On-water, off-water matters

Marine biologists are concerned that a new shark breed has emerged that will make the great Australian pastime of sunbathing on a hot and sandy beach a very risky proposition indeed.

Their fears were sparked by this online story from The Courier-Mail on Wednesday morning.

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Down in Sydney that night, the tragedy was being brought to Channel 9’s 6pm news audience by veteran reporter Eddy Meyer who gravely announced that the fatal shark attack “happened around five yesterday afternoon bringing the beach to a standstill.”

Eddy also gravely intoned that “the beach, protected by shark nets, was cleared immediately”.

The Glass House has had fun recently with some bizarre choice of words from Eddie and you only had to watch the images shown during Eddy’s report to suspect that neither of those things happened – the beach brought to a standstill or cleared – as he described.

Instead, the beach appeared to be a hive of activity well after the attack and while we do see the lifeguard calling on people to get out of the water, we suspect the beach would have been closed and people moved on some time later.

But words have meanings and impacts and, much like the Courier’s online report, some journos seem to have trouble working out that the beach is the sandy dryish bit and the water is wet and where sharks tend to live and where shark nets are meant to protect swimmers and surfers.

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Finally, back to the online Courier-Mail for this little reporting/subediting blunder shown above.

Clearly they meant “commute” rather than “community”.

It’s a shame that the paper can’t devote as much of its time to getting things right and giving the impression at least of being professional as it does on its overriding obsession with bringing down the state Labor government whatever the cost.

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A blatantly and suggestive unclad little orange figure (pictured) is the closest thing we’ve seen to a page-three girlie pic in ages.

But there it was on page three of a recent edition of one of Rupert’s rags, the Cairns Post, which is one of just a handful of News Corp Australia’s remaining hard-copy regional newspapers.

We can’t argue that it isn’t something that would jag a reader’s attention and it is a local story, so we guess it’s worth saying well done to those in the far north.

But at the same time we must ask: It’s come to this?