Category Archives: Journalism

Man’s opinion changes between his early 20s and late 40s

I’m still chuckling about people who think that Joe Hockey having a different opinion now to the one he had almost 30 years ago is a BIG STORY.

When Joe Hockey was a uni student in 1987, he protested about the introduction of a $250 admin fee. Now, 27 years later, he’s part of a government that wants to make uni so expensive that students will be in debt for the rest of their lives. Women will cop the worst of it. (I couldn’t find anything on how the changes will affect Indigenous students, but we already know that the Budget hammers Indigenous people, with over $500 million cut from Indigenous affairs, including $160 million cut from Indigenous health programs, $3.5 million cut from the Torres Strait Regional Authority, $15 million cut from the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, $9.5 million cut from Indigenous language support, and that’s before you consider the GP co-payment and disgusting cuts to youth welfare. If you have an education link, please let me know and I’ll update this.)

Yesterday, the online editor at smh.com.au ranked the Hockey story in the top spot. The same story was still in tops (“above the fold”) this morning until 10am-ish, albeit with the date changed to today. I haven’t checked News Ltd sites because frankly, I couldn’t give a shit about their coverage.

Please note that I’m not saying it shouldn’t be reported. And I’m not saying that people shouldn’t talk about it. What I am saying is that, as far as journalism goes, it shouldn’t be the most important political story of the day. I saw journos on twitter congratulating each other over what a “good get” it was. Huh? That Hockey’s views about tertiary education were different when he was in student politics three decades ago is hardly a “GOTCHA” moment. Not least because his 1987 opposition to the $250 fee was reported last week (and at the time).

Mind you, I’m questioning why it was considered the most important political story on smh.com.au on a day when a video of some guys not getting caught in a tornado made news around the world, so I shouldn’t be surprised and why the hell am I wasting my time getting shitty about this stuff?

I’m yet to see a decent argument about why this story deserves the coverage it got. One argument is that it’s important because the education changes will affect a lot of people.

Yes, the changes do affect a lot of people, but what has a decades-old change of mind got to do with that? If it had happened in the last 12 months, then sure. But it’s probably closer to two decades ago, since he was president of the NSW Young Libs from 1991-1992, and made noises about changing Commonwealth funding of education in his maiden speech to Parliament in 1996. It’s an interesting side story, but it’s hardly OMG IMPORTANT.

Another argument is that it’s important because it gives his views context, and highlights his decision-making process.

Except it doesn’t do either of those things at all.

What does knowing that he said one thing in 1987 and now believes the opposite actually tell us about his decision-making process? Nothing. It tells us nothing.

What context does it provide to the current education debate?

None.

But, you know, writing 466 words about what is said in an old video is a hellava lot easier than doing the kind of journalism that is actually important and useful. Yay, jernalism.

The special women’s section

The Guardian has a new women’s section, called She Said:

Bold, insightful and provocative, She Said is here to bring you a fresh perspective on what’s going on. The Observer’s female writers, and some occasional special guests, will post reaction to breaking news along with thoughtful, witty analysis and general musings on life. No topics are off limits – from politics and world affairs to sport and culture, food and fashion. Not to mention our daily irritations and celebrations.

Making an explicit effort to include women’s voices in the news is an excellent idea, but it is a terrible idea to put them in a special section that men will never read. It’s the same complaint I have about Daily Life (another complaint being that the content is often indistinguishable from the lifestyle and entertainment sections), and about the All About Women Festival at the Opera House, where well-off women will pay to see other well-off women talk about stuff they already agree with. Some of the festival will be interesting – Ilwad Elman and Mona Eltahawy are speaking – but is unlikely to lead to any real change because it’s pitched as an event for women. Don’t get me wrong, I think there’s a lot of benefit in women talking with each other about how to change things, and in writing for each other about our opinions and lives. We do that all the time, and I enjoy it and learn a lot from it. But if cultural change is the goal, then it won’t happen this way.

Events pitched at women and special sections on news sites would be fine if talks and conferences and tv panel shows weren’t just a parade of white men talking to white men. How often do you see episodes of QandA or The Project in which women outnumber men? And they’re just there talk about stuff, not necessarily “women’s stuff”? How many news stories in which women are expert voices on something other than parenting? As long media organisations continue to quarantine women’s voices from the “real stuff”, then they can kiss my arse.

The Guardian, like smh.com.au, has realised there are clicks in publishing women’s voices, but they clearly don’t see them as being a part of the “real news”. The news where men write 70 per cent of the front page stories, are the focus of 72 per cent of the stories, and appear as experts in 78 per cent of the stories (figures from The Blokeyness Index and to be fair, they pre-date The Guardian‘s Australian arrival). It’s not hard to find female experts, but it’s apparently too hard for most journalists to look for them. If news organisations were serious about including female voices in their news cycle, then editors would simply send copy back to the journo if it doesn’t include a female voice. It’s not rocket surgery. (And it might mean we stop seeing so many one-voice stories. But that’s another post.)

How embarrassing for professional journalists

Oh COME ON, journalists. How can you still be getting this wrong?

This time it’s someone at AAP for writing it, and someone at smh.com.au for running it: Teenage girl sexually assaulted in Sydney toilet block:

A teenage girl has been forced off a Sydney train and then sexually assaulted in a toilet block at the station, police say.

Despite what journalists write, assaults do not just loiter in dark places, waiting to happen at someone like some sort of Vashta Nerada. Assault is a crime committed by a person, so why is it reported differently? It’s the only crime they report this way.

Unless the story was written by a journo who knows what they’re doing, you can bet that the man who committed the crime isn’t mentioned in the first sentence. When I was a journo, it was drummed into us that most people only read the first sentence of a story – two sentences if it’s interesting – so you have to get the important stuff in there quick smart. Quite often, the man who committed the crime isn’t mentioned until the third or fourth sentence. I wonder, is it deliberate, or just incompetence?

I know, I know, it seems like such a minor point. But it’s not. It frames the way people think about male violence against women, and the result is that when we talk about it, we use sentences like “a woman was assaulted on the train”, “a young girl was assaulted in a park”, “a woman was assaulted while walking home”, “a woman was assaulted at a party”. The focus is on where the victim was and what she was doing, rather than on the person who committed the crime. When you talk about violence only in relation to women, then it’s seen as a problem for women to solve. Which is bullshit.

This is the story:

A teenage girl has been forced off a Sydney train and then sexually assaulted in a toilet block at the station, police say.

The 17-year-old girl was on a train when a man allegedly approached her and began talking to her around 12.30pm (AEDT) on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old man then forced her off the train and into a toilet block at Strathfield station in Sydney’s inner west, where he sexually assaulted her, police allege.

He then fled the scene and emergency services were called.

A short time later, police said they found the man and arrested him.

He was charged with sexual assault and will appear at Burwood Local Court on Thursday.

Oh, so the story is actually that a man has been arrested for assaulting someone. Here AAP and SMH, let me write it for you, using your language:

Man arrested for assaulting teen

A man has been charged with sexual assault after attacking a teenage girl.

The 34-year-old man allegedly approached the 17-year-old girl on a train and began talking to her around 12.30pm (AEDT) on Wednesday.

He then forced her off the train and into a toilet block at Strathfield station in Sydney’s inner west, where he sexually assaulted her, police allege.

He then fled the scene and emergency services were called.

A short time later, police said they found the man and arrested him.

He will appear at Burwood Local Court on Thursday.

There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

Update 24 Jan: This morning, The Daily Telegraph has two stories about the alleged rape (also run on News.com.au). In one, reporter Jim O’Rourke caught the train and asked women if they were going to be more careful from now on – proving that he has absolutely no idea about the issue he is reporting on. If all it took was women to “be careful”, then there wouldn’t be any rape or sexual assault. In the second story, O’Rourke includes two gratuitous photos of the toilet. That’s gross and unnecessary.

Brand new year, same crappy reporting

** Warning: This post discusses male violence against women**

Hey look, it’s a bright new year and journalists are STILL pretending that male violence against women and girls just happens all by itself.

A man attacked two girls in a park toilet. His attack has been described as “horrific”. This is how it’s being reported. (Please note: these are the morning versions of the story.)

Ben McClellan’s story for dailytelegraph.com.au – Family’s fury at horror of young girls being indecently assaulted in a Sydney park toilet – doesn’t mention the perpetrator until the third paragraph, and even then, he just writes that police are looking for a man:

IT is every parent’s nightmare – two young girls enjoying a family picnic at a familiar park wander out of sight for a few minutes and into a public toilet block where they are sexually assaulted.

Guildford’s tight-knit community are angry and shocked that the sisters, aged two and six, were attacked­ yesterday just 30m from where their family was enjoying lunch.

A police hunt for a man of Middle Eastern appearance has entered a second day after the girls were attacked after they went into the toilet block at Campbell Hill Pioneer­ Reserve in Guildford about 1.30pm.

McClellan removes the man from his crime, and puts the focus on the actions of the girls. It might seem harmless, but the focus on the victims’ actions is insidious. I’m not suggesting that McClellan is implying that a two-year-old and a six-year-old are responsible for the man’s crime, but when you focus on their actions it feeds into the cultural message that, as a female, your actions influence whether or not someone else commits a crime. That if you weren’t doing this particular thing, or in this particular place, then this horrific thing wouldn’t have happened to you. That’s complete nonsense. And it’s certainly not the way we talk about male on male violence – that the men who are in hospital somehow influenced another man to king hit them.

But I shouldn’t single McClellan out, because most journalists do it.

Online at dailytelegraph.com.au, the standfirst hides the man in the section of the sentence no one really pays much attention to:

If you read quickly, you miss that the man is there.

If you read quickly, you miss that the man is there.

The story at smh.com.au is unbylined AAP copy – ‘It’s horrific’: Sisters, aged two and six, sexually assaulted in Sydney park toilet – and is only a little better. When it does finally mention the perpetrator, it puts the focus on his actions:

Police have described as a “parent’s worst nightmare” the sexual assault of two sisters, aged two and six, in the toilet block of a western Sydney park.

“The parents involved in this are absolutely devastated and so is the immediate family,” Detective Acting Superintendent Peter Yeomans told Macquarie Radio on Friday.

“It’s horrific, what has happened to them.”

The girls were approached by a man inside the toilet block and he indecently and sexually assaulted them, police said.

Shame the same can’t be said for the online editorial team:

Nope, no mention that someone did it - it just happened.

Nope, no mention that someone did it – it just happened.

At abc.net.au, the standfirst focus is on the attacker (even if they did call it a sex assault):

Finally! Someone is reporting this crime the same way other crimes are reported.

Finally! Someone is reporting this crime the same way other crimes are reported.

The headline is as bad as the others – Girls aged 2 and 6 indecently assaulted in park at Guildford in Sydney’s west – but at least the story itself is better:

Sydney police have established a strike force as they continue to hunt for a man who attacked two young girls in a toilet block in the city’s west.

Police say the girls, aged two and six, went with family members to Campbell Hill Pioneer Reserve in Guildford yesterday afternoon.

Officers say the man approached the girls about 1:30pm (AEDT) and took them into the toilets where they were indecently assaulted.

It is astounding that this still needs to be spelled out to journalists. After all, they spend so much time online that this can hardly be the first time they’ve come across this issue. But what is more astounding is that they show so little desire to think about the words that they use. A while ago I started emailing the journalists who write these stories. Usually my emails are ignored. The one response I got was along the lines of “OF COURSE I don’t remove the perpetrator from his actions, see, he is mentioned in the story”. Yes, but four or five pars in, and never in relation to the actual violence. I even used other examples of that journalist’s crime reporting side by side to illustrate my point, but it obviously went over their head.

Kelly McBride from the Poynter Institute runs a course for journalists on how to cover sexual assault. She says that “in addition to being precise about the language they use to describe sexual assault, journalists need to get a lot smarter about the research in order to describe it in a way that is accurate and that conveys the gravity of the situation,” (interview, 2008, p. 14 – reference below).

McBride uses the example of media coverage of HIV/AIDS – in the late 80s and early 90s, journalists focused on who had it and how they got it, end of story. Then, they went and actually learned about what they were reporting on, and the focus changed to the bigger picture. She says the same approach is needed for media reporting of sexual violence:

“Once you start realising that this story about sexual assault is really meant to hold the court system accountable, and this story about sexual assault is meant to provide some insight into what happens to victims and how devastating it is, and this story is about children and how systems fail to protect children, and this story is about public safety… once you start learning how to figure out the journalistic purpose of individual stories and types of stories, then you can start to apply different tools in different ways. So you become much more precise in your approach,” (interview, 2008, p. 14).

Journalists need to figure out how to cover the rest of the story. (And that means doing more than just tacking on a sentence of statistics at the end. That’s as meaningless as putting the contact details for Lifeline at the end of a story about someone dying from mental illness.)

The story does not start and end with this man’s attack on these two little girls. When one in three girls will be sexually abused before they turn 16, it is not good enough that journalists report male violence against females without any context. It is not good enough that any wider discussion of male violence against women and girls will be left to a single article in the weekend papers that will only be read by the people who are already talking and writing about this stuff online.

Look at the way the alcohol-related violence in Kings Cross is reported. At first the journalists focused on the victims, portraying them as innocent people who were just enjoying a night out with friends. That almost never happens when a man attacks a woman. Then the journalists focused on the perpetrators, and the public discussion very quickly became “how do we stop young men hitting other young men? How do we find a solution to this awful crime?”. One in three girls before they turn 16, but no, let’s keep pretending that these are just random attacks that are not part of a massive problem.

The mainstream media shapes the way we think about our world and shapes the language we use to think about it. As long as journalists keep reporting that “a woman/girl was assaulted in her home/public place”, that will continue to be the language people use. People will continue to think about assault as something that just happens to women and girls who are unlucky. People will continue to think two little girls were attacked, rather than what actually happened: a man attacked two little girls.

Reference:
The quotes from Kelly McBride come from an unbylined interview, headlined ‘Time to give more thought to how we cover sexual assault’, in the winter 2008 issue of Media, vol. 13, no. 3, p. 14.

Write it right

The COAG Reform Council has released a report looking at education, employment, housing, health, disability, and homelessness outcomes by gender: Tracking equity: Comparing outcomes for women and girls across Australia (127 page pdf). Basically, it says women are being fucked over in most parts of their lives.

This is how it’s being reported in the Sydney Morning Herald: COAG report: girls ahead at school but women lag in pay stakes:


It is the “baffling contrast” in gender equality in Australia: girls generally outperform boys at school, and are more likely to hold a bachelor degree, but men continue to earn more than women in the workplace and overwhelmingly dominate leadership roles…

…But in the workforce a significant gender pay gap still exists, with women paid about 17.5 per cent, or $266 a week, less than men. The disparity exists even within the same profession in many cases, and once the different average hours worked by men and women are taken into account.

At dailytelegraph.com.au (I don’t know if it’s in the paper): Women paid less than men for same job:

GIRLS outshine boys at school and are more likely to graduate from university – but are still paid less to do the same work as men, a damning new report reveals.

The Council of Australian Governments Reform Council report, shows that young male dentists earn $14,000 more than women in their first job, while male architect graduates earn $9000 more and male lawyers $4300 more…

…”Financial disadvantage starts as soon as women enter the workforce,” the official report says.

“Graduate starting salaries are overall significantly lower for women than men.”

And at abc.net.au – COAG equity report finds Australian women still lag behind men in pay, care more for disabled – it was the same general summary of the findings, with this detail at the end:


The report also found women continue to bear the brunt of caring for Australia’s disabled and that they often pay an economic and psychological price.

The report says women are almost twice as likely as men to be the primary carers for people with a disability.

Nearly 40 per cent of women who are caring for a person with a disability are not in the workforce, with many suffering physical and mental health impacts stemming from their role.

The report also states Indigenous women continue to face a significant homelessness problem.

The rate of homelessness of Indigenous women is more than 15 times higher than it is for non-Indigenous women.

Only the ABC mentioned Indigenous women and women who have caring responsibilities. None of the stories mentioned the fact that Indigenous women have a life expectancy of 72.9 years, compared with 84.2 years for non-Indigenous women. And that women with a disability are less likely than men with a disability to be working, and less likely than men to use disability services.

Now, I understand that a single news story doesn’t do justice to a report like this. It’s possible that these journos have saved some of the other issues for more stories over the next few days. Mind you, that doesn’t seem to happen very often these days. Once the report has been released, it’s old news and will sit on the pile of other reports about “women’s issues” that no one with any power does anything about.

But what if we flipped it to put the focus on the real problem?

What if these stories were about the Australian employers who are discriminating against female employees, in a clear breach of the Sex Discrimination Act? It becomes a different story then, doesn’t it? One that’s not so easily dismissed as a women’s issue, for women to sort out.

What if, rather than just numbers per 10,000, the stories about homelessness focussed on family violence being the main reason women report using homelessness services?

Flipping the stories to focus on the cause and not the outcome will help change the way people think about these issues. We know from decades of research into framing, agenda setting, and priming, that not only does the news media shape what issues people think about, but also how they think about those issues. So as long as journalists keep writing about women being underpaid, instead of employers underpaying women, then people will keep thinking about it as a women’s issue.

We know, from report after report after report, that women are paid less than men. We know, from report after report after report, that carers do not have the support that they need. We know, from report after report after report, that Indigenous women have a much lower life expectancy than non-Indigenous women. We know all this, and yet nothing happens.

Many journos will say the reason they became journalists was to change the world. To write the big, important stories that make a difference. Well, these are those big, important stories. It’s time to write about them in a way that forces action, that changes the way people think. It’s time to write about them in a way that wins you a fucking Walkley.

The exploitation of ‘mystery woman’

This has got to stop. There is absolutely no public interest in publishing the name, mental health history, work history and schooling history of the ‘mystery woman’ found in Dublin. It is a gross invasion of privacy, they are exploiting someone vulnerable and I am actually gobsmacked at what they feel entitled to publish. What the hell is wrong with them?

(Yes, I understand that I am contributing to the coverage. I didn’t want to link to the articles, but felt it was necessary to show why I have singled out these journalists.)

Considering what they had already reported – that she was found in a “distressed state” and thought to be a sex trafficking victim – you’d think that it might cross their minds that publishing her name would actually be harmful. That they should just report that she’s been identified and leave it at that. But no. It’s fucking revolting.

Where is their decency? No, fuck that. Where is their familiarity with their own codes of conduct?

For the benefit of Megan Levy, Nick Miller, Anne Davies and Marissa Calligeros who have reported extensive details of the woman’s mental health, medical history, schooling history and court history, here is Fairfax’s code of ethics:

PRIVACY
Staff will strike a balance between the right of the public to information and the right of individuals to privacy. They will recognise that private individuals have a greater right to protect information about themselves than do public officials and others who hold or seek power, influence or attention. They shall not exploit the vulnerable or those ignorant of media practices.

Well, they’ve failed that.

For the benefit of Kieran Campbell who gormlessly reported that the family has asked for the media to respect their privacy and then went on to write 1,145 words about her mental health, her weight, photographing her former workplace, interviewing her former boss, details of what she was like as an employee and how often she smiled at work, the school she went to, her court history, places she’s lived, the nursing home where her grandmother lives, and the time her plane left Ireland, here is New Ltd’s code of conduct (pdf):

4. Privacy
4.1 all individuals, including public figures, have a right to privacy. Journalists have no general right to report the private behaviour of public figures unless public interest issues arise.
“Public interest” is defined for this and other clauses as involving a matter
capable of affecting the people at large so they might be legitimately interested in, or concerned about, what is going on, or what may happen to them or to others.

Nope, no public interest in this case. Fail.

For the benefit of Philip Williams who wrote “Investigations by the ABC have found that during the past three years she has spent time on the Gold Coast in Queensland and the Blue Mountains” because that’s such an important investigation, here is the ABC’s code of practice (pdf):

6. Privacy
Principles:
Privacy is necessary to human dignity and every person reasonably expects
that their privacy will be respected. But privacy is not absolute. The ABC seeks to balance the public interest in respect for privacy with the public interest in disclosure of information and freedom of expression.
Standards:
Intrusion into a person’s private life without consent must be justified in the public interest and the extent of the intrusion must be limited to what is proportionate in the circumstances.

Fail.

For the benefit of AAP journalists who just keep pumping out these stories, here is what your code of conduct has to say:

PRIVACY
Personal privacy should be respected unless it interferes with publication of matters of public record, or of significant public interest. If in doubt, consult the Editor.
Approaches to people suffering trauma or grief should be undertaken with care and sensitivity.

Fail.

I think a big part of the problem is that these journalists are too far removed from the person they are writing about. She doesn’t exist as a real person to them, just as a snappy headline and a catchy standfirst. Isn’t that right, smh.com.au?

It didn't take long for journalists to stick the boot into a vulnerable young woman.

It didn’t take long for journalists to stick the boot into a vulnerable young woman.

I don’t generally wish bad things on people. But I will here. I wish that quite a few journalists become newsworthy and have their medical history and other personal details splashed across the media. Might change the information they feel entitled to publish.

Ah Mia Freedman, it all makes sense now

Hey look everyone, look what I did for you. I read Mia Freedman’s latest piece of shaming nonsense so you don’t have to: Are you a mother or a porn star?

Because porn stars are bad, donchaknow, and looking like one is the worst thing in the world and mothers should never, EVER, look sexy or like they know what sex is, even though we all know they’ve done it at least once because there’s a baby.

Freedman’s wearing her shaming pants because Kim Kardashian isn’t wearing any. Kardashian posted a damn hot photo to instagram. Freedman reckons the photo is “ridiculous”. I reckon it’s SPECTACULAR. To quote @Msloulou77, “if my booty was bangin’ in a skimpy white cosi you guys would have more pics of that than hot dinners”. Hell yes.

You know, call me overly sensitive but starting your piece with a quote about burning the place down – when hundreds of people have lost their homes in fires in the last 24 hours – is a dick move. Justifying the quote later by saying it was written months ago doesn’t make it less shitty.

The thing that cracks me up the most about Freedman’s piece is that it demonstrates how little she understands the pop culture she’s been writing about for decades. Like this bit:

Why did you need to do this? Why does the world need to see up your bum and inside your top?

This has nothing to do with need. It’s about want. Kardashian instagrammed a photo for people who want to see her photos. It’s pop culture, not a meeting of the Security Council. If Freedman doesn’t want to see photos like this, it’s pretty easy to unsubscribe. It would mean she’d miss out on opportunities to shame other women, but surely that’s a small price to pay for no longer having to look at bodies she doesn’t like.

Why not just cut to the chase and post a link to the sex tape (you know, the one you claim to be mortified about while disingenuously ignoring its role in your fame)? Are you really that desperate to reclaim your hotness that you’re happy to discard your dignity and that of your daughter?

Woah, woah, woah, there’s a lot going on here. By Freedman’s logic, if you’re wearing a pair of swimmers – at the beach or the pool or in a change room – you might as well be having sex. Um, Mia, if that’s what you think sex is, then you are actually doin’ it wrong.

Now to the sex tape nonsense. The sex tape didn’t make Kim Kardashian famous – journalists creamed their jeans and made it a huge news story because she was already famous. Do you really think journalists would care about a sex tape made by unknowns? For fuck’s sake, it’s not rocket surgery.

As for the last bit, apparently once you have a baby it’s undignified to look good in a swimsuit. Particularly because it will discard your daughter’s dignity. I’m not quite sure how that works, but that’s probably because I don’t have a daughter.

I’m not suggesting that being a woman comes to a screaming halt when you become a mother. Nor being sexy, if that floats your boat.

Actually, that is EXACTLY what you’re suggesting. In your own words, you headlined your piece “Are you a mother or a porn star?” and you wrote that you got “whiplash” because Kardashian has posted a sexy photo AND a photo of her baby. So you’re either bullshitting and hoping that no one notices, or you don’t actually know what those words mean. Which is it?

But putting on a transparent and gaping white leotard, shoving your arse in the air and taking a rear view selfie (with extreme side boob) is not the action of a woman comfortable in her skin.

Gonna have to disagree with you here, Mia. I reckon it’s the action of someone who is incredibly comfortable in her skin. You can’t seriously believe that a woman who doesn’t like her body would take a photo of herself in a pair of swimmers and put that photo online for millions of people to see, do you?

I don’t have the ovaries to post a photo like that – probably because I read Freedman’s magazines when I was a teenager and learned that the most important thing I could do was to “Drop a dress size by Saturday!” then I’d be able to “Buy the swimsuit to suit my body!” (even though none of the models had a body like my body), so finally I would be able to use those “Sex tips to blow his mind!”. I don’t recall seeing anything about my pleasure, but seeing how icky Freedman is about sex workers and women recording the sex they have and women being sexy, it all starts to make sense now. After all, if you’re comfortable with women’s bodies and women being sexy (and if you understood social media) then you wouldn’t think it was so “weird” for Mariah Carey to tweet a photo of her boobs. Hey Mia, just to freak you out, here’s a photo of my arse and my boobs that I’ve tweeted. It’s no big deal, they’re just parts of my body that I happen to like. I’m 37 which means – going by what you wrote about Carey – you’ll probably suggest I tweeted these photos because I’m old and desperate. Whatevs, love.

wait, what’s the purpose of Kim Kardashian again?

Oh wow. Could there be a nastier comment than saying there is no point to a person being alive?

“Mia stop being a bitch about Kim Kardashian” some commenters will say in 3….2…..1……

“Stop judging and slut-shaming.”

Yeah but no. Because Kim is the canary down the mineshaft. Kim is simply a magnified reflection of society. In this photo – by taking it and publishing it and thinking it’s a good idea to do both – she is merely tapping into this sick societal obsession with women having to look hot at every moment in their lives – from child to cougar.

And I, for one, have had a gutful. New mothers are more than their arse. Stop reducing everything to that.

Oh, sweet jeebus, what a mess. I love how Freedman demonstrates that she doesn’t understand the criticism she gets over and over again.

If Kim Kardashian is “merely tapping into this sick societal obsession with women having to look hot at every moment in their lives”, then where’s the bit where society is blamed for it? Sure, let’s talk about the pressure on women to look hot – fuckable but not slutty – and let’s talk about how Freedman’s magazines and tv appearances and website have contributed to this pressure. But let’s not pretend that this is actually Freedman’s point. Because if it was, then that’s what she would have written about. Her article is nothing more than shaming a woman for posting a sexy photo of herself online. How dare she? She’s a mother!

As for reducing women to just their body parts, this is exactly what Freedman has done. The swimsuit photo and the baby photo show that Kardashian is a woman and a mother. Freedman just wants her to be the latter.

And you know the bit that makes Freedman look like a real goose? At the end of her piece she has a gallery of 98 photos of Kim Kardashian. Obsessed, much?

Update: Freedman is a goose AND a hypocrite. Check out this tweet from September 12. I guess now that Kardashian is being sexy in her body, instead of growing a baby in her body, then it’s ok for Freedman to define her by her body.

Silly women and their silly shoes

Oh hey look, here’s another “news story” based on a media release from a marketing company that says women are silly for spending money on some stereotypical thing: Some home truths about that shoe addiction of yours, by Jessica Martin. Well, it’s not by Jessica Martin. The article is by Bianca London for the Daily Mail and published a month ago. Martin did a re-write for Fairfax today.

The flimsy argument is that the amount of money women spend on shoes over their entire lifetime adds up to a house deposit:

Women wondering why they don’t have enough savings for a house deposit could do well to look in their cupboards for the answer. A survey has revealed women will spend more than $57,800 on shoes in their lifetime – almost $3400 more than the 10 per cent deposit needed for an average $544,000 mortgage in Australia.

So, if you never ever buy shoes, by the time you die you’ll have saved enough for a house deposit. Presumably so your corpse can rot in it for a month or so until the bank repossesses it because you’re not making any repayments because you are dead. Never mind the fact that you’ll have a hard time getting a well-paying job to save that deposit if you don’t wear shoes. ManFriend and I tend to have pizza on Friday nights (today, hooray!) – if we don’t do that for the next 70 years, we’ll have a house deposit. We’ll also have died from old age, but I won’t let that get in the way of the re-write of a re-write that I’m gonna pitch to smh.com.au.

There’s another problem with the calculations. From the PromotionalCodes website:

This results in an average annual spend of £570 which, over the course of 60 years, equates to a massive £34,200 spent on shoes.

It’s ridiculous to suggest that a woman in her early 20s who has bought 12 pairs of shoes in the last year will be doing that for the next 60 years. It just doesn’t make sense. Also, most flats will only last one season because they’re made of cheap pleather with crap soles, and don’t get me started on how hard it is to find a pair of boots that look like they’ll last more than a few months.

Mindy has a great take-down of this click-bait at Hoyden About Town:

To say that women frivolously buying shoes is the only thing between them and home ownership is really crap. Structural inequality might have a little something to do with it too. Also, for the majority of women just try and get one of those $100K per year jobs (I don’t have one) without being well turned out with nice shoes and see how far you get.

What Martin doesn’t mention in her re-write is that the survey was conducted by PromotionalCodes.org.uk – a URL that should have made a journalist think, ‘hmm, this survey is probably a load of bollocks and if I pretend it’s newsworthy then I’ll be adding to the whole pile of stinky bollocks that we call stories about women on news sites’.

Fairfax’s fact-checking failure

The editors and journalists at Fairfax just don’t get how to use their fact-checking info.

Ok, so it’s mind-boggling that Fairfax has said, yep, we don’t fact-check the news we publish, so for the election, for a gimmick, we’re going get PolitiFact to do it for us. Apparently that doesn’t bother people like it bothers me. But at least they’re checking things, unlike News Ltd. So there’s that, I suppose.

But they really don’t understand what to do with the information PolitiFact gives them.

Take this story in today’s Sydney Morning Herald: Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme to begin July 2015. In the paper it’s on page 8, with the headline “Liberals smooth out the bumps with $6b paid parental leave scheme”. It’s buried deep in the bowels of smh.com.au – I had to google the first sentence of the story to find it. Below the story (in the paper), running across pages 8 and 9, is the fact-check statement from PolitiFact – Working mothers won’t be $21,000 better off under Coalition plan – which labels Tony Abbott’s claims as “mostly false”.

So, you’d expect that information to be mentioned in the story, right?

Right?

BAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Of course not.

Instead, we have 476 words from Jacqueline Maley about the scheme, including the claim that women will be $21,000 better off under the Coalition’s parental leave scheme, with no mention that the claim is nonsense. Honestly, what is the point of partnering with Politifact if you don’t put that information in your stories? I don’t understand how any journalist and any editor would think it’s ok to put the news in one section, and the facts over there in a different section. It’s just bizarre.

And, in keeping with the Australian journalism approach to online news, the two damn pieces aren’t even linked on the website. Nope. If you’re reading the fact-check statement, you can’t click to the story that it’s about. If you’re reading the story – if you managed to find it – you can’t click through to the fact-check statement. How can they be so clueless?

It’s a crazy idea, I know, but isn’t the point of fact-checking to put that info inside the story?

Information? Oh, we don’t put that in the news anymore, silly

I didn’t watch the debate last night. I was at the pub with my derby gang after training, which was a much better way to spend an evening.

So, this morning I thought I’d check the MSM for information about the debate. You know, what Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott said, whether they announced any policies, and how their claims stacked up when they were fact checked.

I wanted some news.

Shush, I can hear your laughter from here.

This is the debate coverage across the top of smh.com.au this morning:

Coverage of last night's debate between Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott on smh.com.au.

Coverage of last night’s debate between Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott on smh.com.au.

There’s an opinion piece by Peter Hartcher about who won – based on style, rather than substance – and 861 words by Judith Ireland (with AAP) about Kevin Rudd using notes during the debate and whether that makes him a cheater, and a video of the same news story. To put the 861 words about a simple “yes he had notes, no they weren’t allowed” into perspective, this whole post about the coverage on two websites is 476 words.

Hartcher’s piece mentioned that both Rudd and Abbott “ducked the question on building Sydney’s second airport”, so after reading the smh.com.au coverage I know about one question from an hour-long debate between the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader.

Righty-o then.

At dailytelegraph.com.au, there was one story at the top of the website this morning:

How dailytelegraph.com.au started their coverage of the debate.

How dailytelegraph.com.au started their coverage of the debate.

But it was replaced a short time later by this:

MAKE IT BIGGER - the same dailytelegraph.com.au story a short time later.

MAKE IT BIGGER – the same dailytelegraph.com.au story a short time later.

I guess they didn’t want smh.com.au to be the only ones shouting CHEATING CHEATERER.

The story is by Patrick Lion and it’s from the News Limited Network so it’ll be the same story on every website: Election debate: Kevin Rudd accused of cheating after using notes during debate. It’s 496 words about the notes, and not a single mention of any of the topics that were discussed. So, after reading the dailytelegraph.com.au coverage I don’t know anything about the questions in an hour-long debate between the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader.

Don’t get me wrong – the notes story is a story. But it’s not the story because it’s not really important. Having notes at a debate has fuck-all to do with helping people to decide which party’s plan for the future is the one they want to support. Because that’s the whole damn point of the debate.

But the notes story is an easy one to write. It’s a lot easier than reporting what Rudd and Abbott said and doing some research into their policy ideas and fact-checking their claims and finding a clever way to include all of this info in the same story so it’s actually useful to your audience.

PS – If you want to know about the content of the debate, abc.com.au has broken it down question by question, and junkee.com’s Jess O’Callaghan explains the debate with gifs in a piece that contains more info than Fairfax and News Ltd combined.