7 times the Australian media ate itself

The media loves to talk about itself. Here’s a report I wrote for BuzzFeed on reporters reporting on reporters so hard we almost lost our minds. You can find the original post here

1. “Choppergate:” News director resigns, three journos fired after faking live crosses.

Mumbrella on YouTube

In August 2011, Nine journalists Cameron Price, Melissa Mallet were fired for faking two live crosses during reports on the search for missing Sunshine Coast schoolboy Daniel Morcombe.

The pair’s producer Aaron Wakeley was also let go and Queensland news director Lee Anderson resigned.

Presenters claimed the aircraft was hovering above the search site when it was parked on the station’s Brisbane helipad on one occasion, and circling the station’s Mt Coot-tha studios on the other.

When news of the first breach broke on media and marketing website Mumbrella, the station blamed poor weather.

However, it was later revealed that Nine faked another live cross the night before when weather was fine and management were forced to cop to both incidents.

In further evidence of the media eating the media, proof of the second deception came via rival Seven, who has a studio nearby and recorded the incident via a camera mounted on the network’s transmission tower.

News director Rob Raschke said they were ready to roll because of what happened the night before. Of course.

2. Jones and ‘Barb’ take on “latte-sipping” yahoos.



Influential Australian talkback presenter Alan Jones received a call from 86-year-old widowed mother-of-five “Barbara.”

The cat-loving, lefty-hating octogenarian was later revealed to be 22-year-old actor and stock-feed worker Ignatius Corboy — and we loved every predictable inch of this yarn.

3. Politics blogger Grog’s Gamut unmasked by The Australian. And we loved it.

Anonymous blogger Grog’s Gamut, whose criticism of coverage of the 2010 Federal Election as a “round-the-country twitter and booze tour” prompted ABC Managing Director Mark Scott to adopt a more nuanced, policy- and issues-driven approachwas outed as public servant Greg Jericho by James Massola of The Australian.

Mr Massola cited the public interest — kind of — and every Australian journalist on Twitter was enraged, except for those working at News Limited.

In an public address, Mr Scott questioned the legitimacy of The Australian’s justification for the unmasking.

“Their public interest defence was that they did this because I had mentioned Grog’s Gamut’s blog in a speech,” Mr Scott said.

“To me though, it looked more like an objection to his authority, not his anonymity. It was symbolic of a larger unwillingness by The Australian to cede to a civilian journalist the ability to shape the agenda, a role The Australian, and some other mainstream news organisations, have long had to themselves. Grog’s Gamut, like so many citizen blogs before it, had sidestepped the gatekeeper.”

Ouch. But did that end the media’s coverage of this media story? Nope.

4. Sharri Markson “punted” from Emirates Marquee at Melbourne Cup following run-in with Barrie Cassidy. Twitter froths. Reporters report.

The Australian reported that Fairfax reported that Media Editor at The Australian Sharri Markson was reportedly tossed out of Emirates’ Melbourne Cup marquee for harassing former reporter now host of Insiders on the ABC Barrie Cassidy — a show that includes many reports and reporting.

Ms Markson later claimed on Twitter that the reports of her reported turfing where unfounded.

However, this was not the end to the story, as one would hope. Journalists on Twitter responded with the heat of a thousand thumbs and one joker created a meme that will live on in our nightmares.

Oh, and Andrew Bolt put the paddles to it days later.

5. Still on Sharri — media editor goes undercover as university student to expose News Corp bias.

Fox 2000/Bushwood/Flower Films/Never Been Kissed / via  YouTube

Fox 2000/Bushwood/Flower Films/Never Been Kissed / via YouTube

Over a period of five weeks in October this year, Ms Markson covertly attended media lectures at the University of Technology in Sydney and Sydney University to uncover the “indoctrination” of students. She also secretly recorded the lectures.

The media covered itself with a warm blanket of outrage, although in fairness to the critical reporting of this incident, Ms Markson’s behaviour does raise serious ethical and legal questions.

Some students were enraged by the allegation, although one wag saw the upside:

6. Get Up!’s Simon Sheik Collapses on Q and A, Sophie Mirabella is literally unmoved.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation via YouTube

National director of lobby group GetUp! Simon Sheik collapsed on ABC’s Q&A program and Twitter erupted after Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella barely reacted.

Mr Sheik later took to Twitter to let everyone know he was okay. It’s unclear whether Mrs Mirabella cared either way.

7. Ablo ate Kevern. Media can’t imagen life thereafter.

Australia’s most-loved Twitter parody account @Rudd2000 — born out of exasperation the day after Kevin Rudd resigned from Parliament and inspired by popular parody account @Seinfeld2000, which was itself a parody account of sorts born out of frustration — ended with Twitter favourite Anthony Albanese (Ablo) eating the main character, Kevin Rudd (Kevern).

The retirement of the account, which sketched a picture of what life would be like for former Prime Minister Rudd were he still in office using savvy Internet speak and sharp satire, was met with something close to grief.

However, the pain was short-lived — Kevern Write a Book.