Yesterday on its front page, The Age published the photo of a teenager it identified as Numan Haider, the Muslim firebrand who set about two police officers with a knife, very nearly killing one of them before being shot dead for his troubles. At Fairfax Media’s upcoming AGM a question to enlighten shareholders about the cost of this blunder might bring an interesting response, the only expiation of such editorial incompetence being that Melbourne’s former broadsheet now sells only 113,000 copies on a typical weekday and, therefore, would not have done all that much harm to the innocent young man’s reputation. Fairfax lawyers should try that argument when negotiating what will undoubtedly be a rather hefty settlement.
Today, the focus of embarrassment in Australia’s most oblivious publication has receded to the inside, where favoured thinker Clementine Ford — she of the ‘F*** Abbott T-shirts’, which Fairfax helped promote — takes to the opinion page with a dribble of incoherence that seems to be about the sorry lot of women. Toward the end, this remarkable line:
“Women do not feature heavily in political leadership, despite evidence suggesting that female-led governance improves policy-making and community benefit.”
Her editor — the word is used loosely — might have asked for the source of that “evidence”, but apparently did not. Could it be that Julia Gillard remains so revered in The Age newsroom that the claim was accepted as self-evident? Or might the editor have been thinking of Margaret Thatcher and Julie Bishop?
Think? Of course not! The key to a successful career as an Age editor, at least until the paper folds, is a steadfast refusal to think at all. That young man mis-identified as Haider will very shortly have many, many thousands — perhaps hundreds of thousands — of reasons to celebrate those deficiencies in competence and intelligence. The rest of Melbourne just gets Clementine Ford.