Miranda Devine has been writing for the New York Post for less than two months but she has already been called out by the US media for praising Donald Trump’s use of an “ethnic slur”.
The Daily Telegraph columnist, who’s on secondment for 18 months to Rupert Murdoch’s US tabloid, said on Fox News that Trump was “brilliant” at assigning “catchphrases”, like calling the Democrat Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas”.
But Media Matters for America didn’t think “Pocahontas” was evidence of Trump’s brilliance, preferring to call it an “ethnic slur”.
Devine also said Trump was “very good at getting the crowd going” and he could pick “a guy out the back who’s a little bit fat [and] he’ll point him out. That’s all part of the razzle dazzle of wrestling.”
These thoughts came tumbling out as she chatted on Fox and Friends about her column in the Post in which she said Trump had adopted his rallying style from pro wrestling.
The Australian journalist failed to impress another website, Mediaite, which described her as “marching under Murdoch’s News Corp flag”. She does get points for tweeting the critical articles, even though she calls her critics “narks” and “wankers”.
Back in June we told you that the Herald Sun was running a trial in which it offered journalists a financial bonus for driving digital subscriptions. The scheme of cash-for-readers is already firmly in place at many of News Corp’s community papers.
It hasn’t been rolled out to the metropolitan papers yet, although everyone at News has been asked to set their own “digital goals” by the chief executive, Michael Miller.
But a development at News Corp’s Quest Community Newspapers in Queensland has journos fuming. Sources say management has attempted to “performance manage” reporters based on how many subscriptions they are attracting. “Managers can point to a low rate of subscriptions generated by your stories as a measure of your worth as a journalist,” one source said.
It’s an unfair measure because some rounds – including crime and entertainment – are popular while others are less so. Clicks are also dependent on where a story is placed on the home page and how it is promoted.
Weekly Beast understands the management is putting pressure on some journalists to sign documents committing to a certain number of subscriptions a week, as well as increased page views.
There is nothing unusual about the adoption of these analytics platforms, which have been developed by all major digital publishers including Guardian Australia, which has a tool called Ophan.
News Corp’s platform, which is available to all staff, is called Verity. But there is growing concern about how the company is using it to track its staff, and using the metrics to judge performance.
Staff at News Corp Queensland held a union meeting on Thursday and passed a unanimous motion to reject the “stories tied to subscription plan”.
“We understand it is the responsibility of management to sell the product,” the motion said. “We deride management’s decision to move subscription and page view targets to the journalist.
“As journalists we adhere to our ethics. Management has the ability to market our stories. We will not accept that it is our job to sell subscriptions. We do not control how management markets the stories and do not trust that the analytics show the full story.”
Spot the difference
The Sydney Morning Herald and the Age have just appointed three new foreign correspondents for the next three years, after the resolution of a long dispute with Paul McGeough. The Herald published a feature this month about the award-winning former editor of the paper which mapped his outstanding career as a foreign correspondent.
Filling the plum posts of Europe, US and China are Canberra editor Bevan Shields, who got London, Canberra correspondent Eryk Bagshaw, who got Beijing and former Canberra correspondent Matthew Knott, who officially got Washington after acting in the position for some time. James Massola already in place as the the South-East Asia correspondent.
Smack in the middle of the staff announcement after all the congratulations was a line which stuck out like the proverbial: “We are aware the appointments are all men.”
Not only were they all men but they all came via the Canberra press gallery and none of them came from the Melbourne Age, journos muttered.
We asked the national editor, Tory Maguire, how the company was going to address the disparity, which would see all the company’s overseas posts filled by men, and she said she had addressed that in the announcement.
Maguire told staff: “The successful candidates gave the strongest interviews in a highly competitive process and were the unanimous choice of the interview panel. Versatility, plus experience in politics, economics, business and other policy rich subjects areas is an advantage for these jobs and was taken into account.”
Maguire and group executive editor James Chessell have committed to providing “feedback and support” to people who want to work overseas in the future to give them a better chance of landing the gig.
Oh, and they’ve addressed the woman problem by sending one woman to work on the US election for a few months. Small steps.
“We will be sending Farrah Tomazin to work on the US election campaign with Matt in the second half of next year,” Maguire said.
The Daily Telegraph’s editors couldn’t resist Chinese food references when reporting that a Labor boss was seen with an Aldi bag filled with $100,000 in cash after meeting a Chinese billionaire, splashing dim sim and sweet and sour references liberally.
The headlines were met with a withering response from several media identities.
ABC broadcaster Beverley Wang said: “Miso unsurprised about these terrible headlines,” and the ABC reporter Jason Om confirmed that the headlines did not reflect what had happened at the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Former race discrimination commissioner Tim Soutphommasane and NSW Greens MP Jenny Leong were similarly disparaging.
“It surely can’t be beyond the wit of headline writers and editors to come up with lines better than these. Can’t wait for tomorrow’s dose of ching-chong jokes,” Soutphommasane wrote on Twitter, while Leong called it “primary school racism”.
Still on race and the media, it was left to Andrew Bolt to declare that racism had nothing to do with the mix-up at Who magazine when an interview with Adut Akech was accompanied by a photograph of another black model.
Akech said she felt “angry” and “disrespected”. But Bolt accused her of playing the “tattiest race card yet” “with insane success”.
It was simply a “stupid administrative mistake”, the Sky News presenter said.
“Dear God,” Bolt said. “How [sic] Australia’s intelligentsia gone utterly bonkers?”
Bolt asked his readers to compare the photographs of the two models to see, he claimed, how they could easily be mistaken for each other.
Over and out
One of the ABC’s most passionate champions of radio, Helen Thomas, is leaving the ABC after yet another restructure in radio saw her job disappear. Thomas, who is an author of five books, has consistently fought for more resources for News Radio which is run on the smell of an oily rag. Sadly her departure is accompanied by the loss of two more radio jobs as the News Radio, Sydney radio and Asia Pacific newsrooms are being merged. The new unit will be managed by someone with the title editor, audio news. The fact that the ABC is again avoiding using the word radio to describe a job in the radio division, was not lost on radio veterans.
In a note to staff ABC News chief Gaven Morris said in her “stellar career” Thomas had worked at the ABC for 30 years including stints on Triple J, RN Breakfast and Background Briefing as well as Radio National.
ABC management is not only negotiating with unions over the loss of those two jobs. It is also heading back into the ring after a resounding staff vote to reject its 1.7% pay offer.
Two-thirds of ABC staff who voted in a ballot last week rejected management’s offer after an intense campaign which saw duelling posters litter the noticeboards at ABC offices across the country.
The offer was well below industry standards and was described by the Media, Arts and Entertainment Alliance and the Community and Public Sector Union as insulting, given management awarded itself bonuses of $2m in 2018. Not to forget former managing director Michelle Guthrie who left the ABC with $1.64m.