Friday, August 19, 2011

Typo infuriates Canberra... and other perils of premature ejaculation.

Yup, what a week of cock-ups, one landing a bloke in court and the other landing Daily Astonisher editor Typo Gleeson in deep do-dos with, of all people ... the Governor General of Australia.

Yep our boy Typo down in Ogden Street, who you'll remember a few months ago couldn't get the date right on the front of his own paper, showed during the last week that he is still wrestling with getting dates - and ethics - right. Unless, of course, it was just yet another cock-up.

More on that shortly but first, we look at the unexpected perils of modern airline travel, in this week's Magpie's Nest at
What a week for the airline industry, and no, not just Qantas and its adventure into Asia. No, the real news was much more prosaic, all pulling and peeing at the grass roots level.

Coming close on the heels of froggy film star Gerard Depardieu's personal fire-hosing of the cabin aisle in a taxi-ing aircraft after being refused permission to use the loo before take-off, good old North Queensland can now claim to have gone one better. (In one of the better on-camera break-ups of all time, have a look at this video and story).

In the Townsville Magistrates' Court during the week, one Grant Abrook discovered that the law is not the only thing you cannot take into your own hands.

In a prudish turn of phrase, a coy Daily Astonisher reported this week that Mr. Abrook 'pleasured himself' openly in front of at least one passenger on a flight from Mt Isa to Townsville. 
In a story full of quote grabs in inverted commas, The Astonisher left the reader to work out that Mr Abrook had masturbated during the flight, although that word did not appear once in the story, despite it being a court yarn where blunt accuracy is generally required.

Given the prim prudery of senior female editorial manager, Attila The Hen, the reporter's copy was probably cleaned up in her best wowser tradition. If the court had heard 'penis', the reader would have read 'wee wee', and it was a wonder that we didn't see some entertaining Ben-Vernonesque euphemisms such as 'whacked off', 'tugged the todger' or 'doing the job on Johnny'.

Seems Mr Abrook is a miner - a leading hand no doubt - and one can only assume he is an impatient sort of fella; he couldn't wait to get home to the missus and was probably tired of waiting to join the mile-high club in the traditional manner, so took the matter into his own hands.

Best quote came from the 'thoroughly disgusted, traumatised' female passenger who spotted our boy in hard concentration. She told the police that she didn't report the matter to the flight attendants because she feared it would 'excite' the man. What, to the point of him asking for a helping hand?

The Magpie idly wonders what precautions other passengers could take if they found themselves on a flight with both Messrs Depardieu and Abrook. Umbrellas and wet weather gear sounds the most prudent.

But ya gotta feel for our bloke a bit, so here is something The 'Pie came across in an overseas advice column which may be instructive (you'll see from the grown-up wording it wasn't in the Townsville Bulletin).


Staying with The Astonisher, Typo could be in what Attila The Hen would call 'Number 2s' (ie shit) with Government House in Canberra. 

Here's a bit of background. Embargoed releases (advance information with a strict release-by date, given in advance to media outlets as a courtesy to allow time to prepare coverage) are a time-honoured part of journalism, and it is a trust that is rarely broken. It can be serious - in 1969, Great Train Robber Ronald Biggs escaped by just minutes ahead of Melbourne police because of a broken embargo - but generally, it is ethically held that embargos of any sort must be adhered to.

So, during the week, The Astonisher received such a release. This is what the clear directions were at the top.

22 August 2011
This advance copy of the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette is issued for the
convenience of the media on the following conditions:
NOT TO BE published in the Press, on the internet, or broadcast over radio or
television stations before 0001 hours Australian Eastern Standard Time on
Monday 22 August 2011.
The information contained in this document about an individual recipient is
NOT TO BE communicated to any other person before the expiration of the
publication embargo. Please pass on to any affiliated outlets information
containing recipients of awards in their area. The embargo constraints
continue to apply until the release time, although each recipient is already
aware that he/she will be receiving an award.
Recipients of awards announced in this Gazette will be invested with their
insignia at a later date by the Governor-General at Government House, or at
Government House in the various States by the State Governor or
Administrator as appropriate.
Stephen Brady
Official Secretary to the Governor-General
of Australia Gazette
No. S123, Monday, 22 August 2011
Published by the Commonwealth of Australia SPECIAL
Cat. No. S12311
ISSN 1032-2345
© Commonwealth of Australia 2011
Government House
22 August 2011
The Governor-General is pleased to announce the award of the following Bravery Decorations:

And then followed the helpful list of recipients.

All very official, all very clear.

Last Tuesday, a full week ahead of the embargoed release of the advance information, The Astonisher published a story directly and deliberately lifted from the the release that two Townsville-based blokes had received medals. Compounding this unethical cardinal sin of journalism, the story quoted comments by the Governor General Quenny Bryce which - technically - she hadn't made, and will not until August 22.

Two separate Canberra contacts told The Magpie that this break with protocol went far from unnoticed among the hierarchy in charge of Defence and of the Commonwealth Gazette ... and, in the inner sanctums, there was more than one temple with a throbbing vein. Checks quickly showed that the Townsville Bulletin was the ONLY media outlet of any type in Australia that broke the embargo.

So what could happen? 

Well, the only sanction would probably be that the Bulletin, the sole general newspaper in this garrison city, will be taken off the list for future embargoed releases - or any releases at all, a fact that won't be missed at Toady Hall in Holt Street, Sydney. If that happens, notch up another service to the community from leading Townsville temporary resident, Typo Gleeson. (Latest is he's going south - or somewhere, anywhere! - around Christmas).

Enough, it is now away to Poseurs' Bar, to be-bubble some compliant companion, with Sinatra in the background singing Come Fly With Me. The Magpie trusts that once home, he doesn't have to follow up with Puccini's La Boheme aria 'Your Tiny Hand Is Frozen'.


  1. So if the Governor-General doesn't make the quotes on the 22nd that were published, does that create a time paradox or something?

  2. I find the press releases published word for word with a picture byline for whichever journo is supposed to cover that particular round very irritating... and dishonest
    Here's one example, and there are plenty more every day:

    Press release:

    Tville Bulletin "reporting":

    I don't think inserting the word "Townsville" in front of a couple of pars is what you would call journalism, surely?

  3. Are the staff required to knock before entering Typo's office?

  4. darth vader of garbuttAugust 23, 2011 at 12:55 AM

    Magpie ... please return to what you're best at ... and why I'm guessing your `followers' enjoyed your work - political ramblings on the local, national and state front. This Townsville Bulletin hammering was a little `cute' for the first few months after you left, but now it's just getting boring. Every company has it's issues to make fun of, the bully is no different. Move on Magpie and return to your ... roots so to speak .... or I'll be switching off ...

  5. The old bird is flattered and humbled that Mr Vader has been so generous with his advice and concern for the readership of this weekly load of old cobblers. Of course, Mr Vader, you yourself are so self-effacing in your unselfish and unbiased advice that you have had the modesty to not reveal who you really are. You are a valued reader, so The 'Pie begs you not to 'switch off', and offers the following weak and self-serving explanation of how this whole thing works.

    The Magpie is not some literary jukebox, where you press the button for your preferred choice of tune. In what is left of this democratic society, The 'Pie is free within legal parameters to write about whatever and whomsoever he chooses; readers have the choice of reading it or not.

    But it is passing strange that 'ramblings about politics' are somehow amusing, but revealing the machinations of powerful influences on opinion and politics in our community apparently is not - especially when this editor - a temporary Townsville resident - has openly declared he intends to 'set the political agenda' during his soujourn among us up here. The Magpie has always taken a skepitical and humorous slant on those who have the power and the platform of influence over our lives in Townsville - regardless of their ideology - and the Bulletin falls squarely into that category.

    In a nutshell, you're exhortation - which inevitably leads to speculation about your hidden identity - is to allow an organisation whose job it is to examine everyone else go unexamined itself. That's the insular and arrogant world that all newspaper management is used to, and now find it difficult to understand when times change and social media can put them under the spotlight to answer on their own performance, ethics and responsibilities.

    As with the News Of The World imbroglio, and very mindful of the fact that there are many very good journos at The Bulletin, it is like a dead fish ... the rot sets in from the head.

    See ? So now, Mr Vader, you won't have to switch off after all.

    As if you were ever going to, me old chum - heh, heh, heh.

  6. I am not a follower!!! I is a Gulp !!!

    And, come on now, Mr Vader, are you really suggesting that a cock-up of the magnitude of that exposed by the Old Bird should remain uncommented upon?

    Get thee back to your Deathstar - I am sure that I saw it parked out the front of Toad Hall.