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Essential Reading

SMH = Smoke Manufactured Here

smh doctored smoke alarm 1We all know that global warming inflicts the darndest effects on our dying planet. Just at the moment, for example, all that CO2-generated extra heat has frozen New York's Hudson River and made it colder in some North American locales than it has ever been before. Closer to home we can see more evidence of warming's impact, most particularly its damage to the newsrooms at The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, where the inmates seem to believe their remaining readers are even dimmer than themselves. Given that those papers daily feature the insights of Peter Hartcher and Mark Kenny, still pounding the Abbott Death Watch beat, that is very dim indeed.

The latest proof is the illustration -- reproduced above -- that accompanied "environment editor" Peter Hannam's appropriately breathless report that the Liddell Power Station is poised to kill people right and left. All that filthy smoke, you see. According to the unquestioned dictation Hannam took from the spokesperson for an organisation representing green medicos and calling itself the Climate and Health Alliance, many residents of the Hunter Valley "will end up end up with cancers in years to come." The luckier ones, presumably, will be drowned quickly and quietly by rising sea levels.

There's a problem, though. The Liddell complex doesn't actually emit much in the way of smoke -- not enough, certainly, to inject the right amount of shock and horror into an appropriately unsettling newspaper illustration.

Not to worry! That's where a polarising lens and PhotoShop can come in handy. As No Tricks Zone reports, while the Fairfax papers may no longer have a shred of credibility, they still possess a very shmick suite of photo-doctoring software. Too little smoke for a good beat-up? Why, just chuck a bit in here and there! The readers will never be any wiser and, anyway, what's the harm of an artificially soot-blacked white lie or two when Gaia is on her death bed?

Smart liars know that their deceptions should owe some debt to reality, as that little grain of truth always makes a fib more convincing. At the SMH, however, even that wisdom has gone out the window (along with sub-editors, a healthy stock price, readers who prefer not to dress in op-shop fashions and editors who read their own pages before sending them to press).

Hence, all that filthy smoke rising from water-cooling towers, which in the real world emit only white wisps of perfectly harmless steam, as in the un-adorned illustration below.

liddell undoctoredAs for the power plant's two chimneys, which do emit smoke, well the SMH's goosed photo seems to have lost one of them altogether.

No Tricks Zone's expose of the photo can be read in full via the link below. The readers' thread has some very interesting observations on longevity in the Hunter Valley. It seems, despite the smoke, they are a very healthy lot and growing more so with every passing year.

-- roger franklin

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Modern feminism

joan cIn an age gone by, those seeking cheap amusement would visit the Bedlam Asylum to gawk at the lunatics and their antics. These days there is no need to leave home. Fairfax Media brings the same demented vulgarity, crazed paranoia and eye-rolling, spittle-flecked madness to your desk at the mere touch of a keyboard -- except they pass it off as journalism.

Here is the latest example, but be warned: while such themes and language are no doubt welcome in the home of, say, Fairfax Media CEO Greg Hywood, those who are less hip and feminsta-groovy might find writer Clementine Ford's latest airing of her problems with men even more sad than they are unhinged.

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Attribution, schmattribution

anonymous source

The Sydney Morning Herald has a code of ethics, which may come as a surprise, but here it is for all to admire -- especially this bit intended to assure readers that reporters aren't being played by contacts with barrows to push or, indeed, are just making stuff up:

"Where a source seeks anonymity, the journalist shall first consider the source's motives and seek alternative attributable sources. Quotes not attributed to a named source will be used only with a section editor's approval."

Let us now extend sympathy's fullest measure to SMH chieftain Darren Goodsir, who must have had little time for anything over the past week but granting executive approvals to correspondent Mark Kenny's use of anonymous sources. Lots and lots of anonymous sources, all ringing the death knell for Tony Abbott:

"Tick, tick, tick ..." was how one insider described the feeling in Parliament House…

Mr Abbott weathered what one MP called a "cavalcade of complaints"

…even [Coalition] neutrals say the situation cannot be allowed to fester. The government is dying...

“It's voters, our voters, who've decided they can't stand this prime minister …," said one marginal seat  Liberal.

One senior Liberal called the performance "embarrassing", and another described it as "the last straw" for Mr Abbott's leadership.

As many as a dozen to 16 ministers, according to one inside estimate, would back a switch to Malcolm Turnbull in the event of a challenge.

Just for the record, the SMH Code of Ethics also nails its flag to the mast of accuracy and fairness. That inspirational document can be read via the link below.

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Nancy bites

nancy1Gerard Henderson's latest Media Watch Dog has just been posted and Nancy is in fine form. From this week's first item:

What a stunning performance by David Marr and Richard Glover during the Drive With Richard Glover program on ABC Radio 702 late yesterday afternoon. Discussion turned on evidence given that day at the Royal Commission Into Responses to Child Sexual Abuse concerning Knox Grammar School in 1980s. It turned out that Timothy Hawkes, who appears regularly on Drive With Richard Glover Drive on a Monday, was mentioned at the Royal Commission.

Dr Hawkes (for a doctor he is) is the high profile headmaster at The King’s School in Parramatta. In 1989 he was the MacNeill Housemaster at Knox Grammar School on Sydney’s North Shore when a 13 year old boy boarder was indecently assaulted in his bed. Tim Hawkes did not contact NSW Police at the time or later – believing that this was not his responsibility but, rather, that of the principal. Outside the Royal Commission yesterday Dr Hawkes declared that he had “nothing to regret” concerning his behaviour at the time.

Tim Hawkes’ extraordinary performance at the Royal Commission was not even mentioned on Drive With Richard Glover yesterday. Initially Richard Glover asked David Marr about whether there were any comparisons with Cardinal Pell and the Catholic Church. This overlooked the fact that there is no evidence that George Pell was ever aware of a contemporaneous attack on a 13 year old boy or girl which he failed to report to police. David Marr responded by referring to his recent article of sexual abuse within the Yeshivah movement in the Jewish community, which was published in The Guardian Online.

Neither Glover nor Marr mentioned that Knox Grammar School is under the control of the Uniting Church in 1989. Only the Catholic and Jewish religions were mentioned. Moreover, as previously stated, the only person who was named in the segment on the Drive With Richard Glover program was the Catholic Church’s Cardinal George Pell who had nothing to do with what went on in the Royal Commission yesterday. It was “Blame George” time again. How about that?

Plenty more where that came from via the link below

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Inane. Always.

hartcher wetter than usual

According to Fairfax Media's Peter Hartcher (above), who thinks as hard as he can when attempting to put the day's news in just the right perspective, Gillian Triggs is indeed a biased political operative masquerading as a human-rights champion.

Also according to Hartcher, Tony Abbott is wrong to paint her as a biased political operative masquerading as a human-rights champion:

"Was Triggs guilty of playing partisan politics? It seems so. Why didn't she inquire into the problem of children in detention when they were being locked up at an increasing rate under Labor? Why wait until now?

Abbott is probably right on this point. But so what? Triggs' report gave the government an opportunity to highlight its progress in solving the problem."

In Fairfax newsrooms this passes for reasoned commentary.

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Redeemed with a grant on the side

green science

Physicist John Reid, who blogs at Blackjay, writes:

Climate Change is a wonderful science Problem with a capital “P” because it feeds into Western cultural preconceptions about guilt and redemption, about the fundamental wickedness of humankind and about the ultimate perfectibility of man and society. In the West there has always been a breast-beating minority with an exaggerated sense of sin, who wish to change the world before some imagined apocalypse overtakes us all. They tend to take the moral high ground and vilify those who would question their baseless beliefs. Nowadays they are called “the Greens”.

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