Saturday 23 May 2009

Memo to Rupert

CairnsBlog columnist and local blogger, Syd Walker was up at the crack of dawn, checking out the Cairns Post online edition this morning. He nearly choked on his peach and pecan muesli.

I checked to see how Rupert the War-Mongering Bear is getting along with his Grand Plan to make News Corp's 'web product’ so scintillating that the masses pay in droves for the privilege of visiting, thus returning NewsCorp to its former profitability.

I looked first at the ‘Opinions’ page. This week, there’s an op-ed by a senior police person about crime, a brief retrospective about some local gigs and an item about being a young teetotaller.

I scanned for news. Eventually, I found some. It turns out the Post is also covering the local ‘Council scandal’ that has engrossed CairnsBlog readers in recent days.

Yesterday’s article – ‘Schier issues council warning’ by Thomas Chamberlin – is online for all to see. Here’s an extract, reproduced on a fair use basis:
  • CAIRNS Mayor Val Schier has put dissenting colleagues and staff on notice, warning she intends to make good use of new powers that enable mayors to deal with bad behaviour.

    The warning – and criticism of several of her colleagues – came in the unusual format of an email to a reporter that was also forwarded to all Cairns Regional Council staff. The Cairns Post had submitted an email to chief executive officer Noel Briggs seeking to discuss matters dogging the council about a seemingly distracted and divided leadership group. The email was also copied to Cr Schier as a courtesy.

    Her prompt reply was unexpected, as was her decision to send the email to the council’s estimated 1300 staff and all her council colleagues.

    In the email, Cr Schier said she was confident she had fulfilled her role as leader.

    "(I have) not allowed trivial matters that seem to distract some councillors to divert me from trying to deliver on the policies that people voted for when I ran for council," she said.

    "Unfortunately, the breaches of confidentiality and behaviours of a couple of councillors have created a perception that this council is not functioning well.

    "Disagreements are natural and robust debate is encouraged; however, I have an expectation of professional conduct that is not always met and have been working to improve this."

The article then discusses changes to the Local Government Act which would give the Mayor more power when bringing down the Budget and dealing with behaviour in meetings.

I viewed the published comments. Six so far (after a day) – none with full names. All cranky Val haters. I decided to have my own say and submitted the following:

  • Judging by the comments so far submitted to this absurd article, it's clear that few local progressives (remember Val Shier was elected with a majority of the region's support) bother to read this rubbish rag anymore.

    I'll see if I can drum up some business for you over at CairnsBlog.

    Syd Walker, Kuranda

Later in the day I’ll check to see if someone on staff has woken up and approved it.

Memo to Rupert: Your 'Award-winning' Cairns Post website is likely to thrive if visitors are paid at least $10 per visit. Anything less would not adequately compensate most of us for the opportunity cost.

PS. If you pack a ten dollar note into each printed edition, we may start buying that too.


just received this email...

  • From:
    To: Syd Walker
    Sent: Saturday, May 23, 2009 9:16 AM
    Subject: The Cairns Post - Article Comment Approved

    Dear Syd Walker,

    Your comment on the Cairns Post website has been approved, to view the article and comments you may use the link below:

    Kind Regards,
    The Cairns Post


After receiving the unexpected, but very welcome, approval email from the Cairns Post (above), I checked the article again on the Cairns Post website and was impressed to see my comment listed – unedited - as Comment No. 8.

It seemed Glasnost had finally arrived at the Cairns Post. Permission to criticize the comrades was granted… for one precious, brief moment. How I wish I’d taken a screenshot of my comment while it was still up on their website. Who knows, I could have printed it and sold signed copies on eBay?

Sadly, it didn’t last long at all, and it was removed. Now they're back to seven comments, all snotty anti-Schier grumbles.

Have pro-Mayoral sentiments been banned at the Cairns Post? Or is it just that the Supreme Editors don't like jokes at their expense, for a change?

We Report. You Decide.


Council Watcher said...

Just heard on channel 7 local news last night that there are to be rival newpapers in both Cairns and Townsville. Didn't catch the whole item and can't find anything on the internet. Is this for real. Would someone be able to check this out!

Noj Nedlaw said...

This morning after reading Syd’s contribution to CairnsBlog I clicked the link at checked out the comments. There were 8 including the comment by Syd.

I just checked again, and lo and behold Syd’s comment has disappeared.

Why would have Syd's comment been removed?

Was it irrelevant to the original article? No.Did it contain language that could be construed as offensive (i.e. swearing)? No.Did it contain allegations that may be construed as intemperate personal attacks? No.Did it impugn the journalistic integrity of Cairns only prestige newspaper by calling it a “rubbish rag”? Yes.Did it offer a “free” plug for CairnsBlog? Yes.Ah!, that explains it.

Syd Walker said...

Noj. Nice to know I wasn't having hallucinations.

I think the free plug for Cairns Blog must have been the final straw :-)

Cairns Resident said...

it is to be called the Cairns Mirror There will also be a Townsville Mirror launched first they said within a month
The guy that used to own Mac Air is the owner
Lets see what happens

Jan from Kewarra said...

Just goes to show you that Compost is as bad as Macca.

if they do not like what you have to say or if you dare speak out against one of the FAV councillors such as Bonneau, you get cut off
mid sentence.

So much for freedom of speech in this town.

I welcome any new paper that is going to represent all locals and local issues fairly.

And if they put in decent TV guide, they are guaranteed Thursday's paper as a sellout. The Compost one is dreadful and absolutely useless.......

Tony Hillier said...

If "the guy that used to own Mac Air" is indeed the owner of the rumoured new journal, the "Cairns Mirror" is unlikely to reflect for very long. Mac Air went belly-up!

Noloflic said...

If we're going to get our news from "Mac Air", I say we partner him with that dude from CMC and Tom Hedley. Call it the "bankrupt's weekly".

Syd Walker said...

Metria, I agree that the Cairns Post was quite entitled to block my comment. Sure, I was being cheeky. I set them up for a bit of fun.

But there's an underlying problem for the Post - and other old media - if they take that very restrictive approach. The level of debate within the Post is pathetic.

That may not matter for a lot of visitors, but for people who care about politics, it does matter.

Rank amateurs can do better than the CP to stimulate debate in this town. At least, I think so.

One reason CairnsBlog does considerably better, in my opinion, is that unlike the Post, Mike seems genuinely interested in fostering debate. Another reason: CairnsBlog doesn't try to pretend it's the only show in town.

What on earth is wrong with the CP mentioning CairnsBlog in news stories? Why shouldn't commentators refer to CairnsBlog? The Post seems to be in denial.

How about - instead of just nixing a feisty commentator - CP journalists respond in kind? Even Andrew Blot can manage that. What's wrong with these guys?

Our mass media is usually perceived as a delivery system for information. But it has another, less trumpeted role, in my opinion, which is to prevent (some) information from getting delivered. It gatekeeps public discourse. Few politicians dare take it on, so it effectively manages the political agenda.

Breaking this unhealthy strangehold is becoming a matter of survival, because the mass media - and the unsavoury vested interests they serve - are making an unholy hash of things.

S. Northy said...

Our media today don't present "news". Instead we get an evil brew of infotainment and mis-information. Note how "The Cairns Post" didn't make any mention of WHY the US military are leaving Okinawa, for example. That is something which Cairns residents NEED to know in order to make a decision about having tens of thousands of US marines doing 'R & R" in their city. Instead, the local media have chosen to be quiet, leaving the tourist operators who seem to think they will make a fortune out of it, to give a one sided opinion.

Syd Walker said...

FNQ historian Tim Bottoms, whose work has been featured in this blog previously, once produced a half hour Audio-Visual on the Cairns Region during World War Two. I was lucky enough to see a copy a while back. Amazing stuff.

One part of that history I've never heard mentioend anywhere else was the scale of conflict between the American troops and the Australians. Those were probably the largest brawls in this region in the last 100 years.

The Post would be ideally placed to do some features on this 'hidden history'; it would spice up the debate about Cairns 'servicing' the R & R needs of US troops two generations later.

Or we could wait for hell to freeze over...