With the official start of the 2020 Queensland state election now only weeks away, The Bug is proud to run the second of a regular series of interviews with The Courier-Mail’s editor Chris Jones as his team at the Brisbane tabloid works hard to shape public opinion leading up to election day on October 31.
The Bug: Once again, thanks for your time this morning and can we start with your splash heading today: NOW THAT’S A CLUSTER.
Chris Jones: Yes. Thanks. Much appreciated. It’s a beauty, isn’t it?
The Bug: Yes, very cheeky. Lucky no young people read the paper. But it some ways you must be terribly disappointed by it?
Jones: Disappointed? I don’t understand. We’re giving Palaszczuk the three-pointed prong right up her big fat…
The Bug: What we mean is that the heading could equally mean that the front page is also in some way a clusterfuck of ideas that the LNP … sorry, we mean the Courier’s editorial conference… faced yesterday afternoon. We at The Bug think it’s a crying shame that so many excellent attack points against Labor flared up on the one day. Trying to highlight them all as your splash was maybe a mistake and perhaps you should have focussed maybe on just the one?
Jones: Hmmm. Maybe you’ve got a point. Explain it to me.
The Bug: Well, see, we were absolutely positive in the Bug office overnight that you’d be pushing hard on the announcements yesterday that another the two senior Labor ministers were calling it quits.
Jones: Well, it was one of the LNP’s …. I mean our paper’s …attack points this morning for the front page and we do go hard on that inside as well.
The Bug: Sure. But we thought your entire front page should have been a great cartoon of the rusting ship Palaszczuk sinking at dock with an ugly caricature of the Premier’s face as the bulbous prow or as a franzled, frumpy figurehead with the latest rats Kate Jones and Anthony Lynham scurrying ashore and deserting the stricken vessel.
Jones: Hey, that’s not bad. (calls out to his secretary: Are the art department guys in yet?)
The Bug: For us, that was the biggie of the day! Labor is going to campaign heavily on the need for a united and experienced team to move Queensland forward post-coronavirus. Those ministers quitting was surely a Rupesend.
Jones: Rupesend! I like it.
The Bug: Thanks.
Jones: But the LNP … I mean our editorial meeting … thought the cover should also focus on the stoush between Palaszczuk and our exceptionally popular wartime Leader of our Nation.
The Bug: Scott Morrison?
Jones: Exactly. The LNP … sorry, our editorial meeting… still thinks there’s a lot of votes in the way the totally heartless Palaszczuk refused to let that poor girl attend her father’s funeral. The LNP … I mean we …have been pushing hard on her hypocrisy and double standards over who can come here. AFL and film stars in; grieving daughters and sick people desperately needing treatment out!
The Bug: But you’ve got to remember that NSW people pissed off about the closed borders don’t get a vote on October 31 and the pissed off business owners who can vote above the border are never going to vote Labor anyway.
Jones: Shit! I’ll have to discuss that with….
The Bug: The LNP?
Jones: And the editorial conference.
The Bug: And surely the LNP … sorry… your newspaper… has got to be careful the Premier’s claim of bullying by the PM doesn’t strike a chord with parochial Queenslanders? There’s still quite some time to go to the polls and the PM’s popularity does appear to be now on the wane and the Premier’s rating in her fight against COVID-19 remains high. A lot of experts are still saying it’s going to be a COVID-19 election.
Jones: An ugly caricature of the Premier’s face as the bulbous prow or as a franzled, frumpy figurehead, you said?
The Bug: We think that would have been very powerful. You’ve got to remember your front page remains your most effective weapon. Today’s was far too wordy. You need to remember no-one is actually picking up the Courier to buy it any more but at least they do see that cover on top of stacks left in newsagents.
Jones: Those bundles have been very large seeing we can’t drop off thousands of free copies at airports and entertainment venues and cafes and eateries and the like. So maybe you’ve got a point. You really think it was a bit of bad luck that all these things happened on the one day?
The Bug: Exactly.
Jones: Maybe I should listen to you guys more often. I really am keen to keep this job by pleasing you know who?
The Bug: The Queensland LNP?
Jones: No, much higher than that.
The Bug: Clive Palmer?
Jones: Geez, you guys are funny. But I’m serious here. You wouldn’t be available over coming weeks to help the LNP … sorry, I mean me and my senior editorial staff …. determine the general cut and trust of Courier-Mail and Sunday-Mail coverage of the state election?
The Bug: Sorry, but we can’t do that.
Jones: But why not? You guys are just as bad as we are when it comes to not letting the facts spoil a good story.
The Bug: Ouch!