Our media analysis teams at The Bug invariably quake when we see The Australian’s editor-at-large Paul Kelly put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard more accurately.
Their fear is not for the repercussions of any argument he may mount in his comment pieces but more for their length, and the fate of so many plantation pine trees that must inevitably be consumed in the paper-making process to accommodate his thoughts.
Last week our Media Glass House staffers were surprised that a think piece by Mr Kelly ran to only one-quarter of a page down the left-hand side of one of its op-ed pages (pictured).
Its subject matter? The “cult” of royal commissions in Australia and the regular calls by those in the political sphere for such inquiries.
Mr Kelly considered numerous such inquiries over previous years and cast some doubt on their value when balanced against their cost, the time they take, and the results and reforms they deliver.
Hmmmm, where could this be leading, we pondered. And right at the end, there it was – a pointed dig at ex-PM Kevin Rudd and his call for a royal commission into the News Corp media empire and its tactics and behaviour within Australia’s political world. (pictured)
Recently The Oz took a look at the sales figures for Australian political biographies and autobiographies and left its readers in no doubt that Mr Rudd’s two books of memoirs were disappointing sellers.
It’s this sort of ongoing campaign of belittling commentary of Mr Rudd and everything he does and says that we can now look forward to read about quite regularly since he dared to suggest a type of public scrutiny of the Murdoch empire that it applies to others.
We know we sometimes get a little niggardly pickitypoo at The Glass House when we highlight fairly small and largely harmless mistakes but bear with us on this one.
The blockline on this ABC online cricket shot (pictured) had Aussie batsman having “works” with an Indian player during the first Test.
We’re no so much worried that a little mistake was made – although “d” is a long way from “k” on your standard keyboard (PICKY, PICKY!) but we were keen to find out if anyone at the ABC cared enough to fix it. Or see it first. The error was still there the next morning, many hours after it was first posted.
The washed-up hacks behind The Bug know how awful it is to make blunders far worse than this little hiccup. Some of the errors that crept onto the streets in the hard-copy issues of The Independent they used to publish in Brisbane in an effort to try to keep Rupert Murdoch a little less dishonest were very, very embarrassing and impossible to fix.
Online errors can be dealt with in a matter of seconds if the ABC, for example, still has sufficient staff to spot mistakes and act quickly.
Mungo MacCallum was indeed one of this nation’s finest, funniest and most acerbic of political writers. Maybe the best ever.
His insightful words may not have broken any bones but they sure could hurt puffed-up egos and undermine undeserved reputations among the politicians he observed over decades in Canberra.
All the more reason, then, as we recently mourned his passing, that it would have been nice for The Sydney Morning Herald to have spelt his name right!
A little mea culpa from the bitter old hacks behind The Bug. There was a time when they lost a lot more money putting out that community paper in inner-Brisbane mentioned above.
They contacted Mungo on his beloved NSW far-north coast and for a ridiculously small amount he started sending his weekly essay on federal politics that he penned for the Byron Bay Echo and several other outlets.
And how did his name appear under his dinkus for that very first column? Mungo McCallum!
A very polite and patient Mungo phoned The Independent newsroom, probably from the Brunswick Heads pub when they still allowed his two dogs in, and explained that his surname started with Mac!
The mistake was quickly fixed and Mungo’s column graced Indie editions for quite some years.
And finally a little cherio to the Channel 9 sports presenter who told us a few nights back that Roger Federer would not be playing “at this year’s” Australian Open.