At the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, it seems revenge is a dish best served cold.
Three years after former feminist columnist Clementine Ford walked away from her column and accused the Herald of losing its independence, an interview with the author has been enhanced after being written by an Age reporter, published in online and printed in Saturday’s Spectrum.
On Thursday, the interview Kerrie O’Brien did over lunch with Ford about her new book How We Love surfaced online, along with a photo of the $300 lunch tab. The hard copy of the article was also ready, as it is printed before the news section. But soon the online story disappeared and that particular page in Spectrum was torn out and reprinted.
Tory Maguire, editor of the Herald and the Age, confirmed the story was taken down at the 11th hour.
“Clementine Ford spent years making vile and personal attacks on reporters and editors at the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age after the mastheads stopped publishing her column,” Maguire told Weekly Beast. “I had rejected a pitch for an interview with her, but there was a breakdown in communication and it was commissioned and posted by mistake. I took it off Spectrum and removed it out of respect for my team .
The animosity was sparked by Ford’s harsh criticism of the Herald on Twitter and in an article in Schwarz Media’s Saturday Paper. Ford was angry after receiving an official warning from her editor for calling Scott Morrison a ‘fucking disgrace’ on social media and said she quit because of ‘cultural change’ in newspapers, which are now owned by Nine Entertainment.
But she denies Maguire’s claim that she ‘spent years making vile and personal attacks on the reporters and editors of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age’. Ford says she had a thing or two to say about the leadership of the SMH – but that wasn’t aimed at reporters but at senior management and Chessell.
After resigning, she wrote that “the change in political culture in Fairfax began long before the television network set itself the goal of establishing a presence in the newspapers.”
“In my view, the trajectory goes back to the appointment in March 2018 of James Chessell as Editor of the Fairfax Group of Australian Metro Publishing… he was also an adviser to former Liberal Treasurer Joe Hockey, as well as a partner known to many in business and finance,” she wrote.
Chessell, since promoted to managing editor of Nine – with responsibility for the Australian Financial Review, Sydney Morning Herald, Age, Brisbane Times and WAToday – as you can imagine, is not a Ford fan.
Ford, who had no idea what happened to the article when we contacted her, was disappointed that readers couldn’t read the “lovely conversation” she had with O’Brien.
She told Weekly Beast that “if something as sweet and innocuous as an article about love can be turned into retaliation for worthwhile journalistic criticism,” then “I think readers should think carefully about what that means”.
Back from the “dark side”
We’re used to journalists abandoning reporting to join the so-called dark side as advisers and lobbyists, but when they go the other way, it can ruffle feathers.
Long-term Santos spinner Tom Baddeley represented the oil and gas producer as government and community relations officer in Western Australia and the Northern Territory for 12 years. Prior to that, he was WA Director for the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, the main national body representing the oil and gas industry.
A former journalist who left the ABC in 2005, Baddeley starts February 7 as ABC Radio Perth’s new breakfast presenter, replacing Russell Woolf, who died suddenly last October.
Some environmental campaigners are concerned about the nomination given that Santos is a powerful player – it was the fossil fuel company the government hosted in its pavilion at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow last year.
Baddeley, who appeared before the NT fracking inquiry, will now have to present an objective journalistic voice on all the issues he used to pursue for Santos.
We think the ABC may have sensed a problem because the press release announcing the nomination goes back 14 years on Baddeley’s resume to find a job that was unrelated to fossil fuel lobbying. “He began his journalism career with The West Australian and after leaving the ABC in 2005 he continued to work in media relations, government relations, policy advocacy and public affairs, including as a as communications manager for WA’s new Super Rugby team, the Western Force,” the ABC said.
An ABC spokesperson said ABC Radio broadcasters have a wide range of experiences and come to the organization from many different backgrounds.
“Tom Baddeley is an experienced reporter and former ABC reporter,” the spokesperson said. “When he hits the airwaves in Perth next month, he will be subject to the same ABC editorial standards and editorial policies that all of our employees must follow. He will be required to present independent and balanced content at all times, regardless of the topic or topic of the interview.
a little rich
With Australia’s Covid-19 death toll surpassing 3,000, we were quite surprised by a headline from the Australian Financial Review that the pandemic had an edge. It was, according to Michael Stutchbury’s AFR, good for the rich.
“COVID was a big wealth-building event,” senior correspondent Aaron Patrick said in an article that claimed that for some homeowners “the pandemic was the biggest wealth-building event of their lives.”
Patrick is well known to Beast readers for his hit work on Samantha Maiden last year which backfired in spectacular fashion.
Apparently, all that wealth was good news for the prime minister, who would be rewarded in the next election with happy, well-paid voters. Watch out Alba.
“The consequences of a more prosperous society will be seen in the election campaign,” Patrick wrote. “Labour leader Anthony Albanese will have to be more careful; wiser to frighten a nation that wonders: what is the compelling reason to replace the government under which we have become so much richer?
Patrick’s price under a cloud
Also on Patrick, the National Press Club board will discuss a request to overturn an award he won for an article that the WA Supreme Court later ruled “containing statements of fact incorrect”.
Last month, Judge Rene Le Miere awarded $400,000 to Dr Jemma Green, who sued for defamation over two articles published in the Fin in December 2018 about her tech company Powerledger.
Le Miere said the imputation in Patrick’s articles was defamatory and that the defendants had been unable to establish that it was substantially true or that it was their honest opinion, adding that nominating for the award in legal proceedings was an “aggravating factor” in defamation.
The judge was also scathing about Patrick’s decision to criticize libel law on the eve of the trial in September 2020 in an article claiming that Green’s action “absorbed financial resources that could be used to fund the investigative journalism”.
Le Miere concluded that the September article constituted publication by Patrick and the AFR of an act of intimidation or retaliation or ill will towards Green for prosecuting them.
The judgment found that the articles contained several inaccuracies and carried serious defamatory accusations against Green.
NPC chief executive Maurice Reilly told Weekly Beast he had referred the matter to legal counsel for an opinion. “The judgment that should be noted is against the AFR and Aaron and not against the National Press Club,” he said. “We don’t have that opinion yet and the board will consider it at its meeting in February.”
The judgment said that although the sentencing judges would not have known about the lawsuit, the newspaper did. “Under these circumstances, it was inappropriate for Mr. Patrick to nominate himself for the award and state that the article was an objective look at blockchain technology,” Le Miere said.
The AFR did not respond to a request for comment.
60 Minutes lands a Cleo Smith special
60 Minutes will kick off its 2022 season on February 6 with an exclusive interview with Cleo Smith’s family, an interview that would be part of a $2 million multimedia deal Nine Entertainment has struck with Ellie Smith and her stepfather Jake Glidden. .
The program released a promo to tease the upcoming show which they say contains “surprising revelations to reporter Tara Brown about what really happened to their precious daughter.”
The Australian reported that the deal included plans for a drama, likely to be a six-part special for Nine’s streaming service, Stan.
And all this before the man accused of kidnapping her is convicted.
Terence Darrell Kelly, 36, admitted on Monday taking the four-year-old from a tent at the remote Blowholes campsite last year.