1. When I was six I went with my mother to visit my grandparents. My father’s parents own an apartment in what fifty years ago would have been a trendy, European-styled part of downtown Cairo. Today it’s a dirty and decrepit part of the city, and the apartment has aged with the area around it. The building faces out onto what at one point would have been a tree-lined square, but today it’s always full of street vendors, selling shoes off rugs they’ve placed on the ground. They’d always call out as we passed, trying to sell us flip-flops or fake-leather sandals. One time, as I walked along holding my mother’s hand, I heard a yell of fear. Suddenly, hundreds of men got up and ran, seemingly for their lives. One of them knocked me over and mum got a fright trying to pull me up before I was trampled. I was pretty shaken, and when we got up to my grandparent’s house, she explained they’d been running from the police. They were unlicensed and the cops were prone to spot raids to drive them out. A failure to run fast enough could leave them paying a hefty bribe, or a larger fine. Every time we visited after I kept my distance from the street vendors, in case they suddenly decided to run. Still, I felt bad for them. Egypt’s full of people trying to make a living anyway they can, and it seemed these men had found an honest if difficult way to do it. 

    I haven’t thought of that day in years. This article reminded me of it. It’s more insightful than my childhood recollections, so you should have read it instead. 

  2. ‘They don’t control us’: Disney takes on News

    image

    The embattled chairman of the Press Council says he’d rather have an effective council with fewer members and less money than the alternative.

    Julian Disney, who has been under fire in recent weeks as The Australian newspaper accuses him of being an out-of-touch activist keen on controlling the Australian print press, told Crikey this morning the biggest danger for the Press Council wasn’t losing the support of News Corp, but rather pretending to be something it was not.

    Full interview on Crikey

  3. ‘Condemn or be condemned’: the optics of responding to jihad

    image

    When it comes to acts of Islamic terrorism, Muslim community leaders feel they have no choice but to wade into a debate that has little to do with them.

    Full piece on Crikey. 

  4. 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.

  5. 100 AIDS researchers on MH17? Why and how the media got it wrong

    image

    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.

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

    image

    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)

  7. image

    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.

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

    image

    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.

  9. 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.

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

    image

    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.