Sunday, February 5, 2012

Three Strikes

DESPITE his foul mouth, the comedian Richard Pryor could be extremely funny, especially his routine about being caught by his wife in bed with another woman. “Who you going to believe,” he demanded, “me or your lying eyes?”* Pryor has been in his grave for quite a few years, but like all great philosophers his teachings live on, as readers of The Phage must surely have noticed. With every fresh example of that paper’s disregard for truth, contempt for accuracy and disdain for ethics, the louder its insistence that it represents “quality journalism”.  Fairfax’s woes – declining circulations, withered revenues and depressed stock -- suggest ex-readers’ perceptions are a good deal more acute than those of the widow Pryor. Consider just a few of recent blots on the Phage’s escutcheon:

1/ Having destroyed Theo Theophanous with accusations of rape and, as a result,  drawn a stern dressing down from the Press Council for its stitch-up, the Phage is now being sued for $20 million worth of slander by the purported victim, who swears she did not give an interview to the paper’s reporter, Carolyn Webb.

It is difficult to tap a vein of sympathy for either party in this case, as each seems no less appalling than the other. But get beyond that and one observation is irrefutable: if there was even one “quality journalist” on staff, the original story would not have been published and the paper would not now be heading back to court.

2/ While denouncing Rupert Murdoch’s hacking, the Phage was doing plenty of its own. Computers have been examined, police are investigating (and being sued), and only the Great Bunyip knows where it will end.

Does the Phage have an editor? Yes it does, and his defence of his paper’s right to plumb that Labor database is one of the things now hampering Victoria Police’s investigation.

3/ Speak to a “quality journalist” and one might imagine that comments will be rendered as uttered. That was not the experience of Claire Watson, whose name came to the paper’s attention when its reporters were accessing the Labor database mentioned above.

“I feel my privacy has been breached by the journalist [Royce Millar], not the ALP," Watson complained to the Australian. "I agreed to share information with the ALP, but not with The Age. He seemed dodgy and was pleased with himself. He was so indignant with the ALP, but it is clear he was hacking my file. He was trying to whip me into outrage about it."

It is not that the Phage is a biased paper, it is that it is a thoroughly bad and terminally dishonest one. A city like Melbourne, a wonderful place to live, deserves better. Much better.

*Do not try this. It does not work.

16 comments:

  1. My husband and I spent the weekend at a posh conference centre in Victorian spa country. This morning there were 6 copies of the Sunday Age and 6 copies of the Sunday Herald Sun available for reading as we went into brekkie. When we came out, all 6 copies of the HS had gone; and all 6 copies of the Age were still there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Similarly I've noticed on boarding an aircraft where you collect a free paper, if you're towards the end of the queue the Herald-Sun and The Australian are gone but The Age is still available. In business class you don't get many (f any) takers for The Age when hte cabin crew offer papers.

      Delete
  2. The Debil has 1001 ways of holding us back. Satyriasis is but one. Those precious bodily fluids need to be stored up, Prof. 'Tis the source of Ojas.
    God is Ojas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PhillipGeorge(c)2012February 5, 2012 at 8:13 PM

      now that reads like sheer troll Mr A.... .
      mind you between "U" and "VladtheImpaler" I suspect there are some very good trollers. Who can hold a candle light to them? What a noise they can determinedly collectively make. And having shouted down all else what a victory that would have? Imagine that Prof, a time when trolls ruled the Earth. Jurassic Troll - what an epoch. Oh, hang on, we're still in that time.

      But Prof, the most important narrative/ the meta narrative remains something spiritual. Nations turn on US dimes. "Does Australia "deserve" the Gillard-Age?"- is a legitimate question. Recall the the rabble rent a crowd succeeded in getting Barabbas released? At what cost? The darkness of truth obscured in a preternatural hour; a tomb hiding the imminent reality.

      So that's it. A flicker of the flame of grand insight would do the continent good - means men examine yourselves - and be something bigger than the sum of your parts.

      Delete
    2. I'm no troll Phil. I'm a fan of yours and a fan of the Prof. The company of intellects untainted by Leftoidism is a rare and cherished oasis. I also like to consider myself an adherent and student of Jesus the Nazarene and other genuine avatars. Some of my musings might come over as mumbo-jumbo, but there is no intent of malfeasance; maybe a poofteenth of Gurdjieff-style shit-stirring to jolt the odd wayward brother, but nothing more than that.

      Delete
    3. PhillipGeorge(c)2012February 6, 2012 at 12:12 PM

      My apologies Mr A...... ,
      might like to do a etymological break-down of the word "mister" - you may decide not to use it thereafter. It has a quality many would not wish to pass on and by changing it you may change some of your choices of words - it is a subliminal thing in part... What one wears affects things.

      Delete
    4. Herb and Judy ApocalypseFebruary 6, 2012 at 3:44 PM

      I'm up with what you convey there Phillip, and appreciate the concern. Stay tuned. I could start shooting Kundalini out my backside and selling it as Green energy, or I could transform my yardstick into a hoe. The possibilities!

      Delete
    5. PhillipGeorge says, “Mr A [...] might like to do a etymological break-down of the word "mister" - you may decide not to use it thereafter”.

      Mister derives from magister, Latin for “master” (or from mist, English for “mist”). Oooh, avoid the word!

      Delete
    6. Not to worry, Master Phillip, I've examined the sum of my parts, and they are in excellent condition.

      And it's "Vlad the Impala". I must insist on the malapropism.

      Delete
  3. The Old and Unimproved DaveFebruary 5, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    "Consider just a few of recent blots on the Phage’s escutcheon"

    Damn freaky place to get ink.....

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have just returned from a week's stay at the Pavilion Motel in Canberra. Each morning they had the daily papers. The Canberra Times and The Age on the counter, free. The Australian and the Daily Telegraph one had to pay for. I noticed on a couple of afternoons on my return the freebies still had a few copies left, all the others had been bought. That to me sort of suggests something.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No one in the ACT who is under 50 or above level APS 6 in the public service reads the Canberra Times, whose daily circulation is about to dip below 30,000. Circulation dropped by 5.4% in the 12 months to September 2011, a considerable inverted achievement in a region that's otherwise experiencing significant population growth.

      Read the Times, its language, its tone and its areas of coverage and you'll think it's still 1975 and everyone in Canberra is a clerk in the Tax Office. Even the self consciously 'bright young things' write like they used to work on the Argus.

      Delete
  5. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.February 5, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    A girl has to protect her reputation, Prof, especially when it is challenged by quality journalism. Even twenty million dollars couldn't compensate for the dreadful situation a girl would be in if she lost her reputation. Now, where on earth did I put mine?? Perhaps it will come in handy one day.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I can report that the SMH finally came up with a sort-of viable plan for a mix of electronic and paper distribution. For $3.42 a week they'll give your iPad an electronic edition daily that looks just like the real thing - something that Pressreader has been doing for a while. Plus they'll give you the paper edition on the weekend, when we do like to lean back with a broadsheet, plus that scraggy Sun-Herald sunday edition in tabloid form. As an extra bonus you can pick a paper edition for any other day of the week provided you act before 26th February.
    It's only at the end of this A4 flyer that you have it crystallised before your eyes why you aren't going to sign up.
    "Read the Herald you love, the way you love to read it."
    We have fallen out of Love. Even though the SMH still has some (well, maybe two) conservatively inclined regulars, it is not a compelling enough offer. I'd say there'll be a few who'll take this up,as the SMH is not yet as big a wipeout as its Melbourne sibling. The Age might as well not bother.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Disregarding the Leftoidism, the biggest failing of the SMH and the Age is the archaic bloody broadsheet size. I used to say that when I was a youngster well before I kenned anything of importance. The Geelong Advertiser woke up to that yonks ago. Who wants to sit on the train in the morning taking up a whole row of seats and getting in the face of every poor bugger around you trying to unfold the Age or SMH?

      Delete
  7. So if this woman can prove she never gave an interview, that leaves the court open to Theophanous. Yikes, Gina might be experiencing a bit of buyer's remorse.

    ReplyDelete