As any sub-editor left in the nation knows, it can be risky writing those few words or sentences known as standfirsts that precede and paraphrase a news or feature story or comment piece.
You need to ensure readers are given a taste of what’s to follow, but also that the words you write and insert reflect those that follow and written by someone else.
For an example of a rather risky standfirst, consider a column appearing in last Thursday’s national broadshit The Australian by Liberal Party heavyweight Michael Kroger.
Mr Kroger is a former senior party officeholder from Victoria who has been offering his views on various issues through columns, op-eds, and other types of think pieces for several decades.
His latest effort consisted of – surprise, surprise! – an attack on our beloved “Aunty” ABC.
Mr Kroger – a former ABC board member – laid out the usual hard-right argument for “reforming” the national broadcaster, which as always usually involves scrapping it or selling it off or at least turning it from a public broadcaster to a government broadcaster. He and others on the right never seem to know the difference.
But it was the standfirst or pointer to his piece that got our attention. It thundered: “Aunty cannot run news or current affairs when it has neither balance nor standards.” (pictured)
A scan of his own words in the actual column reveal no such sentence. And probably for good reason.
Someone as smart as Mr Kroger would have known that to run that line would invite rather unflattering comparisons with the very publisher of his latest words.
News Corp Australia is now widely accepted as having “neither balance nor standards”.
So we think the person who added those words to the front of Mr Kroger’s essay easily scored an own goal on his behalf.
If proof was still needed of the lack of balance and standards across News Corp publications, look no further than Miranda Devine’s column this week in Rupert Murdoch turdbloids across the nation. (pictured)
In it Ms Devine begrudgingly suggests that, yes, Donald Trump did not actually win the 3 November election, but then takes aim at people who now wish to “cancel” Trump and hold him to account for his actions after he leaves office.
Given that Trump has been alleged to have broken the law in some of his actions and dealings, holding him to account sounds like a reasonable thing to do in a country that boats it is “a nation of laws”.
She and others can hardly object to those who wish to exercise perfectly legal options against a person who, you may recall, spent a lot of his time before and during his occupancy of the White House calling Hillary Clinton “crooked” and demanding that she be locked up in jail for some perceived yet never prosecuted nor proven offence.
We also can’t recall Ms Devine telling counsel and investigators for the royal commission into trade unions a few years back to lay off Bill Shorten or Julia Gillard because they had left their union-related positions.
Readers gain some idea of Ms Devine’s leanings when she writes of “Joe Biden and the corrupt Democrat establishment he represents”.
So yet again we are given a clear example of the type of balance and standards News Corp not only endorses but promotes.