challenge for the judge was highlighted by the UK’s prime minister, David Cameron, who made it clear in his evidence to the inquiry that his instinct was against any new statute. He appears to favour a proposal for a self-regulatory system, where the media sign contracts agreeing to cooperate with the regulator. The regulator would have the power to impose significant fines. The UK’s Labour Party supports some form of “statutory support” for the regulator. It also supports limits on newspaper ownership, which would force News International to sell one of its British papers. The industry should be nervous. Leveson has recently sent a 100-page letter to all the UK’s major newspapers warning them about some of the criticisms which may be in his report. The editor of The Independent, Chris Blackhurst, said he feared that Leveson was “loading a gun” against the industry. While some of the criticisms in the letter are said to be justified, others relate more to the renegades in the industry. I do not envy the judge’s position. It will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to frame recommendations that will be universally applauded. Whatever he recommends, he will be attacked. Peter Bartlett is a partner of Minter Ellison Cathy Wilcox is a cartoonist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
n SPOTLIGHT ON THE UK
Truth and lies in the bizarre world of celebrity journalism Chris Atkins, director of the Starsuckers documentary, found it scarily simple to sell fake celebrity stories to the London red tops. He looks at the tabloids’ outlandish explanations to the Leveson inquiry for their sloppy regard for the truth. Cartoon by David Rowe
wo of our fake Starsuckers stories appeared without checks in [Gordon] Smart’s column [in The Sun, “Bizarre”] – one about film director Guy Ritchie injuring himself while juggling cutlery, and another claiming singer Sarah Harding [of Girls Aloud] was a secret fan of quantum physics. Smart started off bullishly at the Leveson inquiry by defending his column: “I’d like to think that most of the time we get it right. Very occasionally we get it wrong.” Robert Jay (the inquiry’s counsel): “If you don’t know the identity of the source, how are you able to satisfy yourself that the source is reliable?” Smart: “I’ll always ask where the story comes from… if it’s a ring-in, which sometimes happens – people with phone tips – I’ll be very rigorous about where they come from and how they have the information... our first obligation is to make sure the story is correct.” Asked what proportion of his stories were substantiated, Smart said: “The lead on ‘Bizarre’, and the second lead, we’ll always make sure they’re checked out.” (The Sarah Harding story was a lead). Jay challenged Smart about the Starsuckers hoaxes: “Both of these stories ended up in The Sun, although it happened neither was true.” Smart’s response was astonishing: “Well, I would disagree that they weren’t true.” Watching live online I thought I couldn’t be hearing this correctly – was he going to tell a judge that the fictional stories I had invented were real? Yes, he was. Smart claimed, on oath, that the two stories were factually true, even though I had made both of them up. He said: “My member of staff rang the PR and checked it out… I think I put a call in at the time.” Dealing with the Guy Ritchie fiction, he argued that such stories about celebrities being silly are so unimportant they aren’t worth verifying, despite this being the raison d’être of his entire column. Smart said: “I managed to corroborate the fact that he was drunk and misbehaving, so one or two paragraphs about the juggling cutlery part I thought was really trivial.” Lord Justice Leveson intervened to ask what was on everyone’s lips: “It might be said that
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Smart was unrepentant, clearly living in an alternate universe where, if a made-up story gets printed in his newspaper, it magically becomes true
the whole thing is trivial and why publish any of it?” Smart, completely missing Leveson’s point, replied: “I share your frustration, I find it incredible that we’re discussing this.” Leveson: “Actually, what we’re discussing is the suggestion someone deliberately made up a story and phoned you up and then it appeared in the newspaper. I don’t think that’s entirely trivial. Do you?” Smart executed what’s known in the trade as a reverse ferret: ‘No, I don’t, and we take it seriously. We called the PR, we checked it out, and he said he had no issue with the [Sarah Harding] story. He said: ‘It wouldn’t surprise me at all if she had a book like that’.” A PR allowing a bit of free publicity is a long way from the high level of factual rigour that Smart insisted lay behind all his journalism moments earlier. Smart had also previously told the inquiry that he’d always call the celebrity if it was a lead story (which the Harding physics tale was). Moving on to the Ritchie story, Smart claimed that he had checked with the restaurant that Ritchie was drunk and misbehaving, but again seemed reticent to check the bit that made it newsworthy – the juggling of cutlery. Here’s the exchange between Smart and Jay: Smart: “I didn’t really want to hassle him [Guy Ritchie] at the time.” Jay: “We know the bit about the juggling cutlery was untrue don’t we?” Smart: “You could argue that, yes.” Jay: “You’re not saying it is true are you?” Smart: “We don’t know.” It’s worth pointing out again that I made up the story about Ritchie. He was in that restaurant, but I invented the rest. It wasn’t true. Yet Smart continued valiantly to argue on oath that it was. Smart: “Maybe I’ll give Mr Ritchie a ring afterwards and ask what precisely…” At this point, Lord Justice Leveson, exasperated with this nonsensical argument, cut him off. Leveson: “It would be quite a remarkable coincidence if Mr Atkins invented a story that sounds bizarre and it happened to be true. That would be remarkable.” Smart was unrepentant, clearly living in an alternate universe where, if a made-up story
gets printed in his newspaper, it magically becomes true: “It is bizarre. That’s the name of the column.” Despite having an oxymoronic name, it would be wrong to put Gordon Smart in the same bracket as the journalists who hacked phones and bribed policemen. I would suggest that the reason our fabricated stories flew into his column without checks is the sheer volume of material he has to put out. He revealed to the inquiry how much showbiz news he is expected to generate: “On average, I’ll write 10 stories a day, so over a week 60 stories, 3000 stories a year.” In his position, I doubt I would have the time to check facts either. The medical records investigation The more serious allegations in Starsuckers occurred in the medical records investigation, where reporters from the News of the World, The People and the Sunday Mirror met me to negotiate the purchase of medical records. The Sunday Mirror’s Nick Owens was the reporter who crossed the line the furthest, and in the film he offers me money to get his hands on the medical records of several celebrities. When he appeared at the inquiry, Owens started badly and got steadily worse. David Barr (counsel for the inquiry) was able to refer to the transcript of the secretly filmed meeting between myself and Owens. Barr began at the point where Owens explained to me how the Press Complaints Commission’s public interest requirement for health stories could be overridden if the celebrity was famous enough. He told me: “You take Fern Britton. She’s on the front of the papers, she had a gastric band. That was a big story… because she had said in public many times that she had got a huge keep fit regime and all that shit. Turned out to be wrong. There’s a public interest in reporting that story. “What there probably isn’t a public interest in doing is just reporting that someone had a gastric band operation… Unless they are a massively big name, then you might make a decision.” Asked by Barr to explain, Owens replied: “What was happening here was that this was an informal meeting between myself and Mr Atkins and we were discussing information which did not lead to any story being published... I was simply engaging with him and trying to get to the bottom of what it was he had to say.” Barr: “At this stage you are telling Mr Atkins, aren’t you, that the public interest doesn’t matter if the name is big enough?” Owens: “That’s not what I was saying to him, that’s certainly not the impression I would want to give.” Barr then questioned Owens on the general point of whether or not he should have even been listening to the confidential
“What we’re discussing is the suggestion someone deliberately made up a story and phoned you up and then it appeared in the newspaper. I don’t think that’s entirely trivial. Do you?” Justice Leveson
medical information, given that none of it had an inherent public interest. During our meeting I read out a list of (fake) operations that celebrities had undertaken. The Data Protection Act is very clear – even verbally imparting private information constitutes a breach, unless there is an obvious public interest. Barr: “You thought it was okay to be told what confidential information there might be?” Owens: “I thought it was okay to listen to what he had to say... I can’t really help listening to what he had to say to me.” In further testimony, Barr repeatedly quoted Owens’ filmed statements to me in which he offered cash to obtain medical records. In response, Owens claimed he was merely conducting a general discussion. Owens then tried a new gambit that was even more ridiculous than his “general discussions” defence: “When you meet people, you have to listen and go along to a certain extent about the things they’re saying, just to keep their interest.” In other words, he began to venture that it was he who was engaged in a fiendishly cunning plan to expose me as someone willing to sell medical records. He told the inquiry: “As I’ve made clear in my statement, newspapers do often investigate and expose people that are involved in something we believe to be wrong. “This was a guy... claiming he was going to
get a young lady drunk so he could obtain information from her, and I felt at some point down the line, when I spoke to my news desk, as I’ve set out in my statement, we may want to expose what this guy was up to.” The demolition of an idiotic argument I’m sure I saw Barr smile at this point, relishing the impending demolition of such an idiotic argument: “Let’s examine that a little bit. You’ve told us that, in fact, you set off to meet Mr Atkins without talking to your news desk?” Owens: “No, I said to them I was off to meet someone.” Barr: “And you didn’t record this conversation?” Owens: “No.” Barr: “So you plainly didn’t have a sting in mind when you embarked upon the inquiry.” Digging further into absurdity, Owens produces what he clearly believes to be his trump card: “Towards the end of the meeting, he refers again to the fact that he’s going to go and get her [a nurse] a little bit drunk. I feel that it just underlines the very odd situation that I was in there with this chap. “You know, he was claiming that he was going to get somebody drunk so he could get information. By the end of the meeting, he referred to it again and I went away thinking that we may need to expose what he was doing.” Lord Justice Leveson, his voice dark with
warning, weighed in at this point: “You think it’s a proper construction of this conversation, do you?” Some sense of self-preservation kicked in for Owens, who obviously did not want to face a perjury charge: “I’m not able to recall whether it’s a proper construction or not.” Barr and Leveson greeted this preposterous argument with the derision it deserved. Leveson later sought a response from Owens’ bosses, and sent a list of questions about the reporter’s actions to the Sunday Mirror’s then editor, Tina Weaver. She admitted: “I don’t think Mr Owens acted wisely, and made some ill-judged comments. Given that Mr Owens did nothing with the information provided by Mr Atkins I do not believe his actions constituted a breach of the code. I emphasise that I would not have published the story.” This is an extract from The Phone Hacking Scandal: Journalism on Trial, edited by Richard Lance Keeble and John Mair, Abramis Academic Publishing, RRP £19.95 Chris Atkins is an independent film maker whose second film, Starsuckers, about the celebrity-obsessed media, gained notoriety for selling fake stories to the tabloids. It was released in cinemas in 2009 to critical acclaim. David Rowe is a Walkley-winning cartoonist with The Australian Financial Review THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
n SPOTLIGHT ON THE UK
Of royal boobs and princely bollocks The public devours tittle-tattle and scandal, but does that mean the media should always give it to them, asks Maxine Frith. Cartoon by John Farmer
or a few fun-filled days in September, British newspaper watchers indulged in a game of “will they or won’t they” as we waited to see which, if any, of our tabloid editors would break ranks and publish photographs of Kate Middleton topless. Would it be, as The Sun insisted when it ran with the pictures of Prince Harry playing naked billiards, “a crucial test of Britain’s free press” in which the “public interest” was clear? Would the former editor of the Currant Bun [rhyming slang for The Sun], Kelvin MacKenzie, see the splashing of paparazzi shots, taken surreptitiously and with a long lens, of the Duchess of Cambridge baring her breasts as just such a blow for free speech? As it happens, it wasn’t (and, thankfully, Kelvin has been silent on the matter). Unlike with Jolly Prince Hal, there were no real ambiguities involved in the case of Kate. Harry had invited a bunch of virtual strangers to a pool party without knowing who was wielding a mobile phone camera and might want to sell the saucy pics to the red tops. Quite apart from a spurious public interest argument, the prince’s “reasonable expectation of privacy” – which should be the same as that available to anyone else – was undermined by this fact. By contrast, Kate was on private property and was certainly entitled to a “reasonable expectation” that her innocent decision to sunbathe topless in private wouldn’t lead to the sort of distressing outing to which Silvio Berlusconi, owner of Mondadori – which publishes Closer in France and Chi magazine in Italy – has subjected her. This will all be grist to the mill of Lord Justice Leveson as he prepares his report, which is widely expected to propose some fairly onerous measures to curtail what many see as bad behaviour by the newspapers – and which, by contrast, many newspapers see as their privilege, or even duty. Even before Leveson reports, many journalists and commentators believe that his inquiry has already had a “chilling effect” on press freedom in the UK. Former journalist and now British education secretary Michael Gove said just that when giving a speech to journalists at Westminster in February: “…the big picture is that there is a chilling atmosphere towards freedom of expression which emanates from the debate around Leveson,” he said. It was a claim he reiterated when he appeared before Leveson in May: “I’m unashamedly on the side of those who 24 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
Fines? They don’t appear to deter anyone with enough money to balance sales against a fine of a few thousand pounds
say that we should think very carefully before legislation and regulation, because the cry ‘something must be done’ often leads to people doing something which isn’t always wise.” Gove’s ex-colleague at News International – Neil Wallis, a former executive editor of News of the World – told the BBC that the Harry pictures were a “classic newspaper situation” but that the Leveson inquiry had editors “terrified of their own shadow”. “They daren’t do things that most of the country, if they saw it in the newspaper, would think ‘that’s a bit of a laugh’. There would be no harm done and they would not think any worse of either the paper or of Prince Harry.” Having cut my teeth on Fleet Street papers, I have to admit to mixed feelings. Anyone who has worked in a UK newsroom will know that a large proportion of celebrity “scoops” are achieved with the connivance of the celebs themselves. Many’s the time we would get a call from some Z-lister, desperate to extend their 15 minutes of fame, letting us know that they would be emerging from this nightclub with their new squeeze, prepared to put on some kind of show for the paparazzi. This is the way business is done in this world and it sells papers – at least, it used to. And, if there’s no “public interest”, there’s no shortage of interest from the public driving demand for this form of journalism, suggesting some level of complicity from readers and viewers of tabloid tittle-tattle. But I’m also uncomfortable with the kind of ethical laxity which drove an acquaintance of mine, a regular competitor on the press doorstepping pack back in the old days, to don rubber gloves in order to sift through people’s bins to look for evidence of this or
that to print in his paper. I got into journalism because I’m interested in the world around me, and that world includes the lives of important people – yes, and rich people too. But I believe that like Kate and Gerry McCann, the parents of abducted toddler Madeleine, everyone has a right to some degree of privacy. If we journalists don’t understand that, then maybe there is a case for stricter privacy laws or some other form of regulation to make the press more accountable. I’m uncomfortable writing this. France’s strict privacy laws did nothing to prevent Closer from publishing the Kate pictures. Whatever the legal outcome, the damage has been done and the Duchess’s privacy has been invaded. Leveson appears keen to introduce some form of prior notification mechanism, which may play well with Tory backbenchers, but which I believe would be impractical and would be a huge impediment to free speech. Fines? They don’t appear to deter anyone with enough money to balance sales against a fine of a few thousand pounds. I think it will once again come down to this elusive notion of “public interest”. Whatever Leveson’s report may or may not recommend, it is vital that he establish a mechanism by which this can be understood – by journalists, the legal system and the public. And a news organisation’s right to publish material it understands to be in the public interest should trump everything. Maxine Frith is a reporter with the London Evening Standard who previously worked on the Australian edition of Grazia magazine John Farmer is head artist at Davies Brothers Pty Ltd
n DATA JOURNALISM
Swimming in the data stream Data journalist Edmund Tadros says it’s time to lose your fear of spreadsheets and jump into the numbers The second change has been a steady increase in the number of tools that nonexperts can use to explore and visualise the datasets. Tools such as Google Fusion Tables, GeoCommons and Tableau let journalists map out data and use charts to analyse data in ways previously available only to experts. The overall process of data journalism is similar to what we would normally do as journalists – with a few extra steps along the way.
here used to always be an awkward moment when I got asked the question by another reporter: “What does a data journalist do?” There would be a pause while I searched for another way to explain it. But no matter what I came up with, it never seemed to really answer the question. And the reason, I’ve finally worked out, is that the distinction is false. All journalism is data journalism. Every story is made up of data in the form of interviews, statistics, findings, observations and background information. Unfortunately much of that information is in an unstructured format – transcripts, notes and clippings – that can’t easily be manipulated. This is in contrast to structured information, most commonly seen in a spreadsheet. This is information that can be sorted, aggregated and combined with other datasets. What data journalism does is take advantage of two technological shifts that have opened up that world of structured information for reporters. The first change has been the ever-growing body of publicly available sets of structured data that journalists can explore, crossreference, mash together and manipulate. The federal government’s data.gov.au website alone lists about 1100 datasets that various agencies have released. In many cases the data is in a spreadsheet format that can be explored using the Microsoft Excel program. Using spreadsheets and structured data will be familiar ground to many business reporters who have been data journalists for years, manipulating aggregated stockmarket information, economic indicators and survey information to produce stories.
1. Get the data. This can be as easy as going to a government website like the Australian Bureau of Statistics, tenders. gov.au or BOCSAR (the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research) and downloading a spreadsheet. Or it can be as difficult as having to manually enter information that has been uploaded to a government website on a PDF of a photocopied page. A story I worked on with The Australian Financial Review’s accounting reporter, Agnes King, about auditor independence turned on the definition of audit and non-audit work. There was no other way than to go through each annual report and record the data manually. Often being a data journalist really translates into being a data entry journalist.
2. Analyse the data. This is where you “interview” the data to see if it has anything interesting to say. It can involve finding the aggregates of the information, ranking the fields or visualising the data. We usually use Excel, OpenOffice’s Calc or Google’s Spreadsheets to find the key features of the data, such as averages and totals, and for charting. If we need more complex visualisations, especially if there is some geographic element involved, we’ll use GeoCommons, Google Fusion Tables or Tableau to map out the data. Another story I worked on at the AFR involved looking for the suburbs with the highest percentage of unoccupied properties across the country. The lightbulb moment came when I mapped the data out using Google Fusion. It clearly showed that the most unoccupied areas tended to be those coastal regions popular with sea-changers. It was like a nice tip-off. A few calls later Ben Hurley, one of our property journalists, had a story that showed that many sea-changers were heading back to the city because the coastal towns were too far away from family and friends and lacked many of the services they needed as they got older. u
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n DATA JOURNALISM
u 3. Audit the data. This is the most painful part of the process, but it is critical because one wrong cell or figure can make everything you have produced worthless. I often redo my analysis a few times to make sure the end result tallies up, and talk with internal and external experts about how I went about my calculations to try and find a flaw in the process. 4. Report. Like any story, there is often no correlation between the amount of effort that goes into getting and analysing the data and the value of the results. Most often, the analysis simply provides a pointer in the direction that the reporter should head. But there are also times where hours, days and weeks of analytical work produces... very little that is newsworthy. I’ve carried out many Census data crunches that led to conclusions that were completely obvious or already known. The challenge there was to take a breath, let it go and move on to the next story. Often the information became useful in another context as part of a series of charts building an argument or narrative. 5. Deliver the data. The most straightforward approach is to simply do it the old-fashioned way: write a story, create a graphic and commission a relevant photo. A recent analysis I did of detailed employment data centred on two charts showing where jobs were being created and where they were being lost. In this case, the charts were the heart of the story. These days there is also the opportunity to tell stories in a number of more exciting ways. You can provide the primary documents, publish interactive graphics, or publish interactive tools that give the readers the opportunity to explore the underlying information in your story. This is important because the outlier information – the unusual or unexpected fact – is often the core of the story, while readers are more interested in the data that directly impacts their lives. A story I did with another AFR writer, Katie Walsh, focused on the suburbs with the highest number of rich singles (the top suburb was Mosman in Sydney, if you must know). We published the full set of data. This provided readers with the critical bit of information – the suburbs nearby with the highest number of rich singles. After all, it’s only fair that readers can do their own bit of data journalism as well. Edmund Tadros is the data journalist at The Australian Financial Review
MAGAZINE 26 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
Tools such as Google Fusion Tables, GeoCommons and Tableau let journalists map out data and use charts to analyse data in ways previously available only to experts
DIY DATA MINING Tools GeoCommons: geocommons.com Google Fusion Tables: google.com/fusiontables Google Spreadsheets: google.com/ google-d-s/spreadsheets Microsoft Excel: office.microsoft.com/ en-au/excel/ OpenOffice Calc: openoffice.org Tableau: tableausoftware.com Books The Guardian: Facts are Sacred: The power of data by Simon Rogers (Guardian Shorts), Kindle edition US$2.99 on amazon.com The Data Journalism Handbook by Jonathan Gray, Lucy Chambers and Liliana Bounegru (O’Reilly Media), Kindle edition US$9.99 on amazon.com
Web resources Online journalism blog: “The inverted pyramid of data journalism” onlinejournalismblog.com/2011/07/07/theinverted-pyramid-of-data-journalism/ Poynter: “Using data visualization as a reporting tool can reveal story’s shape” www.poynter.org/latest-news/ top-stories/95154/using-data-visualization-as-areporting-tool-can-reveal-storys-shape/ journalism.co.uk: “How to: get to grips with data journalism” http://www.journalism.co.uk/skills/ how-to-get-to-grips-with-data-journalism/s7/ a542402/
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Trick or tweet? The Guardian teamed up with university researchers to try to make sense of the spread of rumours on Twitter during last year’s London riots. Alastair Dant was part of the team
ast year’s London riots were a key moment for Twitter. Following a protest over the police shooting of local man Mark Duggan in August 2011, news spread quickly of violence in the north London suburb of Tottenham. Tweets citing photos of flaming vehicles became the service’s top trending subject. As media such as Sky and the BBC struggled to keep up with a fast moving and unpredictable sequence of events, millions turned to Twitter as their first source of information. With so many eyes on social networks, the thirst for news grew feverish. Amid countless competing accounts, people began to circulate misinformation. In a bid to better understand the rise and fall of rumours during the riots, The Guardian partnered with a team of researchers from the universities of Manchester, St Andrews and Leicester. An in-depth study helped grasp how the network reacted. Work centred on a database provided by Twitter featuring 2.6 million tweets posted during the riots. Each was selected for containing one or more key hashtags – such as #EnglandRiots or #BirminghamRiots. The study targeted seven prominent rumours ranging from the frivolous – that rioters had broken into and started cooking their own food at a McDonald’s; to the more sober – that events in Tottenham commenced after police beat a 16-yearold girl. For each one, the team used topic analysis to pick out a subset of relevant tweets from the overall corpus. Once we were able to look at the flow of tweets during the life of a rumour, a common pattern emerged. Despite spreading stories so fast, Twitter is also capable of feedback and self-correction: sources are questioned, counter-evidence presented, falsehoods debunked. In just a few hours, tales of tigers escaping from zoos reached thousands, only to be rebuked and dispelled. In the face of such hearsay, trusted sources – journalists, public figures and media companies – often proved pivotal in redirecting the flow of popular opinion.
Decoding the London riots (above, left to right): Robin Beitra, developer; Martin Shuttleworth, developer; Alastair Dant, team leader; Mariana Santos, designer; Jonathan Richards, editor.
Each tweet is sized according to the influence of its author (determined by that user’s follower count). The corresponding circle then shrinks as its influence wanes
Turning to biological study for inspiration, we developed an interactive timeline that would place memes under the microscope, visualising the ebb and flow of rumours as if they were molecular phenomena. Fluorescent microscopy uses red and green dye to play out the opposing sides of cellular contests. Likewise, individual tweets can either support or contest a story, clustering together over time to define its acceptance. At the heart of Twitter activity is the retweet – users reposting a message to every user who follows them. With a large number of retweets, even messages from lesserknown users can quickly reach hundreds of thousands of people. Retweets may also edit or annotate their parent, so conferring additional or opposing sentiments. We decided to depict tweets as circles grouped within larger circles. These larger circles represent clusters, each one consisting of the retweets stemming from a given tweet. The academics used text analysis techniques to determine which tweets belonged to each cluster, even when retweets modified their sources. Once the clusters were identified, we developed a system to play back their rise and fall over time. Each tweet is sized according to the influence of its author (determined by that user’s follower count). The corresponding circle then shrinks as its influence wanes. As new tweets appear over
time, clusters grow and shrink as their theme is taken up by additional voices, some more influential than others. Within the course of a rumour, different kinds of message come into play. Some support, some oppose. Some query or comment on the topic at hand. We decided to classify each tweet according to a “common sense understanding” of its communicative role. We then used these categories to colour each tweet so the replay depicted a clear contest between those in support (green) and those in opposition (red). With all this data in place, we created an interface that would allow each rumour to be replayed like a video. Using a custom physics engine and some elaborate graphics routines, we developed a system that wouldn’t look out of place inside an arcade game. To get a sense of how this all hangs together, take a look at the London Zoo rumour. It all starts with @Twiggy_Garcia citing reports that the zoo was “broken into and a large amount of animals have escaped”. He swiftly retweets another message linking to what appears to be an image of a rioter climbing down into a penguin enclosure. The impact of visual proof is remarkable. A few minutes later he links a second image purporting to show “tigers roaming around Primrose Hill”. He is relatively influential and his messages reach over 5000 users. Hundreds of retweets quickly reach many thousands more – the snowball effect is inevitable. Within an hour of the original message, a variety of naysayers emerge. Some jump in with outright refutations, others provide evidence how the images are fake or unrelated. Another three hours pass and the influential @Salma_ts2al (an Egyptian blogger with 22,000+ followers) states “The Zoo incident in #London is fake news according to @Marwa_G_H”. From this point forward, things die down. By the stroke of midnight, people are no longer discussing this rumour at all. Alastair Dant leads the interactive team at Guardian News & Media.
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28 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
57th WALKLEY AWARDS
FOR EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM
The Walkleys heads to Canberra For 57 years, the Walkley Awards have been Australia’s highest media accolade. We are once again proud to acknowledge the achievements of our elite media. Our industry is going through times of change and challenge, but the quality of Australian reporting, photography and artwork remains world class. About 1300 entries were received this year across all categories. If journalism is in crisis, that was reflected neither in the quantity or quality of the entries. This year, Canberra will host the Walkley Awards for the first time in almost 30 years – it’s the perfect venue for recognising the important role of journalism in Australia’s political history. The Walkleys gala dinner and presentation at Parliament House on November 30 will also conclude the annual Walkley Media Conference, which this
year is What’s the Story: Capital Edition. The Walkley Foundation relies on the goodwill of an enormous number of people across Australia, both in the judging of the entries and support for the wider Walkley program. We acknowledge their vital contribution, especially all the judges and Walkley Advisory Board members who gave their time this year. The awards would also not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors, whose commitment to excellence in the craft ensures the Walkleys’ continued success. We are proud to present this year’s finalists and congratulate them on the outstanding journalism they have undertaken this year. They represent the very best in the craft of journalism and the spirit of the Walkley tradition. Watch the 57th Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism on SBS ONE
Review of Walkley Awards – help us shape the future The Walkley Foundation invites you to help shape the future of journalism by contributing your ideas to our review of the Walkley Awards. We welcome your submissions here: walkleys.com/awardreview-submissions First and foremost, we want to ensure professional journalism’s contribution to Australian society continues to be recognised. But we also recognise the need to embrace the changing media landscape and ensure the awards are as relevant today as they were when established by Ampol founder Sir William Walkley in 1956. Much has changed since the last review three years ago. Among the many issues facing professional journalism, these are just some that need to be considered: • What does award-winning journalism mean today? What role should citizen journalists and the general public play? • Non-traditional publishers such as the AFL and the Commonwealth Bank are hiring editors and
• • • •
establishing journalism units. Should this reporting be eligible for awards? How can the awards better promote the social value of professional journalism in Australia? Australians tell us the media is too negative – yet award-winning journalism by its definition often focuses on unpleasant topics. Should this be addressed? Australians will soon consume more journalism on mobile devices than desktop computers. Should the Walkleys recognise mobile journalism? Digital journalism wins fewer awards than print or broadcast journalism. How should this be addressed? Should all award categories be multi-platform? Or should different media such as print, radio, broadcast and digital retain separate categories? Should entries declare any legal complaints, actions or corrections which were later published? We invite submissions on these and any other relevant issues.
2012 DAILY LIFE PHOTOGRAPHY
57th WALKLEY AWARDS
FOR EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM
Print News Report PROUDLY SPONSORED BY MEDIA SUPER
Hedley Thomas, The Australian, “What the floods inquiry didn’t hear: Wivenhoe ‘breached the manual’” While Queensland politicians, lawyers, expert witnesses, investigators, journalists and judges were moving on from the catastrophic floods of 2011, Hedley Thomas was navigating a labyrinth of unexplored evidence.
Graham Crouch, The Australian Magazine, “Broken Lives”
Kate McClymont, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, “Thomson: New credit card claims” Revelations that Health Services Union (HSU) boss Michael Williamson and Labor MP Craig Thomson, formerly the union’s secretary, had received secret commissions from a supplier to the union had major implications for the HSU, the union movement and the Gillard government. Steve Pennells, The West Australian, “Battle for billions” Steve Pennells brought the bitter family battle over Gina Rinehart’s iron ore fortune to life with a series of in-depth interviews with key players and sources close to the dispute. Commended Natalie O’Brien, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald, “Blunder revives Siev X memories”
Social Equity Journalism PROUDLY SPONSORED BY SEVEN NETWORK Alex Ellinghausen, Fairfax Media, “Paralympic Swimmers: Team Photo”
Steve Pennells, The West Australian, “Hopes of a generation wiped out on voyage” Pennells went behind the headlines to humanise the asylum-seeker tragedy, shifting the focus onto families and communities and away from “the boats”. A remarkable story, powerfully and sensitively told. Hamish Macdonald and Sam Clark, The Project, Network Ten, “Age of uncertainty” Macdonald and Clark showed dogged persistence in uncovering fresh information and challenging the evidence used to imprison under-age crew members from asylumseeker boats. As a result of this story, the federal government announced a review of 24 cases.
Nicolas Walker, Weekend Financial Review, “The Kattle Run”
Margot O’Neill and Tony Jones, Lateline, ABC TV, “Aged drugs” O’Neill exposed the routine overmedication of dementia sufferers, and broke the news that up to 6000 people were dying prematurely each year. It led to a federal government investigation and a review of practices.
Digital Journalism PROUDLY SPONSORED BY NEWS LIMITED
Asher Moses, Simon Morris, Tom McKendrick and Tim Mummery, smh.com.au, Fairfax Media, “Digital dreamers” An ambitious, impeccably researched series published across multiple media platforms that exposed the trend of Australia’s brightest digital pioneers quitting Australia in search of funding and support elsewhere. Stuart Washington, Tom Allard, Conrad Walters and UTS Team, www.smh.com.au, “Sky’s the limit on political gifts” One of the finest online databases produced this year, it details the financial interests of all federal politicians, allowing users to make their own judgments about the political positions held and argued by our representatives in Canberra. Katharine Murphy, Andrew Meares and Alex Ellinghausen, The Pulse, Fairfax Media, “Labor leadership showdown” The Pulse’s energetic and lively “Labor leadership showdown” displays an enormous depth of information around major political events. A fine example of digital journalism, reinforced by strong levels of audience engagement.
Commended Sharona Coutts, Joel Tozer, Clare Blumer, Adam Glyde and Paul Farrell, The Global Mail, “Failing the aged: a multibillion dollar mess”
Daily Life/Feature Photography PROUDLY SPONSORED BY NIKON
Graham Crouch, The Australian Magazine, “Broken Lives” Crouch’s incredibly strong and moving photos tell the littlereported story of war victims at the Red Cross’s Orthopaedic Centre in Kabul. Alex Ellinghausen, Fairfax Media, “Paralympic Swimmers: Team Photo” An extremely strong stand-alone image of Paralympian Blake Cochrane captured swimming below his team-mates as they pose for a photo above the water. Nicolas Walker, Weekend Financial Review, “The Kattle Run” A terrific sequence of fly-on-the-wall pictures capturing the daily life of politician Bob Katter. Reflecting the nature of his subject, Walker applied a great use of colour to enhance the quirk factor.
Best Three Headings Heath Harrison, The Border Mail “Thin blue lie”, “Whodunnyt?”, “One big mist opportunity” Paul Dyer, NT News “Eyeful tower”, “Dogs of phwoaarr!”, “Why I stuck a cracker up my clacker” Adrian Nesbitt, The Australian “Spielberg shoots, Williams scores”, “Tendulkar dismissal the chink in India’s karma”, “I have a nightmare and it’s Martin Luther King: Jackie’s tapes give a peek inside Camelot” Commended Dean Donoghue, The Sunday Age, “The cars that ate Detroit: the last wheel and testament…”
Coverage of Indigenous Affairs PROUDLY SPONSORED BY NITV
Russell Skelton, Glenn Campbell and Tom McKendrick, Fairfax Media, “Death in the Kimberley” Skelton, Campbell and McKendrick’s series of print and online video stories uncovered a tiny Aboriginal community traumatised by youth suicide and exposed the indifference and systemic failing of governments to help a desperate community in need. Caro Meldrum-Hanna, 7.30, ABC TV, “The Trauma of Toomelah“ Meldrum-Hanna won the trust and respect of elders who invited her into the closed community of Toomelah to investigate claims of child sexual abuse. Her story broke through a wall of silence to bring public attention to the plight of children in the neglected NSW community, provoking a furious national reaction. John MacFarlane and SBS Team, sbs.com.au, “The Block: Stories from a meeting place” Weaving multiple narratives that take the viewer on a streetlevel journey through the troubled Redfern community, “The Block” is a journalistic time capsule. A remarkable example of original, innovative and powerful storytelling.
Coverage of Community and Regional Affairs PROUDLY SPONSORED BY FAIRFAX
Robyn Wuth, Gold Coast Bulletin, “Faces of the Finks” A fearless investigation into a place where many journalists
fear to tread. Wuth exposed the identities of Finks outlaw motorcycle gang members and revealed the shocking nature of their criminal activity.
leading up to Egypt’s first free elections, Vincent captured the excitement and fear of the ever changing and volatile environment. A gripping story.
Heath Harrison and The Border Mail Team, The Border Mail, “The cruellest of heartaches” Prompted by the death of a local schoolgirl, The Border Mail’s “Ending the Silence” campaign was meant to run for one week. It was so successful it ran for a month, totalling 54 articles made up of 12 front pages and numerous other news leads and features. Courageous and dignified.
Nance Haxton, ABC Radio, “Law Council of Australia calling for law reform” Haxton showed how a journalist’s work can be a catalyst for change. Through months of research and interviews she clearly and emotively explained how disabled children were being discriminated against. The South Australian government has since pledged to change the Evidence Act.
Jill Emberson, Lucia Hill and Ben Millington, 1233 ABC Newcastle, “Hooked on heroin” A tough exposé of the scandal surrounding the lack of treatment for heroin addicts on the methadone program in the Hunter region. The series revealed a hidden problem that was feeding a tragic cycle of drug abuse and crime.
Mark Willacy, ABC Radio, “Tsunami mothers” Produced several months after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Willacy’s painstakingly researched and beautifully presented series takes the listener behind the scenes of the horror and follows one woman’s determined search for her daughter.
Radio Feature, Documentary or Broadcast Special
PROUDLY SPONSORED BY AUSTRALIA POST
Clay Hichens, Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker and Mario Christodoulou, Four Corners, ABC TV and The Age, Fairfax, “Inside mail” A major piece of investigative journalism across print and broadcast that linked the sport of racing to some of Australia’s most dangerous criminals. Their report raised questions about the integrity of Australia’s racing industry and led to serious police investigations. Richard Guilliatt, The Weekend Australian Magazine, “The price of glory” This feature on sports-related concussions and injuries was a gripping investigation of a serious subject, with massive ramifications for sport on all levels. The complex subject, including the seeming reluctance of professional organisations to act, was made totally digestible. Brigid Donovan, Australian Story, ABC TV “Paint the town black” A fascinating documentary on Australia’s wonder horse, Black Caviar. Exclusive behind the scenes footage and a rich insight into the breeding and care that helped produce this champion make for compelling viewing. Commended Hagar Cohen, Background Briefing, ABC Radio National, “Blood, sweat and tears in the cage”
Sport Photography PROUDLY SPONSORED BY NIKON
David Kelly, Qweekend, The Courier-Mail, ���Synch and Swim” Kelly captures synchronised swimming in a way we haven’t seen before. Beautiful composition of light, different angles and the use of the abstract form. Phil Hillyard, The Daily Telegraph, “Sally – The Race for Gold” Through perfect technical execution and an experienced eye, Hillyard captured every moment of this story. No easy feat with so many photographers after the same shot. Chris McGrath, Getty Images, “London 2012 – An Overview” McGrath combines skill and timing in this series of images taken at decisive moments of the London 2012. Through his lens we see a different side of the Games.
Radio News & Current Affairs Reporting PROUDLY SPONSORED BY ABC
Michael Vincent, ABC Local Radio, “Violence escalates in Tahrir Square” Painting a vivid picture of the dangerous and volatile days
PROUDLY SPONSORED BY QUEENSLAND UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY
David Kelly, Qweekend, The Courier-Mail, “Synch and Swim”
Nance Haxton, PM, ABC Radio, “Intellectually disabled people fight for equal access to justice” Haxton ventured into uncharted waters and presented a story others would have turned their backs on. A heartwrenching piece that allowed listeners to hear first-hand the agony of parents whose children had been sexually violated by someone in authority. Claudia Taranto and Amanda Gearing, 360documentaries, ABC Radio National, “The day that changed Grantham” Through months of extensive interviews and careful editing, Gearing and Taranto gave the residents of Grantham a chance to tell their own stories about the flood which killed 12 of their neighbours and left enduring scars for those who survived. Hagar Cohen, Background Briefing, ABC Radio National, “Online astroturfing” An informative and fascinating piece on the growing practice of manipulating information on the internet in order to shape public opinion. Cohen highlighted the dangerous lack of safeguards and the willingness of online users to accept information as true.
Phil Hillyard, The Daily Telegraph, “Sally – The Race for Gold”
Magazine Feature Writing PROUDLY SPONSORED BY BHP BILLITON
Anna Krien, Quarterly Essay, “Us & them: on the importance of animals” Krien investigates the world we have made and the choices we face when it comes to the treatment of animals. Intelligent and beautifully written, it’s a great example of the journalist as witness as well as commentator. Jane Cadzow, Good Weekend, Fairfax “The world according to Bryce” A Rolls-Royce piece of feature writing that manages to be both forensic and kind. Cadzow digs deep to find the facts beneath Bryce Courtenay’s fictions, and has the confidence to let her discoveries speak for themselves. Richard Guilliatt, The Weekend Australian Magazine, “The man and the myth” Guilliat’s well-crafted feature was written when fugitive Malcolm Naden was being heavily mythologised after seven years on the run in country NSW. This piece brought much-needed balance to the notion of Naden as a modern-day Ned Kelly. Commended Trent Dalton, QWeekend, The Courier-Mail, “Where to?”
Chris McGrath, Getty Images, “London 2012 – An Overview”
57th WALKLEY AWARDS
FOR EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM
Best Scoop of the Year
Sustained Coverage of an Issue or Event
PROUDLY SPONSORED BY NINE NETWORK
PROUDLY SPONSORED BY APN
Steve Pennells, The West Australian, “Battle for billions” Pennells’s six-month investigation and access to critical documents and key players resulted in rich in-depth stories about Gina Rinehart’s multi-billion dollar battle with her children. Well written reports that give rare glimpses into the world of billionaires.
Mark Willacy, ABC Radio and ABC TV, “Tsunami mothers” Willacy stayed with the story long after other foreign media had packed up and left the disaster zone. His entry – from 200 radio and TV reports – displayed the full gamut of journalistic skills.
Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, “Church’s suicide victims” A standout scoop exposing the pain endured by young people sexually abused by members of the Catholic Church in Victoria. The story revealed a shocking statistic about suicide among the sexual abuse victims. The article was tragic, powerful and forced authorities to act.
Andrew Marlton, Crikey, “Drowning”
Hedley Thomas, The Australian, “Revealed: Gillard lost her job after law firm’s secret investigation” Thomas’s inquiry into Julia Gillard’s time at law firm Slater & Gordon ultimately stood out as a thoroughly forensic example of investigative journalism. It cut through longrunning innuendo and forced the prime minister into making an extraordinary statement. Commended Kate McClymont, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, “Thomson and Williamson and claims of secret commissions”
Cartoon PROUDLY SPONSORED BY AUGUST
Andrew Marlton, Crikey, “Drowning” Marlton’s cartoon on the tragic subject of asylum seekers cuts through the complex and emotional issues that have dominated our political landscape. The stark, simple style still packs a powerful message. Judy Horacek, The Age, “Not Waving”
Judy Horacek, The Age, “Not waving” Sadly poetic, these few words and simple drawing cut to the quick. They draw you in emotionally and the message hits the mark with great deftness. A cartoon you can’t ignore. Mark Knight, Herald Sun, “My dysfunctional family” Knight has condensed an instantly recognisable scene of everyday life into a simple but funny idea about Julia Gillard’s dysfunctional “family”. The detail and draughtsmanship on display in this cartoon made it a standout.
Artwork Mark Knight, Herald Sun, “My Dysfunctional Family”
PROUDLY SPONSORED BY PREMIUM WINE BRANDS PERNOD RICARD
John Shakespeare, The Sydney Morning Herald, “The Rise of Bob Carr” Displaying excellent artistic technique and wit, “The Rise of Bob Carr” captures the current mood of Australian politics: the rise of Bob Carr and the demise of Kevin Rudd. An incredibly strong and powerful piece that is deceptively simple in appearance. Steven Grice, The Advertiser and News Limited websites, “Titanic Centenary” Crossing the bridge between traditional design and online technology, Grice’s “Titanic Centenary” is a modern take on an old story. Technically excellent, intricate and dynamic. Frank Maiorana, The Sunday Age, “The Storm Inside” Simple, effective and beautiful, “The Storm Inside” creates curiosity and invites the readers in. The artwork connects to the article but at the same time offers something new to the topic in a graphic and digestible way.
Ruth Pollard, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, “After everything I have seen, I can tell you God cannot exist” Pollard’s coverage of the Arab uprisings displayed journalistic courage, technical skill and empathy. She brought the human stories of those affected by the Arab uprisings to an Australian audience. Stephen Drill and Ruth Lamperd, Herald Sun, “Cancer town” A compelling example of investigative reporting over nine months and 73 articles. Starting off with one whistleblower, the investigation delivered a significant public benefit, identifying at least 20 cancer-related deaths that led to Victoria’s Country Fire Authority admitting it knew about toxic chemicals at its training college at Fiskville. Commended Linton Besser, The Sydney Morning Herald, “Fraud probe snares top bureaucrats”
Newspaper Feature Writing PROUDLY SPONSORED BY NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY
Hannah Low and Angus Grigg, The Australian Financial Review, “The Punters Club – tax, totes and the boys from Tassie” Low and Grigg take us inside The Punters Club, a secretive group capable of gambling more than $2 billion a year. Using court documents and inside sources, they followed the thread from a Hobart hotel to a massive operation in the US, exposing tax evasion and gambling rorts. Nick McKenzie, The Age, “Why did Abraham Papo die?” The death of Abraham Papo outside a Melbourne brothel took McKenzie on a remarkable journey into the world of sex trafficking. His work led to the reopening of a police inquiry into Papo’s death, resulting in a murder charge. Ellen Fanning, The Global Mail, “The truth is on the flood maps” Fanning provided a timely exposé of commercially sensitive changes in the Australian insurance industry that would impact on where ordinary Australians could afford to live. An engaging treatment to a subject of vast public interest. Commended Billy Rule, The Sunday Times, “A dark past”
News Photography PROUDLY SPONSORED BY NIKON
Lukas Coch, Australian Associated Press, “Australia Day Protest” An amazing moment in Australia’s political history. Not just simply in the right place at the right time, Coch anticipated the event and framed the shots brilliantly, demonstrating technical skill and experience. Dan Himbrechts, The Australian, “Malcolm Naden” Through quick thinking and split-second timing, Dan Himbrechts captured an almost impossible picture of Malcolm Naden as he emerged shackled and bandaged from hospital. Trevor Pinder, Herald Sun, “City Square Protest” In the thick of the action of the Occupy Melbourne protest, Pinder captured in one frame everything that went on that day, including the use of the illegal “sleeper hold”. The expressions on the faces said it all.
Best Broadcast Camerawork
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PROUDLY SPONSORED BY AUSTRALIAN SUPER
Jane Cadzow, Good Weekend, Fairfax, “The Iron lady” Cadzow’s in-depth feature on Gina Rinehart revealed her secretive nature, her dedication to protecting her father’s legacy and her fear of public questioning. Ten days after her article went to print, Rinehart became Fairfax’s largest single shareholder.
Tim Noonan, Sunday Night, Seven Network, “Amazon tribe” Tim Noonan’s riveting and exquisite cinematography effectively brought what is virtually a prehistoric Amazon tribe into the living rooms of the modern-day, Western world.
Sam Ruttyn, The Sunday Telegraph, “Josh Carter, Super Boy” A heart-warming essay filled with courage. Ruttyn recorded the emotional time before, during and after Josh’s operation to remove a tumour that had already taken half his sight and was now threatening his life. Jason South, The Age, “Occupy Melbourne” South captured the violent clash that occurred between Occupy Melbourne demonstrators and the riot squad. Every image in South’s essay is a stand-alone news picture. A fantastic record of a dramatic event. Craig Greenhill, News Limited, “No better friend, no worse enemy” Documenting the grind and drudgery during wartime, Greenhill has captured another side of the Afghan war, the daily life of diggers not in combat. He allows the soldiers’ personalities to shine through.
International Journalism PROUDLY SPONSORED BY UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND
Matthew Carney and Thom Cookes, Four Corners, ABC TV, “In their sights” Storytelling of the highest order: courageous, topical, impactful and deep. This piece teases out the profound moral and operational dilemma faced by Australian troops and their Coalition partners in Afghanistan. Yaara Bou Melhem, Geoff Parish and Garry McNab, Dateline, SBS TV “Revolutions: rise and fall” Brave and tenacious reporting from the frontline. Bou Melhem gained rare access to the little-known leader of the Free Syrian Army and went inside the battle for Syria and the lawlessness of post-Gaddafi Libya. Captivating viewing. Aubrey Belford, The Global Mail, “Myanmar’s bloody war in the shadows” Belford provided a view of the Burmese story beyond the international euphoria over Aung San Suu Kyi’s release. His research and analysis raised more questions about the opening up of Burma and the true motives of the regime in a global context. Commended Greg Wilesmith and Ben Knight, Foreign Correspondent, ABC TV, “Revolution hijacked”
Mark Willacy, ABC News, ABC TV, “Tsunami mothers” Eight months after the Fukushima catastrophe, Willacy found fresh ways to tell the unusual and personal stories of survivors and never wavered from trying to get to the truth of the ensuing cover-up. Sharri Markson, Lee Jeloscek, Adam Walters and Michael McKinnon, Seven News, Seven Network, “The Cabinet leak” Seven’s investigation revealed the NSW government went against its own advice to support ethanol-blended petrol, a decision which favoured a big political donor. Outstanding and original political journalism. Mark Simkin and Chris Uhlmann, ABC News, ABC, “Gillard vs Rudd” This news story was a genuine scoop. Simkin and Uhlmann revealed a civil war was about to erupt inside the government. The story went on to dominate news services Australia-wide until the leadership issue was finally resolved 10 days later.
60 TITANIC 100 YEARS ON
TITANIC 100 YEARS ON 61
24-hour news updates adelaidenow.com.au
Apr 18, New York: Carpathia arrives with survivors
2.10am: Stern lifts 45 degrees out of water.
THE BAND The behaviour of the ship’s musicians has become the stuff of legend. As panicked passengers scrambled for lifeboats, the band gathered and began to play in an effort to provide some comfort. One passenger later said the last song she heard was Nearer My God to Thee.
STERN As the massive ship took on water, passengers and crew gathered at the stern. At 2.10am, April 15, 1912: The ship’s massive stern lifted 45 degrees out of the water. Minutes later, the ensuing stress caused the ship to break apart, and the bow section to sink.
2.18am: Stress on hull causes ship to break apart, bow section sinks.
As each compartement ﬁlled, the bow sank and water poured over the top of the bulkheads, causing the hull to ﬂood.
THE GRAND STAIRCASE At 2.15am, as the front of the ship was sinking, water crashed through the glass dome above the staircase, ﬂooding the room. The grand staircase, used almost exclusively by ﬁrst-class passengers, symbolised the luxury of the Titanic. RMS Titanic car
Titanic rests at depth of about 3800m with bow and stern 600m apart and facing in opposite directions.
THE CROW’S NEST Lookout Fredrick Fleet noticed a haze on the horizon and rang the bell. He then phoned the wheelhouse and warned of an iceberg directly ahead.
Queen Mary 2
LIFEBOATS Titanic carried 16 lifeboats, plus four collapsible boats, exceeding the legal minimum of the time but still only enough for just over half the people on board. Many lifeboats left only partially ﬁlled because passengers did not believe Titanic could sink and refused to board.
SPECIFICATIONS Length: Beam: Tonnage:
270m 28m 46,329
Total horsepower: Service speed: Top speed:
46,000 21 knots 23-24 knots
COL: C M Y K
2.20am: Stern rises vertically before slipping below surface.
First-class smoking room
INTERIOR Third-class smoking room
Second- Secondclass class dining library saloon
Restaurant First-class galley
First-class areas Compass
First-class areas Gymnasium
Wheel house Captain’s bridge
THE HULL Fatigue tests on recovered hull plates revealed steel used in the Titanic contained high levels of sulphur, making it brittle at low temperatures and liable to fracture rather than deform. Steel quality met industry standard of 1912, when the concept of brittle fracture was unknown. Third-class Cargo holds areas
Provisions Turbine Triple expansion Boiler Boiler Turkish Boiler Boiler Boiler Boiler Squash Third-class engine room engine room room 1 room 2 bath room 3 Coal room 4 room 5 Pool room 6 court areas
White Star Line plans new Olympic-class liner – largest and most luxurious ship aﬂoat.
Design and Illustrations: Steve Grice
Mar 31, Titanic keel laid at Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast, 46,000-tonne ship is
largest moving object ever built and, fully equipped, costs about £1.5m – £250m at today’s values.
May 31, Titanic launched – 10 months of ﬁtting out begin.
April 2, Titanic sails for Southampton after six hours of sea trials in Irish Sea.
April 10, Titanic sets sail from Southampton via Cherbourg and Queenstown (now Cobh) en route to New York.
Stores Crew quarters
April 14, Marconi wireless First Ofﬁcer turns rudder hard left and throws room receives multiple reports of large quantities engines into reverse. Size of ship does not allow time of ice ahead. 11.40pm: Lookout reports to avoid iceberg, gashing starboard bow. “Iceberg right ahead!”
April 15, 12.25am: Order given to load lifeboats. 12.45am: Distress rockets ﬁred. 2.05am: Last lifeboat leaves – nearly 1500 people left on board.
02.20am: Titanic sinks. 04.10am: Carpathia picks up ﬁrst survivors. Of more than 2200 people on board Titanic, only 711 survive.
THE DAMAGE The six red bars (above) indicate the damage to the hull. Five compartments were affected, causing the water-tight doors to be ineffective.
Sources: Ofﬁcial Titanic Enquiry, National Maritime Museum, Titanic Historical Society
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Steven Grice, The Advertiser and News Limited websites “Titanic Centenary”
PROUDLY SPONSORED BY SBS
Commended Mark Willacy, 7.30, ABC TV, “Kan exclusive”
Apr 11, 11 1912: Titanic departs Queenstown
THE DESIGN The ship was designed to ﬂoat with up to four compartments breeched but the collision with the iceberg caused six compartments to ﬂood.
Television Current Affairs Reporting (less than 20 minutes) Hamish Macdonald and Sam Clark, The Project, Network Ten, “Age of uncertainty” Macdonald and Clark uncovered an Indonesian child being held in a maximum security adult prison in Western Australia on charges of people smuggling. This investigation led to a change in government policy regarding Indonesian minors. Caro Meldrum-Hanna, 7.30, ABC TV, “The trauma of Toomelah” Through her persistent efforts, Meldrum-Hanna highlights the plight of Toomelah, a former Aboriginal mission traumatised by child abuse and alcohol. A well-told and moving report that attracted national attention. Robert Ovadia and Fiona Baker, Sunday Night, Seven Network, “Saxon Bird” A well-presented and produced investigative piece on the death of ironman Saxon Bird and Surf Life Saving Australia’s conduct before, during and after the tragedy. Highly watchable and informative.
Apr 14, 23.40GMT: Titanic hits iceberg. Sinks 02.20GMT 20GMT
t was the wonder of the age. The apogee oggeee of of human h hum um u maan n no ollog ogy. y. IItt was waaass the w the th achievement in engineering and technology. gne ned to to ccarry aarrry ry Titanic. A 46,328-tonne marvel designed o New New ew more than 2400 people from London to York in style. To many it was seen as unsinkable. Itt was was wa mankind’s victory over the seas. The hype made the Titanic a global phenomenon in an age before the internet, rn net et, before instant worldwide communication n became the currency of the everyday. When it sank on a freezing North Atlantic anttiiicc an night, it sparked an enduring allure thatt ha has h as as lasted 100 years. Partly that was due to the sheer scalee of of the disaster. About 1500 of the Titanic’ss 2212 2212 22 12 passengers and crew perished with the ship. ship sh p. They They Th ey were rich and poor, young and old, some me were weere w re leaving leeaavviin ngg the old world to start afresh in the new. Every sector of society was touched. The intrigue surrounding the Titanic’s fate has only built as the decades passed. The ship settled 3600m below the surface and was left untouched until 1985 when after years of searching it was found by oceanographer Robert Ballard, sparking another frenzy of interest. As the centenary of the Titanic’s fateful voyage is marked this weekend, it seems unlikely our fascination with the doomed ship will ever fade. It still lies, broken, deep in the dark ocean. A mass grave, a museum, a reminder that humanity should not take nature for granted.
Cap apta taiin n Edward Ed dw w Captain J. J. Smith, Sm miitth h, was waas set w to to retire ret etir tirire ire after aaffte ftteer the maiden maid ma iden iden en voyage vo oyyaagg of the Titanic th TTiita tan niic the at age age ge 62. 62 2.. at
A TRAGIC TALE
14/4/12 60 STATE
Television News Reporting
Titanic centenary-souvenir poster
COL: C M Y K
PROUDLY SPONSORED BY NIKON
Commended Robert Hill, Foreign Correspondent, ABC TV, “China – beyond the lost horizon”
John Shakespeare, The Sydney Morning Herald, “The Rise of Bob Carr”
14/4/12 60 STATE
Gary Ramage, News Limited, “This is Afghanistan” While patrolling with Australian troops, Gary Ramage found himself in the middle of a firefight. He captured the tension and confusion of the engagement with raw images that take the viewer to the pointy end of Australia’s war in Afghanistan. PUB: ADVERTISER
Paola Totaro, The Australian Financial Review, “Inside the lair of the David Jones predator” Putting leather to the pavement, Totaro showed how the $1.65 billion bid for David Jones – that almost conned regulators, lawyers and the wider stock market – was made by a fantasist on the end of a computer.
Aaron Lewis, Dateline, SBS TV, “Orchestra of dreams” A highly emotive piece. Aaron Lewis tells the difficult story of a group of children rising up from the hard life of Brazil’s favelas through the power of music. A hopeful and intimate story.
Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker, 7.30, ABC TV and The Age, Fairfax, “RBA faces questions over bribery connections” Through extensive research, source cultivation and powerful storytelling McKenzie and Baker exposed the alleged involvement of some of the most powerful players in Australian business in high-level misconduct.
Frank Maiorana, The Sunday Age, “The Storm Inside”
Saturday, April 14, 2012
2012 NEWS PHOTOGRAPHY
57th WALKLEY AWARDS
FOR EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM
Television Current Affairs, Feature or Special (more than 20 minutes) PROUDLY SPONSORED BY BBC WORLD NEWS
Sarah Ferguson, Deb Masters and Irene Ulman, Four Corners, ABC TV “Smugglers’ paradise – Australia” Exemplary research and persistence was the key to “Smugglers’ paradise”. Sarah Ferguson changed the public’s view of people smuggling, exposing it as a business operating within Australia rather than just from overseas.
Lukas Coch, Australian Associated Press, “Australia Day Protest”
Commended Jon Faine, Daniel Ziffer and Mary Bolling, 774 ABC, “Powerbroker Kroger lashes Costello, his friend and ally of 35 years”, “Crean attacks Rudd” and “Ambulance nightmare: left for dead, upside down, bleeding out”
Mary Ann Jolley, Geoff Thompson and Mary Fallon, Four Corners, ABC TV, “Unholy silence” “Unholy silence” made extraordinary revelations about the failure of the Catholic Church to act when it had full knowledge that a priest had admitted in court to molesting young boys. It has led to a police taskforce being established to investigate the matter.
Commentary, Analysis, Opinion and Critique
Investigative Journalism PROUDLY SPONSORED BY BAYER
Sarah Ferguson, Deb Masters and Irene Ulman, Four Corners, ABC TV, “Smugglers’ paradise – Australia” Four Corners’ exposé on people smugglers operating from Australia and the revelations of “Captain Emad” had a major impact on political debate and demonstrated the ruthlessness of the human trade. An exceptional piece of journalism. Kate McClymont, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, “Thomson: New credit card claims” This is investigative journalism at its best. McClymont’s dogged and thorough investigation of widespread corruption in the Health Services Union by senior union officials helped trigger one of the biggest political controversies of recent decades. Linton Besser and Kate McClymont, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age “Exposed: Obeids’ secret harbour deal” Besser and McClymont’s investigation into the family of former NSW minister Eddie Obeid unveiled a web of companies and secret deals and sparked a corruption inquiry. Investigating abuse of political power will always be one of the most important roles for journalists. Commended Sharona Coutts, Joel Tozer, Clare Blumer, Adam Glyde and Paul Farrell, The Global Mail, “Patients at risk”
Broadcast and Online Interviewing Trevor Pinder, Herald Sun, “City Square Protest”
Tracy Grimshaw, Cameron Smith and Grant Williams, A Current Affair, “Lindy Chamberlain – the verdict”, “Deborah McKnight – survivor” and “Matthew Newton” These three interviews highlighted Grimshaw’s ability to gain the trust of her subjects, a compassionate but deliberate approach that reveals the strengths and weaknesses of the characters.
Matthew Carney and Thom Cookes, Four Corners, ABC TV, “In their sights” An intellectually and physically courageous story, well reported. The ABC team refused an embed with the Australian Defence Force in Afghanistan and uncovered uncomfortable truths about the strategy employed by the ADF in Oruzgan Province.
Commended Quentin McDermott, Michael Doyle and Karen Michelmore, Four Corners, ABC TV, “Trial and error?”
Dan Himbrechts, The Australian, “Malcolm Naden”
what she’d said. He also methodically teased out the former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s anger over the leaking of an expletive-laden video.
PROUDLY SPONSORED BY MEDIA MONITORS
Neil Chenoweth, The Australian Financial Review, “Murdoch’s retreat is no horseplay” Chenoweth’s dissection of the travails of Rupert Murdoch and his empire in the face of the UK phone-hacking scandal plots the epic twists and turns of a conglomerate grappling to neutralise critics and manage succession pains. John Silvester, The Age, “Over coffee, Carl murdered the truth” In the best tradition of a beat journalist on top of his game, Silvester’s well-contextualised account of a coffee-house meeting with gang-boss Carl Williams gives us a real-life tour of Melbourne’s underbelly. Claire Harvey, The Sunday Telegraph, “Voice of the people not for threats” Harvey takes a well-argued stand for the democratic process in her powerful demolition of the ill-informed anti-carbon tax protesters at Parliament House.
Walkley Documentary Award PROUDLY SPONSORED BY LINC ENERGY
The longlist finalists: Anne Delaney, Paul Ham and Toby Creswell, November Films/ABC TV, All the Way Celeste Geer, Rebel Films/ABC TV, Then The Wind Changed Jennifer Crone, Jennifer Crone Productions/ABC TV, Divorce: Aussie Islamic Way Jacob Hickey, Northern Pictures/Fredbird Entertainment/ SBS TV, Once Upon a Time in Cabramatta Quentin McDermott, Morag Ramsay and Kevin May, Four Corners, ABC TV, Closing Ranks Rick McPhee, Michael Cordell, Nick Murray and Lincoln Howes, Cordell Jigsaw Productions/SBS TV, Go Back to Where You Came From: Series 2
Leigh Sales, 7.30, ABC TV, “Interviews with Tony Abbott, Scott Morrison and Christine Milne” Leigh Sales’ interview with Tony Abbott stood out for its newsworthiness and well-researched questions. Its impact was to backfoot the opposition leader – showing how he instinctively defaulted to hackneyed soundbites to mask not being on top of his brief.
Walkley Book Award
David Speers, Sky News, “Rudd exclusive”, “Shorten supports Gillard” and “Thomson quits” In one of the more extraordinary political exchanges of the year, Speers relentlessly questioned why Bill Shorten was blindly agreeing with Julia Gillard despite not having heard
Jason South, The Age South’s instinct, courage and creativity are essential for a modern press photographer. His ability to take the reader closer to the action is exhibited in his press photographer of the year portfolio.
Nominees listed separately; see Walkleys.com
Nikon-Walkley Press Photographer of the Year PROUDLY SPONSORED BY NIKON
Chris McGrath, Getty Images McGrath’s portfolio is a testament to his innovation. A great blend of sport, portrait and very strong emotive pictures. McGrath has a lyrical style within his photography. Justin McManus, The Age This series captures a diverse range of moments in news, from the bizarre outburst of Marshall Baillieu insulting protesting nurses to the jubilation at the Bendigo women’s football team’s Grand Final win to Russell Molony’s Indigenous Surfing Title victory.
Journalistic Leadership PROUDLY SPONSORED BY QANTAS
Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism
ALL MEDIA AWARDS Social Equity Journalism Chris Hammer, journalist and author Asa Wahlquist, freelance journalist Eleanor Bell, multimedia producer and reporter, ABC News Online Investigative Unit Three Headings Joseph Catanzaro, reporter, The West Australian Paul Colgan, network news director (digital), News Limited Linton Besser, investigative reporter, The Sydney Morning Herald Coverage of Indigenous Affairs Laurie Patton, television executive and journalist Narelda Jacobs, news presenter, Network Ten Steve Pennells, chief writer, The West Australian
Coverage of Community and Regional Affairs Neil Breen, editor, Sunday Telegraph Steve Kelly, editor, The Standard Matt Cunningham, editor, Northern Territory News
Sports Journalism Gordon Bray AM, senior sports broadcaster and journalist Andy Withers, editorial operations manager, Fox Sports Digital Mike Osborne, editor, AAP
News Report Michelle Grattan, political editor, The Age Tony Barrass, journalist Trent Dalton, assistant editor, The Courier-Mail
Best Scoop of the Year Anne Davies, news editor, The Sydney Morning Herald Jason Whittaker, editor, Crikey Matt Moran, federal political correspondent, Network Ten
Newspaper Feature Writing John Silvester, senior crime reporter, The Age Rod McGuirk, Canberra correspondent, The Associated Press Christine Middap, editor, The Weekend Australian Magazine
Cartoon Mike Bowers, director of photography, The Global Mail Betsy Baker, design partner, FrenchBaker John Thorby, former art director, News Limited
Magazine Feature Writing Jonathan Green, presenter, ABC Radio National Mark Dapin, journalist and author Jenny Tabakoff, feature writer, AAP
Artwork Joanne Brooker, cartoonist and artist, The Brooker Studio Christine Bratkovic, current affairs editor, ABC TV Oslo Davis, illustrator and cartoonist
Sustained Coverage of an Issue or Event Sharona Coutts, investigative reporter, The Global Mail John Flint, assistant editor, The Sunday Times and PerthNow Misha Ketchell, managing editor, The Conversation
PROUDLY SPONSORED BY SKY NEWS
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Radio News Reporting and Current Affairs Reporting Anne Stone, journalist, Radio 5AA Sandy Aloisi, breakfast presenter, ABC News Radio Ross Solly, breakfast presenter, ABC 666 Radio Feature, Documentary or Broadcast Special Amanda Cavill, Canberra correspondent, SBS World News Maryann Shine, executive producer, Radio 2UE Sydney, Afternoon Show Naomi Woodley, federal political reporter, ABC Radio Current Affairs TELEVISION Television News Reporting Anita Jacoby Cathie Schnitzerling, director of news (Brisbane), Network Ten Latika Bourke, political and social media reporter, ABC Television Current Affairs Reporting (Less than 20 minutes) Tom Krause, freelance TV producer and blogger Jim Waley Fiona Reynolds, state director (Tasmania), ABC Television Current Affairs Feature or Special (More than 20 minutes) Mike Carey, chief of staff, NITV News Brett McCarthy, editor, The West Australian Genevieve Hussey, Queensland news editor, ABC Brisbane DIGITAL Anne Markey, deputy editor (digital), News Limited Monica Attard, journalist Mike Van Niekerk, former digital editor-in-chief, Fairfax
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n LONDON OLYMPICS
Five screens of fun and Games For News Limited’s Rod Savage and Toni Hetherington, knowing their audience’s habits across all platforms was the starting point for their Games coverage. Illustration by David Follett
our years ago, in preparing our digital coverage for the Beijing Olympics, we spoke a lot about taking advantage of the “secondscreen experience”. That’s where we’d try to give our audience a complementary activity on their laptops to what they were seeing on their television. Two screens – those were the days. Four years on and the world is a whole lot more complex. The London Olympics presented some extraordinary challenges for Australian media companies – time zones, technology and an increasingly fragmented audience not only spoiled but drowning in choices across four screens. And for those of us with a fifth “screen” to fill – newspapers – we faced even steeper issues. Not least of which, for many events, print would be 36 hours behind the starter’s gun. Our aim was to integrate News Limited’s coverage with a clear mission for each platform, based on what we knew of how, when and where our audience consumed
Anything we did digitally hit the “Holy Triumvirate” of video, social and mobile
our content. We knew they would skate across mobile, snack on desktops, deepdive into results and multimedia on tablet, live the Games on TV and absorb the incredible tales in the papers. Our five platforms (including Foxtel, which News Limited part owns) each had a different role to play in contributing to a complete experience for our audience. It was critical we simply did not just mirror the same content multiple times. So we mapped the likely user habits across 24 hours and targeted our products to that map. Our day was largely split into three digital zones: 6am to noon (AEST) was targeted at reviewing overnight results, noon to 6pm previewed the upcoming
events, and 6pm to 6am was live coverage. We created a syndicated website and m-site, called LondonNow, which ran on all the major metro News Limited websites plus news.com.au and FoxSports.com.au. We used our partnership with Fox Sports to provide four video highlights packages in our review zone; we used interactive multimedia in the preview zone to give our audience a reason to come back to us in London’s “dead time”; and we used live blogs and results-driven news judgment to hold our audience in the live event zone. We also ensured anything we did digitally hit the “Holy Triumvirate” of u video, social and mobile.
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
n LONDON OLYMPICS
u So, how did we specifically use our five platforms? MOBILE Research shows on an average day, users generally spend 17 minutes on a mobile, 30 minutes on a tablet, 39 minutes on a PC or laptop and 43 minutes watching TV. We also know that smartphones are the most common starting place for online activities and this usage is higher than all other platforms in the morning. So getting our mobile content right in the review zone – and using mobile as the “on ramp” to the rest of our digital content – was critical. Our LondonNow m-site was packed with short, sharp content that users in the morning would be most interested in – put simply, “tell me what happened, quickly”. We also had opt-in push alerts on any Aussie gold medal, which proved very popular.
DESKTOP Peak audience usage for desktops is during the day – it far outstrips other platforms – so LondonNow’s website content was aimed squarely at the office worker who wanted to dip in and out on the boss’s coin to find out what happened overnight and to plan their night’s viewing. From 7am AEST, the best of the overnight action – news, analysis, images and vision – was published. We released engaging multimedia, such as audio sound bites inside London venues, in the lunch prime time when nothing was actually going on in London. And by 3pm, the site ran in-depth previews to catch people before they went home.
Freed from the shackles of having to report “live” news, our newspapers just ran great stories
it could be viewed on all devices. Average user sessions were way above the industry standards, proving its popularity.
TV Fox Sports supplied the News network with four video highlight packages each day and key athlete interviews, resulting in more than half a million streams in two weeks on Olympic content alone. For Foxtel, the Games were a resounding success – for the first time it covered the Games in their entirety, including showing all 302 gold medal events. Eight channels broadcast 3200 hours of Olympic coverage and 1100 hours of live events with 33 expert commentators.
NEWSPAPER We saw something very heartening for the ink-stained cousin of digital. The timezone and digital coverage allowed newspapers to do what they do best: tell great stories. Freed from the shackles of having to report “live” news, our newspapers just ran great stories. Editors had time to pick out the major talking points and hidden gems and give the back story to what had
happened. Quality writing and images dominated the print coverage, with the print audience encouraged to absorb the content, as opposed to the non-stop nibbling of digital. As with any project, the key question to be answered is “What does success look like?” For News Limited, it looked like exceeding our traffic and revenue targets by a considerable percentage – our distinct coverage struck a chord with our widespread audience, which in turn delivered a fantastic result for our advertisers. While it will be some time before attention is turned to Rio, many questions float around. Will an audience prefer social streams instead of mainstream? What percentage of advertising budgets will be dedicated to digital? Will Emily Seebohm ever use Twitter again? And, the big one: will there be more screens, or fewer, to fill in 2016? Rod Savage is network editor (digital) and Toni Hetherington is network sport editor at News Limited David Follett is a regular artist for The Australian, The Weekend Australian and the Daily Telegraph
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38 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
Cartoon by Peter Nicholson
The London Tracker, which highlighted every event and every result, was a standout. It allowed users easy navigation through the hundreds of events each day and to customise their coverage by selecting which events, sports and athletes they wanted to follow. To give our scoreboard a point of difference from the many others on offer, we provided daily results news stories using our own journalists’ writing and photographers’ images from the ground in London, integrated with the real-time data feed. While the Tracker was an ideal, immersive experience on tablet, it was built with responsive design which meant
22/09/12 11:31 PM
Watching the hashtags Andy Miah slices through the “Socialympics” hype to look at the lasting changes made by social media at the London Games. Cartoon by Neil Matterson
t is controversial to claim the London 2012 Olympic Games as the first social media Olympics. After all, media has always been social and even what we currently define as social media has been available at least since the Torino 2006 Winter Games. The photo-sharing platform Flickr launched in 2004, YouTube in 2005 and even Facebook went public in 2006. What’s more, Clay Shirky’s scholarly book on how internet tools influence group dynamics, Here Comes Everybody, was published well in advance of the Beijing 2008 Games. So it might seem strange to define London’s social media scene as anything particularly new. Yet, a few weeks before they began, organisers at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were asserting that London should be regarded as a first for social media. Most of the rhetoric focused on the volume of content and availability of technology which would create a tipping point in how the Games were consumed via the media. What made London different from Vancouver 2010 – which also claims the title as the first social media Olympics – is that 3G, all-you-can-eat data plans, and the number of people using social media had increased dramatically. But this is not what permits London to claim this medal. While Olympic advocates foresaw the tidal wave of social media activity that London 2012 would generate, they did not expect that the main social media story of the Games is how it functioned as a news source for broadcasters and the printed press, where direct quotes were regularly sourced from Twitter feeds to explain what was happening around the Games. What distinguished London from all previous Games was the total occupation of social media news across other communication platforms. In particular, the rights-holding broadcasters made social media a core part of their coverage, often relying on direct quotes from Twitter and even using social media as a form of audience participation. Just before the Games, Greek athlete Voula Papachristou was excluded from the Olympic team for what was deemed to be a racist tweet. At the same time, Lord Sebastian Coe expressed his concern that he could see a negative correlation between social media activity and athletic
What made London different from Vancouver 2010… is that 3G, all-youcan-eat data plans, and the number of people using social media had increased dramatically
success, a warning that perhaps should have been taken more seriously by Australian swimmer Emily Seebohm, who blamed what she saw as her underachievement (the silver medallist had expected a gold) on the sheer volume of expectant praise from Facebook and Twitter followers. At the very start of the fortnight, not only did the world witness the first social media opening ceremony, but the man credited with inventing the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, even had a role, tweeting live from the Olympic stadium. The following day, the ceremony was headline news, not just for how it defined Britain, but because a British conservative minister created a media storm after tweeting that the ceremony was “leftie multicultural crap”. Certainly more damaging for the Twitter brand was the trolling – most notoriously the messages posted by a 17 year old to British diver Tom Daley, that he had “let down” his dead father. Or the homophobic messages posted to Daley by a footballer. Both were arrested but neither will face formal charges. What does this mean for the future of social media production at the Olympics? It was only two years ago that the IOC seemed on track to embrace social media, but London 2012 has offered so many damaging examples that even the diehard Twitter user would have to advise athletes to avoid paying too much attention to what was happening online. This didn’t stop athletes from growing their fan base through social media during the Games. Michael Phelps grew his Twitter following from 400,000 on day two of the Games to 1.3 million by the end, while Usain Bolt achieved a similar boom from 680,000 to 1.6 million across the same dates. Interestingly, the social media profiles of Britain’s rights-holding television broadcasters also flipped the typical trend where the Paralympic Games generates less attention than the Olympic Games. The
Channel 4 Twitter feed for its Paralympic Games coverage well exceeded the BBC’s Olympic feed in terms of followers. This may seem like a small victory for the Paralympic Games, but it shows how social media may allow a smaller brand to reach further with a little creative innovation. So what did London learn from this so-called “Socialympics”? Perhaps most surprising is that the headlines were not about how many people were using social media. Instead, social media usage at London 2012 redefined the public sphere and became a place where serious issues were played out. London 2012 may not be the first Games where social media was used, but it was the first where what took place online became part of the news cycle by both shaping reporting content and transforming how journalists operated. For instance, if you wanted to find out what the BBC was doing during the Games outside of the sports arenas, you could follow the BBC’s London 2012 director, Roger Mosey, on Twitter, which gave a more personally curated feed compared to the institutional account. Alternatively, small communities set up their own London 2012 networks using bespoke hashtags, as for #citizenrelay or #media2012. To this end, the traditional audiences both expanded and fragmented, creating more personalised interactions with news content than has taken place before. Future news reporting at the Games may rely much more on pop-up citizen journalism practices, at least as much as the broader newscasts, but what is most important to remember is that neither is likely to disappear any time soon. Professor Andy Miah is director of the Creative Futures Institute at the University of the West of Scotland and co-author of The Olympics: The Basics (Routledge). Neil Matterson is editorial cartoonist, The Sunday Mail, Brisbane THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
n LONDON OLYMPICS
London calling Karen Barlow’s Olympics was a rush of happy, glorious 21-hour days fuelled by coffee shots. Photo by Brendan Esposito
ondon 2012 was a waking dream. It had to have been, because I barely slept during the three weeks I spent chasing still pulsing remnants of the Olympic spirit. I still have flashes of London’s third go at the Games and hardly any of it is related to victorious athletes standing on podiums. Here at my desk on the other side of the world, I remember the hot tube rides, smiling security pat-downs, screaming sports fans wrapped in flags and the countless, steaming coffee shots that kept me in the game. That Britain so desperately wanted the “Best Games Ever” doesn’t seem important now, but it was then. Apart from the usual empty seats shambles, the Games were remarkable, exciting and, yes IOC President Jacques Rogge, they were happy and glorious. Olympic love was in the air. Strangers shared stories on the tube and gave directions and lifts in their cars to lost visitors. Britain became brand “Team GB” and its product was a rush of gold medals that won over the hearts and minds of entrenched cynics and gave the nation a right royal lift. For Australians, the 10th placing on the London medal tally (and a brief period in the wake of New Zealand) was a ground quake. To the misfortune of the athletes reading news stories and disappointed tweets from home, it turns out that the past successes in Sydney, Athens and Beijing were not sustainable. Other nations, particularly Great Britain and the previous host nation, China, had masterfully copied Australian medal plans and snaffled prized coaches. Australia wasn’t battered in the UK press (the media was, after all, quite busy counting and crowing about British gold), but a poke or 300 at Australia’s expense was deemed acceptable media coverage. The British team took a few days to warm into its winning ways but as soon as it came good, a tabloid paper started the line that Yorkshire alone was beating Australia on the medal tally. This rubbishing continued until I said goodbye to a cab driver at Heathrow, despite Australia’s position markedly improving with the results in the sailing. Perspective is a hard thing at an Olympic Games. For two weeks, every four years, it sucks the life out of the world’s news. During London 2012, hundreds, possibly thousands, of people were killed in Syria. It also placed a pause on the US presidential election and made the daily tussle between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott seem very far away. 40 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
Lightning struck and Usain Bolt smiled and made everyone forget it was Great Britain’s games. – Photo by Brendan Esposito
A London tabloid started the line that Yorkshire alone was beating Australia on the medal tally
What did bring us together was social media. For better or worse, there was no Twitter at Beijing and London really was the first social media Games. Athletes were trolled, followed and adored, while many tweeted hard about their Olympic experience and a much smaller group risked IOC expulsion by mentioning non-sanctioned sponsors. As a working journalist at the Games, Twitter was a story source, a way to break news, share images and engage with the Olympic audience. I instantly saw the Australian swim team close ranks around Leisel Jones when unflattering photos and words were published in Australian newspapers and I could feel the rising public anger at the denigration of Australia’s larger then usual collection of silver medals. There was live tweeting of competitions and daily press conferences. One day an excited tweeter suggested I shift venues from BMX to water polo and I thought “why not?” Unfortunately by the time I got to the pool, the seemingly good fortunes of the Australian men’s team had turned around and they went down to Serbia. Everything was up for grabs. We even used social media to share the daily reporting experience with people outside the Olympics. My fellow ABC Online colleague at London 2012, Matt Wordsworth, and I tweeted about our passes through military security cordons, curious interactions with ecstatic crowds and mind-bending obstacles to filing stories.
For three intense weeks, life was just that little bit more fascinating and worthy of a share. That’s not to say everything was rosy. As exhaustion crept in and the athletes and officials started to get tetchy with the collective media coverage of the Games, the 21-hour days really started to feel long and the 15kg of equipment I carried around every day started to drag. Here’s the small insignificant moment I hit the wall; I foolishly lost my Oyster card for the tube on the fourth-last day of competition. It really did feel like the arrival of the end of the world and nothing, just nothing, could be done about it. Still, there we were one night in the Olympic velodrome watching Paul McCartney whip up a Mexican wave and in the stadium another night, lightning struck as Usain Bolt smiled and made everyone forget it was Great Britain’s games. I loved that Anna Meares won cycling gold over Great Britain’s Victoria Pendleton and I was chuffed that I was right there when it happened. However, I was also right there when the Australian women’s badminton team sobbed on the ground as they failed to capitalise on the tanking scandal and win through to the semifinals. As a journalist at the Olympics you are just one of many thousands and there are thousands more covering the same event from televisions back home. It is hard to break stories or stand out from the crowd in any way. But one journalist among those thousands shone for me. I met him at the sailing over a paper-strewn media desk. A tabloid journalist veteran of 10 Olympic Games shared with me his moment of filing his last ever Olympic story. His career started at Munich witnessing the horror of the Israeli killings from his balcony. He said The Sun probably would not pay for him to go to Rio and he felt good. The incredible Olympic intensity is gone and the physical effects of exhaustion are ebbing away. I said goodbye to the sandwich meals, security pokes, constant well-meaning niggling from volunteers and the long days and nights travelling to and from Olympic venues. And I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Karen Barlow is an ABC journalist. She has covered two Olympic Games and has travelled to Antarctica twice for the ABC Brendan Esposito is chief photographer, The Sydney Morning Herald
n OUR MEDIA
Calling time at the last-chance saloon It’s time to slaughter the sacred cow of self-regulation and make the media truly accountable says Matthew Ricketson. Cartoon by Peter Nicholson
hen the Finkelstein inquiry into media regulation suggested setting up a government-funded News Media Council to deal with complaints, the editor-in-chief of West Australian Newspapers, Bob Cronin, thundered that it would turn Australia into North Korea. Article after editorial after opinion piece forecast that if the federal government accepted the report of retired Federal Court judge Ray Finkelstein QC, a succession of brave newspaper editors would be compelled to resist heavy-handed censorship to the point of serving time in jail. The journalistic tribe’s blood stirred at the memory of those who had gone to prison rather than give up the identity of a source to a bewigged judge. Precious press freedoms won over centuries were in mortal danger. Well, as Steve Martin famously remarked in Parenthood, “Let’s come back from la-la land.” Under the report’s recommendations, these doughty editors would go to jail only if they refused to publish an adjudication of the News Media Council. That would happen only after the council had received a complaint about said news outlet. That would happen only after the news outlet had failed to deal with the complaint itself. And that would happen only after they had published something that prompted a complaint in the first place. So the newspaper has had the first word on an issue, is given an opportunity to put its case to the News Media Council, and even if the adjudication goes against it, is free to continue publishing on the issue complained about. (It is not permitted to continue publishing material found to be factually wrong – but the last time I looked journalists were committed to factual accuracy.) Gee, that all doesn’t sound quite so dire, does it? As Professor Rod Tiffen, a political scientist who worked on the report, wrote in The Australian Financial Review on March 20: “Some publishers have said it is unreasonable that they should have to publish adjudications they consider to be wrong. But they already commit to do this under the Press Council. This objection is an assertion of their right to exercise censorship, to restrict, not increase, information available to the public.”
If the media really wanted to avoid government-funded regulation it could put its own house in order Tiffen went to the nub of the issue when he wrote that editors and proprietors were “arguing for their right to withhold from readers the news that their paper has been criticised.” Of course, few people – journalists or anyone else – enjoy being publicly held to account for their actions, but that is exactly what happens, or is supposed to happen, for other institutions in society. It’s certainly what the media demands of those institutions. It’s also embedded in the Media Alliance’s Code of Ethics, which states in its preamble that journalists “scrutinise power, but also exercise it, and should be accountable. Accountability engenders trust. Without trust, journalists do not fulfil their public responsibilities.” I have been a member of the Alliance, and before it the Australian Journalists’ Association, since 1982 and most journalists I know believe in and abide by the Code of Ethics. This is why I argue
that the issue of media accountability needs serious consideration, rather than the scaremongering party line, masquerading as debate, that has characterised most mainstream media coverage of Finkelstein’s recommendations. You should know that I was appointed by the federal government to assist Ray Finkelstein in the inquiry. I found the opportunity to contribute to public policy a privilege. As a journalist I have worked on the principle that journalism, amid stories of cats up trees, football scores and celebrity gossip, is about speaking truth to power. The news media wields power, too, and when you speak truth to it, the result is much the same as when the news media speaks truth to governments or businesses or unions or churches – you are either ignored, or spun or shot at for delivering an unpalatable message. In the six months after the report was released on March 2, by my count The Australian published 14 editorials arguing against its findings and recommendations. It also published 30 opinion pieces, of which two were positive about the report, one was neutral and 27 were negative. Newspaper editors can campaign on issues they feel strongly about, but at u
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
n OUR MEDIA
u what point does campaigning violate clause 1 of the Code of Ethics: “Report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts. Do not suppress relevant available facts, or give distorting emphasis.” I mention The Australian because it is the national daily newspaper, because it does a lot of important journalism, and because it has been the most extreme in its coverage. Much of the rest of the mainstream press said pretty much the same thing, although not as often. Finkelstein’s inquiry, set up after the News of the World phone-hacking scandal erupted in Britain, immediately drew criticism for being payback from a floundering federal government under attack by the media in general, and by News Limited in particular. This context was acknowledged early in the inquiry’s report. I am not going to say anything about the politics of the decision, because at the time of writing (September) the report was still before the government. But I have said at both academic conferences and at public forums this year that, to the best of my knowledge, the phone-hacking scandal is the worst to engulf the news media in living memory, that News Corp is a global media company that encourages employees to move to its various arms around the world, and it is entirely reasonable to ask whether such practices have been occurring at News outlets in Australia. That, in fact, was what News Limited did when it set up its own audit into third-party payments, which was reviewed by former Supreme Court judges Bernard Teague and Frank Vincent. They said: “It can reasonably be accepted that, properly conducted, the review as constructed certainly ought to have brought to light any systemic issues” of payments to third parties or large amounts paid for illegitimate activities. Finkelstein’s media inquiry was presented with no evidence of phone hacking at News Limited outlets. But for an industry to say this nullifies the need for an inquiry is to say it is happy to accept journalism that can be mediocre to poor to falling just short of phone hacking. The inquiry’s report acknowledges Australian journalism’s valuable service to the community, but no industry is flawless or incapable of improvement. Likewise, to say the proposal that adjudications be published prominently in the news media is an attack on free speech is ludicrous – and not simply because that is what should already (but doesn’t always) happen under voluntary self-regulation. The requirement to publish actually adds to free speech by giving complainants a
42 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
To say the media inquiry report’s proposal that adjudications be published prominently in the news media is an attack on free speech is ludicrous voice. Historically, the free speech of those who complain about the news media, especially the free speech of ordinary Australians, has been ignored or muffled by media outlets. The inquiry’s central recommendation, setting up a News Media Council to regulate news and current affairs across all media, may have been widely attacked, but its proposal differs from the existing system in only one key aspect – namely that the government would fund the council. The reason for this was that much of the industry refused to provide sufficient funds for the Press Council to do its work. (Julian Disney has since negotiated an increase in funding some organisations. Whether this increase would have occurred without the fact of the media inquiry is an open question.) The inquiry was presented with evidence from past and present Press Council chairs (the exception was David Flint) that selfregulation was not working because of uncertainty about funding, because the media companies could come and go when they liked, and because adjudications were too often buried by news outlets. The media industry, however, basically told Finkelstein that everything was fine – no real change was needed. You don’t have to read too widely to know that the pattern with inquiries both here and overseas is that they find selfregulation is failing and exhort the industry to lift its game. To this, the industry solemnly nods but then does nothing. Several years later, usually after a particular media atrocity, another inquiry is established. And so the cycle goes on. Ray Finkelstein called this for what it is – a charade. The subtext of the report says to the industry: you have sound standards of journalistic practice that you say you believe in, and you have had 35 years to make a success of a self-regulated system for handling complaints, but you haven’t – and you seem to be content with this situation. So you have left us with little choice but to recommend some means of making
the system work. In your absence, that someone will have to be independent and independently funded. There are legitimate concerns about potential interference by government, but the report outlines detailed processes for appointing members and allotting funding that take these concerns seriously. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the industry has created the problem or allowed it to continue. If the media really wanted to avoid government-funded regulation it could put its own house in order. It has had a stab at this in negotiations with Press Council chairman Julian Disney, but a core weakness of self-regulation was exposed again by West Australian Newspapers’ simultaneous decision to withdraw from the council. Acting only when a statutory authority looms underscores the industry’s unwillingness to provide genuine accountability to its audience. The industry could have acknowledged that the inquiry had stated a hard truth, and then set about improving the selfregulatory system. It could have committed to rebuilding public trust in the news media which, according to numerous opinion polls analysed by the inquiry, is alarmingly low. The industry could also rebuild public confidence by encouraging a newsroom culture where the industry reports on itself thoroughly and without spin by, for example, appointing readers’ editors and explaining openly to readers how editors make difficult decisions to publish stories that necessarily upset some and damage others’ reputations. There are certainly knotty questions inherent in regulating the news media, but Australia hasn’t got within cooee of them because the debate on the report has been crowded with responses that, on other issues, the news media would label the voice of vested interest. Matthew Ricketson is professor of journalism at the University of Canberra Peter Nicholson draws cartoons for page one and other sections of The Australian
n FOREIGN CORRESPONDENCE
Media explosion provokes regulation backlash India may now have more media, but editorial standards are falling off a cliff and proposed regulations could make things worse. Bharat Bhushan looks at an issue with no easy answers
precipitous fall in reputation seems to have gone hand in hand with the explosion of media in India. Today there are more than 2000 daily newspapers in the country and their readership is growing. It is estimated that each 1 per cent growth in literacy (currently at 74 per cent of the total population) adds 5 million readers to newspapers. The number of TV-owning households has nearly doubled, going from 60 million in 2001 to 116.5 million in 2011. About 47 per cent of Indian households now own a TV set. The number of TV news channels has grown from nine in the year 2000 to 122 in 2010, and there are more to come. One would think that given such growth and competition, the quality of media content would improve. In fact, the opposite has happened. Some of India’s top newspapers have been found to indulge in the practice of news-for-cash or “paid news” – selling news space to political parties and actors. One major daily has institutionalised this corruption by getting into an equityfor-news deal – called “private treaty partnerships” – with the corporate world. There are examples of TV programs sensationalising news, using insensitive visuals, invading people’s privacy, slandering public figures, wilfully misrepresenting news and taking covert pleasure in depicting violence against women while sounding indignant about it – for example, one Indian TV channel showed an MMS clip depicting the gang rape of a woman. The quick-fix for this malaise is thought to be the magic wand of “regulation”. In the past year, four attempts were made to test the waters on media regulation. The current chairman of the Press Council of India (PCI), Justice Markandey Katju, started demanding punitive powers to regulate the media the moment he took over in 2011. He has reformist zeal and wants the media to be punished for its misdemeanours. His idea of regulation flows from Article 19(1) of the Indian Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression (the Indian Constitution has no specific provision guaranteeing a free press) but also allows for “reasonable restrictions” on free speech under Article 19 (2). Reasonable restrictions can be imposed on the media in the interests of the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency and morality, contempt of court, defamation,
Some of India’s top newspapers have been… selling news space to political parties and actors
incitement to an offence and sovereignty and integrity of India. The Press Council chairman’s selfrighteous idea of “reasonableness” is that the media should concentrate less on cricket and Bollywood entertainment and more on farmers’ suicides. Besides print, Justice Katju also wants television to be regulated by the PCI. As of now the PCI has only the power to warn, admonish and censure. Its effectiveness depends on the level of cooperation it can solicit from the media practitioners as well as the media owners – all of whom are represented in the Council. Katju’s suggestions, although not liked by the media, have considerable public support. The second major move for regulation came from the Supreme Court. A constitution bench was asked to frame guidelines for reporting court proceedings, especially in cases where sensational reporting could prejudice the trial. Eventually the court did not frame any guidelines and asked the media to exercise
self-restraint. However, the court went on to propound the “doctrine of postponement”, where it may order postponement of reporting by the media of proceedings in some cases. This is being challenged by journalists’ unions through a revision petition arguing that this provision could be misused. The third attempt to regulate the media was made by India’s telecom ministry, which wanted to regulate content on social networking sites through pre-screening by the sites. Although no law was introduced to allow this pre-publication crackdown, the Indian government has continued to get specific content removed by asking social networking sites to take a call on removing it. Google has disclosed that it received 358 requests between January and June 2011 from the Indian government to remove objectionable content from its services and that it conceded in 255 such requests. This disclosure came after an ex-parte order was issued by a Delhi court to 22 websites, u
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Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi was released from a Mumbai prison on bail on September 12, 2012, four days after being arrested in a case that has outraged freedom of expression campaigners. – AFP PHOTO/ INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/ FILES
u including social networking platforms, to remove anti-social and anti-religious content from photographs, text and videos which might hurt religious sentiments. However, Google claimed that most of the items removed related to criticism of the government. Last year the Indian government issued guidelines for “intermediaries” such as internet service providers, cybercafés, blog sites and search engines. These guidelines are so arbitrarily defined that some of them are either unconstitutional or impractical or both. These “intermediaries” are asked to remove content which is vaguely defined as “hateful”, “harassing”, “blasphemous” and “disparaging”. In August this year, the government banned 310 web pages on which morphed images and videos were uploaded to incite intercommunity tensions in the country and which led to an exodus of people from some parts of India to their home states. But the government insists that it has no intention to censor the internet. Earlier this year, a young ruling party MP, Meenakshi Natarajan, tried to introduce a private member’s bill in parliament. Called the Print and Electronic Media Standards and Regulation Bill, 2012, it proposed the setting up of a media regulating authority which would have sweeping powers to impose 44 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
fines, suspend licences and “ban” or “suspend coverage” of an event or incident that “may pose a threat to national security from foreign and internal sources”. The bill was however disowned by the MP’s own Congress party and was finally not introduced. Different stakeholders in the media have approached the question of media regulation in India differently. The Indian government wants regulation to bring to heel an aggressive section of the media which has exposed its corruption. The media owners want regulation but want to do it themselves – arguing that in a democracy, self-regulation is the best form of regulation. But by “self” they seem to mean only media owners and their nominees. The community of journalists, however, seems to be divided on the issue – some seem to support government regulation with or without punitive measures and invite monitoring, while others favour the selfregulation route. The question still remains what we, as a community of journalists, can do to regain our lost image and counter the attempts at curtailing the freedom of the press in various guises. Bharat Bhushan is a journalist based in New Delhi; email@example.com
Indian cartoonist Aseem Trivedi shot to national prominence in September when he was arrested and charged with sedition after publishing a cartoon depicting India’s national emblem with three wolves replacing three lions and the words “Bhrashtameva Jayate” (only corruption triumphs) instead of the official version: “Satyameve Jayate” (truth alone prevails). The arrest sparked off national demonstrations and Trivedi was released. Sedition charges are also unlikely to go ahead after the attorney-general advised the state government to withdraw the charges. However the cartoonist may still be prosecuted under the law for “prevention of insults to the national honour”. Trivedi has been a vociferous campaigner for free speech and against government corruption. Last year the 25 year old launched the movement Cartoons against Corruption in support of a national campaign, India against Corruption, under the leadership of anticorruption activist Anna Hazare. The pair went on a highly publicised hunger strike to demand reform. In response, the Mumbai Crime Branch ordered the web server hosting Trivedi’s site to block public access. Trivedi has been been awarded the Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award for 2012 by Cartoonists Rights Network International, a US-based group that aims to protect the human rights and creative freedom of social and editorial cartoonists.
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Putting together the A team Sharona Coutts sees news organisations partnering up as one way forward for investigative reporting. Cartoon by Andrew Weldon
hen I told a group of friends that I was writing a piece about the future of journalism, they suggested I use my iPhone to snap a “selfie” – those ubiquitous shots people take of themselves, usually from above, that proliferate on sites such as Facebook – and leave it at that. They were only partly joking. Content abounds. Audiences continue to grow. With hundreds of millions of people around the world addictively using Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and a host of other means of communication, the future of media seems secure. It’s how journalism will sit among all the other offerings – and crucially, who will pay for news gathering and publication – that seems less certain. While change is inevitable for journalism, no-one is quite sure what that change will look like. One idea is for partnerships to be set up between different news outlets. When I spent three years at ProPublica, the Pulitzer-winning non-profit news organisation in New York City, I saw how partnerships can work to benefit all organisations involved. But I also saw the difficulties and challenges they can present. ProPublica was founded in 2008 with philanthropic backing from the Sandler Foundation, which pledged an initial grant of US$5 million per year for three years. Among the most important reasons for establishing an outlet like ProPublica was the desire to support and promote investigative journalism. Of course, investigative journalism is expensive to produce, and with news organisations across the United States reeling from budget cuts, so-called “I-teams” were frequently being culled. ProPublica’s model is unusual for a number of reasons. Not only is it philanthropically funded, but it is also established as a non-profit, meaning that there are very different imperatives around deciding which stories to cover – and how to cover them – than what might be factored into similar decisions at a commercial paper. Indeed, part of ProPublica’s mission was to foster investigative journalism around the country, especially in places where there were no investigative reporters left to do the heavy lifting often required for stories of depth and impact. For that reason, we would literally give our material away to partner organisations, so long as they agreed to credit us for the work. Initially, many were sceptical of the model. It was surprisingly hard to give something
away for free. Editors were often suspicious, and some reporters struggled to bury their competitive instincts and cooperate with their ProPublica counterparts. On very rare occasions, it seemed that certain partners had done the dirty on us, rejecting our pitch and then publishing stories that seemed eerily similar to the material we’d given them. But most of that scepticism evaporated when my colleague, Sheri Fink, wrote a piece that filled almost an entire issue of The New York Times Magazine, for which ProPublica
Investigative journalism is expensive to produce, and with news organisations across the United States reeling from budget cuts, so-called “I-teams” were frequently being culled
and the magazine won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. The story laid out how health workers at Memorial Medical Center, in New Orleans, had deliberately injected patients with lethal doses of drugs during Hurricane Katrina. Fink’s piece dug into the tough moral and legal questions surrounding triage and so-called “mercy killings” and her piece garnered national acclaim. It was the culmination of years of work, and months of writing and editing, much of it done within the walls of ProPublica. There was no longer any question about the value that partnerships could bring: for The New York Times Magazine, it meant winning a Pulitzer Prize on the back of enormous – and free – assistance from ProPublica. For ProPublica, the partnership had given us a much wider audience for our work, which was crucial for the success of what was then still a relatively new and small news outfit. Since then, ProPublica has undertaken numerous other successful partnerships, and has won a second Pulitzer Prize
for a collaboration with a well-known radio program, This American Life. The organisation has also become a pioneer in the use of news applications – innovative ways to present and analyse data – which allow reporters from all over the country to benefit from ProPublica’s work, in order to do their own stories. Of course, partnerships can involve complications. By nature, many journalists want to be first on a story, and it can take some adjustment to the idea of working in concert with another, or even many other, reporters. There is also the question of editorial oversight. For instance, I worked with Marketplace, a nationally syndicated radio program, on a story about fraud in the forprofit university sector. We answered to the radio editors for our radio piece, and I also worked with my bosses at ProPublica when it came to the print version of the story. It requires negotiating between the different processes in place within each news organisation. Frequently there are no difficulties at all, but it’s a good idea to set out timelines and agree on who will edit what, and when. I have seen partnerships fall apart due to disagreements or loss of confidence between the parties. On balance, I’m an ardent supporter of partnerships. They present one way in which news organisations can continue to produce quality journalism while we grapple with the continuing collapse of the business model that supported the industry for most of the last century. There are some signs that Australian journalists are adopting this approach. Nick McKenzie of The Age recently partnered with the ABC’s Four Corners to present an excellent program on alleged corruption in the horse-racing industry. I know from discussions with other reporters that there is a growing appetite here to do that sort of work. I hope that we can add partnerships to the mix in Australian journalism and reap the same rewards as those that have sprung from groups such as ProPublica in the USA, and others in that country and around the world. Sharona Coutts is lead investigative reporter at The Global Mail Andrew Weldon is a Melbourne-based freelance cartoonist, whose work appears regularly in The Age, The Big Issue, and elsewhere – www. andrewweldon.com THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
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Torts, tweets and social media traps Journalists and bloggers face new legal pitfalls in the Web 2.0 publishing environment, writes Mark Pearson. Cartoons by Mike Rigoll
action, and in the UK this extends to private information and circumstances. Facebook comes into play here as journalists download and republish private data and photographs of individuals in the wake of a tragedy or in the midst of a controversy. This brings us to the murky world of intellectual property and copyright in social media, where many have adopted a cut and paste approach to the words and images of others online. This defies the clear international legal position which is that “freely viewed does not equal freely used”. Intellectual property is a double-edged sword. It’s amazing how some publishers will complain about the theft of their own words or images while their staff are madly appropriating the words and images of others online. The ways journalists now work with userndustry upheaval has prompted generated content across platforms present many journalists to retool as bloggers, other hazards. Moderation of website and multimedia producers and social media social media comment threads has become editors. These roles add exciting new a new position description – with inherent dimensions to journalism – conversations and legal responsibilities. engagement with audiences, instant global A recent Western Australian case publishing at the press of a button. But they centred on racist comments published on also present levels of legal exposure most 20th News Limited’s Perth Now website about century journalists did not envisage. Indigenous youths who had died in a Most of the principles covered in the media car accident. The fact that the comments law tomes still hold true for defamation, were seen and approved by a moderator contempt and confidentiality, but their Web influenced the Federal Court’s decision to 2.0 application is still being clarified by the order the publisher to pay the boys’ mother courts, and you need to be aware of your $12,000 compensation for her humiliation personal legal liability for what you publish. under the Racial Discrimination Act. Defamation and contempt are still highThe landmark case was ACCC v Allergy risk areas for all publishers, and numerous Pathways in 2011, where then Federal Court judgments in Australia and abroad have Justice Ray Finkelstein held that a company established that the rules apply just as was responsible for comments made by readily to web and social media postings. Of others on its Facebook page. He suggested course, damages awards might be limited if the comments – in breach of consumer you tarnish someone’s reputation on your law – should have been removed within a Facebook page among your small group of reasonable time during a routine review. friends. But if your post prompts just one of But what is a “reasonable time”? And does them to cancel a lucrative contract with the that period differ in serious defamation, victim, those damages might escalate quickly. contempt or race hate examples? This raises the Twitter is still quite new and the courts are issue of whether social media editors should grappling with its implications. Judges are yet be expected to conduct 24/7 monitoring of to decide if you face any special liability when comments by other citizens (perhaps nasty others retweet your message. A conservative trolls) on their social media sites. view would be that a retweeter takes over Journalists should clarify this and other your liability by republishing – just as anyone aspects of their social media use in the terms forwarding an email did previously. But if your of their contracts with employers. nasty remark goes viral on Twitter, the courts Some columnists have had their services might decide you should have anticipated its terminated over inappropriate use of social republication when you tweeted the original media, but journalists struggle with the message – because the retweet is so central to confusion over their workplace and private the medium. This is virgin territory. social media use, given the fact they publish, There is still no actionable right to privacy blog and tweet under their real names. in Australia, although several court decisions While some journalists are taking on new and law reform recommendations are moving digital roles in mainstream media outfits, towards a statutory tort of privacy invasion. many are offering their services on freelance Breach of confidence certainly exists as a legal or contract terms and others are taking up
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Moderation of website and social media comment threads has become a new position description – with inherent legal responsibilities
newly created positions in private enterprise or government. These work environments often lack the traditional media’s history of daily engagement with media law, including oncall advice from in-house legal counsel and a generous budget line for courtroom stoushes. If you are a freelancer you would be wise to take advice on your own exposure and professional indemnity insurance options – something you didn’t need when you were on the payroll of a large media enterprise. If you are taking up a new media position in a corporation or government department, you should review your work contract carefully for evidence of the consequences you might face if your writing, editing or production triggers legal action. A defamation threat that might have appeared routine to your managing editor at a newspaper or television network might well be viewed as a crisis by your new corporate boss or public service chief. Media law was always a core training requirement for cadets and journalism students. Now all journalists need to update and extend that knowledge so they can assess their legal exposure across a broader range of work environments and functions. Mark Pearson is journalism professor at Bond University and author of Blogging and Tweeting Without Getting Sued (Allen & Unwin); journlaw.com, Twitter @journlaw Mike Rigoll is a freelance illustrator based in Perth; mikerigoll.com
Two pupils comfort each other in front of the Gutenberg Gymnasium (high school) in the eastern German city of Erfurt, after expelled student Robert Steinhäuser shot dead 13 teachers, two students and a policeman, then killed himself. He also wounded at least six others in the massacre on April 26, 2002. – AFP
Sensationalist reporting is loading the killers’ bullets Evidence has been mounting that the current style of news coverage of mass killings leads directly to more deaths. Glynn Greensmith wants a better approach
he old Javanese term “amok” was coined to describe what happened when a young man (always a man) entered a public place and killed people indiscriminately until he himself was killed. In Western culture the concept of mass killings by individuals is fairly new, starting with Ernst Wagner in Germany in 1913. In Australia we then had Norman List, who killed three and injured two in Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens in 1924. From there the numbers increased slightly until 1966, when Charles Whitman dragged his entire gun collection to a tower at the University of Texas, killed 13 people and an unborn child, and injured 32. Whitman, dubbed the Texas Sniper, was the first perpetrator to receive saturation media coverage of his crime, and the first to obtain an anti-hero status from the coverage. Since then, media coverage of such events has intensified, and the numbers have escalated. In 2011 there were around 15 recorded mass shootings (exact figures are not available for some countries). On July 20 this year, a man walked into a late-night cinema screening in Aurora, Colorado, and opened fire on the crowd, killing 12 people and injuring 58. This was the highest number of casualties in an American mass shooting.
Notoriety and infamy are often the goals. Only 10 per cent of these killers are technically psychotic
The media reports that followed were filled with photos of the perpetrator, every piece of scrawled writing, blogging or footage that could be obtained, and the timeline and minutiae of the shootings. We also saw constant references to his chosen nickname and to the movie being screened when the attack occurred. American forensic psychiatrist Dr Park Dietz has spent 20 years trying to get the major US news outlets to change the way they report mass shootings. He says: “If you don’t want to propagate more mass murders: • Don’t start the story with sirens blaring • Don’t have photographs of the killer • Don’t make this 24/7 coverage • Do everything you can not to make the body count the lead story • Don’t make the killer some kind of anti-hero • Do localise this story to the affected community and make it as boring as possible in every other market.” Why? “Because every time we have intense, saturation coverage of mass murder, we expect to see one or two more within a week.” Exactly one week after Aurora, Maryland police arrested a (legally) well-armed man calling himself “The Joker”. In the process of being sacked as a subcontractor from
mail services company Pitney Bowes, Neil Prescott made what police described as “significant threats to coming back and harming people at the business.” Prince George’s County Police Chief Mark Magaw told reporters: “In fact, he said ‘I’m a joker and I’m gonna load my guns and blow everyone up’.” Several arrests were made in and around cinemas: a man threw a package into a screening claiming it was a bomb (San Jose, July 23); a man carried a gun, ammunition and several knives into the cinema, claiming it was “for protection” (Ohio, August 7). Leading Australian forensic psychiatrist Paul Mullen describes the coverage as providing a “trigger” to other would-be killers. It does not have to be within a short timeframe to remain directly linked. Once triggered, killers can take several months preparing the details of their murderous intent. As Martin Bryant did before the Port Arthur killings in April 1996. Professor Mullen says the coverage of the Dunblane massacre in Scotland in March 1996 (tied to earlier coverage of killing sprees, including Julian Knight’s shooting of 26 in Melbourne’s Hoddle Street in 1987) led directly to that day in Port Arthur. In Professor Mullen’s studies, he notes that notoriety and infamy are often the u THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
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u goals. Only 10 per cent of these killers are technically psychotic. Not every element of Dr Dietz’s proposed changes to media coverage is practical. Mass shootings are undoubtedly news. Refraining from a body count comes dangerously close to overt manipulation by news outlets. And there have been examples where a national discourse on these events can genuinely be said to provoke significant shifts in public opinion and policy – gun control measures in Australia after the Port Arthur massacre, for example. The recent coverage in the US indicated no appetite for a discussion on gun control there. But the wall-to-wall coverage in Aurora did have two identifiable results: • Gun-ownership applications in Colorado rose by 43 per cent in the week after the shooting • Fancy-dress costumes were banned from more than 300 US cinemas. If the media is doing less to be part of the solution, we could also be doing less to be part of the problem. Names, faces, diary entries, home videos, blog ramblings, re-enactments, timelines; if we removed everything that wasn’t essential to the story might the impact be less conducive to potential killers? There is a precedent here. The Australian media has for years adopted a reporting policy entirely conceived and designed to prevent copycat behaviour. The Mindframe website (www. mindframe-media.info) says: “The National Media and Mental Health Group was established in 2000 to provide advice about appropriate initiatives and methods to encourage the media to report and portray suicide and mental illnesses in a way that is least likely to cause harm, induce copycat behaviour, or contribute to the stigma experienced by people who have a mental illness.” Could such a model be adopted to allow representatives of the media and forensic psychiatrists to create a better way of reporting mass shootings? In the internet age, some will argue the information will be out there anyway. Rupert Murdoch used the same argument to justify publishing photographs of a naked Prince Harry when all other British media outlets refused. Nearly 4000 complaints to The Sun indicate there is a public appetite for higher standards for the media, even when information is accessible elsewhere. Surely the justification for higher standards in the case of mass killings is even stronger. Glynn Greensmith is a lecturer in radio journalism at Curtin University in WA, and an ABC Local Radio broadcaster 48 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
Reporters at risk are no longer alone Bruce Shapiro, executive director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, shares this advice on protecting your emotional health
n a gleaming late-spring day in 2007, I sat with reporters, photographers and editors in the newsroom of The Roanoke Times – a daily newspaper covering the hill country of western Virginia. A few weeks earlier, a student at nearby Virginia Tech University had gone berserk, killing 32 students and faculty members and himself. That day in Roanoke, reporters recalled the special anguish of covering tragedy in their own community. Several had rushed out to report or photograph the massacre knowing that their own spouses worked at Virginia Tech and might be among the dead. Some recalled, with fury, how in a matter of days the scrum of out-of-town journalists destroyed long-cultivated trust between residents and the paper, while others described their own doubts and debates about which photos and headlines and interviews to run. Reporting on mass shootings and other large-scale attacks and killings tests the skill of reporters and the judgment of news organisations. Part of the challenge goes to our craft: How to accurately depict a mass shooting and its aftermath in a normally safe venue? Part of the challenge is to our ethics: What to say about a perpetrator, how to approach witnesses and survivors and family members, how much explicit detail and imagery to include in news reports? And part of the challenge is emotional: How can journalists and news organisations protect themselves from psychological injury when covering unspeakable horror? The answers are not easy – but the good news is that for more than a decade, journalists have been learning from the collective experience of covering mass shootings worldwide, as well as from psychiatrists and psychologists in Australia and elsewhere. What have we learned? • Journalists are, on the whole, a resilient tribe. Like firefighters and other first responders, we rush toward danger and crises with purpose and skill. But psychological injury is also real –anywhere from 5 to 15 per cent of non-combat journalists describe changes in themselves consistent with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). • Stay connected to your colleagues – peer support matters. The journalists at greatest risk following any highly traumatic assignment are those isolated from their colleagues. Basic trauma awareness and a culture of peer support help both individual journalists and
news organisations contend with the most challenging assignments. (Australia’s ABC is a pioneer in peer trauma support.) Ethics matter. Initial evidence from a study in Norway of young reporters who covered the Utoya shootings suggests that those experiencing the most emotional distress months after the event were those who felt pressed into ethical compromises in their handling of victims or other aspects of the story. Good management matters. A study by psychologists at the University of Tulsa found that among journalists covering highly distressing events, having newsroom management perceived as chaotic or hostile was as great a risk of psychological injury as the traumatic events themselves. Journalists who feel supported by their editors and producers are less likely to experience debilitating psychological injury. Watchful waiting. If you or a colleague cover a distressing mass shooting, don’t presume that PTSD or other problems are inevitable, but do look for changes that seem to linger. If difficulties go on for a month or more, consider talking to a qualified counsellor or therapist specialising in trauma. Pace your workload. Trauma is cumulative, and too steady a diet of horror can evoke profound psychological responses. As with soldiers whose risk of PTSD increases with frequent deployments to combat zones, journalists rushing from one traumatic assignment to another face increased danger of psychological injury. Treat survivors humanely. As Dave Cullen, who covered the Columbine shootings for Salon.com and then spent 10 years writing a book on the incident, puts it: “A good rule is to be ready to treat them the way you would treat a friend. Most of them want to talk, so it’s fine to ask questions about the tragedy. Just be aware they may break down unexpectedly at any time. When survivors have a bad reaction, give them a moment. Step out of the interview and react like a good Samaritan or a friend.” Respectful treatment of people will lead to richer interviews and trusting longterm access as the story unfolds. Learn from your colleagues. The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma has tip sheets and interviews capturing the lessons learned from past mass shootings worldwide for journalists, photographers, newsroom managers and teachers: www.dartcenter.org.
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A man of words Colin Menzies Nov 26, 1950 – May 25, 2012
In February this year, Col Menzies was relaxing at home with a glass of white when the proofs arrived for the breed society magazine he wrote, edited and produced with his wife, Anne, a graphic artist. As a veteran subeditor and journalist, words were the love of Col’s life, and he was as meticulous with The Australian Holstein Journal – which he and Anne brought out from their property near Singleton in the Hunter Valley – as he’d been while working for various mainstream newspapers and magazines earlier in his career. So when he discovered a mistake on the cover of the Journal proofs that February afternoon, Col was devastated. It was a piffling thing by today’s standards – the final ‘s’ missing from the word success – but the print run had begun and Col was so distracted by the “emergency” he shocked the rest of us by allowing his wine to get warm while he phoned and fretted. No matter that his cancer had reached a new and critical stage, or that this would be the last issue of the Journal he was able to produce. For Col, that absent ‘s’ was a disaster, and he remained inconsolable until learning that the Brisbane-based printers had picked up the error and saved the day. “That reaction was just so typical of Col,” says Matt Shaffer, CEO of Holstein Australia. “Apart from being a consummate gentleman to work with, he was a perfectionist who did amazing work for our journal… We started out as business associates, but ended up best friends.” Born at Kyabram in Victoria, Col later moved with his family to Condobolin in central New South Wales, where – while helping to run the family wheat property – he doubled as an unpaid teenage contributor to the local newspaper. (One of his sizzling exclusives for The Lachlander began “Mrs Beddie will again be judging the jams section at the Condobolin Show next week…”) In 1974, while adventuring in Greece, Col followed the journalistic traditions of the day by bullshitting his way into the job of editor at the small and eccentric Athens News, where the elderly proprietor’s outraged shrieks – “something between a pig’s oink and a baby’s scream” – became a familiar refrain. Back in Australia, he did his BA at the University of Sydney and worked at
Col Menzies was a funny, considerate, generous man who railed against pretence and hypocrisy
The Sun-Herald, first as a casual subeditor and then full-time. In the early ’80s he became the paper’s theatre critic, reviewing more than 500 plays but knocking back an offer to become head of the Critics’ Circle because he feared it would make him “selfimportant”. (Imagine that happening today!) Always versatile, Col switched to testing the latest high-powered motorcycles for the paper. He was a skilled rider with a passion for speed, which helped in his next incarnation as a full-time journalistic petrolhead with ACP Magazines. In the rollicking, long lunch period from 1988 to 1993, Col was chief sub/assistant editor of Wheels, then managing editor of the magazine’s special projects division. He later subbed for The Australian Financial Review, The Courier-Mail and The Sunday Mail in Brisbane, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Newcastle Herald. After moving to the Hunter Valley, he and Anne spent five years producing The Australian Holstein Journal, Australia’s largest breed society magazine, from their rural retreat. Col Menzies was a funny, considerate, generous man who railed against pretence and hypocrisy and never took his own problems as seriously as those of the people he befriended and loved. He is survived by his daughter, Isa, his brother and sister, Ian and Christine, and Anne, who – at the time of writing – had yet to remove Col’s jovial greeting from their voice mail. “Every so often,” she says, “I deliberately don’t pick up so that I can hear his voice one more time.” Frank Robson is a journalist/author who once drove 10,000 miles across America’s back roads with Col Menzies, yet remained his long-time friend
The quiet achiever
Ian Wolfe Sep 12, 1941 – Dec 16, 2011 When the team from Australian Associated Press walked into their usual contract renegotiation with the ABC at the start of the 1990s, they had every reason to think they would get what they wanted. The ABC had used the AAP’s foreign wire service for half a century, initially for an annual fee of £3000 pounds. Now the fee was
reportedly $250,000. AAP wanted more and treated the ABC like a captive client. Sitting on the other side of the table was the deceptively polite Dr Ian Wolfe, the ABC Radio news and current affairs supremo with degrees in politics and psychology. After being told the fee increase was nonnegotiable he terminated the negotiation, sacked AAP and did a deal with Agence France Presse for a fraction of the price. For the first time in its history, the ABC no longer relied on a service owned by its competitors. Ian had already looked on with approval as the man he had appointed executive producer of AM axed its 20-yearold recitation of newspaper editorials entitled “What the Papers Say”. Ian believed the ABC owed Murdoch and Fairfax nothing. Then he went in for the kill. You were glad he was on your side. Protégé Robert Bolton put it this way in a bit that was edited out of the excellent obituary he wrote for The Sydney Morning Herald: “Had some of his staff realised how well he had studied human behaviour and weakness they might not have gone into battle with him. They usually lost.” No longer having a commercial relationship with AAP, Ian was free to launch an assault on its revenue stream. He set up an ABC wire service to sell news stories specifically written for radio to the commercial stations that had previously been captives of AAP. The stories on Broadcast News Australia were more timely and better written (for radio). AAP pulled out all stops to maintain its monopoly and succeeded, although things looked dicey for a while. It had learnt what anyone eventually learned who came up against Ian Wolfe – don’t mess with him, don’t mess with the ABC and don’t imagine convention will hold him back. I was with him as he sat down for a meeting with the Sydney Stock Exchange and explained that their employees would no longer be reading a 10-minute list of share prices on Radio National each lunchtime. He told me afterwards it had felt like axing the daily reading of the river heights on rural radio, which he also had done. He hired me direct from the Commonwealth Treasury and defended me against all manner of people who thought I wasn’t right for radio. Whenever he offered an opinion about how the broadcasting landscape would develop or news would turn out, I found him to be right. I sought his advice long after I had left the ABC. Broadcast News Australia quietly evolved into NewsRadio, quietly because the then ABC managing director, David Hill, was trying to sack Ian at the time. Hill later praised him for one of the most impressive developments in three decades of broadcasting, and also one of the cheapest. u THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
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Intensely loyal to the ABC, incredibly smart and disarmingly shy, Ian has left us far too soon. Peter Martin was for many years economics correspondent with the ABC, now economics correspondent with The Age and Sydney Morning Herald
Her heart in the country Tanya Price Nov 12, 1967 – Sep 11, 2012
Respected former Townsville Bulletin subeditor, Tanya Price, passed away after a prolonged illness on Tuesday, September 11. Tanya, 44, was remembered by many family, friends and colleagues at a memorial gathering in her home town of Bowen in North Queensland, on September 14. Tanya was born in Bowen. She was a special baby, arriving just two days after the death of
He described her as “always a joy to be around: a bright, shining star”
her brother Alan, who had just turned two. Sixteen months later she was joined by her brother Martin and then a little sister, Kym. She had an idyllic childhood on the family farm and excelled at school and extracurricular activities. At the age of six Tanya started riding her first horse and this, coupled with many other musical and sporting pursuits, would remain among her favourite memories of growing up in the country. Tanya found an advertisement offering a Rural Press university scholarship and cadetship just as she was finishing Year 12 and decided to give it a go. After studying at the Queensland University of Technology, she went to work in Gympie (Gympie Times) and Richmond, NSW (Hawkesbury Gazette). Tanya met her husband, Dean, in Richmond. He described her as “always a joy to be around: a bright, shining star.” They had a son, Ryan, and Tanya moved to the Big Smoke to work on the back bench at the Sunday Telegraph in the early ‘90s. She loved the camaraderie, the atmosphere and working with words. But most of all, she loved the news. So much so, Dean remembers, that on a Sunday afternoon in August 1997 as he and Tanya travelled to see friends in Sydney, they were forced to turn around and ditch the friends so that Tanya could head in to work to help
put out a Princess Diana special. The news came first, always. Her nickname in Sydney was “Mangoes”, after the tropical fruit for which Bowen is most famous. And after seven years at the Telegraph, the country girl in Tanya longed to be home. She wanted to bring her little boy up in the North, and the family returned to Townsville. Tanya worked for what she described as the “dark side” in a couple of media management roles in Townsville before taking a job as a senior subeditor at the Townsville Bulletin. She was back with her passion – the news. In between these positions, she also managed to acquire a teaching degree, graduating near the top of her class. But she didn’t take up that option, preferring to remain a journo in the end. Only a few short weeks before her own death, Tanya lost her father and, with that, a piece of her soul. She was someone who was truly loved – by family, friends and colleagues. She is fondly remembered in the Bulletin’s newsroom as someone who tried her best at all times, despite what would be, to many others, overwhelming odds. She will be missed by all who had the good fortune to know her. Ann Roebuck is the NQN Editorial Manager based in Townsville
w Adobe, Creative Folks and Woodwing are delighted to support the Walkleys in the creation of their first Awards App. Congratulations to all the finalists in the 2012 Walkley Awards. Download the App for all the information on the awards and nominees.
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n BOOKS & REVIEWS
Give me a tome where the journalist roams There’s a whole world beyond Washington’s Beltway, and Peter Ryan is glad Michael Brissenden found it
hen I was posted to the United States back in 1991, I received some sage advice from one of my ABC bosses back in Sydney. “It’s not all about Washington politics, you know,” I was told. “Get outside the Beltway whenever you can to see the real America. Don’t be a hostage to the US networks. Talk to real people and send back stories about slices of American life.” I was also reminded that while Washington was the global hub of politics and diplomacy, it was not necessarily the best vantage point to tell American stories through Australian eyes. As soon as I got through the initial jargon (like issues being “inside the Beltway” of freeways circling a very insular Washington DC), the biggest challenge was making new contacts and sidestepping the demands of producers in Sydney for daily news items that defied the advice I was given on the eve of my US adventure. With the prodding of producers from the ABC’s newly created Foreign Correspondent program, I found myself occasionally released from daily TV news and dispatched to corners of America to file postcards on topics ranging from an accent reduction school in Atlanta to a university for rodeo wannabes in Wyoming. So not surprisingly, I was immediately attracted to Michael Brissenden’s American Stories: Tales of Hope and Anger, knowing that as the ABC’s only foreign correspondent dedicated to television current affairs, he had a brief beyond the news grind that would take him far away from the Washington Beltway into American suburbs and households. His book is framed around his posting to Washington. This has coincided with President Barack Obama’s tumultuous first term, where expectations have been high but results decidedly “mixed” – to be generous. Unlike my 1990s experience of the United States – which was initially shaped by America’s victory in Gulf War 1, the end of the Cold War, the demise of George Bush (senior) and the rise of Bill Clinton – Brissenden’s journey is made in a post September 11 world and the ongoing war on terror. The challenges facing President Obama are immense and extreme, such
Brissenden portrays a nation at the crossroads. On the one hand, it is either in a fragile transition or stalemate, but there’s also a nation that is prospering in new corners
as gun control, health care (Obamacare), the growing Hispanic demographic, the perception of America’s Muslims and divisive issues over a mosque near Ground Zero in New York. And then, always in the background, there’s the still unresolved global financial crisis that was born in the US through the greed, mismanagement and unethical behaviour of Wall Street. It’s the basket-case economy Barack Obama inherited from George W. Bush which today even optimists describe as “frail”. As Brissenden points out, with unemployment still high at 8.1 per cent, President Obama’s re-election in November is largely dependent on a deluge of better economic news combined with any gaffes or campaign road disasters on offer from the Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Barack Obama knows that any achievement on the global stage (such as the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan) can be meaningless to many voters while there’s an economic crisis at home. Obama might be regarded as a “foreign policy president” outside US borders, says Brissenden, but at home he knows “it’s still the economy, stupid” – to paraphrase Bill Clinton’s one-time
chief strategist James Carville in the 1992 presidential campaign. But the running theme throughout Brissenden’s sharp observations is the rise of the “Tea Party” and the, at times, extreme far-right lobbying on God, guns, immigration and preserving a view on “the American Way”. Brissenden has had the privilege of travelling far and wide, courtesy of his main ABC assignments for Foreign Correspondent and 7.30, which have been enhanced through the commissioning of American Stories. Those stories are about divisive policies and promises, but they shine through despite the sometimes confused and contradictory words of real people. The words and images are often captured by Walkley-winning ABC cameraman Louie Eroglu, whose skills as a lensman are globally acclaimed. Brissenden portrays a nation at the crossroads. On the one hand, it is either in a fragile transition or stalemate, but there’s also a nation that is prospering in new corners rather than simply surviving. Brissenden’s easygoing and simple style resonates throughout. His highly regarded storytelling ability reminded me of his previous career bullet point as The 7.30 Report’s political editor, where his nightly analysis was required viewing for anyone with an interest in national affairs. He succeeds in explaining the highly complex issues challenging the American lifestyle and survival in a jargon-free, interesting and often entertaining manner. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the challenges facing the United States, or any journalist considering a career as a foreign correspondent. Brissenden acknowledges the ABC’s commitment to foreign coverage and, more importantly, primary sourced journalism – an area which is under threat in these days of budget cuts and demands on correspondents to report “live” rather than leave the bureau of the Beltway. American Stories: Tales of Hope and Anger by Michael Brissenden, UQP, RRP $29.95 Peter Ryan is the ABC’s business editor. He was a TV correspondent and the ABC’s Washington bureau chief from 1991 to 1996
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
n BOOKS & REVIEWS
The shaming of the Screws A vivid account of the depredations that led to the downfall of the News of the World makes for compelling reading writes Alan Kennedy. Illustration by Joanne Brooker
t’s an exquisite irony that the straw that finally broke News International’s back was a story that was probably wrong. Up until the middle of 2011, News International had tried to bluff its way through the growing phone-hacking scandal. It was really only The Guardian that had any enthusiasm for the story. And the Press Complaints Commission and the police did their best to put the mockers on that, telling the paper it was a “non-story” they’d be best advised to leave alone. There wasn’t much interest at Westminster, either. Most politicians seemed to understand that their interests lay in not stirring the pot at News International. Who needs to make powerful enemies? So the scandal gained no traction. It was a great example of freedom from information. But then last July The Guardian ran a story about the hacking of a mobile belonging to Milly Dowler, a young girl who had disappeared and later was found dead. The Guardian story claimed someone from News International had tapped the mobile and deleted some of the messages on the phone, which had led Milly Dowler’s family to believe she was still alive. The story exploded. And the rest is history in the making as the fallout from the scandal – 300 separate hacking claims and rising, scores of journalists and cops in the dock and three generations of politicians tainted by their overly cosy relationship with Britain’s most powerful media company – continues to unfold. The feted, notorious, aggressive, free British press may never be the same again, if you believe those who say that Lord Justice Leveson will recommend a solid dose of extra regulation for Fleet Street when he reports next month. It’s a stunning story that becomes shocking when it is condensed into one book and the full horror – and the extent of the tentacles of News International – are exposed. In Dial M for Murdoch: News Corporation and the corruption of Britain, authors Tom Watson and The Independent’s Martin Hickman document the extent of News International’s corrosive reach. Watson is a Labour MP who was persecuted, harassed and indirectly threatened by News International for his
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investigations into phone hacking. From being a lonely man being driven slightly crazy by his obsessive pursuit of News International, Watson – like The Guardian’s investigative journalist Nick Davies, who drove the paper’s reporting of the issue – has become synonymous with the saga. Even his political opponents deferred to his relentless questioning of witnesses at the parliamentary inquiry, which became water-cooler TV when he had the Murdochs in his sights: “Mr Murdoch, you must be the first mafia boss in history who didn’t know he was running a criminal enterprise.” As Watson and Hickman’s book makes clear, it was not just the phone hacking and invasion of ordinary people’s privacy which is so disturbing, but the subtext that runs throughout the affair: a picture of cosy relationships developed through fair means (and, allegedly, foul) with politicians and police.
“Mr Murdoch, you must be the first mafia boss in history who didn’t know he was running a criminal enterprise”
Those relationships for years had helped to hose down the scandal while at the same time continuing to influence policy, bringing the Murdoch empire within days of achieving its Grail – the 100 per cent ownership of cash cow BSkyB. Before he became prime minister, David Cameron had ridden a police horse given to Rebekah Brooks by the wallopers. Brooks and Cameron were texting buddies. Rupert Murdoch finally had to ’fess up to being shown into Number 10 through the back door for quiet chats with the PM. Tony Blair made a much-noticed flight halfway around the world to pay court to Rupert Murdoch on Hayman Island in 1995. In 2008 Cameron was flown on a private jet to Santorini for the ritual laying of hands aboard Murdoch’s yacht. It makes you wonder about the Aussie politicians who were regularly seen seeking an audience with Murdoch in New York. Although it may take years to shake the poison out of the body politic in the UK, the BSkyB deal stalled amid the rising tide of public indignation and suspicion, and News International has since withdrawn its bid. The scandal led to the long-running Leveson inquiry into press standards. It is expected that Justice Leveson’s report will be scathing and full of unpalatable recommendations. Advocates of free speech and a free press will find themselves standing shoulder-to-shoulder with News International in fighting the most egregious of the recommendations, thus proving again that in the defence of free speech you often find yourself in strange company. The phone-hacking scandal also helped spark the Finkelstein inquiry in Australia. In Australia, News Limited is a fully owned subsidiary of News Corporation. But we should be grateful the excesses of phone tapping and the overt thugging of politicians or corporate foes doesn’t appear to happen here. News Limited ran an audit of its operations, overseen by an independent body, and found no evidence of paying private investigators to tap telephones or any other shonky business. Dial M for Murdoch: News Corporation and the corruption of Britain by Tom Watson and Martin Hickman, Penguin, RRP $29.95 Alan Kennedy is a member of the Australian Press Council, spent 10 years on the Walkley Advisory Board and is a former president of the Media section of the Alliance. Joanne Brooker is an award winning professional media artist specialising in portraiture and caricature
Blog in a teacup? Chris Warren thinks bloggers and social media can add depth to the Australian political debate, but their followers are few
hen Greg Jericho returned to work on a Tuesday in late September 2010 after, in his words, “becoming a hashtag” as a result of being outed by The Australian as the blogger behind Grog’s Gamut, he found… nothing. After a 24-hour storm in the political twittersphere – which involved many journalists – when he turned up at his day job in the Canberra public service: “Not one person knew what had happened.” Still, it changed his life and led to his book, The Rise of the Fifth Estate: Social media and blogging in Australian politics. With this personal anecdote, Jericho captures both the significance and insignificance of social media in modern Australian politics. As he notes, even political journalist Annabel Crabb’s 61,000 Twitter followers are dwarfed by Rove McManus at 346,000, Michael Clarke at 268,000 and even Karl Kruszelnicki at 145,000. Jericho estimates there are about 324 blogs that regularly comment on politics – broadly defined to include most related blogs in areas like science (particularly climate change), economics and social affairs. And although we can argue about some he includes and some he leaves out, this is probably a good mud map of blogging in Australia after about 10 years of activity. Many of these have struggled to sustain themselves. In fact, since his book was published, at least one major long-term blog, Larvatus Prodeo, has closed down and others have dried up. Most are the work of individuals, some are group efforts. Some blog daily. Some weekly. Some spasmodically. Still, if we take out the blogs that are written within major news organisations – and that’s a reasonable number – there’s a pool of blogs about the size of the parliamentary press gallery that are adding nuance – and no little criticism – to Australia’s coverage of politics. There have been mixed responses to this development within journalism. Some have welcomed it as providing a deepening of political analysis and an important spur to journalists to lift their game. Others have seen it as an unhelpful kibitzing that gets in the way of doing their job. To paraphrase the famous tweet from The Australian’s Matthew Franklin in the 2010
There’s a pool of blogs about the size of the parliamentary press gallery that are adding nuance – and no little criticism – to Australia’s coverage of politics
election: they should let the professionals do their job. Jericho doesn’t suggest that social media or blogging is any substitute for professional journalism: “The culture of political blogging is more akin to academic work and literary criticism,” he writes. Of course, the blogosphere does not stand alone from the traditional media. It overlaps it. It is absorbed by it. And its tools and techniques are adopted and adapted by it. He particularly examines the way Australian political journalists have picked up Twitter and his research tells us a lot about how our craft has used the opportunities it has brought. Not surprisingly, Jericho adopts the blogosphere’s orthodoxy that: “Media organisations have long struggled with the internet.” This is a debatable view. Rather, we have close to 20 years of journalism shaping and being shaped by the opportunities of the internet. He notes the use of Twitter to identify sources and information and as a platform to release information, functioning almost as a newswire. His criticism seems to be that journalists are using Twitter too much for, well, journalism rather than the potentials of interactivity that it offers – too much media and not enough social. As one of the targets in everyone’s favourite multiplayer online game of Mainstream Media v Bloggers, Jericho has a good perspective on a debate that dragged through the 2007 election lead-up and peaked in 2010 with the “outing” of Jericho himself.
Now that we have Twitter to worry about, it’s hard to remember why there was so much heat about a blog. As Jericho’s experience itself illustrates, it was hardly a barbecue stopper. Nonetheless, it’s easy for those of us in the media to be blasé about the impact our reporting has on individuals who are dragged into the public spotlight – even one as dim as the one that lit the blog wars. As Mumble blogger Peter Brent commented in 2007 on being forewarned about criticism in The Australian: “All very strange. And – I’d be lying if I didn’t admit – a little stomach churning.” Brent’s Mumble blog is now part of theaustralian.com.au. The Grog’s Gamut case was all about the vexed issue of anonymity on the net. Not surprisingly, most journalists – even those who disagreed with the actions of The Australian in naming Jericho – were relaxed about default to disclosure. After all, journalists work in the public sphere. It’s one of the few jobs where you are publicly judged every day by your work. Of course, in a social media world these judgments are now spread through Twitter and blogging and are in your face, rather than the subject of private conversations or, at worst, letters to the editor. While journalists are more or less happy (okay, a bit less than more) to take this criticism, there can be no doubt that the pressure of regular open scrutiny is something new and takes its toll – but it doesn’t affect work or change lives. But, Jericho says, he was never seeking to hold himself out in this way: “I wasn’t sitting at home pining to be a journalist. I didn’t blog for money or fame.” And as Peter Martin blogged at the time: “No-one should be forcibly reduced to a single identity. It infringes… a fundamental right – to only share with others what is needed in order to achieve what we want to achieve.” In a world changing as quickly as social media, it’s tempting fate to try to capture a moment in time through a technology like a book. But right now feels like a plateau in the development of social media in Australian politics and Jericho’s book is a useful snapshot of where we are now and how we got here. The Rise of the Fifth Estate: Social media and blogging in Australian politics by Greg Jericho, Scribe Publications, RRP $29.95 Chris Warren is federal secretary of the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
n 10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT…
The modern men’s magazine The only tits you’ll find in men’s mag Smith Journal are birds that eat bats’ brains*. Rick Bannister shares his rules for a new-fashioned lads’ mag. Cartoon by Guy Body
Women are the secret ingredient. No, not bikini-clad on the cover or semi-naked and holding power tools across the pages inside. Smith Journal was started by Louise Bannister and Lara Burke (the pair who set up Frankie magazine) and the current editor is Nadia Saccardo. They are three ladies who have had great success in magazine publishing, as well as other forms of media, so why not build a men’s mag? The secret is to get the best people for the job, regardless of gender, because the idea that only males can make a men’s magazine is just plain stupid.
Be dumb. We know nothing, but we’re interested in everything. That’s our default position when it comes to approaching any story topic, which for us has already leapt everywhere from data mining and quantum physics to cuckoo clocks and pig farming. This keeps the tone humble and the subject matter broad and surprising.
You have to be selfish. Make a magazine you’d love to discover on the newsagency shelf. Something your friends would read. That’s all we do. Smith started because Lou and Lara both noticed their husbands (full disclosure: I’m one of them) had stopped buying magazines. There were no focus groups or target audience; it was simply a magazine that we’d want to pick up. It has to come from an honest place, not created to cash in on what’s hip or directed by advertising dollars.
Aim for the head not the loin. Men’s titles have been treating their readers as nothing more than sportcrazed, sex-hungry Neanderthals for about as long as some women’s titles have been trading on low self-esteem (you have to be thinner, sexier, more beautiful). But
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photography out there, you have to believe the reader will be able to handle two double page spreads with nothing but great writing to see them through.
Forget about the budget. Go for your dream contributors, even if you can’t afford them. You’ll need a perfect pitch and even then you’ll get shut down most of the time. Getting your dream contributor onboard usually takes a big budget or big circulation – or both – but don’t underestimate the value some writers and photographers see in having their work handled with care and respect.
we like to think man has evolved a bit, so we’re trying to appeal to his intellect rather than his libido.
Being cool is tiring and ultimately boring. Too many men’s magazines play the role of the “cool kid” at school. They were the ones always telling you about the latest bands and bars. Always wearing the latest threads. The problem is once you’re that guy, you forever have to be on the cutting edge of modern culture and that’s just plain exhausting. Call us lazy, but we’re really not interested in being first, we’re more intrigued by things that last.
Know what it isn’t. When a magazine is starting out you don’t have to know exactly what it is, but it’s critical you know what it isn’t. Have faith. You don’t need a photo or illustration on every single goddamn page. Men read books, as well as magazines, most of which are filled with hundreds and hundreds of pages of teeny tiny copy. While there’s a lot of beautiful
9 Making a great coffee or a fine whisky both require a good filter and it’s the same with the modern men’s magazine
Leave it out. Making a great coffee or a fine whisky both require a good filter and it’s the same with the modern men’s magazine. In the age of information, finding things to fill pages isn’t the hard part. It’s what you leave out that makes the difference.
Print is just the beginning. We love print. The way a magazine smells when you crack the spine for the first time and the way the pages feel between your fingers can be beautiful. But being a quarterly publication, we know a lot of our readers want the story to continue every day, so we put a lot of love into our website, Facebook and Twitter pages, too. You can’t think of these things as separate or trivial any more. Rick Bannister is editor-at-large for the Smith Journal Guy Body has been cartooning for New Zealand papers since the 1980s, in between doing real work
* The great tit (Parus major) has been known to peck open the skulls of tiny bats to feed on their brains. For more, see Zombie Tits, Astronaut Fish and Other Weird Animals by Becky Crew (NewSouth, $24.99)
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