24: News selection

This crucial lecture on probably the most important aspect of fair, balanced and professional journalism – selecting stories on their pure news value and interest to readers – was made possible by senior editors at The Courier-Mail who allowed us to record yesterday (Sunday) afternoon’s editorial conference where participants struggled to decide which of two fantastic stories would make Monday morning’s splash.

Scene: News Queensland building in Campbell Street, Bowen Hills – Courier-Mail editorial conference room adjacent to editor Chris Jones’s office. 2.25pm Sunday, September 27.

Jones: Let’s get cracking. I understand we have two standout yarns that could equally grace tomorrow’s front page?

Deputy editor: That’s right, Chris. Deb Frecklington has announced a major upgrade of the Bruce Highway from Gympie to Cairns – a brilliant piece of infrastructure spending that will blow the state election wide open and ensure an LNP win on October 31.

Raised voices: (and sounds of tables being thumped): Huzzah! Huzzah!

Jones: Fantastic! Art room?

Artroom director: Couple of heading ideas…. ROAD TO SUCCESS is probably the one we’d suggest but we’ll photoshop some others too.

Jones: 600 point Futura bold condensed?

Artroom director: Yes, the normal. And with a lovely large photo of Deb looking very much like premiership material.

Jones: Fantastic. And don’t forget a big subhead about the project delivering 100,000 jobs. That’s even more than Adani. Who’s going to process that LNP media release?

Chief of Staff: Any one of our crack righters will do it justice.

Jones: Excellent And the other possible splash?

Deputy editor: Current premier Palaszczuk has come out with some pitiful nonsense about a policy for 2300 new police officers over the next two years….

(protracted silence)

Deputy editor: …. so the obvious angle is to splash with Deb and the LNP slamming the policy as a hopeless attempt to catch up to their strongarm law and order policies.

Raised voices: (and sounds of tables being thumped): Huzzah! Huzzah!

Jones: Fantastic! Art room?

Artroom director: Couple of heading ideas…. COPS PLAN ‘A COP OUT’ is the one we’d probably suggest but we’ll photoshop some others too.

Jones: 600 point Cooper Extended Chunky?

Artroom director: Yes, at least 600. And with a lovely large photo of Deb looking very much like premiership material.

Jones: Excellent. Who’s going to process that LNP media release?

Chief of Staff: I’ve got another reporter in mind who will do the right thing.

Jones: Okay … let’s have a show of hands then. The Bruce Highway upgrade for the front then? Thank you. And the LNP’s vicious spray about Labor’s pathetic cop number plans? Good. Thank you. That’s settled then. The Bruce Highway for the front and across the top of two first two election pages with the cops yarn across the bottom of those pages. Anything else before we get cracking?

Unidentified voice: I believe a You-Guv poll is going to drop this arvo showing Palaszczuk and Labor with a three-point lead.

Jones: Unfortunately tomorrow paper’s pretty full now.

Unidentified voice: Maybe we could run that on Tuesday?

Jones: Nah. It will be old news by then. Can someone organise a more accurate poll that we could run Tuesday?

Chief of Staff: I could ask Peter Gleeson and Des Houghton to survey their mates like we did for that other inhouse poll we ran a little while ago instead of that terribly unreliable Newspoll that the Oz had?

Jones: Excellent idea!

Raised voices: (and sounds of tables being thumped): Huzzah! Huzzah!