Occident Prone

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Posts Tagged ‘Media’

Save the whale stories

Posted by occidentprone on September 25, 2008

Another day, another whale story. This time a baby humpback is stranded at Jurien Bay. It’s not just a whale, it’s a baby whale and this ill kid can’t be saved.

The media love a good whale story. Human reporters and near-human editors like to anthropomorphise animals of all stripes. What good is a fantastic creature picture if people aren’t ascribing human emotions and features to the characters in it?

Here in WA, a famous case is the picture of giraffe Makulu by West Australian photographer Ron D’Raine. The picture is aesthetically cute on its own but once we project our own very human feelings about motherhood and babies on to it, the image of mother giraffe kissing the top of baby giraffe’s head is unforgettable.

So back to the big lumps of blubber in the ocean. What’s the attraction?

Whales are mysterious creatures. They’re mammals, like us, but dwell in the depths of the unknown. It’s a primal thing maybe or perhaps we look for twists on Biblical Jonah’s journey into the belly of the whale. And that whale song – talk about haunting.

Every permutation on a whale story is exploited in newspapers and on telly  – us humans offering help to stranded whales, like mythical mermaids caught twixt land and sea; the barbaric foreigners harming whales for base purposes – food; whale watching as faux connection with nature.

Some whale stories from around the world:

‘Orphaned’ whale thinks mother is yacht. (NineMSN)

Japan might kill world’s only white whale (The Telegraph)

Adding Weight to Suspicion, Sonar Is Linked to Whale Deaths (New York Times)

Study fails to link naval sonar with whale strandings (New Scientist)

So save the whale stories, I say. More whale yarns for everyone and if they’re sad we can have a blubber.

Read more about strandings world wide at whales.org.au. The site also has a clip of Sir Anthony Hopkins speaking out for whales (good with some fava beans and a nice little chianti, no doubt).

Posted in Diversions, Environment, Media | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Suburban mums fall prey to the dark side

Posted by occidentprone on September 17, 2008

Big news in the war against drugs – the drugs are winning. Now those darn drugs have recruited suburban mums in the fight.

That august record,  PerthNow website reports:

Suburban mums are among the over-30s who have emerged as the new users of the illicit drug ecstasy, a national study has found.

Once considered a “young person’s drug”, ecstasy has a new following in more mature users who see it as a harmless alternative to alcohol.

Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia’s Paul Dillon described the results as shocking. “Everyone is stunned. Everyone is thinking it’s a really young person’s drug but it’s not,” he said. 

The recently released 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey has revealed that since 1995, the number of people aged 30 to 39 using ecstasy has increased 5.7 per cent to 6.3 per cent for men, and 2.8 per cent to 3.2 per cent for women. 

Mr Dillon said mature people were turning to the drug because of misinformation about its effects. 

“I talked to two women in their 30s two weeks ago and these were both divorcees, they have recently split from their husbands, they’ve got 15 and 16-year-old kids and they’ve basically discovered their second childhood,” he said. 

“The reason they’re taking ecstasy is because they don’t want to drink, because with drinking they get out of control.” 

School car parks, playgrounds are populated with MDMA-ravaged mothers saying “I love you” to random strangers. 

Mums who don’t want to get out control.  Mums who probably haven’t felt in control since the second trimester of their first pregnancy.

If only …

In real life, mums are people who just say no to euphoria.

And if they were delving into the illicit drug scene en masse, it would surely be speed. A little amphetamine enhancement would make all the sports practice / music / play date chaos run a little more to schedule and deliver the oomph to be heard above the dinnertime din. Or coke for extra confidence in dealing with slouching, sulking, surly teens.

Ok, so I’m generalising and playing on stereotypes. I admit it – what about you PerthNow?

Posted in Diversions, Media | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Stokes like a kid in a toy shop

Posted by occidentprone on September 16, 2008

Some blokes play train sets as they chuff into retirement, some buy the sexy sports car they couldn’t afford 20 years before when they would have looked good in it. Kerry Stokes’ preoccupation into his autumn years is The West Australian.

After a failed tilt earlier this year, Stokes is finally getting his train set.

Seven Network chairman Kerry Stokes and his deputy Peter Gammell have been invited to join the board of West Australian Newspapers, WAN chairman Peter Mansell said today.

The Seven Network is WAN’s largest shareholder with about 22.4 per cent of WAN’s ordinary shares.

The move comes five months after Seven made an unsuccessful bid to oust members of the WAN board, including Mr Mansell, in favour of Mr Stokes and Mr Gammell. (Source: WAToday)

The West tells it like this:

Less than five months ago, Mr Stokes lost his bid to win two seats on the WAN board.

The move to appoint Mr Stokes and Mr Gammell was rejected by a shareholder vote at a meeting in Perth of 800 investors.

The billionaire had then argued that the WAN board needed to be “refreshed”, citing the company’s recent financial performance and newspaper distribution problems.

Does this mean the writing is on the wall for The West‘s Little Editor Who Could, Paul Armstrong? Stokes has made no secret of his desire for a different kind of newspaper and now he has the shares and the board influence to start cracking skulls.

Crikey says: 

The West Australian’s editor Paul Armstrong might have finally prevailed over his bitter political enemies Alan Carpenter and Jim McGinty with the defeat of the Labor state government, but it will probably be a short-lived victory as Stokes and most independent observers clearly believe he should go.

The fate of Armstrong will be the first big test of whether Stokes is exercising control, because Armstrong ran quite a partisan campaign against the billionaire during this year’s proxy battle.

Then there’s the issue of Seven being more than $100 million under water on its 23% stake in WAN and the stock is down another 23c at $8.52 this morning.

Stokes will want some fast action on things like The West’s lame website, falling circulation and the ongoing disputes with newsagents.

Posted in Media, Perth | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

I like the new stuff better than the old stuff

Posted by occidentprone on July 16, 2008

Apologies to Regurgitator but the old media is getting a battering in the new media and it’s all their own fault.

An excellent piece in Crikey today led me to the author, Stilgherrian, who makes an argument for bloggers and why we should hail them even though they mightn’t be REAL journalists.

Here’s an excerpt:

What’s tiring about this false dichotomy is that it compares the highest ideal of journalism with the lowest grade of personal blogging about what the cat did yesterday and — lo and behold! — they’re not the same. Gosh.

How much everyday journalism actually conforms to the high ideal? Not much. For every Walkley-nominated episode of Four Corners there’s a hundred tawdry yarns about miracle fat cures or shonky builders with a camera shoved in their face. For every investigative scoop there’s a thousand mundane little 5-paragraph yarns that merely quote what someone said at a press conference, and then quote their opponent. Or recycle a media release, putting the journo’s byline where the PR firm’s logo used to be. Or misappropriate statistics to beat up some shock-horror non-existent “crime wave”.

What we should make of journalist “bloggers” attached to newspaper and broadcaster websites is another thing entirely.

Posted in Media | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Ledger frenzy builds

Posted by occidentprone on July 15, 2008

Batman fever is nothing in Perth compared to Heath Ledger fever. The two macabre pasttimes crashed last night when The Dark Knight, featuring home boy Ledger, premiered.

Now PerthNow reports that Ledger’s last will and testament will be played out in a West Australian court.

Heath Ledger’s daughter Matilda Rose’s claim to his estate will be decided in a West Australian court, after he left everything to his parents and sisters.

The executors of the late actor’s will, drawn up before Matilda’s birth, have applied for probate in the WA Supreme Court in Perth. 

While Ledger left everything to his parents and three sisters, it is understood they have legal advice that under WA law, the toddler is entitled to the lion’s share. 

However her mother, actor Michelle Williams, will have to officially lodge a claim with the court supported by an affidavit which could end up in the public domain, legal experts said.

The executors of Ledger’s estate, businessman Robert Collins and accountant Mark Dyson, late last week advertised in Perth’s daily newspaper for “creditors and other persons” having claims on the estate to lodge them by August 11.

This is to ensure all debts are paid before the estate is distributed, local lawyer Edwin Abdo said.

According to documents filed in a New York court after Ledger died in January, he only had $145,000 worth of assets in the US, but his entire fortune, mostly held in Australian trusts, is likely to be worth up to $20 million.

Perth’s share of hysterical and hyper-parochial media is frothing at the mouth no doubt. This morning PerthNow, WAToday and The West all had breathless reports about Ledger’s swan song and the premieres, including in New York and that other gothic metropolis – sunny Perth. A court case of that magnitude and featuring anyone who can even spell Hollywood, let alone met the troubled genius, will render the city’s professional gawpers paralysed.

PerthNow has even come up trumps with a story about another tragedy in ledger’s inner circle. Get this:

More tragedy for Dark Knight’s Heath Ledger

AS his lauded performance in The Dark Knight drew continued focus on his sad passing, more tragedy has hit Heath Ledger’s Hollywood circle.

The Aussie actor’s make-up artist, Lucy Crawford, is battling serious injuries after she was the victim of a hit-and-run car accident.

A woman driver was charged over the weekend in relation to the July 2 incident which has left the British-born creative professional with a crushed pelvis, head wounds and internal injuries.

I feel a conspiracy theory coming on.

Posted in Diversions, Media, Perth | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

That’s a bloggy good idea

Posted by occidentprone on July 11, 2008

Can political bloggers change the system? How different is the political blogging landscape in American than in Australia? Are Australians too apathetic to effect change through individual effort or is our party system to unwieldy for passionate but small groups of people?

The blogosphere is where people are able (and encouraged) to voice their opinion to the world but outside a traditional party.

Might this blogocracy cause fissures in the party system if an idea that’s not left, not right, not Labor, not Liberal, not Green gains traction, and attention. Or would the mainstream parties do what they do now – do a poll and if popular just pretend it was their idea all along?

Plug In: The future of journalism is a project of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance and its Walkley Foundation and has an essay Net moves from right to left on the lie of the blogging land. Have a gander and at the rest of the site and see if any of it rings true.

Even money makers are looking at political bloggers in a new light. William web designers posted the following on Australian political blogging:

Benefits of Political Blogging
Political blogs can be highly optimised for search, allowing them to rate highly in research and discussion on social and political issues. Users searching socio/political issues will find relevant blogs.
Blogging shifts the focus from the author to the message (content); users are interested in the issues behind Murray River and Refugees, not the politician or party. Users search for messages (content), not authors.

Blogs are honest, direct, informative, conversational and cut out spin; in turn, the general public are more likely to read them and respect them.

Real Success Stories
GetUp.org is a great example of how innovative, simple and social networking techniques applied effectively can reach, motivate and encourage the general population to interact and take action upon political issues.
Andrew Barlett is one of the few Australian Politicans that have truly grasp the potential of the web with his first blog starting in August 2004.

Here are some views on the genre from Brit Jon Worth:

What, overall, is the recipe for success for a decent political blog? First of all it’s better to be an individual writing, someone that visitors can relate to. Second it’s important to know your issues, get your teeth stuck into something, and aim to be consistent. …
So, essentially, for me it’s not an issue of left or right when it comes to making a decent blog – it’s latching onto an issue that you care about. In the red-vs.-blue environment of UK politics that normally means you have to latch onto a party and write your blog about that. Compare that to the experience in Denmark – the Liberals are in government, and the Social Democrats in opposition, but the Liberal blogs are more vibrant and regularly updated, latching onto the very live debate about liberty in the aftermath of the Danish cartoons debacle.

I don’t agree that you have to show your colours on your blog to be effective. Sometimes questions are enough to stir things up – aren’t they?

Posted in Diversions, Politics | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Pork barrelling on press freedom

Posted by occidentprone on July 7, 2008

What’s the best way to kick off an election campaign? Sweeten up the journalists covering it. 

The government of Alan Carpenter, former reporter and telly host, is raising the promise of shield laws for the media if the government is re-elected, says The Australian.

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance claims to have a commitment from state Attorney-General Jim McGinty that laws to protect ethical journalists will be introduced in the first term of parliament if Labor is returned at the next election.

MEAA state secretary Michael Sinclair-Jones said protection for journalists and their sources was paramount.

“This is something that has to be addressed immediately,” he said. “It’s something totally unacceptable that journalists should be hauled off to secret inquiries and threatened with three years’ jail and $60,000 fines for doing their job properly.”

In Western Australia, journalists and others can be compelled by the Corruption and Crime Commission to attend secret hearings.

They are forbidden from telling anyone, including their employer or families, and face three years’ jail and a $60,000 fine if they do so.

The CCC also has the power to force a journalist to reveal their sources or face contempt charges.

Mr Sinclair-Jones said the push for the shield laws was because of the CCC’s activities. “It’s absolutely unprecedented,” he said.

Early yesterday, Mr McGinty said he supported the shield laws but would not be drawn on a timeline.

Note the key word “ethical” as in “laws to protect ethical journalists”. Who is judge and jury on this ethical business? The government? The CCC?

And why should press freedom be an election campaign issue instead of a basic rights issue in a modern western democracy? Like sports stadium funding and tax promises?

Posted in Media, Perth, Politics, West Australian politics | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Plus ca change …

Posted by occidentprone on July 3, 2008

After a week at Promises Promises rehab learning anger management and gas minimisation techniques, I am back in action. There was lots of group where we shared our feelings and chanted “this is not my fault” and “someone else is to blame”  but no internet or newstainment.

So imagine my surprise to find Belinda Neal still drawing attention to herself on the news sites and more oxygen used on Apache developments. It’s enough to make you hit the bottle.

On the news news front:

Schapelle Corby has collapsed after an outing to a beautician. I’ve heard waxing can have that affect – and don’t get me started on electrolysis of facial hair. Actually someone with sensitive cuticles – and Schapelle is a delicate flower – can find pedicure a painful thing. Now, what to do with all the sick pedicurists lingering in Australian jails?

Channel 31 has found its white knight, a businessman who has stumped up dosh to keep community telly alive in Perth. “The station’s board believes the money will be enough to keep the station afloat for another 18 months, by which time it expects the Federal Government will be ready to switch it to the digital spectrum.” (Source: ABC)

WA Police allege that chasing Cabinet leaks is a low priority compared with … say … child abuse. According to The Australian: 

Police have been criticised over the April 30 raid on Perth’s Sunday Times newspaper, which was prompted by a complaint from the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

The raid, which at its peak involved more than 25 police officers, was recently labelled a “considerable overreaction” by Premier Alan Carpenter’s chief of staff Keiran Murphy in evidence to a parliamentary inquiry. It has also sparked friction between police and the Corruption and Crime Commission about the roles and responsibilities of both crime-fighting bodies.

Mr O’Callaghan said that following the high level of public debate over the raid, investigating cabinet leaks would probably no longer be a police priority.

“My view is that we probably should not have got involved in it in the first place,” he told the ABC.

“Now this whole thing has come to a head, and has been the subject of much public debate, in hindsight it looks like police would be better off not doing this sort of work at all.

“We will certainly triage it and prioritise whether it is something we will put at the top of our list or whether there are more important things to do.

“For argument’s sake, there are many child abuse cases to be investigated in Western Australia at the moment, and I think the community would rather us go after the perpetrators of those offences than try to track down leaks out of parliament or cabinet.”

Major Fraud Squad officers executed a search warrant on the newspaper after journalist Paul Lampathakis revealed a request from Treasurer Eric Ripper for $16 million to pay for campaign advertising.

Now that’s sobering.

Posted in Diversions, Media, Perth, Politics, West Australian politics | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Cousins and Newman show us what we hold dear

Posted by occidentprone on June 25, 2008

This morning we had two indicators of where our moral compass lies:

Recovering drug addict Ben Cousins may play in the Victorian Football League this year, aiming to return to AFL ranks in 2009.

The former West Coast Eagles captain and Brownlow medallist is expected to be registered to play in the VFL before next Monday’s deadline, News Limited has reported.

It’s possible he may sign for the WAFL, but the Herald Sun said it was more likely he would pull on the boots for one of 10 VFL sides. (Source: The West)

The ABC says it’s not a done deal:

But his manager, Ricky Nixon, says no decision has been made and clubs from both the VFL and WAFL are still in contention and he refused to close the door on nominating for the draft later this year.

Mr Nixon says the Brownlow medallist has received offers from almost 200 football clubs from around Australia.

“It really comes down to playing in the best competition or training rather with the better sides closer to AFL level,” he said.

And another fallen star is back on his feet:

Sam Newman is set to return to the AFL Footy Show on Thursday night, three weeks after Nine Network bosses ordered the star to rest, News Limited newspapers report. 

Newman was asked to take an indefinite break from performing three weeks ago following a series of on-air incidents, including groping a lingerie-clad mannequin while holding an image of journalist Caroline Wilson over its face and making suggestive remarks.

News Limited said Newman’s departure on May 28 marked a drop of 70,000 viewers within two weeks. (Source: The West)

So a footy star famous for running with gangsters and bingeing on drugs and a loathsome, neanderthal TV personality are back in good graces with proprieters (who are in the business of making money) without any public demonstration that they are worthy of such good fortune.

On the one hand, we could argue they are examples of a society which values forgiveness and believes in redemption. On the other, you could argue a big-dollar earner can get away with whatever he wants. A short spell in coventry for appearance’s sake then get that guy back bringing in the dough. And we can formulate the redemption ‘narrative’ afterwards for a New Idea deal.

Newman and Cousins are not irreverent or merely unruly – which we could dismiss as larrikinism. They both transgressed the very generous lines we set for them, and have shown little or no remorse. True, Cousins had a drug problem, which can mask the true morality of an otherwise good person. But what’s Newman’s excuse? No matter how clean living and sober he gets, he’s still a mean spirited, malicious misanthrope.


Posted in Diversions, Media | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Statue to draw more deviants to Perth

Posted by occidentprone on June 24, 2008

Taxpayers will pay for the perverse and deviant to get their jollies when the City of Perth forks out $23,000 to display a rudie statue.

The disgraceful bronze “artwork” will make a mockery of the clean living image Perth has spent decades cultivating: Sensible drinking hours, a foreshore devoid of sinful temptations, no shopping on the Lord’s day, holding the tide against daylight saving and so much more.

News Corp’s Perth Now is outraged. You can tell because they lead with how much it costs taxpayers.

THE sculpture of a nude nine-year-old girl will be displayed on a Perth city street and ratepayers will cough up thousands of dollars to cast it.

Perth City Council had been recommended to approve casting Judith Anketell in bronze for public display at a cost of about $23,000.

Tonight, councillors voted unanimously to do so.

The sculpture will be displayed outside the building at 18 Howard Street, Perth, where it was created, provided it is approved by the Heritage Council.

And the blatantly debauched signal it sends to the world is denied by the lithesome model – now an 80-year-old.

The proposal had coincided with a controversial display of photographs of nude children at a Sydney art gallery. 

Amid the Sydney controversy, Ms Anketell denied the Perth statue of her as a child bordered on on p***nogr*phy. 

“Nobody has said anything in the 70-odd years that mine (the sculpture) has been made about it being improper or indecent,” she said 

“It was very tastefully done. 

“It was a beautiful reproduction of my body.” 

Perth Now doesn’t use the P-word, it (almost) lets the victim, Ms Anketell, do it. 

The West takes a more subdued approach on its website but there’s still time for the issue to take hold in the letters pages.

Posted in Diversions, Media, Perth | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »