1. How power and journalism learned to coexist

    Alain De Botton, The News: A User’s Manual…

    A contemporary dictator wishing to establish power would not need to do anything so obviously sinister as banning the news: he or she would only have to see to it that news organisations broadcast a flow of random-seeming bulletins, in great numbers but with little explanation of contest, within an agenda that keeps changing, without giving any sense of the ongoing relevance of an issue that had seemed pressing only a short while before, the whole interspersed with constant updates about the colourful antics of murderers and films tars. This would be quite enough to undermine most people’s capacity to grasp political reality - as well as any resolve they might otherwise have summoned to alter it. The status quo could confidently remain forever undisturbed by a flood of, rather than a ban on, news.

  2. 100 AIDS researchers on MH17? Why and how the media got it wrong


    In the midst of generally careful, sensitive reporting on the MH17 tragedy there was one large misstep. For much of Friday and the next day, most of the Australian media gave its readers the wrong impression over the number of AIDS researchers travelling to Melbourne for an international AIDS conference onboard the flight.

    Early reports said 100 researchers had died, a figure sometimes given as precisely as 108 deaths. It was reported in every major news outlet, and from there, relayed to the world. The figure was wrong — the number of confirmed dead who were heading to the conference was six, and while it’s possible further names will be released, it can’t get up to 100 or anywhere near that.

    So where did the figure come from, and why did the media get it so wrong?…

    Full piece on Crikey.

  3. The Oz birthday parties and Rupert makes a move on Time Warner: RN Media Report interview


    Celebrating its 50th anniversary this week with two big shindigs, we ask whether the paper is as influential in the corridors of power as it likes to project. We also find out how The Australian’s reporting on the media itself has changed over time.

    Full interview here.

    Image: Rupert Murdoch inked (joy garnett / flickr.com / Creative Commons)

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    Coverage of World Cup 2014, News Corp accuses the Mail Online of plagiarism, Mashable the latest site to launch an Australian edition and the Hockey v. Fairfax lawsuit to go to court

    With guests Crikey media journalist, Myriam Robin, Mumbrella reporter, Miranda Ward and The Australian sports columnist and senior reporter Simon King.

    Full 2SER show here.

  5. How to spin a budget: leaks, drops and the age of no surprises


    First the pension age was going up. And then it wasn’t. There would be a deficit levy. Then, a rise in tax rates instead. It’s all part of the intricate choreography of a budget media cycle.

    Prime Minister Tony Abbott may imply journalists are making it up — as he did on 3AW yesterday  —  but the sideshow is mostly planned. Through a series of drops, a few unavoidable leaks, a studied refusal to rule things in or out, until the press conferences doing exactly that as we near the second Tuesday in May, governments control and shape the narrative around their books.

    Read the full piece at Crikey.

  6. The new media cadets: older, more experienced, exhausted by the climb

    In today’s competitive hustle for journalism jobs, you’re never too old or too qualified for an entry-level position. Crikey goes behind the scenes on Fairfax’s gruelling cadet application process.

    Read the full piece at Crikey.

  7. Food fight: it’s forks at 20 paces for journos and bloggers


    Food bloggers are becoming serious industry players and are crashing the party previously dominated by professional journalists. Without the editorial strictures and ethical guidelines imposed by news organisations, food bloggers’ integrity is being called into question — but is it just sour grapes?

    Full piece on Crikey.

  8. Content marketing’s celebrated triumph shows everything wrong with content marketing

    Writing on Mumbrella, Lauren Quaintance argues that brands can do better journalism than publishers.

    It’s a typically argument from a content marketer, but it’s one I’ve heard several times before. It goes that content markets can truly connect with their customers by using their expert knowledge to make themselves useful. Sure, they won’t, for the most part, be winning Walkley’s, but they can write entertaining, useful content valued by people more than name recognition is valued by the brand paying for it all.

    This ad by Chipotle is often held up as an example of what can be achieved (and in fact is cited in defence of content marketing in the comments of the Mumbrella article). If you haven’t already, watch it. To the end.

    Sure, it seems like it’s making a point. It’s beautifully created, the vocals are heart-wrenching, the conclusion is trite but satisfying. Until you get to the very end. Then, the music changes, you see an iPad, and suddenly, you realise you’ve just been sold an extended 3-minute introduction to one of those addictive but empty mobile games created to build brand engagement. The ending isn’t poignant - it feels tacked on, incongruous. It’s the sell, and it doesn’t fit.

    If even the best content marketing feels like an ad, I’ve little hope for the rest of it.

  9. Wedding photography by the delightful Sia Duff.

  10. Abbott’s paid parental scheme is brilliant, and the arguments against it don’t stack up


    • Replacement wages are better because they treat childbirth as a natural thing that happens in the workplace
    • It makes replacement pay something available to all working women, and not just the high flyers.
    • The arguments against it do not make sense, or underestimate its positive impact and importance.

    It’s impossible for me to tell ahead of time what issues do and don’t matter to voters, to confidently predict what issues will decide the election.

    But the similarity of policies proposed by Labor and the Liberals have left the media and politicians clinging to the differences between the two parties on their approach over paid parental leave.

    That both sides are taking some sort of parental leave policy to the electorate is a good thing. The fact that there is a substantive difference between the two policies is better. But one policy is far superior to the other. And it’s the one supported by the Coalition and the Greens.

    Only that policy treats having children for what it is – a natural thing that workers do from time to time. Only it recognises that women (who take the vast majority of parental leave and are the ones who are forced out when families have to choose) deserve support and superannuation during that time. Only it is in keeping with international sentiment on the issue. Only one makes it affordable and prudent for women to be the primary breadwinner (more and more women earn more than their husbands/partner, meaning putting women on minimum wage for a few months period isn’t going to cover the bills). And only it makes good, replacement-wage parental leave something offered universally, and not just by the largest and richest corporations.

    Rudd’s policy does do one thing Abbott’s does not, and that is support mothers who are not working before they have kids. But they are a minority. A far greater number of men and women are helped by Tony Abbott’s scheme.

    Most importantly, as Eva Cox correctly argues, Abbott’s policy cements parental leave as a normal workplace entitlement, as natural and welcome as sick leave and long service leave. It normalises the idea of primary carers also having a job, and makes our workplaces more tolerant, welcoming places for men and women.

    There are four arguments I’ve heard against the policy.

    One is that it’s too expensive. This argument only holds up if you think the policy outcomes are not worth the cost. I think they are. We’re spending far more on dozens of policy areas. And this is a very, very important one.

    The second argument made is that the money is better spent on childcare. I think more money should be spent on childcare. But I don’t see the need to prioritise something important over something else that is equally important. Spending money on both things boosts our economy by making it easier for women to work, and creates a fairer society where women are more able to achieve their potential. We should spend money on paid parental leave AND childcare.

    The third argument, posed by Labor, is that the policy is unfair in rewarding some women more than others. The Coalition’s limit on the amount that can be paid out by the policy, $75,000, is sensible. But is the policy unfair? I don’t think so. No more unfair than all our other workplace entitlements, which are tied to pay. We don’t see the union movement mounting an argument against those. The same arguments used to defend sick leave and leave loading apply here. Namely, your costs of living don’t change when you get sick or when you go on holiday (or have a kid). 

    The fourth argument is that it hurts shareholders, who won’t be able to claim the 1.5% levy on company profits off their taxable income. It’s true – someone has to ultimately pay for this policy. Given it’s a workplace issue, I don’t see a problem with it coming out of shareholders’ pockets. But it won’t even necessarily do that. In many large corporations, the fact that they won’t have to fund their current schemes anymore means their profits will go up with Abbott’s policy anyway, offsetting the cost of the levy further (Abbott is also pitching a corporate profits tax that’ll benefit companies). And 1.5% less in dividends to Australia’s shareholders (which we all are) is worth a fairer society where women are supported in trying to have children and a career.

    Abbott’s policy is better. And the arguments I keep hearing against it, being put by an unlikely coalition of groups as disparate as Family First, big business, the Labor Party and some women’s groups, do not convince.