What a particular coy tagline at the foot of the Opinion piece in today's SMH by Jennifer Dougherty, who sings the praises of "young adult fiction" and the authors whose books variously explore "privilege and gender", the joys of bisexuality for amorously ambidextrous adolescents and "coming out" as gay for those who kick only with one foot. Poor old Biggles, one gathers, might reclaim some bookstore shelf space if, and only if, he were to address his concern about weight problems by forging a deep and loving relationship with his tail gunner.
Which titles get added to school reading lists and why is not, however, the intriguing aspect of Dougherty's gush about the books teenagers are encouraged to absorb. Far more intriguing is that tag line, which describes the column's author only as "a book editor with a major independent publishing house."
Indeed she is, the major publishing house being Allen & Unwin, where Dougherty is the "children's and YA editor."
And golly gosh, what a coincidence that is! Of the seven titles hailed as masterworks, she just happens to publish five of them.
Good for Dougherty and good for Allen & Unwin, who get the sort of publicity and promotion that money just can't buy.
But pity Fairfax shareholders (even more than usual) , who have foregone the revenue they might have received from a paid ad.
And pity, too, the unfortunate Fairfax functionary who must now square the circle of the tag line's curious lack of candour with the SMH Code of Ethics, especially the last bit about disclosing "all relevant circumstances under which a story has been written or edited or any other conflicts."
Hal Colebatch’s book, Australia’s Secret War published by Quadrant Books, has been short-listed for the Australian History Prize in the 2014 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. One of this country’s biggest-selling books in the past year, it has been reprinted five times and has now sold almost 10,000 copies.
The book tells the shocking, true, but until now largely suppressed and hidden story of the war waged from 1939 to 1945 by a number of key Australian trade unions against their own society and against the men and women of their own country’s fighting forces at the time of its gravest peril.
Between 1939 and 1945 virtually every major Australian warship, including at different times its entire force of cruisers, was targeted by strikes, go-slows and sabotage. Australian soldiers operating in New Guinea and the Pacific Islands went without food, radio equipment and munitions, and Australian warships sailed to and from combat zones without ammunition, because of strikes at home. Planned rescue missions for Australian prisoners-of-war in Borneo were abandoned because wharf strikes left rescuers without heavy weapons. Officers had to restrain Australian and American troops from killing striking trade unionists.
Hal Colebatch began working on this project in the mid-1990s. His conclusions are based on a broad range of sources, from letters and first-person interviews he conducted with ex-servicemen, to official and unofficial documents from the archives of World War II.
Buy it here online and it ships immediately: http://quadrant.org.au/shop/
Mark Steyn on the culture wars and the left's greatest triumph:
"The most consequential act of state ownership in the 20th century western world was not the nationalization of airlines or the nationalization of railways or the nationalization of health care, but the nationalization of the family.
I owe that phrase to Professor R Vaidyanathan at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore. He’s a bit of a chippy post-imperialist, and he’s nobody’s idea of a right-winger, but he’s absolutely right about this.
It’s the defining fact about the decline of the West: Once upon a time, in Canada, Britain, Europe and beyond, ambitious leftists nationalized industries — steel, coal, planes, cars, banks — but it was such a self-evident disaster that it’s been more or less abandoned, at least by those who wish to remain electorally viable.
On the other hand, the nationalization of the family proceeds apace"
Hear the one about China swearing off coal? If you still put any credence in Fairfax Media's coverage of matters environmental, stories about the Middle Kingdom's alleged embrace of a sustainable future powered by green energy might have seemed persuasive. After all, you may have thought, the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age are honest, responsible publications and their reporters would never, ever hype a story in order to, say, give the then-Gillard government a leg-up in its push to defend the Carbon Tax. For example, the SMH reported in February, 2013.
"China’s decade-long boom in coal-driven heavy industry is about to end as the leadership shifts priorities towards energy conservation, say officials and policy advisers."
That was then. Today, the SMH reports:
"...huge new coal mines [are] ramping up production in northern and far-western China."
Have you ever wondered why you buy a daily newspaper not so often these days, if at all? Today's Australian provides a big part of the explanation: our universities are turning out legions of starry-eyed youngsters who regard their mission as being to interpret and filter the news, rather than merely report it.
"The media lecturers and tutors always talk about job opportunities in the field and, although they emphasise the value of having an open mind, there’s an assumption that no one would be interested in working for a newspaper like The Daily Telegraph, for example," writes an un-named student.
"It’s quite limiting when looking for jobs after uni. Students have a negative view of working for News Corp, and would prefer to get a job at the (Sydney Morning) Herald.
"The times that we focused on News Corp, it’s often framed in a suspicious light, saying Rupert Murdoch has a monopoly of power. They talk about Murdoch having lots of power in relation to Foxtel and how he is trying to prevent competition arising through the NBN."
Not so long ago, journalism was learned primarily on the job. You did a three- or four-year cadetship -- in essence, an apprenticeship -- mastered typing, shorthand, layouts, composing room protocols and endured the sometime abrasive mentoring of newsroom silverbacks and greybeards. At the end of the process you were expected to have absorbed the craft's most fundamental wisdom: journalists barrack for the story, not the cause.
Now our universities are churning out post-pubescent propagandists and the news business is collapsing. If you can't read a newspaper these days, thank a teacher.
More on the sad state of journalism training at the link below.
Before the 2013 election, when Joe Hockey was asked about the ABC, he replied that the national broadcaster's feet would be held to the fire if waste and profligacy were to be found. Now "waste" is a subjective term. One can imagine, for instance, that self-proclaimed "editor-in-chief" Mark Scott thinks himself worth every cent of the $800,000-plus he takes home each year, yet many would argue that while his singular talent for failing to notice underlings' habitual and endemic bias is truly extraordinary, someone who cannot find efficiencies in a $1.2 billion budget falls well short of the executive ideal.
Were Scott to actually manage the ABC -- a task the title of managing director seriously implies -- he could save a pretty penny by disciplining hosts and producers who incur hefty defamation settlements. As it was settled out of court, we don't know the size of the payout that went to Chris Kenny for having been depicted in the primetime, pants-down act of ravishing a dog, but it is a good bet that a hefty six-figure settlement changed hands.
Now, courtesy of Jon Faine, it is The Australian's Hedley Thomas who stands to pocket a very tidy sum for having his good name blackened via ABC Radio 774. It was broadcast as Faine was playing court eunuch to the queen of his heart, former PM Julia Gillard, and the following assertion went to air:
FAINE: That whole Bruce Wilson/Slater & Gordon 'supposed scandal' which dogged you for weeks and weeks and weeks to the point where every day there would be another so-called disclosure on the front page of The Australian, and Hedley Thomas was clearly told just do 'whatever you need to do to see if you can get her'."
So, according to Faine, the intrepid Thomas, acting at the alleged instruction of his Murdoch bosses, compromised his professional integrity by producing smears on demand. If Thomas consults a lawyer, that remark should be worth a very large settlement -- not least because Faine was admonished in 2013 by ABC management for doing precisely what he now accuses Thomas of doing: serving as a shill for his favoured cause, in that instance Gillard's pristine innocence.
As Faine's earlier outburst was in Gillard's defence, it is little wonder the ABC saw fit to administer no more than a slap on the wrist while allowing him to remain at the ABC's Melbourne microphone. Had Managing Director Scott managed Faine into the nearest Centrelink office back then, not only would he have trimmed the compere's $300,000-a-year salary from the ABC's payroll, he also would have saved the likely future cost of making expensive amends to the slandered Thomas.
If Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull sees no reason to take action, perhaps Joe Hockey might like to remind him about that promise to target the national broadcaster's waste of taxpayer dollars, a category which many would assume to include needless legal fees and settlements.