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telling it like I think it is: sunili’s blog

Archive for the ‘media’ Category

because this fairy tale still needs a happy ending

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Dear Editor

I proudly subscribed to your publication last month. I looked forward to reading insightful pieces written by prominent Australians about our nation’s “Politics, Society & Culture”, as your tag line explains.

My excitement when I pulled my first issue out of the letterbox yesterday fell, almost with a thud to the driveway, when I saw the sparkling smiles of The Obamas dressed in their fairytale finery on the cover of this supposedly Australian publication.

However, as I do adore the Obamas and cheered the US election result with some vigour myself, I figured they probably deserved their place on yet another cover (The Monthly is among such friends as Rolling Stone and Men’s Health in picking the same cover star). Obama’s election matters to all of us and I do hope he’ll come visit us soon.

But when I read Galarrwuy Yunupingu’s utterly amazing piece about his life, his hopes, his disappointment, his frustrations and his visions for our country, my own disappointment and frustration led me to writing this letter.

Why was his story not given the pride of place on your cover? Obama is the World’s Black Man, yes, and we are all incredibly proud of him. But Galarrwuy Yunupingu is Our Very Own Black Man.

I normally hate being parochial, but I truly believe his piece should be read and appreciated and acted upon by every Australian, and it feels to me that by adding yet another smiling Obama to newsstands you may have missed a great opportunity to bring our country’s own healing back to the front page.

Yours sincerely
Sunili …

crime and publicity

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Following the inquiry into the death of prisoner Simon Rochford, Deputy State Coroner Evelyn Vicker recommend legislation to allow police to suppress information that might “compromise an investigation into a serious offence.”

Western Australia’s new new Attorney-General Christian Porter (the guy who told The Australian that addressing the state’s indigenous prison rate was not high on his agenda) apparently thinks this recommendation is “sensible and deserves consideration”.

Erm… giving the police MORE powers to keep stuff OUT of the press when on most occasions they seem to love PUTTING IT THERE THEMSELVES seems a little strange.

Rochford’s death was yet another chapter in the legal saga surrounding the 1994 murder of Pamela Lawrence. Andrew Mallard’s conviction for the murder was quashed by the High Court in 2005 after he had spent over a decade in jail. The Corruption and Crime Commish made findings of misconduct against police and prosecutors involved in the case. A cold case review discovered a previously unidentified palm print from the crime scene which was traced back to  Rochford … who happened to be serving time for the murder of his girlfriend.

Deputy Coroner Vicker found that the ABC television news report naming Rochford as the new suspect in the high-profile murder case “precipitated” his decision to commit suicide just hours after he saw the news.

Oops.

Last week, The Australian‘s Debbie Guest pointed out that:

The calls for new police powers follow a year of scrutiny of Perth media, including a raid on the Sunday Times newspaper by armed police in an attempt to find the source of a story that embarrassed the previous Carpenter government. [link]

Yeah, News Ltd is still pissed about that one. But I don’t think this is about the media.

Last year I wrote on my own blog about how the cops effed up in naming Supreme Court Registrar Corryn Rayney’s “estranged” husband the “prime suspect” in her murder yet never charged him. Mr Rayney, who’s a FRICKING BARRISTER, recently sued the coppers and the government for defamation.

An article on PerthNow reporting that police revealed info about an item found at the site in King’s Park where Registrar Rayney’s body was found, noted:

Since the defamation writ was issued last month, police have been reluctant to comment on any aspect of the Rayney case.

But wait… now the government wants to give the cops the powers to “suppress information”?

You’ve gotta be kidding me, Christian Porter — the boys in blue can’t keep their OWN mouths shut, dontcha think you need to work on that before fannying about with “suppression” laws?

And, um, didn’t they keep quiet about the tape of Jane or Sarah talking to some random at The Claremont on the night they went missing for twelve years and then got bitch-slapped about that?

This is not about the media going over the line. This is about the cops making value judgments about things when it suits them, and then blaming the mean, nasty media when the shit hits the fan.

Now, Labor’s shadow Attorney-General McGinty says nasty suppression legislation could stifle information which should be made public (well spotted, Captain Duh):

“I have reservations about the wisdom of yet further suppression orders of information [that] should be in the public arena,” he said.

“I think on balance that the public interest is best served by not having so many prohibitions on the public being given the information upon which they can make their judgements.” [link]

Ok, look, I love the dude (especially for everything he did for ending discrimination against Teh Gays in WAys, and stuff) and he’s right, there’s no point putting more powers in the cop’s hands, but in my humble opinion, Jimmy doesn’t actually get the point either.

I just wonder… Will laws ban giving info to the jurors who are supposed to make the judgments? Because until they are unable to lie their way out of jury duty, no member of the public should be making judgements about anyone’s criminal liability.

They should get back to washing their cars on the lawns and shopping at Bunnings and doing those other things all good Sandgropers do. Ok?

While the police are investigating stuff, the public should have no right to information unless aforementioned public can help. The public ‘making judgements’ about on-going investigations, where no charges have been laid and no case against a person has been made in a court of law, has got squat to do with it.

Everyone got that? Good.

But Jimmy’s right on the essential bit: banning the media from talking about criminal investigations like that isn’t the solution.

Sue Short, the ABC reporter who broke the story, said she wouldn’t have named Rochford if she’d “been given a good reason” and call me naïve but I would like to think journos still have the ethics and/or values that would have them hold off on a story if it would do more harm than good to an on-going investigation.

Legislators don’t need to create powers that let the police keep the media quiet, they need to get the police to do their job, and give them proper media training while they’re at it.

The pollies should get back to something they can actually fix instead of wasting time ranting on about unnecessary and draconian “suppression” laws.

I mean, honestly. What do they think they’re running? Notre Dame Uni? Psh.

Written by Sunili

29 October 2008 at 3:02 pm

fun links to keep the masses occupied

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Gah, it looks like I may have called an end to my hiatus too early. But we did have a good couple of weeks up-til now, so I’ll count that as a blessing.

Until I have time to pull together all the notes scattered through my several Moleskines (I try to be organised, but I think I am a scatterbrain at heart) into real blog posts, here are some fun things for y’all to read:

If you think that’s special, then think about this. Pfotenhauer said that she lives in a place called Oakton, Va. Oakton is located in Fairfax County. Pfotenhauer implied that the country was part of “real America” because it was open to the possibility of electing John McCain. Here’s the problem: Fairfax County, like its neighbors, are in the process of turning colors. (We can detect this with a special version of a mass spectrometer called a “ballot box.”)

Like regular charges of left-wing bias against the ABC, the moral panic evident in submissions to the Senate inquiry rests on a certain implicit, though questionable, assumption – namely, that only deviation from prevailing orthodoxy constitutes bias.

Conventional views are presumed neutral, and the possibility is never entertained they may be invisibly, systematically biased in the other direction. It follows that the regular complaints of bias and proposed remedies are a form of harassment designed to maintain doctrinal conformity.

However, the highest educational ideals require precisely the reverse attitude – that is, encouraging the exploration of alternatives to preferred, taken-for-granted views. As Bertrand Russell remarked, education should make students think, not to think what their teacher (or government) thinks.

Found any good web-treats recently? Please share!

Love,
Sunili xoxo

Written by Sunili

20 October 2008 at 6:02 pm

Rupe’s Troops Rally for the Cause

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So I gave up reading news.com.au because it is like 99.6% tabloid crap, but The Australian is starting to piss me off again.  I can’t remember why I quit it last time, and I don’t know why I went back again this morning. A ‘comment’ piece in the flashing Opinion widget at the top of the site got my attention, though:

To what extent is the Democratic presidential nominee still in thrall to extremist friends, asks Mervyn Bendle?

The online copy editors @ News Ltd really need to get off the crack and actually read the articles before writing the subhead/dek.

One assuming this piece is going to be a considered analysis of the totally ridiculous (and totally refuted) claims about Obes Pallin’ Around With Terrorists, which one should expect in a country in which there are unlikely to be many swing/undecided voters, would in all likelihood be confused to find themselves reading propagandist drivel that reads like a stump speech delivered to rednecks who will respond with “Terrorist!” and “Kill Him”.

Merv, who is apparently a “senior lecturer in history and communications at James Cook University”, apparently also wants a job as She Who Will Not Be Named’s speechwriter.

Because why else will some bogan from a Queensland uni care to spout out random facts and 40-year old soundbites about The Weathermen, select snippets from Obama’s books about his influences and then make ominous warnings about What American Voters Really Need to Think About (dun dun dun):

The question that the American people may have to ask themselves is how much this extremist milieu still drives Obama’s political outlook and how much it will guide his decisions, policies and appointments throughout the federal government system as the next president of the US.

Don’t it just fill you with fear and trepidation? Don’t you hear the call to arms to ring up your friends Nelly-May and Billy-John who live in some Red State and warn them of the imminent danger of That Radical Extremist*?

Aside from the lame/misleading technicalities, why the eff is this article even in The AUSTRALIAN?

Yeah, ok, people are allowed to have their opinions, and WTF-ever, Rupert’s editorial cronies are allowed to print whoever’s opinions they want, but seriously, how is propaganda for the US election worthy of publication in this country’s national paper?

Sigh. I don’t know why I even bother.

Aside: not to get too nit-picky, or nothin’, but do you think McCain knows that a press release listing big donors who support him includes Leonore Annenberg, chief of protocol in the Reagan White House, the president/chair of the Pennsylvania-based Annenberg Foundation and the widow of Walter H Annenberg, the late publisher, philanthropist, ambassador, and founder of the  Chicago Annenberg Challenge (that being the nasty “radical” organisation that indelibly taints Obama with horrible, evil, lefty-terrorist-scumness)? The Republicans are a fricking joke.

* From the Devil’s Republican’s Dictionary/Thesaurus

Radical Extremist“: (n) 1. generally, a coloured person; or a white person who may like coloured persons. 2. Terrorist. See also: Socialist; Gun-Hater (But Bombthrower); Baby Killer.

Written by Sunili

13 October 2008 at 6:18 pm

the media and timewarps

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The Cookster wrote a post today about a journo at The Age who stretched the truth about a pic of Richie Benaud… there was this pic that was on The Perth Files and The Worst of Perth several weeks ago, right, but the colunmist thought no one would mind if he said the snap was co-inki-dinkly taken “a few days ago”, ie a few days before the old chap’s birthday (which is in another few days).

Well I’ve got another story ferr ya!

There was a raucous in the rags this morning (The Herald Sun, SMH, The Age, even the ABC!) about the OUTRAGE! (™ David Cohen) over the title of a play at the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Beaconsfield: A Musical In A-Flat Minor is apparently a piss-take satire over the media circus around the fatal mine collapse in Tasmania couple of years ago (Kochy and Mel, Richard Carlton), and the fun-police were having quite the go over how insensitive the title choice is.

Creator Dan Ilic, one of the team behind the AWESOMENESS that is The Ronnie Johns Half Hour (full name The Ronnie Johns Good Times Campfire Jamboree Half Hour Show (Now on Television)), was quoted as saying he hoped the “offensive” title would gain media attention.

I wish he’d also said they should all “harden the fuck up“, but Ilic isn’t the guy behind Chopper, so I won’t hold the omission against him.

Anyway, later this afternoon, one of the headlines on ABC was Playwright caves on Beaconsfield musical title (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

Especially since the inquest into the death at the mine is still on and stuff, it probably makes sense.

Good job, media! You changed the world!!!!!!!!!!!

Or did they?

On Ilic’s website, the “news” section lists the following [chronological order changed for dramatic effect]:

6th August 08
We haven’t even opened Beaconsfield, and we’re already getting bad press. Excellent!
Check out The Age article here. Beaconsfield; A musical in a-flat minor opens on wednesday night in workshop mode. It’s a pretty funny show, come see it before we patch it up and send it off to the Adelaide fringe.

7th August 08
In light of recent events, and in respect for Larry Knights family, we’ve the changed the name of the show to simply; Beaconsfield; The Musical.
I still maintain that it’s still “The feel-good piss-take event of the year!”

So wait. WHAT?

All the OUTRAGE! (™ David Cohen) happened TWO MONTHS AGO??

But the ABC is only reporting it NOW, the day before the show opens?

I guess that makes the following quote even more awesome:

“That title is purely there just to gain media interest in our musical,” [Dan Ilic] said. “So congratulations, you’ve done your job.” (ABC)

Hahaha SATIRICAL GOLD!! I want to go to Melbourne right now to see it.

No. Wait. Now I am even MORE confused: the link from the 6 August blog post on Ilic’s site (link to screen cap taken today) goes to a story dated 6 October in the URI but listed as 7 October (today). So wait. WHAT? It did all happen today?

That totally makes this whole post pointless.

DAMMIT. Damn you and your shoddy website skillz (dude also needs to work on apostrophes and Proper Noun Capitalisation), Dan Ilic, I thought you were leading me to post something awesome and observant about the sneakiness of the “meedya“.

Oh well. At least The Cookster got one up the bastards. That’s still one for the team.

Written by Sunili

7 October 2008 at 5:39 pm

Excuse me, Esquire

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As well as their 75 Books thing, Esquire did a feature on the”The 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century“.

Now, DAME Magazine pointed out, only 8.5 entries on the list were women, but aside from that lameness, I have a bone to pick with contributor David Chang (or the relevant editor) about a couple of things mentioned in the entry for M.I.A. —

The first and only major artist in world music, 33. Everywhere

Earlier this year, Sri Lankan-British rapper M.I.A. announced she was giving up music for clothing design. Maybe it was the exhaustion talking, but get to know her story and the first thing that becomes apparent is that she’s not one for staying in one place for very long. Here, a country-by-country guide to her transnational life, which directly informs her unclassifiable and revolutionary music.

ENGLAND: Born in London.

SRI LANKA: Her father, Arul, a Tamil revolutionary, cofounded a militant Tamil group. Her debut album is named Arular after him. Album art features images of tanks, bombs, and tigers.

INDIA: Childhood residence, age six to nine. The song “Jimmy” is based on an early-’80s Bollywood disco hit. “Bamboo Banga” samples Indian Tamil film composer Ilaiyaraaja. “Birdflu” features Indian dhol drums.

AUSTRALIA: Recording location for the album Kala. Features a didgeridoo and the Wilcannia Mob, a gang of aboriginal child beat-boxers, in “Mango Pickle Down River.”

LIBERIA:Kala location. “Do you know the cost of AK’s up in Africa / $20 ain’t shit to you but that’s how much they are” (“20 Dollar”).

JAMAICA:Kala location. Dance-hall rhythms, steel drums. “Boyz” video features Kingston “rudies.”

NEW YORK: Resident since 2005. In the video for “Paper Planes,” she sings from inside a New York lunch truck. Modeled for a Marc Jacobs spring/summer 2008 campaign. Announced that she will launch a clothing line.

I agree her work makes her pretty influential. (From what I can gather, the hipsters these days totes heart her.) I have no qualms about most of the things about her in that piece. But that one particular section about her time in Sri Lanka, and, more specifically, her father?

Um.

I could just say it was a Choice of Words FAIL, but, you know, I am not known for brevity, and as much as I may try, I need to say a bit more.

My letter to the Editors of Esquire was as follows:

I write to express some concern about David Chang’s choice of words in his piece on M.I.A. in the “The 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century” feature.

I question the description of M.I.A’s father as “Tamil revolutionary, [who] cofounded a militant Tamil group”.

That Tamil group is not just a militant group, but has been listed as a banned terrorist organisation  under your country’s Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002.

That group pioneered the use of suicide bombing, has assassinated two heads of state, and has been linked to providing training and funding to Al Queda.

This information bulletin from the FBI provides even more details: http://www.fbi.gov/page2/jan08/tamil_tigers011008.html

M.I.A.’s father, the name sake of both her albums, is not a “revolutionary”, but a terrorist, and a lot of her lyrics have been suggested to support the work of the terrorist organisation he belongs to.

The cover-art for “Arular”, which, as noted in your publication, “features images of tanks, bombs, and tigers” links directly to that terrorist organisation.

I would suggest doing some research so as to make sure you call a spade a spade when writing about these people you describe as “influential”.

Sincerely
Sunili …

There are reports that a suicide bomber from the Tamil Tigers killed 22 people today.

When the FBI describes a group as “needless to say … among the most dangerous and deadly extremists in the world”, there is little room for the terrorist/freedom fighter debate.

By the way. M.I.A. has intrigued me for some time, and I have been planning to do a bit of research (you know, more than googling) to write a proper piece about her for a little while.  So watch this space.

(Pic via her MySpace page. Which makes my eyes bleed. Consider that a pre-click warning.)

Written by Sunili

6 October 2008 at 7:57 pm

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Ooh goody! My fave!! Censoring anti-censorship material!

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If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck… It may well be a Peking duck. Or Beijing duck, as we say these days.

So says the ABC’s Media Watch on the issue of Chanel 7’s decision to not play GetUp’s ad about Tibet during the opening of that sporty-gathering-thingymibob on Friday night.

As mentioned here on 08-08-08, there was some warning that this would happen.

Having had some personal experience with people refusing to openly discuss censorship issues, you may be able to guess where I stand on this matter.

What about you? I encourage youse all to check out the Media Watch segment on it and come back to discuss.

Written by Sunili

12 August 2008 at 2:12 pm