20 March 2009

SLAP the presses!

March 2009, and it's time for the first Slap for the Fourth Estate. Former judge Marcus Einfeld gets a Flick to help send him on his way to jail, after trying to perjure his way out of a $77 speeding ticket, as does Robert Mugabe for asking for the end to "cruel" sanctions against Zimbabwe, when he is doing more damage than an angry wrecking ball himself. Coming up just short of being the third religious Slap this year is Pope Benedict the Unhelpful, for suggesting that condoms would "aggravate" the spread of AIDS in Africa. If that's his view of preventative measures, I'm going to burglarise his house, as I can only assume he believes that security systems aggravate theft. However, we head to the offices of Sydney's Sunday Telegraph, and render a handprint on its editor...

Neil Breen.

Neil's decision to publish photos that were allegedly of a naked Pauline Hanson taken in the 80's has had a cascading effect throughout the news. Apparently he now admits that he "went too quickly on the story", after paying the alleged human who provided the photos $15 000. After splashing the headline around proclaiming Pauline's nudity, the rise in sales will most likely have covered this particular cost, so he doesn't take a hit. What takes the hit is the credibility of news in Australia. Most people still take what they read in the papers at face value, and so before running such a salacious story, the editor has a duty to check sources, confirm origins... and to open his damn eyes. The photos do not look like Pauline. There is a passing similarity in eye makeup and hair, but both are clearly on a non-Pauline Hanson head. But, as he can pass himself off as a victim in this process, being duped by brilliant, dazzling con artistry, he can simply take the circulation bump and move on.

For the same reason that a former judge gets an extra kicking for breaking the rules, so should a newspaper editor. Not only is such a person expected to know better, they need to behave better. The knock-on effect of this cerebral power shortage is that, just before an election that she is running in, Pauline Hanson gets to portray herself as a victim of the big bad media, and garner more votes that she doesn't deserve because of it (for an elaboration on this, scroll down to Vote 1: Slap).

This one goes in the file of "disappointed, but not surprised". Far too many "news stories" are the direct result of press releases, those press releases should have to, at the very least, make their flaws and bullshit less obvious than this particularly pale attempt at lookalikes.

And in other news, the editor of a Sydney-based bin liner took five fingers and a palm to the side of the head. Nearby witnesses heard a noise which they described as a SLAP.

Links: Jail term completes Einfeld's disgrace
Mugabe calls for end to "cruel" sanctions
Pope Benedict XVI says condoms can aggravate AIDS in Africa
Hanson photo row: editor admits not checking facts

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