Saturday, May 18, 2013

The latest circulation numbers are in, and it’s a kamikaze death-dive race to the ground between The Townsville Bulletin and the Typo’s Gold Coast Bulletin. Also some things in the federal budget you didn’t hear about – including money to make sure the sky isn’t falling on you, and protection for Joe Public against being ‘injured or damaged’ by, would you believe – politicians! – No joke, it’s true.

And Senator Jan McLucas comes up with a doozy or two of her own in the twisted linguistic stakes when trying to defend her government’s 'Peter robbing Paul' policy on education.

But another senator of a different persuasion,  Ian Macca Macdonald, is crystal clear in his opinion of a prize piece of inhumane bastardry by the feds.

On the local scene, Townsville Enterprise’s Director for Disappointments Ross Contarino bites the dust – almost certainly shafted. The Magpie looks at TEL’s value - and values - in this latest downsizing-by-stealth exercise.

And if you think the Cowboy’s stadium name is a bit off-putting, wait until you see what others have come up with elsewhere around the world. Something for everybody in this week’s nest at

Here’s a couple of things you didn’t hear too much about in the budget, but they’re in there amongst all the verbiage.

The Goose has allocated a piffling $500,000 to plan – that is, plan not implement – the relocation of a C-band space surveillance radar to WA, in conjunction with the Yanks. The radar will ‘track space assets and debris (and give) warnings of possible collisions between space objects, thereby reducing the danger posed by space debris’. We feel better already, no more Chicken Little the sky is falling.

But the most mysterious one which will require one of those famous ‘clarifications’ is government funding (amount so far unspecified) for new public liability insurance for MPs for claims made against them for injury and damage ‘caused to members of the public by senators and members’. Sounds a bit back to front, but if that’s the new rules, could it not be argued that every single Australian could sue every politician in Canberra for ‘injury and damage’? Ya’d reckon, wouldn’t ya?

But it was the Law of Unintended Consequences that exercised Bentley’s crayons this week.

But the best line which could be applied to this week in Canberra and even in this neck of the woods, came, from of all places, an American TV show. The ‘Pie mentioned the following in a comment during the week, but just in case you missed it, it rates up there with the very best of the linguistic muggings we get from politicians.

In an episode of the American version of the excellent political comedy/drama House of Cards, the mesmerising Kevin Spacey plays a senator accused of lying. He briskly dismisses this with ‘I didn’t lie, I revised the parameters of my promise’. Sweet.

Bet Foolya Duckbutt wished she’d thought of that.

In terms of double speak, it was left to the endlessly nattering Senator Jan McLucas to make her modest entry into the crowded field of the week's Best Insult to the Intelligence. Speaking with the ABC’s Paula Tapiolas, she sounded like a prime candidate for a spell in the Home for the Perpetually Confused.
Senator Jan 'McMuddled' McLucas

As you will know, the government intends to take money from universities to fund the Gonski school reforms, which is akin to building a 'you beaut' bridge two-thirds of the way across a river – logically this policy means we will have scads of super educated kids who, to quote that nice Mr Loaf, will be ‘all dressed up and no place to go’, unable to find a place in a depleted uni system to continue the fruits of Labor’s largesse.

But wait . Senator McMuddled set us straight – there were no budget cuts to uni, you old sillies!!! She took a school marm warning tone to the questioning, which is a very unwise idea when talking to The Mauler. Here is the exchange last Wednesday morning.

Paula Tapiolas: The Gonski funding relies on stripping some funding from universities – JCU is a major employer, also an important source of job skilling locally, so won’t the budget cuts to universities have a major impact locally in terms of  education and jobs?
Senator McLucas: We have to be careful when we use budget cuts when we’re talking about funding to higher education ….
PT: But it was removing some money that was to go to universities?
Sen McMuddled: Basically it’s a pause on the growth … now I know that sounds like politician-speak, but if you can imagine a graph that’s heading upwards and we just tilt it down very very slightly, that’s in fact what we’ve done. Yes, there is less money going into the universities than we wanted to  …….. but I do understand this is difficult and we continue to work with the university (JCU) to make sure they can manage this …errr … pause of growth.’

So from the folks who gave us ‘new taxes are actually budget savings’, we now learn there aren’t ‘budget cuts’, there are actually ‘pauses on growth’.

Another senator of a different persuasion, the Libs Ian Macdonald didn’t have any problem with the correct use of language when he quite rightly rounded on Gillard and the cretinous Tony Burke over the issue of allowing starving cattle to to temporarily graze in national parks. 

He concisely summed up that the idiotic, Green-inspired ban on live cattle exports has caused the current overstocking, unsustainable in drought conditions, but this uber-urban government refuses to right their own wrong, which they could easily do.

The Gillard government was quite happy to ruin the Northern cattle industry on the strength of cruelty to a few hundred cattle reported in a television program in 2011,’ Senator Macdonald said, ‘ but they have no hesitation in sending millions of cattle to a gruesome death by starvation in 2013'.

He said the Gillard government’s caving in to political expediency has resulted in a ‘cruel and inhumane’ situation.

“For a government allegedly concerned about animal cruelty, where are their priorities?

Hey, Macca, The Magpie to the rescue. Here’s what you do.

Get a film/video unit to get some graphic footage of graziers shooting their dazed and tottering cattle and bulldozing them in graves or creating funeral pyres of what could be perfectly good beef. Produce the blazes out of it, music, tearful graziers, the sheer waste – then send it up to Indonesian television to show those Neanderthal bastards how this government expects the Indonesians to behave towards imported animals.

And by the way, where are the animal rights foghorns  now that tens of thousand of animals are going to be needlessly bumped off here in Australia? The quick mercy and non-ritualistic delivery of a bullet apparently doesn’t excite them enough, and anyway, f-ck the farmers, right?


Now , in a not totally unrelated matter, here is a fact that ain’t fiction, although it sounds like it, especially coming in federal budget week.

No, this is fair dinkum.

This weekend May 17 in the US, is officially Headless Chook Day.

Well, it is in Fruita, Colorado, where they more staidly call it Mike The Headless Chicken Day. It honours the town’s most fabled denizen, and is celebrated with events such as a 5k Run Like A Headless Chicken Race, an egg toss, ‘Pin The Head On The Chicken’, a chicken ‘cluck-off’ and best of all, Chicken Bingo, in which chooks poop on a numbered grid to choose the numbers.

And to think they said there wasn’t much to do in Fruita!
Treasurer Wayn ... err ...
Mike the Headless Chook

But Mike was real, although initially thought to be a hoax until university tests proved otherwise – if you trust acadils and boofademics.

In 1945, Mike was minding his own business when farmer Lloyd Olsen had a ‘chicken tonight’ moment. These were of course in the DIY days, but Farmer Olsen botched the job. The axe missed the jugular vein, leaving one ear and most of the brain stem intact.

The long and the short of all this is that Mike lived on, adjusting to his unorthodox rural surgery, and  once he proved to be no hoax, he toured the country for the next 18 months, in some months making more than the current equivalent of $48,000. Here’s the whole fascinating story from Wikipedia.

Of course, we have a parallel version here in Australia, only not a chicken but a swan. He’s due for the chopping block in September to put him – and us – out of our headless chook misery.

Politics doesn’t have an exclusive on the cranially challenged poultry division. Ya gotta laugh … you’ve just gotta sometimes. It is almost at the stage where you have to start feeling sorry for that special brand of headless chook down at The Daily Astonisher … and this time, it ain’t the journos in the crosshairs. If you are the dwindling band of people who bother to buy the paper, you may have noticed this puffery, the latest in a series ….

… which The ‘Pie has previously pointed out is almost an admission of defeat (who else would the paper be for if not it’s own circulation community? And why would they have to go to considerable expense to tell us if they didn’t realize they were on the nose big time?) But if that sounds like supposition, don’t take from The ‘Pie, take a closer look and note the paper itself makes a clear and blunt admission …

They said it!

There it is in black and white by their own hand – being bravely frank and telling us what we already know ... they get things mixed up, and are proud of it!

And that bit of self-promotion was just a couple days before The ‘Pie got a 7.30am text yesterday from a long-time home delivery subscriber out near the Ross Dam which read ‘No end to the f-ck ups at The Bulletin – we have just been delivered the Cairns Post’. Well, the upside is that it was probably a better read.

Now for those who might think The ‘Pie was being a disparaging  a-hole with the crack about dwindling band of readers, ponder the following. The latest audited circulation figures tell the sad truth of the matter.

The Townsville Bulletin sales are down 7%, with weekdays shedding 1612 copies to 23,186,  and the flagship Saturday(Weekend) edition a sphincter-puckering 2724 to a circulation of 36,140. Think you might get a new rate card soon, reflecting the tough times? Dream on, the gouging will continue to the bitter end.

And there’s no cheering from this nest – watching a paper being run into the ground by headless chooks in editorial management is a distressing sight for any journalist but even more so for those who can remember when the Townsville Bulletin was a respected and trusted pillar of the community. There are global factors at work here, that is true, but The ‘Pie is sure that if the paper had remained in a local hands, instead of being betrayed to Murdoch by a double-dealing and double-crossing senior executive, the paper would not be in such an extreme state of decay.

As it is, the current presentation of the paper is the equivalent of dressing a terminally ill cancer patient in a clown suit.
All that be as it may, the man who accelerated the Bulletin’s decline dramatically, Peter Typo Gleeson, has just learnt the wisdom of pride coming before a fall. Late last year, Typo took to the pages of his new charge, the Gold Coast Bulletin, to honk on about a ‘turn around’  in the beleaguered paper’s fortunes, (based on some thin and very questionable figures where he apparently got readership – which heavily involves guesstimates  -  mixed up with circulation , which is as rock solid as can be in the industry).  He gurgled on about how great the paper is, and named six areas which he thought had brought the GCB back to life, just about all of which were self-promoting puffery and highly challengeable. It was all a bit ludicrous, but in light of solid facts emerging just a few months later, it will be interesting to see how this workplace bully will handle the stark numbers just published. Look back at the cir list.

The Gold Coast Bulletin slumped a dramatic 11% (just under 4000 copies) in its weekday sales, to 32,391. But it was the Saturday cash cow which is most likely to turn Typo back to the bottle (at last report he was a teetotaler) – the weekend edition dropped an alarming (even in this day and age) 7510 copies to 46,908. That 14% drop was by far the biggest among News Ltd’s regional mastheads, and the second highest of all the regionals in Australia. And this in a circulation area of almost 600,000 – that’s a market in which businesses can turn to other media with their advertising dollars, so a revised rate card is a more serious possibility on the Coast. 

There is a pattern here, but it would be hard to quantify how much of this is to blame on Peter Gleeson’s sock-puppet role ever since he became an editor. His first gig in the chair was here in Townsville, under managers Jason Scott and then Michael Wilkins, where editorial decisions were made by management for commercial considerations. Now down on The Coast,  Typo is seen in some quarters as the marionette of retired journo and News Ltd legend Bob Gordon.

Laughing all the way to the bank?
 Bob Gordon (L) with former CEO John Hartigan at Gordon's farewell in 2009.

When Typo went feral and banned any reporting about Mayor Tom Tate because of disparaging comments the mayor had made about the paper, The ‘Pie hears News Ltd heavies called in Bob Gordon to engineer a truce – he was ideally positioned to do so, having run Tate’s mayoral campaign. Honeyed words were exchanged, peace was achieved, and some believe that because of his continued clout within News Ltd, Bob has not such got Typo’s ear but more his goolies, applying a gentle squeeze now and then. The pro-Tate, development-at-any-cost bias in the GB Bulletin is almost embarrassing.

Back to the local scene.

While the Federal Government has been getting all the attention regarding fiscal matters, there was an interesting development on money matters here in Townsville a few days back.

Townsville Enterprise Limited (TEL) lost , or more likely dispensed with, the services of their Director for Disappointments, Ross Contarino. officially known more primly as the Manager for Economic Development. He was perpetually ‘disappointed’ that this didn’t happen or that proposal fell over etc.

Although the official line is that Contarino resigned of his own volition, there is a nasty rumour going around that when Julia Gillard was in town recently, TEL’s Daddy Warbucks, David Kippen, bought a spare knife from her (‘Almost brand new, Kippers, only been used once and did the job noicely’.)

No one is sure what really went on, but the MagpieFone has been chattering away with stories that Mr Contarino was less than judicious in his choice of words around the workplace, especially when there were impressionable junior staff around. Two callers reminded The ‘Pie that a few years ago, Mr Contarino suddenly left a similar position in Cairns in unexplained circumstances before being picked up by TEL a while later.

What The Magpie found more interesting was The Kipper’s bumbling public reaction to the ‘resignation’. Paula Tapiolas (she's been an invaluably busy gal this week) asked him if Mr Contarino was going to another job, to which he floundered through a hesitant answer, saying that Mr Contarino hadn’t discussed that, and obviously The Kipper hadn’t asked him.

So let’s get this straight – one sunny morning, one of your senior executives in one of the most pivotal roles among the Dudley Do-Nothings at TEL House rocks in and says he’s resigning forthwith – and you don’t ask him what has happened, why are you leaving and where he’s going, has he got a better position??!!?

Pull the other leg, David, it yodels. (Christ, you really do need a media officer – and no, The ‘Pie isn’t offering, you’ll continue to get his opinion gratis but after the event.).

It’s been commented on more than once in the past few months that you and Contarino have appeared uncomfortable in each others company for a while now, and its been suggested you both went to some lengths to avoid each other when glad-handing and platituding at functions around town.

However, two other matters have been highlighted by these developments. 

The Kipper tried to appear cool and laissez-faire, suggesting there was no rush to fill what has been one of Townsville’s key economic development jobs. So much for what he thinks of ‘one of Townsville’s key economic development jobs’, although (shudder) he said he might now have to do a bit of that portfolio himself. 

Very relaxed, Kipper, but that is precisely what you won’t be when you shortly trundle along to Walker Street with your begging bowl to rip off undeserved ratepayers money to keep you in the style to which you’ve become accustomed. They’re onto you, Davy boy, let’s see if you’ve got the fancy footwork to keep rorting your a quarter a million salary out of the ratepayers.

All the chats with the councillors will be behind closed doors … including with the deputy chairman  of TEL … that would be …ummm … let’s see, ah yes, Mayor Mullet. No conflict of interest there is there, dear? Not bloody half.

But some of the councillors might like to settle the truth or otherwise of some creditable reports that TEL's staff bill is up in the high 40%s of income – some say as high as 48%, if not more. As any corner store businessman will tell you, staff costs approaching anything around 30% are disastrous and unsustainable. But even if the question is asked, we the great unwashed will not be graced with an answer of what’s happening with our money. ‘Commercial in confidence’ is rorter talk in some circumstances to avoid examination and revelation of the real situation. TEL claims it is a private business based on membership, as well as grants of public money. Wouldn’t that make every ratepayer in Townsville a de facto member, and as such, like other members, be privy to how ‘our’ business is being run? And financed?

Well, we elected councillors to find these things out for us, so over to you, folks.

Now a rare foray into the world of sport.

When the Boys (The ‘Pie refuses to use the more popular Cows) run out onto the turf of their home ground this season, they will try to ignore the sniggers about the game being played at something called 1300 SMILES Stadium. Ironically, 1300 may soon be the crowd size, and they won't be smiling. Being the Cowboys, it was bad enough that Dairy Farmers Stadium saddled them with the abbreviation 'the Cows', now they have to put up with an orthodontic moniker which their recent performances make highly unlikely. (The Toothless Tigers, maybe?)

But if you think that’s a problem, it is nothing to some of the accidents or excesses in overseas sporting grounds.

Strange names have always been around in association with sporting stadia, like The Dripping Pan, a football ground in East Sussex – that’s what it has been since it opened in1885. Mongrel the Barrister reckons any soccer field could be justifiably named Prozac Park.

But it’s when commercial interests, blind to the backlash of everyday folk, get in the act that the fun really starts. So we have Pizza Hut Park in Dallas Texas, where soccer fans reckon if the players turn up 30 minutes late, you get your ticket for free. (Dear Mystified of Mysterton, that is a witty play on Pizza Hut’s offer of free product if it arrives more than 30 minutes after being ordered.)

In fact, food is a constant if unfortunate theme, as in Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi, also in Texas, and Cleveland had for a time the KFC YUM! Arena – but a more self-fulfilling prophecy comes with Bargain Booze Stadium in Northwich, England. Kit Kat Cresent was home to York City until a re-think after a five year ‘break’, and The ‘Pie rather likes the euphonic Hotto Motto baseball park in Japan, which is one supposes a step up from the previous Yahoo Baseball Park.

 In The Netherlands, the city of Almere boasts the Mitsubishi Forklift Stadium – helps the fans lift the roof? 

But the real trouble comes when foreign words come into play.  So we learn of Denmark’s Middlefart Stadium, guaranteed to have a heady atmosphere. The Swiss, not known as a nation of thigh-slappers, have given the world Wankdorf Stadium, which is one thing but on the other hand, it is the home ground of soccer club Young Boys of Berne. 

But Indianapolis, Indiana, might have the famous Brickyard of motor racing, but it also boasts – or tries to ignore - the sporting arena whose benefactor insisted it carry his name. Thus, the locals flock along to  Kuntz Stadium.

Must be rotten players.


  1. Walking thru the Mater Doctors car park middle of the week (some nice cars parked there) Came accross a Porsche 911 Number plate MD911 and a Audi with a number plate of JEKYLL .

    1. Hmm, know that particular Porsche with that particular number plate well. I copied it down in my diary some 6 months ago when it did two flat strap passes along nearby French St with the good doctor at the a hurry to deliver a baby Doc or do you feel the need to drum up business by creating a major accident? At least if you survive you can self diagnose...

  2. Interesting circulation figures, indeed, for The Astonisher and other regional daily newspapers. Now here's a tip: the spin doctors at the Bully will proudly point out that their circulation fall looks fantastic compared to some of the other papers. It's called turning a negative into a positive.
    Even more sobering for the current crew at the Bully is the fact that only 7 years ago the Saturday circulation was up around 43,000 and Monday to Friday over 28,000.
    Some say the demise started with the arrival of Jason Scott who was totally focused on the bottom line - around 45% profit in those days - and favoured the advertisers and the big end of town over the readers (who he thought were just there to make up the numbers).
    But karma is a wonderful thing and word from the south is that Mr Scott has fallen from the favour he craves from the News Ltd chiefs and is living on borrowed time due to a disastrous advertising ploy in the south-east of the State, and another matter too damaging to mention here.
    But there may be light at the end of the tunnel. the demise of the Bully just might lead to Rupert selling out, and the once great regional newspaper could wind up in much better hands.
    We live in hope.

  3. We sure do Number Cruncher but Rupert sell the cash cow Bully ? Not likely in my life time I would have thought. But then he might install a pay wall with a twist - pay us to read it. I can see the Bully dying of a thousand cuts as digital media and the net supply news more than print, radio and TV. And you have generations of kids now who don't read newspapers (hence News Ltd's Newspapers in Education programme)..sad all round really.

  4. nattering Jan Mc Lucas the Cairns based Labor Senator who is against regionalizing public servants all at a time that Cairns Buisness are continuing a period of troubled times with closures in all areas including the cbd.Who is Jan working for?

  5. Who is David Sparks? Is he a newbie journo at The Astonisher?

    Just been reviewing and comparing content for 2013 and and 2012. There's not as much content and where are the photographs and videos?

    Keep up the good work.

  6. That would be Sparkes - he is from the Gladstone Observer, and is The Astonisher's new senior reporter - which presumably has Simpleton pouting furiously while he fruitlessly waits for a spot in the political team at the Curious Snail.

    So far, Mr Sparkes stories are clear and easy to read. So far.

    Another factor - there seem to be a lot less adjectives, he seems to know how to let a story tell itself and afford his readers the courtesy of being allowed to make up their own minds. So far.

    That really is a refreshing change from the bawling, nagging, shrill tugging-at-mummy's-dress tone of so much else in The Astonisher.

    The only minor errors noticed to date can be put down to being new.

    Anyway that's a first impression. The Magpie trusts that when Mr Sparkes gets his own column he will be somewhat more circumspect than the deeply embarrassing girly goodbye he was afforded from the Observer, written by a female colleague who has an apparent fascination with ... well, it can't be put any other way ... with Mr Sparke's snot'. Well, one supposes that would be news in Gladstone.

    Read it here

    The 'Pie hopes this hasn't put the mockers on him. Two things will be interesting to watch for.

    He certainly seems mature enough to get the inevitable personal column (great way to fill up space - the tea lady would have one if the paper still had enough staff to merit one) - that will be interesting to see, since Mr Sparkes has some Asian overseas experience on which to draw.

    The other thing to watch for is if the editorial spin doctors convince him to adopt the house style negativity that has accelerated the circulation dive - that would be a shame - for him and us.

  7. Strewth and double strewth! Having just read Sparkes' girly goodbye in the Gladstone Observer, it sums up much of the problems with regional print media - snotty nosed, wet behind the ears, L plate wanna be journo playing kids who are full of themselves and write drivel. That this was allowed to go to print beggars belief...but then again it is Gladstone isn't it!

    1. Well, Bully Boy, in fairness, had that moist little farewell been on facebook or some other social media outlet, The Pie would've ignored it - but it was published in a public fee-charging, ad-accepting paper.

      A bit of search of the Observer shows that Mr Sparkes will happily partake in other dopey stunts (well, fair dos, we all have over the years) but his serious news writing has been consistent and dare one say, quite professional.

      The 'Pie did not publish that personal gum-chewing, hair-twirling drivel (good punchline, though) to take a personal shot - anyway Sparkes didn't write it and, also, The 'Pie doesn't know him. No it was to emphasise that the fact seems universal; the only reason that item saw the light of day - both in the that paper and in this blog - was because of a failure of editorial management to realise they have a duty of judgement which should jealously guard a paper's reputation as a respected public entity, not as an undergraduate in-house yuk-yuk sheet.

      That stuff should be left to weekly social/lifestyle inserts ... and to lame old bloggers like The 'Pie.

      By the by, a vitriolic serial commenter (clearly some frustrated, management mome at the Astonisher) who doesn't see the light of day here continually sends in rants beginning with 'Old bitter and twisted' - except one that has just gone to delete heaven began 'Old butter and twisted'. That makes it certain it's an Ogden Street ogler on the job ... probably Mickey Mouse.

      As you age, butter is the only assistance to the inevitable twisting - eh, Attila?

      PS Look up the French slang for 'mome', if you haven't already got the drift.

  8. A Fair Dinkum JournalistMay 19, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    To all you would-be journalists/columnists at The Astonisher who read this blog so eagerly every weekend, here's some advice: if you want people to read your columns and keep buying the paper, stop feeding us endless drivel about your personal lives. Do you really think we readers are interested in what you did last week, what side of the bed you get out on, whether you have an aunty who makes great apple pies, or whether you are having any luck in the romantic stakes. Delete the word "I" from your musings and start writing about real people who have actually achieved something in their lives, or about events that are changing the world and have some local revelance, or our hopeless politicians. Even a running commentary on two cockroaches crawling up a wall would make better reading than the insights to your private and boring lives you think we can't wait to read about every week.
    You never know, people might actually start buying the paper again.

    1. Paul Anderson of PimlicoMay 20, 2013 at 6:24 PM

      I came across a couple of quotations in the past week or so that - to me - deliciously sum up the sad state of kiddie columny in our Astonisher. The first is from Thomas Mann's 'Magic Mountain' (and I readily concede it's a sentiment that can be levelled straight back at me): 'People in (their) state regularly feel a craving for self-revelation, an impulse to confess themselves, a blind preoccupation with self, and a thirst to possess the world of their own emotions, which is the more offensive to the sober onlooker, the less hope, reasonableness or sense there lies in the whole affair.'
      ...and the second is more concerning the Astonisher as a whole. The sublime Dick Cavett quoting Shakespeare in altogether different circumstances, but nonetheless... 'Though it make the unskilful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve.'

  9. Magpie; Whats the policy of corrections in printed media. I note that they appear to be getting pushed further towards the back pages of all News Papers and getting smaller and smaller.. In the S/Mail 19/5 a correction appears on page 35. (just over one digit being wrong on a house sale price) if someones name is published incorrectly i can understand a correction it used to be called an apology...

    1. The policy is generally don't do them unless you have to. This has always been the case in a business that used to jealously guard it's believability and was, and still is, reluctant to admit errors.

      There is also the legal aspect when an error (a famous, oft-committed example is accidentally omitting the word 'not') can do great damage to a person's reputation - or so they say as the dollar signs dance before them and urging barristers eye off a new spinnaker for the yacht.

      A key recommendation from the recent Finklestein review of media regulation was that an error that a paper is ordered to acknowledge and apologise for must appear on the same page with similiar prominence to the original sinning statement. This has of course been greatly resisted, partly because any such admission - especially if the matter is contentious and open to question - loses you brownie points in front of the beak in any civil suit.

      The other reason - wholly understandable but none-the-less mealy-mouthed - is that no one wants to admit their mistakes prominently. So Saturday's front page
      error is 'greatly regretted' deep inside the paper on the following Tuesday or Wednesday - as far from the original sin as possible.

      Typos are a somewhat different matter, especially in the commercial area, and can usually be rectified with a free 'make good'. Spelling someone's name incorrectly is unlikely to attract any action or subsequent penalty - if it did, WIN News in North Queensland would be out of business overnight.

      The Pie sometime ago reported in this blog two of his favourite newspaper apologies - a NZ paper some years ago announced ' In yesterday's edition, we said that John McLean was a defective with the NZ Police Force ... this of course should have read that he was a detective with the NZ Police Farce.' And from England many years ago, a Yorkshire paper red-facedly said 'Due to a misunderstanding, we reported that the happy couple would be living with the bride's father-in-law. They will in fact be living at the Old Manse.'

  10. Funny, fair and fantistico piece this week. Newspapers are now destined for fish and chip wrappers.

  11. Most reporting at the Astonisher hasn't impacted the community. It's safe reporting.

  12. Fair dinkum, you really do have to wonder sometimes, but The Astonisher never fails to astonish for all the wrong reasons.

    Consider this: just recently, old Magpie mate Dave Morrow, ABC radio's footy caller, was given a spell on the bench for inadvertently telling an apparently racist joke not realising his mike was live ... he has since apologised, being the basically good bloke he has always been. The Pie says 'apparently' because, quite rightly, the joke was not revealed beyond those who orginally heard it. That would've given legs to something that should be cut off at the knees instantly - as it was.

    Funny old thing, oxygen, and it's not just living organisms that die if they don't have get any ... ideas and rants too can wither and fade away quietly if choked off from the oxygen of publicity. As the self-appointed 'leader of opinion' in Townsville, the Bulletin seems to have missed this responsible rule with today's story about a bit of anti-muslim graffiti featuring lame, low-level humour (no it wasn't The Pie what dunnit).

    Not only did the story repeat the slur in its text, but reinforced it by showing a pic of the defaced signage. The reporter then went on to quote the usual suspects, outrage shameful etc etc, all of which is OK. EXCEPT for the pic, and maybe the exact wording of graffiti in the text. Someone out there is framing the story for his bedroom wall right this minute, and getting shouted rounds down at the Bogan Bar down at the Retard's Arms.

    The Bulletin iditor will probably argue that people have a right to know what evils we harbour in our midst, and the light of exposing them will bring them to heel ... which really can be read as 'we know a hot button issue when we see one that we hope will sell papers, so let's go the whole hog and forget this la-di-dah stuff about ethics and responsibility'. It also isn't clear the way this story was presented whether the 'evils in our midst' are intolerate graffiti drips or muslims.

    Of course, this is a bit of a horse-laugh on The Magpie, because he may now have tittilated some of you to go and see the story for yourself. But at least he won't be adding thousands to the number of people who now know about something that should've been instantly painted over and strangled at birth.

    1. Replying to himself actually but ....
      Memo to Lachlan Heywood:

      Give it away, old son, give it away. Please.

      Here's what we've got on your editorial about racism - and let's not even mention the inevitable typo - 'around ever corner' - (in a bloody editorial for Christ's sake!) but, hey, Lachlan, who are you going to accuse of 'purposely undermining' you this time?

      The first four pars of your faux indignant grade-six essay were as follows:

      'IGNORANCE. This is the only word to describe the mindless vandals scribbling (sic) hate speeches on signs across the city.
      Ethnic, religious and cultural identity defines who we are and what we represent.
      It should never be used as grounds to launch a human assault which was written on a highly visible "For Sale" sign along the busy Dalrymple Rd.
      In a region splashed with rich pieces of international culture around ever (sic) corner, unreasonable hate by a bunch of bored criminals is nothing short of sickening.'

      Signs across the city? Not a single example, and none that The Pie has seen - examples please or be condemned to the unprovven excesses in which The Bulletin so enthusiastically indulges.
      But, hang on, let's go back to that third par:
      'It should never be used as grounds to launch a human assault which was written on a highly visible "For Sale" sign along the busy Dalrymple Rd.'
      Really? But somehow, it is OK in the paper for those hate words to be repeated in the text, and just to make sure no one missed out on being 'sickened' by it, you managed a photograph of the sign and hate words.
      So are you saying, m'dear, that you have allowed your paper to [print and perpetrate 'hate speeches'
      And later in this iditorial, you say':
      'But prominent cultural leaders have thrown their confidence behind the city with only "gratitude" for the place so many foreigners now call home.'
      Graditude? Foreigners?
      Oh, thanks yu, masser, thanks yu, sur.

    2. Paul Anderson of PimlicoMay 22, 2013 at 5:08 PM

      Right on, Pie. Smacks of Woodrow Wilson's (well-intentioned at the time, but there you go) 'the great white father now calls you his brothers' speech.
      On re-reading the original article, though, I would also take issue with the Astonisher's choice / use of the incendiary term 'outrage'. Neither of the (two) 'community leaders' (funny how you never see those kinds of positions advertised at seemed all that worked up about it... Manufacturing 'outrage' over something as trivial as this makes me wonder what's left in the box for when something truly outrageous occurs.
      In other 'news', the story about the abandoned puppies in South Townsville (and subsequent 'opinion piece' by the same author, which told us nothing new and struck me as just plain lazy) exhausted every breathless adjective in the thesaurus by the third graph: cruel, disgusting, grisly... No reasonable person would disagree, there, poppet. Now how 'bout you stick to name/rank/serial number, at least in the 'news' pages, or if you genuinely are as exercised about this as you made out (twice), then maybe it'd be better all around if you stepped back and let someone else take that particular story. Honestly...

    3. Paul Anderson of PimlicoMay 24, 2013 at 9:29 AM

      ...and now comes word this morning that your friend Mr Morrow won't be allowed back on to ABC's air until he completes a 'cultural awareness' program. What even IS that? It so happens that my nightly prayer (yet to be answered, but I live in hope) includes the couplet, 'give me this day a daily break, and deliver us all from politically correct nonsense such as 'cultural awareness programs'...

  13. Speaking of newspaper apologies, the best one I have heard is the time, many years ago, when the Bully published an obituary for a well-respected man about town, who was believed to have been at death's door for some time. On the day of publication the "dead" man walked into the Bully and asked to speak to the boss, then Ron "Shorty" McLean who later became Cowboys Chairman and has since passed on to the big newspaper office in the sky (the only one that will NEVER be owned by Rupert).
    To cut a long story short, the Bully not only published an apology in a prominent part of the next day's paper, but "Shorty" shouted the "dead" man lunch every year on the anniversary of his "obituary". And the "dead-un" lived for quite a few more years!

  14. Strewth, they've done it again!

    The combo crossword in today's Astonisher has the wrong clues that don't match the grid. The grid and the answer panel are from yesterday's crossword. The Pie knows a few people who buy the paper for the crossword and sudoku only.

    Even with this bought-in stuff, they just can't seem to get it right.

    In this case, the Townsville Bulletin is literally clueless.

  15. In today's paper there's a great typo or at least lack of competent proof reading in a caption regarding Tim Atkinson in the US it says he's wearing an open-checked shirt [sic], the shirt is actually striped, but it is open-NECKED though.

    Also today's cryptic combo (quickie) crossword has the clues for today but the template for yesterday.

    Pretty clueless eh?????? it also looks like they've mixed up two stories of the Phantom;...that's bloody heresy mate

  16. Mk : That is total heresy Someone let John Lyons know immediately;

  17. The Pie never makes promises of acuracy, only tongue-in-cheek commentary. If you take it seriously, you need to get a life.

  18. Ron Bairstow PerthMay 22, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    The comments about the asinine and infantile nature of some of the Bulletin's columns and editorials are well-founded.
    I'm now back in the west after a wonderful week in North and Far North Queensland, during which time I was a regular reader of the print edition (thus considerably boosting its meagre circulation).As an old hack who served his cadetship with some of the toughest editors in the business, I found some of the wet-behind-the-ears commentary quite risible (the perpetrators will have to look that up).
    Two notable exceptions on the staff are Tony Raggatt and John Andersen. They are world-class journos who would be snapped up in an instant by quality media. Obviously (and who can blame them) they like the NQ lifestyle.

    1. There's no a lot of quality media outlets left now.

  19. If you recall, July 2010 management secretly bought in workers to rewire IT department in the roof. Reports from sources said that they did not inform the editorial staff of the work in the office and kept in quiet as the roof had asbestos cement. If not for the Asbestos mask left in production, no one would have known about the workers coming in. They endangered the lives of some of the editorial staff who were on that weekend shift.

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