Since late July this year Vicki Campion — partner of former Deputy PM and National Party leader, Barnaby Joyce — has been penning a column that appears in some News Corp outlets.
She is presumably being paid an attractive contributor’s fee for her column despite the fact that financial problems forced News Corp Australia to axe the jobs of many journalists and columnists and shut down print editions of many newspapers just a matter of days before Ms Campion’s first column appeared.
But what are the ground rules she works under as a columnist?
Ms Campion is not only the partner of Mr Joyce but has a day job in the office of the Federal Parliament’s Deputy Speaker, Llew O’Brien — a Queensland Liberal National Party MP and a backer of Barnaby who quit the Nationals’ party room back in February when Mr Joyce failed in his bid to topple his successor as party leader, Michael McCormack.
Ms Campion’s first column canvassed the difficulties faced by a woman (herself) working in politics and trying to raise two young children (apparently with little help from her partner).
All very jolly, and a somewhat well-tilled field. But this week’s contribution by Ms Campion (pictured) is vastly different.
In it Ms Campion gives a spray to National Party MPs and those in other parties for their two-faced dealings at times of tension over party leadership — like the time her current partner was dumped or right now when rumblings persist about Mr McCormack and the job he is doing as Deputy PM and Nationals’ leader.
Ms Campion didn’t hold back in pointing the finger at serving Nationals MPs who might be indulging in this behaviour — briefing the media against their leader while publicly backing them and criticising those undertaking destabilising briefings to the media.
Her column also managed to include a string of supposed failures by Mr McCormack as leader dressed up as context for her attack on the behaviour of anonymous MPs. In effect she was helping to make a case to dump Mr McCormack.
But, readers of her column might ask themselves, who would replace him? Perhaps her partner?
Well they would be wrong, wrote Ms Campion who preemptively very early in her column alluded to both Barnaby Joyce and his pal Queensland Senator Matt Canavan who quit the frontbench after Mr Joyce’s failed bid to regain his party leadership post earlier this year.
“I would put more money on these two ginger conservatives creating a party of their own than Barnaby trying to saddle up for that rodeo,” she wrote.
So in her paid column News Corp Australia has enabled Ms Campion to attack Mr McCormack, attack several National Party MPs, provide an alibi for her partner and Senator Canavan, and put in people’s minds the germ of an idea for an alternative party to the Nats led no doubt by her partner.
The write-off at the end of the column advises readers of Ms Campion’s link to Mr Joyce and her job in Mr O’Brien’s office — commendable words but deemed unnecessary in her first offering back in July (pictured).
Seems someone at News Corp might have questions about who might be benefiting from the column and whether there is a need for such ongoing disclosures.
Every now and again media outlets love to run photos of a politician or celebrity in a comical juxtaposition with an object, person, or sign.
Think of a political leader under pressure who happens to stand too close to an “exit” sign.
But media outlets themselves sometimes stumble into the same position as The Guardian Australia did at the weekend with its placement of two stories on its website (pictured).
One story concerned a young boy sent to a Sydney hospital after allegedly being beaten with a stick in a domestic violence incident.
The other item was about the strong support among Melbourne residents for Premier Dan Andrews’ “big stick” approach to pandemic lockdown rules. Oh dear.
Never forget one of the rules in the commercial news world — sex sells.
Which might explain the placement on page one of the Sunday Mail in Brisbane of an “exclusive” story abut the sex lives, or lack thereof, of NRL players.
It seems these highly prized and highly paid sports stars are forced to abide by what they claim are very onerous rules imposed on them as part of COVID-19 pandemic social isolation rules (pictured).
Apparently the rules mandate that they stay 1.5 metres from anyone in their own home, hence the alleged problem with having sex.
While the story may cause one or two extra sales of the paper today, we think it is somewhat sad that it pushed off page one a shocking story — also an “exclusive” — about the pressures of the pandemic isolation rules causing an upsurge in at-risk children being rescued from abusive or violent parents.
That story was sent to page two.
Is it a case of news values at work, or News Corp values at work?