The basics of journalism came fairly easily to the crusty, washed-up and bitter hacks who compile the Media Glass House.
Way back then, as two-finger typing tyros, we were taught that a good intro (and hence the story that flowed naturally from that) could be achieved by a simple technique: imagining you had to send someone a mental telegram that summed up the story in as few costly words as possible. We said it was way back when.
The telegram technique centred on a simple who, what, when, where and why of the story being pumped out on your clapped-out old typewriter. Hence we got something akin to:
A surfer, 24, was bitten in half by a huge shark off Bondi Beach at 3.45pm yesterday.
Who? A surfer. What? He was bitten in half. When: 3.45pm. Where: Bondi Beach. Why? The shark was hungry?
You could sometimes cut back on the categories but a fairly crucial one was WHERE. Where a huge bush fire was raging would be of great interest to people living nearby. A shark attack happening at Bondi would be of interest to a local who swims there a lot.
And so we come to an exciting news story on Channel 9 Brisbane’s 6pm news bulletin last night.
Already lovingly teased at the top of bulletin – “traffic stopper in the middle of a busy road” – and at the first ad break by a breathless Melissa Downes, viewers finally got to see “the dramatic moment police end a car chase, smashing the window in….”.
Some of you Buggers out there probably know where we’re heading with this.
We all know how hard it is to fill an hour-long bulletin so this sort of yarn, with a lot of great footage, is quite common, right? In fact, it’s often fun guessing where it’s from – Californian highway patrol? – for it’s also very common for the news editors to leave the location teasingly unsaid for much of the report. But we get to the where eventually. TV producers are nothing if not professional.
But not so for a report almost two minutes long that kicked off about half-way through the bulletin when reporter Cam Inglis began his story with “Boxed in by police and nowhere to go …”
There are three eye-witness reports and lots of great footage as the coppers use capiscum spray on the driver spotted with a dog on his lap before roughly hauling him out, cuffing the bugger and throwing him into the paddywagon.
But where, Channel 9, where?
We viewers had to read the signs: the 000 on the cop vehicles helped. Australia, right? But a lot of the states’ coppers look a lot alike, although some have caps that are a bit Gestapo like.
Talk of the driver doing a u-turn on the tram tracks. The Gold Coast! Shit, Sydney’s got tram tracks too. The eye-witnesses all sounded Australian but just a little bit posh. Toorak, Melbourne?
Maybe the reporter will finally let us know as he wraps up the yarn outside an unidentified court house. “Cam Inglis … (wait for it!) Nine News. Blast!
They say all politics is local, so maybe Channel 9 thinks the same way? You weren’t trying to pretend this was a local south-Queensland story, were you?
So back to the where? Eagle-eyed viewers who were not looking down momentarily at their TV dinners might have spotted something right over to the left of one early scene near a bridge. Go to 9Now and see if you can spot it.
Our MGH research teams have noticed an upsurge in free ads in the Murdoch media for Murdoch media outlet Sky News, especially its rabid right-wing “after dark” Liberal Party spokespeople.
One such ad has run in News Corp Australia newspapers plugging Paul Murray as a “straight talker”. (pictured)
Our MGH teams hear that the description was first offered to another Sky New star, Alan Jones, but was swiftly rejected. If anyone knows why, maybe they could let us know.
We have noted in recent days an outpouring of scorn from Murdoch media columnists and commentators onto the head of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) following the decision by former premier Gladys Berejkilian to quit her job after being told the commission was investigating her.
Apparently ICAC is a star chamber, a loose cannon, a law unto itself, and a body that wrecks lives, tarnishes innocent people, regularly oversteps the mark, and is just an all-round naughty organisation that either shouldn’t exist or deserves to have its wings at least clipped if not ripped off.
Now we admit that our memory may stand to be corrected, but we can’t seem to recall any similar criticisms emanating from the same critics whenever the ICAC slotted Labor Party pollies or activists in the past.