Cultural Comment

Mastering NewsAdvertising – Coles Getting its Ads onto the News

As people would know, I have been live tweeting Nine News, A Current Affairs, Seven News and Today Tonight for the past week and a bit. I remember seeing a story on Today Tonight, Monday night, about Coles cutting its prices by “up to 50%” on 12 items each week. Cue pictures of cheap carrots and average punters in Coles being asked “if this a good thing”. The story had another angle, though – whether the prices would hurt farmers, in terms of the prices they are paid. Cue representative of AusVeg, expressing concern. TT also gave viewers an option to comment via their website whether people would change their supermarket of choice because of the drop in fruit prices.

One of the more remarkable inclusions in the story was mention of the ad campaign that Coles was launching in conjunction with the price discounts. Not only mention – it actually featured chunks of it during the story. The campaign had nothing to do with the rest of the story -it just makes the claim Coles’ fruit is fresher than anything else in the world – even rebadged songs about show business. For those who don’t watch commercial TV, it looks like this:

It was a standard Today Tonight / A Current Affair story, managing to include an ad inside a story for a company that spends a lot of money placing ads in the advertising breaks.  It is an ingenious way to plant brand and ad recognition. A solid piece of NewsAdvertising. What was ingenious, however, was the way that ad managed to stick inside news reports about the story.

Watching Nine News breaks during Tuesday night’s programming, there were snippets of a story about Coles discounting fruit and its impact on farmer – whilst in the background TV viewers could see Curtis Stone and the Freshness Dancers.  By this stage, the very real concerns held by farmers has become mere background fodder for what seems to be the true purpose of this “news” – to advertise Coles.

The most disturbing element, though, came on the ABC’s AM program this morning, where the story of the price discounting by Coles from Michael Edwards started with the jingle. A Coles ad, playing on the ABC. Yes, it foregrounded a story about Coles reducing prices – but the jingle still had no relationship with the story and managed to include a piece of commercial advertising on the ABC. In terms of marketing, this would be considered a piece of NewsAdvertising Gold.  The ABC should be more resistant to the type of reporting structures used by commercial TV – especially current affairs programs.  However, it seems that it too can succumb pretty easily.

Mind you, so do I. I now have that Coles ad on the blog. My partner may kill me.

Cultural Comment

The Current Affairs Live Tweeting Continues

The News Current Affairs Tweeting experiment continues. The first week has yielded curious results – with this Wordle indicating some things about the week:

I have decided to start a dedicated Twitter account for live tweeting the News and the Current Affairs programs – @tonightsvoice. This is partially to stop me being put into “Twitter Gaol” and partially to spare my followers the constant stream of “Current Affairs”.

Finally, here is exactly what I saw for four nights – and what Katie Purvis saw for one night.

Monday January 23

By the way, I’m following through with my promise to livetweet the #9news in Sydney. Any bets on KFed at the GWS Giants being Story No.1?

Story No. 1 – Mr Thompson from Laurie Oakes. Disappointed it wasn’t KFed #9news

Laurie Oakes telling us that the navy might have to ignore Tony’s boat phone. #9news

Of course, Peter Slipper was mentioned. #9news

Next, an accident on a street near a playground and children everywhere. #9news

Stanhope Gardens has dangerous, narrow streets. Not a surprise there. #9news

The accident will “spur” locals into action about the streets. #9news

Drivers and parents need to aware of kids on streets #9news

Fire at a factory in St. Marys. Chemicals involved. #9news

Hazmat crews are clever. #stmarysfire #9news

Story No.4 – The Price Battle between Coles and Woolworths on Lamb for Australia Day. #9news

Ross Greenwood is in a supermarket, saying how the “Fresh Food People” are great for offering discounts. #9news

The Normie Rowe ads apparently are attracting a lot of attention for Coles. #9news

A Muslim Woman has been forced to pay legal bills after a racism accusation was not proved. #9news

The word “Muslim” has been mentioned at least 3 times already. #9news

Cue pictures of angry “Muslim Brotherhood” members. #9news

Ah. Kevin Federline story. Jayne Azzopardi outside Mt. Druitt Hospital. #9news

Pictures of KFed with facemask. #9news

KFed didn’t have a heart attack. He’s 33 and 105kgs. Heart scares taken seriously. #9news

Gabrielle Giffords story – “Miracle is an overused word, but not on this occasion”. #9news

After the break – a Drive By, a Story No Parent Can Afford to Miss and a Supermodel Story. #9news

Oh, look, an ad in the break for the coupons from Woolworths that Ross Greenwood mentioned during his story on #9news

Targeting of Admiralty House and Kirribilli House – with bags of powder. No more details. #9news

That was the “drive by”, by the way. No guns. Just powder thrown at the PM’s Sydney House. #9news

Kids’ school bags are too heavy and are difficult to carry. #9news

Tips on how parents should pack kids’ schoolbags properly. #9news

Miranda Kerr wore thongs while dressed as Wonder Woman. #9news

Australians are almost out at the Australian Open – plus Michael Clarke is “bristling” at something. After the break. #9news

Now, Curtis Stone is on an ad talking about lamb you can buy at Coles. A bit like the lamb at Coles Ross Greenwood mentioned earlier. #9news

ANOTHER Coles ad. This time for steak. #9news

KFC brings us the sport report on #9news

Lleyton Hewitt has “nothing to lose” and “Tomic was knocked out abruptly” at the Aus Open #9news

Ana Ivanovic’s loss is framed only by the fact Adam Scott watched from the stands. #9news

Serena Williams’ defeat was a Major Shock. #9news

Tensions running high between Australia and India – Aus. prepare pitches for their benefit. #9news

“Seewag” praised our bowling attack. #9news

We haven’t “doctored” our pitches, according to Michael Clarke. #9news

Clarke disagrees that India have given up the fight. #9news

I love the lingering shots on the interviewer in this. Reminiscent of Brooke Vandenburg in Frontline. #9news

Clarke – Experienced players “want to see the team going in the right direction”. #9news (hopefully to the grounds).

Qantas and Engineers have agreed to terms. One line. #9news

George Bailey’s appointment as T20 Captain was announced as a footnote – to the response from Overton “Warner’s there, isn’t he?” #9news

I suspect Peter Overton thinks that the Australian T20 side has only one player. #9news

Weather time. Raining is about to start. #9news

And that’s it. #9news is over. #aca has started.

I can’t watch and tweet #aca. That will just kill me. Currently, a story with a dodgy recreation of an accident between a roo and a car.

Ah, Tracy, laughing with the interviewee. I see #aca is starting with a story proving that Tracy is indeed human. #notlikefrontlineatall

Hang on, we have a big deal at the moment with pokies reform and yet #aca has 15 minutes dedicated to a car accident with a kangaroo.

Excellent. The Council Love Rat Scandal on #aca. Oh, it’s the Gold Coast. Of course it’s on.

“The Local Government Lothario”. #aca This is what the Gold Coast has been Talking About all weekend.

Man walking a street asking people whether they would vote for a “love rat”. #9news

Apparently the whole scandal has “exploded in his face”. Not literally, I trust. #aca

Lots of talk of Italy – apparently being a love rat would get you voted in over there. #stereotypes #aca

Now there is an 8 year old heavy metal rocker. #aca #youtubevideos

Putting the word “Hardcore” on her song is a mistake, apparently. And Parents don’t like an 8 year old on youtube. #aca

Does anyone other than Madonna King live in Brisbane? #aca

Oh, excellent ANOTHER Miranda Kerr story. This time on #aca after the break.

Miranda Kerr. On #aca. That should get me followers. #channel9logic

Channel 9 audiences will probably go off to see The Iron Lady. It goes light on the politics, like Channel 9 itself. #aca #advertising

Movie Star and a Young Family. Life is Just About Perfect for Miranda Kerr. #aca

The #aca reporter is in New York, walking next to Miranda, who is still carrying a dog.

Tuesday January 24

First story – car accident south of Campbelltown. Crushing mentioned. Also Monstering. #9news

Now more details. Bricks. B double. Took out a guard rail. More Description. #9news

This story is longer than the political stories. Features more detail as well. #9news

Now a heavy crane has been brought in, like experts. Now we have Damien Live from the Scene. #9news

Camera wobble in studio. #9news

Now a boy lost off the coast. Grim news. Helicopters. Corrimal dangerous. #9news

Footage of a police boat flipping. #9news

Talks about asylum seeker boats has “collapsed”. Nauru processing centre “too expensive”. #9news

The Coalition isn’t convinced of the truth of the expense of Nauru. #9news

Deaths of asylum seekers has dragged people to the table. #9news

Morrison – “the government can’t be trusted, just look at Andrew Wilkie”. #9news

Bowen has left the door open for discussions. #9news #thatisit

Exclusive pictures of an agitated machete brandishing bandit. #9news

Security footage being shown and being described, moment by moment. #9news

The owner is “shocked” and possibly down an employee. #9news

People were “acting suspiciously” for weeks near the petrol station. #9news

Controversial Magistrate Pat O’Shane now. #9news

Now we have @barryofarrell saying they will support ambulance and police. #9news. #thatisit

Peter Harvey uses the word “hullabaloo” about 4G phones. #9news

Apparently, according to Peter Harvey, it’s “fast”. But only for city centres. #9news

We’ve come a long way from 1987. Footage of the first mobile phone being handled. #9news

The actions of a neighbour during a terrifying home invasion now. #9news

Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke have made it before the sport report. Focus is on Nathan Lyon at the start. #9news

Cowan was methodical but “no cigar”. #9news

After the break – flood footage and Cameron Diaz. #9news

I think I might to have hang around for the “war on hoons” later on #aca #9news

Summer has brought wild weather from Belligen to Brisbane. But not last year’s full scale disaster #9news

Footage of a car being towed in flood waters. #9news

River banks burst at Bellingen. Locals said “it looks big”. #9news

Rain forecast for Australia Day. Apparently it doesn’t “look that flash for BBQs” according to weather expert. #9news

Alcohol related arrests higher on Australia Day than on other days. Police spokesman telling people to be careful. #9news

Cameron Diaz at the Dior Fashion Show. No head of Dior still. #9news

Oooh. Manly are retouching photos of the Grand Final Victory last year, eliminating Des Hasler. After the Break on #9news

Sport report – Hewitt was brave, but outplayed. This means no more Aussies at the Aus Open. #9news

Tennis report. The women’s and Federer given little mention. Hewitt lots. Sharapova’s shrieking discussed. #9news

Now Ken Sutcliffe is giving his opinion of how wonderful Ricky and Michael are. #9news

Des Hasler has been airbrushed from all photos being produced at Manly of last year’s Grand Final victory. #9news

Michael Slater couldn’t get through – which is why we had Ken talking out the top of his head. #9news

Hello, Curtis Stone. #9news #willseehimagainsoon

SuperStay Lipstick Stays On Longer. #9news #ads

Oh, hai, Coles. Glad to see you’re back. And now with the No Added Hormones Singers. #9news #thisisaustralia

Frequent Flyer Wednesday on Today, Tomorrow. #9news

Rain for Australia Day. Oh, no! #9news

I hope you have a good evening, says Peter. Yes, we will. Now there’s Tracy. #9news #aca

I have to livetweet #aca. This is all too much. Filter at will.

The war on revheads. Cue footage of cars being revved, dramatic music, swearing, interviews with locals. #aca

The “hoons” say the people who protest about the cars are “unAustralian”. #aca #drink

The police are “putting the hoons through the ringer”. I can’t see said ringer. Just a whole lot of sportscars. #aca

Footage of “hoons” being pulled over who have too thick a tint and modified engines. #aca

The horn is 117 decibels. Plus an exposed air filter. That’s illegal. Outraged driver doesn’t understand. #aca

Now footage with music reminiscent of “Cops”, with police looking for modified cars. #aca

Hoons telling the reporter about the burnouts he has done. In La Perouse. #aca

This is happening “around the country”. Tracy wants to know about people who have a problem with “car enthusiasts”. Email #aca if you do.

Now it’s a “failed” TV star called Charles Gance who is a “deadbeat Dad” and “sleaze” being shown. #aca

Apparently Charles Gance wanted to start up a reality show called “Fantasy Island”. People who worked for him owed money. #aca

Gance had a “hands on approach” to would be contestants on Fantasy Island. #aca

Gance once got a witch to “put a spell on an ex girlfriend”. #aca

Mum is asking her son to stop her son from banning the cremation of her husband. #aca

Charles Gance’s past interview being showed in black and white. To show that it was in the past. #aca

Now an interview with a funeral director. So, Gance has outraged them too, it seems. #aca

Now Gance is a “world peace ambassador”. Her mother is asking how he could be one, when he doesn’t have peace with his family. #aca

Racist Flag Story. #aca

“Incredibly, a study has shown that people who show their flags are more racist than those who don’t” #aca

Cue footage of people showing flags on their cars, accompanied by TNT. #aca

University professor with glasses explaining how the study shows how more people with flags have different attitudes. #aca

How can you compare hairy racists with those who show their flags because they are proud. #aca

Neil Mitchell quoted – saying we show the flag because we are proud. Wars mentioned. National pride. Academics telling us we’re idiots. #aca

Flag seller interviewed. He doesn’t see a problem in people flying the flag. #aca

The flag is a “piece of cloth” that seems to divide us. It should unite us. #aca

Neil Mitchell thinks we should embrace our pride. Enjoy a BBQ. Tracy points us to the website, where people can respond to story #aca

Now it’s KFed on Excess Baggage. #aca

KFed “got a bit overheated”, that is all. #aca

Now contestants from Excess Baggage saying “they aren’t being pushed”. #aca

Emma Ashton, Reality TV Blogger. Says we love the drama and controversy of reality TV shows. #aca

Now footage of former Biggest Loser contestants who put the weight back on. Accompanied by sad violin music. #aca

KFed had a “minor electrical disturbance” and is back on deck with Excess Baggage. #phew #aca

No More Clutter on #aca

The house is a mess. Lots of boxes, mess, embarrassing. Needs a cleanup. This is current affairs, people. #aca

Ikea are coming to unclutter the house. How generous of them. #aca

Have a red bucket for things you want to keep. Jess Williams from Ikea confident they will find a home for all of it. #aca

After 24 hours, the house looks DIFFERENT. And full of Ikea. #aca

Australia’s Worst Boss on #aca tomorrow. Martin King “Investigates”.

Wednesday January 25

Rain, rain, rain – #9news has started.

Flashflooding – causing flashbacks. #9news

Towns cut in half and more rain to come in Bellingen. Things will get worse – intense and widespread. #9news

Now we have Darren from the Gold Coast, showing how wet it is up there. There’s an alert in Tweed Heads. #9news

Car crash on the M7 at Cecil Hills. #9news Plus, a public plea for help in relation to yesterday’s car crash at Menangle.

Car accident coverage CAN extend to two days on #9news. Now with added emotional interviews and repeating of yesterday’s footage.

Petrol and groceries are expensive – it’s an inflation story with Ross Greenwood. #9news

Fridge based economic graphs are exclusive to #9news, by the way.

Now there’s a live cross to Ross holding an umbrella, talking about the economy. #9news

Now there’s a dog escaping from the Lodge. #9news

Craig Thompson is a man needing friends – footage of him leaving his house. Allegations repeated. #9news

Pictures of Craig Thompson walking down the street, denying claims. #9news

A senior minister should be charged with theft – now it’s @alboMP lifting from The American President. #9news

Australia Day – don’t forget an umbrella. #9news

Now it’s Peter Harvey reporting on the “extraordinary” finalists from the Australian of the Year. #9news

No alcohol on certain beaches, and booze vans sweeping the streets. #9news

We see @barryofarrell telling us it’s not like the old days. #9news

Not dressing up with paraphenalia is “unAustralian” according to Peter Harvey. Cue picture of him with Aussie singlet, flags and hats.#9news

I suspect Harvey wasn’t being entirely serious with that suggestion. He did not put the clothes on. #9news

Cricket test. We know what happened there. #9news

Police “cracking down” on taxis, Demi Moore’s gone to hospital and Pitt v Clooney at the Oscars. After the break on #9news

By the way, I think every economics report should be accompanied with graphs shown on an animated fridge from now on. #9news

Dozens of taxi drivers and their cars have been inspected as part of a “safety crackdown” #9news

Demi Moore is in hospital, due to exhaustion. Quote from TMZ that she may have collapsed to substance abuse. #9news #tmznowmajornewssource

Now the Oscars. The nominations put up on an old style cinema banner. #9news

Now the Australian nominations. Soundmixer one of them. #9news

Sport. Record breaking day for Punter and Pup. Also, Rafa mentioned. These people clearly don’t have full names. #9news

Now it’s sport. Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke have regained their names. Now Clarke is being interviewed. #9news

“You and the former captain, together, have performed soooo well”. Insightful question, there. #9news

Wow, that’s it. Very deep interview there, Roz. #9news

A Sharapova report. Her shrieking mentioned after 3 seconds. #9news

Some sizzle for the Rafa v Federer match, mixed with footage of Federer crying. #9news

A bit of golfing related laughs. Not sure what was done. It was pretty quick. #9news

Not even tweeting how stereotyped the ad from Today was. Except to say – people dressed as kangaroos. #9news

The Australian of the Year Awards mentioned, with short biographies of the recipients. #9news #thatisit

On #aca, outrage over parking tickets being given to people who actually bought a parking ticket.People get fined when it doesn’t touch dash

On the Gold Coast, make sure YOUR PARKING TICKET TOUCHES THE DASHBOARD. #aca #closeups

“Bureaucratic Madness” phrase used. #aca #drink

Gold Coast Council have rescinded the fine due to story. A “good old fashioned victory for common sense” according to Tracy. #9news

Ah, now it’s the “run away from the camera, swearing” story. This time it’s the “Worst Boss”. #aca

Backpackers put into a crowded, hot, dusty compound with barbed wire by the Worst Boss. #aca

The backpackers are blonde and female. Good visitors. #aca

“If you put this on the news” – The Worst Boss claiming the backpackers damaged a caravan. #aca

Martin is now shouting at John, the Worst Boss. John drives off, saying “hooroo”. #aca

Now two Scottish girls who were “dumped by the side of the road”. Cue footage of John swearing out of context. #aca

More shouting and swearing from John, The Worst Boss. And Martin shouting at him some more. End of story. #aca

Now it’s the Bully Fighter who was a Youtube sensation being profiled. Justin Bieber is on #ACA praising him. #squee

The Bully Fighter is a Role Model and Inspiration, complete with soft Inspirational piano music accompanying him. #aca

Footage of bullyfighter, giving advice while we see him playing a guitar. #aca

Casey is on a campaign to “ride the world of bullies”, but has fun running around having fun. #aca

Ah, we can see that the Excess Baggage show will have footage of KFed in an ambulance, after his @GWS_Giants incident. Classy. #aca #ads

Did I mention that Justin Bieber appeared on #aca? Why no more #squee from my followers? #squee #biebertastic

Now footage of the Australian of the Year – Geoffrey Rush. #aca

I wanted to see a David Helfgott style hug from Geoffrey Rush. We didn’t get it. #aca #aoty

Now it’s Tracy back, saying Rush is a “shining beacon”. I wonder if she will say that when he states opinions on things. #aca

Tomorrow’s #aca looks amazing. Special Australia Day edition.

January 26 – With Special Guest Tweeter @katiemelb

Gonna be live-tweeting #9news in the absence of @prestontowers, who is busy drinking beer. NB: It’s #9news Melbourne, not Sydney.

Live-tweeting #9news on Australia Day may end up in my throwing my TV out the window. Just sayin’.

“The PM and Tony Abbott … angry mob … ugly incident… riot police … terrified PM” Off to a good start on #9news

“angry raging mob … moment of terror captured on Julia Gillard’s face” – I have to say the footage is very dramatic. #9news

Footage of PM’s security advising her that sitch is deteriorating and she shd leave. Convo subtitled with various words highlighted. #9news

Contrasting Canberra with peaceful sunny Australia Day in Melbourne. Parade, nationalisation ceremonies, choirs singing anthem. #9news

Woodchoppers, barbecues, beer, a Chinese dragon, Bollywood dancers. T. Baillieu attempting to sing Waltzing Matilda with some voters. #9news

At Torquay, a world record attempt for the largest number of people floating on inflatable thongs. I’m not making this up. #9news

Crossing to Australia Day celebrations in Poowong, Gippsland, where they’re having a “Kenny” lookalike contest. Hee. #9news

Australian of the Year Geoffrey Rush criticised for saying the plight of asylum seekers should be recognised through the arts. #9news

A few seconds about police mishandling of a car chase + the teenage train surfer who died. #9news

Ads! I never watch ads. Woolies, the Ghan … aaaaand mute Retravision Australia Day sale – I cannot abide ads that yell at me. #9news

Back to Canberra for commentary on Canberra incident. “To be fair, only a fraction” of those from Tent Embassy took part in protest. #9news

A few seconds on the young man who died in Laos while tubing, fire in rubbish dump in Wantirna South, Bernard Tomic fined #9news

Brief coverage of Anthony Albanese speech gaffe but sound is patchy so Hitch has to cover back in studio. #fail #9news

Sport reporter at Melbourne Park. First, cricket: “It may have been Indian Republic Day, but it was Australia’s day on the field”. #9news

Vision of Julia Gillard at the Lodge saying she’s fine; only sorry that “such a wonderful event was disrupted”. #9news

Hardly Normal … er, Harvey Norman ad: “The Great Aussie Sale” against background of red dirt road. Oi oi oi. #9news

Livinia Nixon on location somewhere doing the weather. Kids with Australian flags behind her. Perth unbearably hot. #9news

Livinia is standing next to a barbecue loaded with snags and chops, near the Yarra. Melb’s gorgeous summer weather to continue. #9news

Torquay world-rec attempt for the largest no. of ppl floating on inflatable thongs (which were green and gold, BTW): my fave bit of #9news

And that’s a wrap. I will NOT be live-tweeting Ray Martin’s Australia Day special on A Current Affair. #9news

January 27

Ok, betting time. At what point in tonight’s #9news will we see yesterday’s footage again?

Protest Fury to start #9news. Already shown last night’s Gillard footage in 6 seconds.

Anger of Australia Day Flared Again. Burned National Flag. #9news

“Activists” say they will keep fighting on. Footage of people burning flag. #9news

Abbott been misinterpreted. Shows snark in answer to interviewer. #9news

Mick Gooda agrees with Tony Abbott. Another Aboriginal leader says protestors should apologise to Gillard and Abbott. #9news

Oooh, #9news has inside information from AFP on yesterday’s incident.

More footage from yesterday, accompanied by Gillard praising police action. Then Abbott praises AFP. #9news

ACT Police have revealed they are investigating yesterday. The AFP “specially trained” officers are the “best of the best”. #9news

Security detail on “high alert” Security experts praise the operation. #9news

Slowed up footage of yesterday, with a green filter, and the methods used written on the screen. #9news

Expert security protector of Nick Greiner (as Premier) looking at a computer screen of the footage, praising security officers. #9news

I think #9news has shown yesterday’s footage some 6 times already.

Missing shoe is discussed. It is being handed back to Parliament House in the next few minutes. Reported by Simon Bouda on the scene #9news

Two men have been shot in “another night of violence in Western Sydney”. Explosion of gun crime. Cars riddled with bullets. #9news

Police officer interviewed. The victim is already under charges for shooting someone. This is “payback”. It’s been a bloody night. #9news

A “wall of silence” from the victims. #9news #metaphorcity

Floods in NSW. Parks “completely swamped”. Reporter standing in front of swollen river. Urgent medical supplies have been delivered. #9news

Urgent recall of Sanyo Microwaves – don’t use a particular model. #9news

The “Bulli Rapist” will be let free next week, after 22 years in gaol. #9news

He “terrorised” the Wollongong community. Sources are “sure he will offend again”. #9news

Howard Brown interviewed – he believed the Bulli Rapist should have had life imprisonment. #9news

For many families, the next week will be very busy and very expensive. Ross Greenwood story. #9news

Sped up footage of parents buying school supplies. #9news

School blackboard graphic showing average costs for school enrolment. #9news

Greenwood in an Officeworks, talking about costs, holding up laptops. #9news

Greenwood talking about buying second hand uniforms. Also, helping hand for those who really struggle mentioned. #9news

The Dumped Yellow Wiggle after the break. #9news

Curious that Greenwood’s Graphic of Choice is a blackboard. Does any school use blackboards anymore? #9news #anachronism

Also, I really liked the Green Filter they put on the footage from yesterday. #9news

Breaking Story – Human remains found at Kyeemah. #9news

Petrol Prices have gone down. Disappointed Greenwood hasn’t got a petrol pump graphic. #9news

Breast Implant Scare scam organiser has been caught by police in France. #9news

Now it’s Sam Moran, the dumped Yellow Wiggle. Story from Peter Harvey, who refers to “Yellow Wiggle Magic”. #9news

Sam Moran is with former Dorothy the Dinosaur, who has written a book. #9news

Sam Moran is humbled by the comments received from Facebook. It’s “not about him”, says Moran to searching questions from Harvey #9news

And they were really searching questions from Harvey. Moran didn’t want to answer – Harvey then drew his own conclusions. #9news

I wonder if Peter Harvey has lost his edge, not being able to crack an ex-Wiggle with his interview technique. #9news

Sport. Australia is good. India not so. Lyon “closed the curtains” on The Little Master. #9news Footage of lots of bum smacking.

Parramatta coach will let Chris Sandow play his “unpredictable football”. He “can’t stop it”. #9news

Unsettled weather on the way for Sydney. Unfortunately, no green filter and words printed on the weather. #9news #pity

Cyclone Izzy is blowing off WA. Not sure who they named that after. #9news

Thanks to @esseeeayeenn, who tells me it’s Cyclone Iggy. As in Pop, no doubt. Expect some naked cyclone action. #9news

Tomorrow on #9news, the Sacked Gillard Media Advisor. And more of the Footage. Possibly with a red filter, for anger.

Tonight on #aca, the David Power Sex Scandal. Explosive level.

Two mistresses compare notes on what David Power wrote to them. He is a charismatic man. #loverat #aca

Racy text messages – make a Mills and Boon burst at the seams. Saucy references to kitchen benches. #aca

“I have never been able to look at a kitchen bench the same since that night”. “Me either”. #loverat #aca

“Ok, I’m like the walking dead, what have you done to me?” #loverat #aca #crackingdialogue

Steamy messages spilled over to her Facebook page. “Woozy, woozy woo” – “Hugs and kisses”. #aca

“When you get better, you can come play at my house”. “Oooh, I just got woozy”. “Woozy, woozy, woo”. #loverat #aca #woozywoozywoo

Steamy messages spilled over to her Facebook page. “Woozy, woozy woo” – “Hugs and kisses”. #aca

“Politicians love to press the flesh” – the women were suspicious about his activities. #aca

His election campaign might be “weak at the knees” as well. #aca #loverat

“If you look at my background, my performance, you’ll find I’m the best person for the job”. Thanks, David. #loverat #aca

The Council Casanova vows to stay in the race. Footage of both women standing in a Gold Coast apartment building. #aca

The man had more on his mind than rubbish, roads or rates. #aca Whole story accompanied by faux tango music.

UnAustralian Parking Fine Story. “The World’s Gone Crazy”. Parking Fine Revenue Raising. Unofficial Quotas mentioned. #aca

Footage from the other night’s story about parking fines reused for today’s story about parking fines. Gold Coast story as well. #aca

Do #aca do stories about other councils other than the Gold Coast’s?

The Baby Whisperer. Elaine Harvey claims she can get any baby to stop screaming and sleeping. #aca

“Others call her The Baby Whisperer” and “Australia’s Own Supernanny”. Someone make a film for this person! #aca

Lullababies Program mentioned. Footage of children sleeping. #aca

There was a time when Supermodels were a rarified breed. But now Jen Hawkins is going bush for a new photo shoot. #aca

Pictures of Jen laughing with a bushman local, who looks pretty happy. #aca

Local pub owner talks about his pub, which does a good steak. #aca

Now on #aca – the council who wouldn’t let people paint a house the colour they chose.

Now the people can’t afford to repaint it. #aca

Local neighbours are angry with the person who has painted her house yellow. #aca

Champion Cheapskate. I love this segment on #aca.


Will the Real Kim Sattler Please Stand Up – Just What Did Kim Sattler Say?

The Wizard of Oz that is our media scrum have continued their colour and light show about the “riot” that never was, now focusing on what unionist Kim Sattler said or didn’t say to organisers of the Tent Embassy. Mind you, it’s a curious debate, considering that what was actually said by Tony Abbott was on TV that morning and at least one media outlet reported his comments in this way:

However, the question of who said who and who said what to whom – usually a narrative structure more at home in a daytime soap than Federal politics – continues. This morning, to her audience of capital city News Limited readers, Samantha Maiden reported that Sattler “disputed” Julia Gillard’s account of events.  The language of the article is intriguing. Problem is, that AAP have distributed a story in response to Maiden’s claims, where Sattler is reported to say that Maiden’s story was “inaccurate”. Who to believe?  Here is Maiden’s story –

THE unionist named by Julia Gillard as the go-between who ignited the Australia Day fiasco has disputed the Prime Minister’s version of events.

Kim Sattler last night said she had been forced into hiding in Canberra after Ms Gillard took the dramatic step of identifying her at a live press conference as the person who tipped off Aboriginal protesters.

But Ms Sattler, a staunch Labor Party supporter and secretary of Unions ACT, said she was “the messenger who is being shot” and that she had only repeated information given to her by Ms Gillard’s then press secretary, Tony Hodges.

“I spoke to Tony Hodges on the phone,” Ms Sattler told the Sunday Herald Sun.

“He mentioned that Tony Abbott had made a statement about the embassy, that it shouldn’t exist at all.”

Sattler said: “He (Hodges) said, ‘You might want to get someone to respond to that’. He said, ‘By the way, he is next door at the Lobby at the function’.”

These all appear as direct quotations from Ms Sattler.  On the face of it, the quotations seem to place blame on Tony Hodges and infer that he did distort Abbott’s words in the phone conversation – contradicting Gillard’s account from yesterday.  Yet in the AAP story that appeared later in the morning, we have this direct quotation from Ms Sattler

In a statement on Sunday, Ms Sattler said the News Ltd reports were “inaccurate”.

“As I said in my statement yesterday, Tony Hodges from the prime minister’s office told me what Tony Abbott had said – that people should `move on’ from the Tent Embassy,” she said in a statement on Sunday.

“Yesterday the prime minister gave an accurate account of my role.”

It’s a bit puzzling which “Kim Sattler” we are to believe – the one who said to Samantha Maiden (or another journalist in News Limited) that she was “the messenger who is being shot” and was told that Abbott didn’t want the embassy to exist at all – or the Kim Sattler who was told just what Abbott actually said and has been accurately represented by Gillard. It’s a pretty important question, considering that the answer leaves us with the conclusion that Gillard was deceiving us or was telling the truth.  Timing is still everything in the newspaper media and many more will have read Maiden’s account than AAPs.

The story will continue to have life well into the next week – journalists, opposition politicians and news organisations are enjoying the colour and movement. Note the dramatic “going into hiding” at the top of Maiden’s piece. Also, we have Christopher Pyne conflating the issue as only Pyne can, by saying to Sky News – “The prime minister’s office has verballed Tony Abbott. A riot has occurred as a consequence” and “This is the most serious security scare an Australian prime minister has faced since the Fraser government.”

We have also had the ABC weighing into it by putting up an article at 1pm this afternoon that begins with the sensational headline “Union boss ‘contradicting’ PM in protest fiasco” and following it with the all too frequent first line “The Opposition Says” –

The Opposition says the union official at the centre of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy Australia Day protests has contradicted the Prime Minister’s version of what sparked the action.

A contrast with the AAP story and its  “Yesterday the prime minister gave an accurate account of my role.”

One of the more concerning elements of media spin about this, though, comes in the middle of the Maiden piece – with a poll question.


Should the Aboriginal “embassy” in Canberra be shut down?

It’s like asking people whether cricket should stop being played because a few people act in a stupid fashion at one match. The week of silly continues.
Cultural Comment

Half a Million Spectators – Is T20 Still Bad?

The end of the first expanded T20 Big Bash cricket series ended in exciting fashion, with a full WACA Ground and a winning performance from the Sydney Sixers – the only T20 franchise to not still have an imported player (Dwayne Bravo was injured, and was replaced with grade player and high school teacher Ian Moran). Not many rated them a chance to win, but won – partially due to the experience of Brett Lee (35) and Stuart MacGill (41). T20 gives players with great experience, but limited physical ability to continue playing good, entertaining cricket.

One of the great successes of the competition was in attracting spectators to a domestic cricket competition – over 500,000 people saw their local state teams. More encouragingly for cricket, a lot of those were children. As I said in a previous blog on this, my daughter loved going to the game and seeing the flashing lights, fireworks, big shots and listening to the music.

There has been, however, a great amount of criticism from established cricket journalists and commentators about how bad it is that the T20 Big Bash is the only cricket played in the school holidays. That it interferes with the possibility of blooding replacements in the Test Team, if they are needed. Typical of this attitude is the January 28 piece by Fairfax writer Greg Baum – which starts out negatively and continues – even the opening illustration by Jim Pavlidis shows that the view is that Test cricket is under threat if being swamped by the new form.  That is why I am looking at its approach and attitude.

Why T20 comes up short

Illustration: Jim Pavlidis
Baum starts out mentioning the positives, as well as the advertising superiority of one day cricket. I will go to Baum’s third paragraph, however, where he really starts belittling the quality of the new form of cricket –

It is problematic how often a game can be fined down, bastardised and bowdlerised before it disappears altogether. Taking the death notices at their word, Test cricket’s half-life was around 100 years, one-day cricket’s 25. It bodes poorly for the latest fad. I know Cricket Australia strongly maintains that there is a place for all three forms. The question is whether there is the appetite.

Already, despite its success – predicting its failure, largely because the Baum believes it is “bowdlerised and bastardised”. The difficulty with this thesis is that the early one day internationals took a while to take off – and featured international players. These great crowds have turned up for largely local teams – indicating that there is an sustained interest in the game. In addition, Baum doesn’t mention the fact that the crowds have grown throughout the season, indicating that there has been a sustained interest building in the game.  Both terms he uses are also poor choices of words. Bastardised is a harsh accusation to make, but Bowdlerised is an odd choice – it tells us that somehow T20 cricket is a less offensive, censored version of cricket. I’m not sure what is offensive about test cricket.

Two quirks of this season’s BBL surely will exercise the mind of promoters. One is the unexpected dominance of slow bowlers. This was thrilling for aficionados but I wonder if ultimately it will satisfy the market supposedly sold on combustible stumps and bolts of lightning flashing out of their television screens. Fast bowlers as often as not had their pace turned against them, devastatingly. But slow bowling is so, well, Test cricket. Slow bowlers were quickly called upon in Tests in Adelaide and Abu Dhabi this week, and in both instances took early wickets.

Baum here makes the mistake of underestimating the intelligence of the audience and judging the qualities of the games just by its decorative edges. Slow bowlers have been celebrated and made in folk heroes by crowds – especially Hogg in Perth and MacGill in Sydney.  The crowds liked seeing competitive games and good shots, not fast bowling all the time.  When Baum says “supposedly”, it suggests that he isn’t looking far beyond the marketing – like a number of the critics of the league.

The other quirk, overlapping the first, was the prominence of superannuants. Forty-pluses Shane Warne, Matthew Hayden and Stuart MacGill all played leading roles for their teams, and Brad Hogg proceeded in one month from retirement to a place in the Australian team. Brad Hodge must have been tempted to change his name by deed poll; it wouldn’t take much.  Hogg’s story is appealing but it also raises a disturbing question. If a 40-year-old can rise from his hammock and claim a baggy purple (or whatever it is), what does it say about the game? The least it says is what the players well know, that it is not especially hard, not in any way a Test. As T20 competitions proliferate around the world, the game is looking more and more like an elaborate pension scheme.

This statement shows more than the necessary amount of snark from Baum.  No, the game isn’t physically difficult like a test. It does require a good cricketing brain that is able to quickly adapt to the changing nature of each game. This is why experienced players went very well. It was great to watch. Normally if players of advancing years perform well in sport, we celebrate them – Jack Nicklaus comes to mind. However, Baum makes comments about a “rise from the hammock” and the game being an elaborate pension scheme.  A strange hypocrisy.

At the same time, a teenager and casual cricket fan loose in the Adelaide press box this week was overheard to say that all Ricky Ponting’s accomplishments and decorations meant nothing to him; he was too old. Ponting is 37.

In this paragraph, Baum seems to be basing an entire generation’s attitude towards cricket on the comments from one ignorant person.  It’s lazy stereotyping. Ask a cricketer playing for his or her school or district – they will tell you exactly what Ricky Ponting means to them.

The T20 format has other limitations that were not readily apparent in the excitement of the BBL’s inaugural season. One is that the scores in most matches fall in a narrow band, generally between 150 and 200. It tends to make each match look like the last and the next. What was true of one-day cricket is even truer of T20.

This also smacks of a generalised, unspecific criticism of the season. To many people, like me, the games didn’t end up looking the same, with variations between teams and approaches to chasing scores, even if the scores ended up being similar. To just look at the scores and say “gee, they all look the same” is forgetting the other elements that make up any cricket game. Baum needed to provide more detail of the “boredom” quotient in order to make his point valid.

It means matches quickly are lost to memory in the endless sequence. It also means there is never any sense of the Herculean effort it takes to turn around a Test match that has gone awry. And it means that even a team that plays abysmally is only ever three lusty, shut-eyed blows from being back in it.

Here, Baum continues his theme and goes back to the original point that T20s aren’t as good as tests – that blind heaves can get a team back in the game. That did not happen in the Big Bash as often as Baum suggests, where “shut eyed blows” didn’t really get as much reward as is stated. The bowlers in the T20 series did pretty well and to hit many of them for 6 was a difficult task – except at the ANZ Stadium and Etihad Stadium, where boundaries were a little short. It also makes the claim that games of cricket has to be memorable in terms he defines. He discounts the possibility that certain shots and innings don’t stick in the mind of an 11 year old in the outer, remembering the shots the Sydney Sixers’ Nic Maddison played on a particular evening.

None of this matters if the premium is purely on entertainment and all that counts is the next six – accompanied by Brendon Julian’s exclamation about how that has ”gone all the way”, when mostly it hasn’t even gone as far as the fence – or the next splattering of wickets, or the next firework. I don’t discount this. But if the major objective is to ”entertain”, people are likely to be attracted to it instantly, but also bored by it all too soon. That was the history of one-day cricket. Now so yesterday. Historically, Australians have looked for deeper meaning in their sport, reflections of themselves, or who they would like to be. But perhaps that also is a dated construct.

The patronising attitude continues with judging the game by the commentary from Fox Sports and the fireworks. That is a dangerous exercise – if one judged test cricket by the standard of its coverage in Australia, it would be considered a facile, narcissistic exercise where the commentators relive past glories while current players remain poorly analysed. It also judges the new form of cricket by the decline of one day cricket – which is not the most helpful form of assessing its long term future. It is then we read an astonishing claim about Australians and sport – that we “look for deeper meaning” in sport – unlike those in other nations, presumably.  This is leading to an insinuation that being interested in T20 makes us as shallow as other nations that like sport delivered in short, 3 hour bites. Like India, England, the US – indeed anywhere that likes football, baseball, volleyball…

The reason T20 cricket will kill 50 over cricket is simply a matter of timing. It is much easier for families, workers and amateur sportspeople to get a 3 hour game of cricket on a weeknight or weekend evening – it’s not as big a commitment. In addition, the ticket prices make it a much more attractive evening.  It’s the reason baseball has stuck in the American consciousness – and why T20 has flowered in England and India.

But then we get to the real reason Baum doesn’t like T20 cricket – because he believes it threatens real cricket, test cricket.

Finally, the suspension of all other interstate cricket for the duration of the Big Bash creates a structural weakness in Australian cricket. It has been disguised this summer by the galloping success of the Test team against India, necessitating minimal change from the start of the series to the end.  But imagine if this was last summer and Australia was crashing to one inglorious defeat after another against England. From what pool would reinforcements come, and in what form? Phil Hughes and Usman Khawaja have been lost to sight since they were dropped by Australia. Hughes forewent a BBL contract and Khawaja seems ill-suited to the format. Nic Maddinson looks the goods but hasn’t played a first-class game for six weeks.

In Baum’s logic (and not only his), the purpose of domestic cricket is not to service their states, be watched, enjoyed, shared by crowds. It is merely there to service the national test team – by maybe supplying a replacement or two into the national team.  It is, I think, a waste of a national cricketing resource – the state teams – to just run for that sole purpose. Reading Ed Cowan’s In the Firing Line, he speaks of playing for his state and there is a sense of a state player like Cowan not really having a lot of TV exposure or contact with cricket supporters.  He also speaks of the frustration of being left out of his state T20 team. The new form of Big Bash, however, has provided more opportunity for state players to play. It has also added a level of appreciation and a following for state players that hasn’t been there before.

The timing has also been important. To have a bits of pieces, shortened Big Bash like our previous forms took away the chance to really connect with a team playing over a season. Losing two games in the old format often meant that was the season over. That wasn’t the case in this, where the Brisbane Heat, after a terrible start, almost made the semi finals, giving its big Brisbane crowds something to hope for. To have the games in the school holidays mean that families could build a connection with their teams.

That highlights the biggest plus for the Big Bash League – the games will help children develop a bond with cricket and cricketers that test matches can’t provide. Tests are too long and expensive for most families. This concept of putting crowd considerations first is something Baum appears to have little interest, watching as he does in the Members’ Stand, not having to pay for his ticket, food or having to keep an 11 year old mind focused on 6 hours of a game.  That misunderstanding of the context of the game continues to the last two lines –

For Australian cricket, it has been six exciting weeks. To the Trojans, that horse looked pretty exciting, too.

It’s a sarcastic end, with the “six exciting weeks” contrasted with the metaphor that T20 cricket will have the same impact on cricket as a sport as the Greeks had on Troy. It’s an exaggerated, poorly drawn conclusion, to suggest that T20 will somehow destroy test cricket as a sport. It’s a similar apocalyptic conclusion many drew with World Series Cricket was launched. It’s hyperbole without substantial support.

If anything, T20 can expand the success of cricket, so we have players who are specialists in one or both forms – as well as expanding the audience. We will continue to see players emerge who are more suited to 4 and 5 day cricket, no matter how many T20 players get the easy cash.  The fact in our marketplace, though, is that test cricket has been the preserve of certain privileged professionals of Anglo-Celtic or sub continental background, who can afford to spend days watching a test. T20 allows cricket to appeal to those in the community who like their sport shorter. It should be here to stay – it has a purpose and it should stay in its current form. Domestic 4 day matches should stay to before and after the school holidays. Writers like Baum can continue to sneer at T20 cricket. The fans of their own domestic cricket sides won’t care, and nor should they.


Silly Advisers, Silly Media – This is Canberra, Today.

Yesterday’s “outrage” involving the PM and Tony Abbott has been one of the more diverting stories doing the rounds of our media. It appears to tell us more about the media and contemporary politics more than it does about Australia’s protesting spirit.

The story itself, of an escape from a Canberra restaurant besieged by unarmed protestors, provided some great footage for the TV print media to run around the world and back. Channel 9’s news in Sydney tonight ran the footage somewhere near 5 times in its first 5 minutes a day after the Outrage, even with a Green Filter, covered with graphics explaining how security operations work on such occasions.  The reality seems to be more prosaic, with Gillard and Abbott under little substantial threat.  Not that we will hear that from some elements of the media, used to showing footage of Abbott Saying No and Labor Party people repeating talking points. The Twitter explosion of tweets and stories over the last two days has been heavily sustained.

It now turns out that it was one of Gillard’s own media advisers leaked the information to a person connected to the Tent Embassy* that Abbott was going to be in the notorious restaurant. It does raise significant questions as to why the adviser thought that was an advisable thing to do –  to not consider that a group angry with Abbott over his comments might not want to visit the restaurant not far from said embassy. An egregious error.

It is, however, quite curious how Tory Maguire, from The Punch, has interpreted this action. She places the blame on Gillard’s Government. Let’s see how this article is structured to lead us to this conclusion.  Her text is in italics.

When is this sorry mess going to end?

So we now know who’s responsible for putting Julia Gillard into the most peril she’s been in since she became Prime Minister – her own office.

Peril. This is “peril”? However, to confirm the conclusion that it really was peril, let’s see another picture we have seen a hundred times in the last day.

Nice work Tony Hodges…

Nice work Tony Hodges…

And then blame the staffer fairly and squarely for it.

A senior member of the Prime Minister’s team has tonight resigned after it emerged he was the one who tipped off an Aboriginal Tent Embassy contact that Tony Abbott was in the Lobby restaurant yesterday – information that led to the Prime Minister being dragged to her car in undignified scenes that are now world news.

So, now it’s not “peril”, it’s “undignified”. And it’s world news because all media outlets are addicted to footage like that. Though, possibly without the Green Filter.

Tony Hodges, who was the one trawling the Press Gallery yesterday afternoon trying to sheet home blame for the ugly scenes to the Opposition Leader, is tonight no longer working for the PM. If it wasn’t so disgusting it would be funny. This came a day after a member of senior Cabinet Minister Anthony Albanese’s staff saw fit to send his boss off to the Press Club armed with a raft of fantastic quotes from a Hollywood movie.

An irrelevant segue into another favourite riff from the press this week – the non-story of Albanese using an Aaron Sorkin quote. It’s a non story because it appears that a large proportion of political staffers from all colours are Sorkin addicts who are just itching to include some idealistic rhetoric somewhere.  But “disgusting” and “trawling” leave you in no doubt of the opinion being held about the said staffer and his actions.  This will be the first in a range of salvos fired by the Press against the staffer – to tone of this paragraph suggests that the normally cosy relationship that the press enjoy with the staffers has been betrayed.

One wonders what other ways the Government’s staff can come up with to humiliate the people they work for. As if the Gillard Government wasn’t in enough trouble already.

It’s now a “humiliating” event for Julia Gillard – not just “peril” or “undignified”.  In addition, not a day goes by when we see someone from a media outlet saying that the “Gillard Government is in trouble”. A Government that has passed every bill it has proposed and attempting to work under the unusual circumstances of having a minority government is in trouble mostly due to media speculation, some smaller part due to major stuff ups, its lacking in principled backbone at various times as well as its difficulty to tell its story in the 30 second time periods given to it by Channels 7 and 9 in their news.  It is an unsurprising assertion, though the following one is.

Political staffers, the loyal ones, always end up reflecting their bosses. That’s how they work the hours they do for the mediocre salaries. They aim to please, and second guess all the time what their bosses would want them to do in any given situation.

Always. This is an assertion that seems to be based on something known by the author.  That is all it is, though, an assertion with no supporting evidence on this occasion.  That assertion is then expanded to this analysis:

What on earth made Tony Hodges think that this is what Gillard would have wanted. What made Albanese’s staffer so arrogant to think he could rip off the words of political pin-up Aaron Sorkin and no-one would notice?

The lack of respect that is dogging the Government in the electorate has now infiltrated the Government’s own troops. If their own teams don’t respect them, how are we supposed to?

Maguire seems to be suggesting that the mistakes made by Government staffers is actually the Government’s fault. Completely. That the Government has made the staffers not respect them.  Not a mistake. Lapse of judgment. A silly action. No, according to this analysis, it’s evidence of a lack of respect.

Maguire has then gone on to open this up as another reason for people to not respect the Government.  The way her logic seems to go is – A staffer makes a silly, egregious error – no, sorry, shows his lack of respect for the Government – means that the government is not worthy of respect.  It’s a leap of logic that boggles the mind. But wait, there’s more.

Gillard’s credibility has been seriously knocked about lately by her refusal to stick to even her written commitments, such as her deal with Independent Andrew Wilkie over poker machine reform.

This staffer’s error in judgment is now conflated to be compared to the recent poker machine reform deal, with which it has nothing in common. The “refusal to stick to even her written commitments” is, I believe, a bite sized misreading of the political machinations behind the poker machine reforms. It discounts any possibility that the two NSW rural independents, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, would not have passed the reforms, due to the intense political pressure that would be brought to bear by rural clubs. A better analysis has come from Tom Cummings, the blogger who has become the go-to expert on this issue, both on his blog and in The Drum.  It’s not a “refusal” to stick to her written commitments in the slightest. It’s a compromised, flawed deal. Like a lot of this Government’s actions.  To relate it to the staffer making the wrong phone call is a leap of logic so large that you would need Lawrence Legend to fire up his bike in order to jump between the points.

Lawrence Legend, Hero of Wagga

The dignity with which she dealt with yesterday’s terrible events might have given her a bit of a boost. Not now.

Finally, yesterday’s actions – which previously have been “undignified” and “humiliating” in the article, actually would have provided “dignity” for the Prime Minister. A bit of a confused message there.  Of course, according to the logic of the article, it was now her Government’s fault the whole situation occurred. Therefore, that personal “dignity” she showed is completely meaningless – even though she probably would have known nothing about it.  Unless we will get someone trying to discover that she did know about it. No doubt, that will be tomorrow’s job of our media.

Little wonder Canberra’s media and politics is such a mess. Much Ado About Nothing.

*Note – it turns out that the said adviser contacted a union figure, with the intention of passing on the message to people at the tent embassy. It still was, in hindsight, a hasty and inadvisable thing to do. It does make Tory Maguire’s conflation of the issue even worse.

Cultural Comment

The Australia Day Bully – A Guest Post

Today a powerful guest post from a friend of mine for many years whose twitter handle is @yowie9644.

The Australia Day Bully

As someone who just “didn’t fit in” throughout school, who just “didn’t fit in” through my 20’s and even early 30’s, and only in the last 15 or so years has found a group of people I feel like I *do* fit in with, I am not just saddened, but also rather scared of those who are saying “Fit in or Fuck Off” for Australia Day.

What you are doing, by saying that, is being a bully. You are perpetuating the ostracism that those who think they don’t fit in already feel. You are telling that desperately shy girl who always sits in the corner that she should fuck off. You are telling the boy who has to wear coke-bottle glasses because he can’t see with out them to go to hell. You are telling the girl who had leukemia and her hair fell out because of the chemo that as far you’re concerned, she doesn’t matter. You are telling that little boy with the brown skin and the strange accent that not only is he not good enough to be here, that you would prefer he would just disappear. You are telling that mother over there who has spent most of her life running from those who want to kill her in the country she was born just because she wanted to go to school that you’d prefer her to be dead. You are telling your ancestors, maybe even your own parents, who left the countries of their birth to come here because they felt they didn’t fit in where they were, that they shouldn’t have bothered, that you would not welcome them if they came here today.

Is this the small minded, petty and bigoted Australia that you want? If yes, then perhaps you are right. Maybe I should just fuck off.

Cultural Comment Politics

Tweeting News and Current Affairs on 9 and 7 – Not The Drum – This Week’s Challenge

Each day, around 6pm, I have a tweet stream that continually passes comment on the ABC News24 panel program, The Drum. Less so as time has gone along.  It’s a great idea, having people who contribute to the online Drum portal going on the panel to discuss important issues. Though, not all. We haven’t seen Ben Pobjie, Justin Shaw or Mike Stuchbery on the panel, for example.  There are a lot of appearances, however, from members of the Institute of Public Affairs, the IPA. Based on the tweets I read about the program, they appear frequently, fulfilling their role of getting media exposure for the core agenda of the IPA, which is assert the primacy of the markets over regulation.

The comments on Twitter I read about the program come from people who object to the seeming preponderance of IPA members and as well as a lack of panel members from organisations and groups that encourage government intervention in the economy and spending on public infrastructure.  There is also criticism of The Drum featuring former Liberal Party representatives Ross Cameron and Peter Reith, while less frequently featuring former ALP or Greens representatives.  I would add that another lack on the program are contributions from people who reside is different regions in Australia, such as Tasmania, Western Australia or regional cities. I also cannot remember the last time a representative of the outer suburbs of any city was seen on the show. The balance issue may be in contest – and the producers would be well aware of having to keep a balance – but it is pretty undeniable that the program is very inner city and Canberra focused.

The people who criticise The Drum are showing disappointment that a panel show isn’t what they hoped it would be for a number of reasons.  I think some were hoping for more of a voice for the progressive side of politics. The complaint that often accompanies the “IPA” call is that their views are being given a platform – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – but the frequency is the expressed concern.  The critics of the program are seeking the wrong target, though. It has not had an overly successful transfer to ABC 1, if initial audience numbers are to be taken into account.  What most people are watching at 6pm is not The Drum, it is either the light entertainment program The Project or the news and “current affairs” programs on Channels 7 and 9.

This is why I am live tweeting Channel 9’s news this week and Channel 7’s next week. Critics of The Drum should watch the way Channel 9 package news – therefore see how most media consumers are absorbing their views on politics. There’s no IPA on Channel 9.  There are bite sized sounds from various political figures, sometimes shouting across rooms, lots of colour and movement. In addition, the political stories are generally shorter than the human interest / car accident / footage of people robbing a shop stories. This seems to indicate that our major news bulletins are less willing to air opinions about politics, lest they bore their audiences.  The same goes for A Current Affair, which spends time on stories about people who have recovered from accidents and dodgy “rip off” merchants than it does on political issues and interviews.  It is early days, however, and later blog posts will do a more detailed breakdown of what is done with news on these programs. They certainly aren’t discussing anything in depth.  Critics of The Drum should be grateful that we have any program that does news in depth. They should join me in watching the news people watch, not tweet about.

Cultural Comment

Microbrews, Quirky Films and Conversations – A New Australia Day

Australia Day always brings out the old question of What It Is to be Australian.  For a lot of people, Australia Day is a day to eat meat, drink beer and salute the flag. For many of us though, the flag makes us unpatriotic and ashamed. This is a pity. It shouldn’t be this way. The flag has, in part, been hijacked by misplaced patriotism as outlined by Clementine Ford in The Drum. If you read the comments, most of the criticism is that she is “out of touch” with outer suburban people. This isn’t correct. There are still many people in our outer suburbs who have the attitudes outlined by Ford.  I have experienced many, many people who fit Ford’s notion of people being “suspicious misers, greedily hoarding privileges we presume to be ours alone and gifted by the divine honour of Being Australian”.  The impression I have received from these people is that suspicion of these “boat people” is based on economic fear more than anything else. Of Muslims Taking Their Jobs. As a result, we see some young white Australians draped with the flag, when seeing people of different colours, pointing to the Union Jack and saying “this is our country”. These same people get aggressive when you question unquestioning patriotism and suggest that not everything is positive about Australia. Walk down to the major shopping centre in Campbelltown, Macarthur Square, and you will see this shirt, hanging proudly in front of the “Top Hat” shop

That tells people if you don’t love the country and the flag unquestioningly, leave. The idea of stifling argument is a very aggressive part of the conservatism that has gripped many – the same strain of aggression can be seen with the word “unAustralian”. The flag has become entangled with that attitude.

This Australia Day, however, it is possible to move away from this hijacked Australia Day. A lot of Australians are not racist and are inclusive of every person. This is why it is possible to celebrate Australia Day without being wrapped in the flag.  That is why we need to celebrate Australia Day in a way that can make people happy to be here and not have to define people by their “unAustralian” qualities.  Here is a plan for a New style Australia Day.

1. Read a Speech I think everyone should start Australia Day by reading this fantastic speech by Australian of the Year, Dr. Charlie Teo. It outlines what is good about Australia and what needs to be addressed in order to make it better.

2. Listen to Music. People could put on some Paul Kelly, Megan Washington or any good alternative band. Alternatively, you could put on some Australian Classical Music. We have written plenty and we should have it wafting through the house.  Here are some suggestions.

Ross Edwards’ Evocative Dawn Mantras. Everyone’s Australia Day should include a didgeridu

Elena Kats Chernin’s Wild Swans Music for fun

Matthew Hindson’s Nintendo Music for quirky

Peter Sculthorpe’s Jabiru Dreaming for evocation of nature

Carl Vine’s Piano Concerto for evocation of the stars

3. View a Movie  Watch one or more great Australian movies that show what we are and have been, like Kenny, Crackerjack, Shine, Love Serenade or Not Quite Hollywood.

4. Read Australian. Choose any author or authors. I think Women of Letters or even Hardy’s You’ll Be Sorry When I’m Dead would be a good relaxed and thought provoking read, as would any cricket book by Gideon Haigh. Ed Cowan’s In the Firing Line is a great book for anyone wanting to know what it is like to be a committed sportsperson in modern Australia.

5. Eat any Australian Produce You Like. Lamb appears to be the stereotype because Australians do like lamb – it is seen as “Australian”, even if sheep are a European animal.  Kangaroo is what Australians should eat if we want to be truly “Australian”. Maybe even cook it using methods perfected by indigenous Australians. Otherwise, we produce wonderful vegetables, fruit and various other non-meat options. We also produce wonderful salad dressings, olive oils, vinegars, chutneys. It amazes me that whenever you go to regional towns, there is always a local operation producing beautiful sauces.  Our cheeses are also excellent. Eat those.

6. Drink an Australian Microbrew or Non-Factory Wine. There is nothing particularly patriotic about drinking a VB or Tooheys, even if the multi nationals that sell them try to say that it is.  It is better to support small operations making craft beer and wine, to ensure that we have a variety of tastes. There are the Victorians – Red Hill, Red Duck, Holgate, 3 Ravens, Hawthorn, 2 Brothers, Mountain Goat, Hargreaves; New South Wales’ Lord Nelson, 4 Pines, Murray’s, Happy Goblin, Badlands, Mudgee; Queensland’s Burleigh; South Australia’s Brew Boys, WA’s Feral Brewers, Tasmania’s Moo Brew. Plenty to choose from. If cider is the go, Napoleone and Bilpin are two excellent Australian makers.  As for wine, there are so many good small non-factory wineries (who usually aren’t sold at Woolworths, BWS or Liquorland).  Independent shops or Dan Murphy’s sell wines made by smaller growers.

7. Have a Conversation. Many BBQs are marked by people pontificating and asserting. Maybe there should be less of this and more listening. I am pretty sure it’s an Australian thing to have an intelligent conversation where everyone’s views and respected and listened to. Australia has a huge array of potentially interesting conversations. Maybe use Twitter to think of a few issues to discuss.  Discuss why Australians are so scared of a few people coming in on boats, for example.

8. Enjoy the Day. Once you forget the aggressive, posturing nature of many people’s idea of “Australia”, Australia Day can be enjoyable. Especially if one went to Glenbrook, in the Blue Mountains, and saw the way people in the Mountains celebrate Australia Day. By having a Gnome Convention.

Cultural Comment Sport

Girls on Podiums, Grids and Football Fields – Why?

You know the year is getting back into the swing of things when Adam Spencer returns to the radio, taking up an issue that isn’t in the newspapers – instead just expressing things that are on his mind. This morning, it was why the Tour Down Under adopts the Tour de France practice of using podium girls to give the winner a kiss.

He went all “shock jock” and asked why we needed to continuing this tradition – sending the message that the only place for women in sport was to stand on the side and give big man victor a kiss.  Or, worse, the “Grid Girls”, whose jobs are to “point out where the men put their cars”.  This picture is from the MMM website – which has a big range of sexist galleries.

There are those who argue from the looks on the girls’ faces, that they enjoy their job and get a sense of self worth from being a cheerleader, grid girl or podium presenter. That they may do. I worked with a teacher who had made good money from being a grid girl and she liked the work. The issue, however is one of cultural sign construction. The reason they  are there to provide men with a piece of visual fluff – which sends the signal that is the importance women hold in sport and society.

It doesn’t have to be like that. The Cricket Big Bash League have experimented with a range of entertainers – the Melbourne Stars showing videos of their players attempting dances, the Melbourne Renegades featuring breakdancers. The same has gone for the Hobart Hurricanes, who have been filling their home ground, despite the absence of cheergirls (thanks to Alex Johnston for that info). They don’t detract from the games and feature skills that are watched, rather than skin. Tellingly (and embarrassingly), both Sydney Big Bash teams had cheer squads, which made for uncomfortable viewing – especially when you consider that T20 cricket is, amongst other things, a prime chance for parents to take their children to see live cricket for the first time. Our daughters arrive, only to see that in order to be close to the game, they have to wear skimpy clothes and look good. Plus, often look orange.  It was a bit of a bizarre throwback to see cheerleaders at a Sydney sporting event at the SCG – considering that the Sydney Swans stopped using cheerleaders many years ago. Many rugby league teams still persist with them, however, believing that their predominantly male audience wants them. It is questionable, however, whether the game would lose spectators if the teams stopped parading the cheergirls.

Men will answer such a call to eliminate cheerleaders in a variety of ways. That it’s “all just a bit of fun”; “the girls like the attention”; “politically correct wowsers / tossers / pussies are the only ones who want to stop it”. There will also be women who will answer that there are bigger issues, that the girls should be free to “express their sexuality” in whatever way they like, that somehow they gain empowerment from their experience.  The men with their eyes wide open on the sidelines and at home aren’t thinking of female empowerment when they watch cheergirls. This is not “fun” – it is formulation of gender roles in our community. Women should be on the sidelines watching the game, commentating on it, organising it, coaching it.  That is true empowerment.

Spencer also made the point that we don’t see women’s cycle races where buff men present the trophies. The point here is that we don’t see women’s cycle races on TV. The same goes for women’s sport in general.  Even if we do see women’s sport broadcast on TV – there aren’t oiled up male dancers gyrating on the sidelines.  Though, I dare say a few women would want to see that. I don’t see, though, how that would balance the issue. Men’s sport will continue to dominate our screens and stadiums for a while yet.  And while there are still scantily dressed cheerleaders on the sidelines, on the podiums and on the grids, there is still work for our society and activists to do to, in order to eliminate the sexism in those domains.

Cultural Comment

Unleashing the Sorcerer’s Broomstick Effect – The MTR Business

I am a Catholic. Not a particularly great one – I usually only attend Mass with my kids, therefore every second week. I find myself disagreeing with various pieces of Church doctrine at various times. I can see vast variations between the dogma of the Vatican, the pronoucements from St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney and the beliefs of those who attend. I see variations in my own parish. There is in my parish a “Family” group, which was advertised as a group where people could “voice their concerns” about changes being suggested to the marriage act. I don’t know if many are in that. I certainly don’t go.

When I am on Twitter, I see a lot of anti-religious and anti-Christian dogma flying across the streams. Any reference to Catholicism is almost always linked at some stage to the heinous behaviour of a small percentage of disgusting priests, brothers and teachers. I see the more strident anti-religion campaigners lumping every denomination together. As if we are all fundamentalists, or blind Pope followers. I ignore it, because it isn’t true and the people making the claims are usually lazy people not willing to walk in the shoes of another and see the complexities within Christianity and within the denominations themselves.

That is why it hasn’t been a surprise to see the anti- religion crew come out in relation to the actions of Melinda Tankard Reist (MTR) against the actions of a blogger, No Place for Sheep (Jennifer Wilson). It is a pretty absurd business, and the reaction to it has revealed the depth of mistrust and borderline hatred is harboured against religion and those who practice it. It’s all been completely unnecessary on both sides. I personally found Wilson’s blog to be simplistic in regards to MTRs views and how her religious beliefs supposedly feed into them. Because it is supposition to suggest that one’s religious views have a negative impact on one’s views on culture and on women, which seems to be Wilson’s contention. To say that anyone who believes in the Virgin Birth somehow categorises women in a certain fixed way as a result is pretty bizarre. Wilson also appears to be saying that MTR is trying to enforce her fixed view on women on others – that women should be virgins or married and therefore can’t express their sexuality. I can’t see any forcing of views or oppression of women and their views in MTRs work. Nor even any attempts to suppress women from “sexually expressing themselves” in all walks of life. From what I can see, MTR is talking about the pressure on women to be “sexy” by wearing clothes supplied by men.

What seems to be demanded of MTR is that she has to put on her Facebook profile and her blog that she is a member of a particular church – apparently Baptist. That her views can only be respected if we know what church she goes to. Personally, though, I really don’t see why MTRs religious activities are vitally important to know. I go along with Dave Gaukroger’s view of the link between her views and her campaigns. MTRs campaigns seem to be focused on how society is sexualising children and reducing women into being categorised by their looks and sexiness. Hers are comments about secular society. There are many who aren’t Christian who would agree with her ideas about this topic. My own dislike for much of what MTR campaigns about isn’t based on my shaky, personalised Catholicism – it’s knowledge I have a 9 year old daughter and I see what girls are doing in video clips. I suspect MTR doesn’t put her religious affiliations on her website because it’s not relevant – and she probably predicted the reaction. “Oh, well, you are anti pornography and anti skimpy clothing because you are a Christian” with all the sneering that would go with that – cue discussion of the Virgin Birth and the rest.

I also don’t agree with MTR’s action to sue for defamation. It is unnecessary. MTR has a position of power, as a published author and much quoted figure in mainstream media products. Someone who can afford the experienced and no doubt expensive defamation lawyers. Most bloggers do this stuff as a hobby and shouldn’t have having their financial safety threatened because of words read by a small group of people. To have people say that she should be putting her religious activities on her website should just be ignored, especially as most blogs aren’t really widely read and are quickly forgotten. What she has unleashed, however, is what I call the Sorcerer’s Broomstick Effect. In making an effort to chop one uncontrollable broomstick, you make a thousand more, all dumping buckets of water in the pool. Now there are hundred of furious people, demanding she puts her religious affiliation on her website.

And what a pool it is. In the past couple of days, I have seen the range of attacks on Christianity that I expected. People mentioning Hillsong, though MTR has nothing to do with it. Mentioning some kind of bizarre doctrinaire program called “Shine”, even though she has nothing to do with that. Today, we had one blogger going to the Baptist Church website, quoting from stated beliefs and saying that MTR must believe every single thing on its website. The truth is quite different. Every Baptist Church in Australia are separate entities – they are not centrally controlled. I remember knowing people who went to the Menai Baptist and Gymea Baptist churches in the Sutherland Shire. I heard both pastors talk. They were vastly different in their approach, especially in regards to being humble and contrite. The pastor at Menai Baptist was one of the most humble, giving people I have ever met – even if I disagree with much of what the Baptists do. I have met so many different types of Baptists over the years that it made me shake my head to see them characterised as one monolithic mass. These are the same people who often applaud Tim Costello when he criticises Clubs Australia or Governments of either side about the neglect towards social justice. He is a Baptist. Today I saw his name on a program where he was to speak on the same night as MTR. Would it be a bad thing that MTR belings to the same denomination as him?

Costello is happy enough to put his background as a pastor on the World Vision website, I would argue, because there is a direct link between his work with World Vision and his religious beliefs. World Vision is an avowed Protestant charity with different approaches to Caritas, the Catholic charity who perform similar work with the same goals, to help the poor in developing countries – in order to continue what they see as God’s work. These aren’t people making cultural comments on clothes and music. If MTR was saying that women putting on skimpy clothes was an abomination in the eyes of the Lord, that these women were unclean, then yes, her religion is important. However, she isn’t saying that. Not even hinting at that.

This blog, like the many others about the topic, will sink without trace. And we will have the people who will say the same stuff about religion that they are already ready to say. That it’s intolerant. That it’s all fundamentalist. That it’s all Hillsong. That it’s all Pell. That there is a great Christian Conspiracy ready to enslave everyone to the One Belief. I will get criticised as a Catholic, a believer in the Sky Being and the Virgin Birth. But that is what will happen. That is Twitter. That is Blogging. And in a week, there will be something else.