It's a funny thing, how the most confident expectations are sometimes put pay by the unexpected twist. Take Fairfax Media, for example, which has been quietly informing contributor columnists that their insights are no longer required. A matter of money, you see, and a manifestation of the board's policy of cutting overhead costs at a faster rate than the declines in the publisher's Three Rs: Reporting, Revenue and Readers. Also factor in the consultants' advice that paid journalism can be replaced by unpaid missives from no-cost outsiders, and if you have been wondering why plaintiffs' lawyers now get the run of the opinion pages to lament how their clients have been mistreated and deserve large payouts, that might explain it.
Then you open today's Age and, well, the jaw drops to the floor. There it is, a column by a bricklayer (!), a certain Mitchell Browne, lamenting the rubbish the ABC puts to air (!!!).
"...Here is my own efficiency review of the ABC: If you are broadcasting four ABC TV channels, when you barely have enough quality material for one, that is not efficient. If you're using taxpayers' money to distribute soft porn, you are duplicating a service the private sector willingly provides for free.
And if you are doing all this in the honest belief there are no possible cost savings to be found, you should be out on your arse.
Sorry. You'll have to excuse my language. Must have picked it up from my dirty Aunty."
It is inconceivable any standard-issue Fairfax hack could or would have written those words. With the company circling the drain, no semi-intelligent keyboard-tickler is going to risk alienating the national broadcaster, a potential employer where those with mates and spouses on the payroll have already found sanctuary. There can't be too many ABC slots left to fill, so why make enemies?
But positions for bricklayers are not likely to figure in Aunty's next wave of recruitments, so bricklayer Browne is free to speak his mind and, because Chairman Roger Corbett's company is the addled, rudderless and impecunious mess that it is, those very un-Fairfax thoughts get published.
The potential in this new approach is limitless. If one bricklayer can make so much sense, do so much better than a professional journalist, just imagine what untapped legions of plumbers, taxi drivers, manicurists and chicken-sexers might achieve.
Having previously dismissed terrorism as “an irritation” and, more recently, filed 500 words of studied vacuity in regard to the week's terror raids, Fairfax columnist Waleed Aly tackles the big issue dominating the attention of all Australians: Misogyny in America’s NFL.
Aly today writes (or, rather, should have written):
Rice’s misogynist Islamicists' brutality is enough to make worlds collide. Here’s hoping it will finally be perhaps the first extrinsic scandal that is so heinous, so suffocating, that it becomes an intrinsic, inseparable part of the way we talk about the game creed. Only this can force the NFL Muslims to understand the severity of its their failings and force sport the religion more generally, to understand its moral obligations.
Having ignored warnings for months, the resident community organiser at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is finally stating his intention to do something about ISIS.
Given the record of his earlier forays into the Middle east, Zeg reckons the Weird Beards must be shuddering in their curly-toed caliphate footwear!
Trust a warmist? Well, you can trust them to interpret every latest set of temperature records through the distorting prism of their core preconception, which is that we are all going to fry. Ex-NASA climatologist Roy Spencer writes:
"If faster warming does resume in the coming months and years, it’s important to stay focused on the amount of warming…over the long term. Thinking and talking in qualitative terms, like record warm years, can be used to fool and manipulate people’s emotions on the subject.
Even a new “record warmest year”, year after year, is not that significant if the total warming ends up being only 1 deg. C more over the next 100 years.
And until the models can explain what happened in the past they should not be trusted for guiding policy into the future."
Read The Age these days and the thing you notice first -- other than the lousy subbing, ham-fisted cropping, leaden headlines, warmist stenography and lightly re-written press releases from activist groups -- is the near-total absence of top-shelf display advertisers. This is curious, as The Age likes to present itself as the paper favoured by the well-heeled 'A-B demographic'. Surely, if you are a Toorak Road vendor of $1000 handbags, those alleged readers are precisely the sorts whose patronage you would wish to attract.
In theory, yes. But read the paper's Letters columns and the suspicion arises that potential advertisers may not see much commercial potential in the pitiful 113,000 people who still buy the The Age on a typical weekday. From this morning's Fairfax exercise in the abuse of ink and forest products, a further indication of why merchants may see little potential in attracting Age readers to their stores (unless they are selling those F*** Abbott T-shirts the paper so helpfully promoted):
''Abbott raises terror alert level to high'' (13/9). Yes, he certainly does.
Jim Picot, Altona
Personally, I have been on alert since Mr Abbott was voted in.
Greg Oates, Huon Creek
Mr Abbott needs to remember the boy who cried ''wolf''. John Howard got a bit of mileage out of the fear card. Not sure it will work so well a second time.
Marg Ludowyk, Brunswick
Mother Nature faces a greater threat from the Abbott government than from any perceived terrorist.
Phil Alexander, Eltham
Come on, Ms Rinehart, stop messing about and buy Fairfax outright. You would be doing Melbourne a huge favour.
A quote from the Muslim Village website, posted September, 2013:
"After examining all the issues specific to Australian Muslim interests, we believe it will not be in the Australian Muslim communities best interests to see a Tony Abbott lead Liberal/National government voted in. In fact, we believe that the incoming Liberal Government may end up being be one of the most right wing governments Australia has ever seen.
This may seem like a dramatic statement, but one only has to examine the many Islamophobic statements on sharia, halal, burqas, jihad, etc from senior Liberal politicians over the last few years to come to this conclusion..."
If Tony Abbott was surprised Muslim leaders declined to join his Team Australia, he shouldn't have been.