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There have been a lot of great journalists leaving the industry in the past couple of years. And they don’t get much better than Lindsay Murdoch, who this week departs Fairfax Media.
“I awoke this morning thinking what the hell have I done and what do I do now?” wrote Lindsay Murdoch this week.
“I am very humbled by the words of my great colleagues.”
A detailed tribute from Fairfax Media colleagues James Chessell and Michael Bachelard said:
“It is Lindsay Murdoch’s last week at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. This marks the end of one of the most enduring and successful careers in the history of Fairfax.
“Lindsay joined The Age on July 23 1973, the same year the federal voting age was lowered to 18, Whitlam abolished the White Australia policy and the Sydney Opera House was opened by Queen Elizabeth.
“He has been continuously employed for 16,290 days.”
“Spanning five momentous decades, Lindsay Murdoch’s exploits and storytelling as a journalist are legendary,” said Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood. “Throughout it all, he gave his all.
“The Australian community must thank him for the profound insights he shared, particularly from Asia, a region it at times has struggled to understand.
“We at Fairfax certainly thank him for that.”
Murdoch’s first job at The Age was police rounds at the then Russell Street police headquarters, working the graveyard 7pm-3am shift. In a sign of things to come, he went on to become chief police reporter.
Murdoch later joined The Age’s Insight Investigations team where he – along with the late David Wilson and Bob Bottom – broke “The Age Tapes” story, which was one of the most controversial political sagas of the 1980s.
It wasn’t until 1989 that Murdoch’s life as a foreign correspondent began. He was appointed The Age’s Singapore-based Southeast Asia correspondent, where he earned a reputation for doing the hard stories, constantly focused on the angles, and not worrying much about the bureaucratic strictures of a newsroom.
Tom Hyland, a former Age foreign editor who first met Murdoch as a Jakarta-based AAP reporter, recalls travelling with him and foreign minister Gareth Evans on a trip to South Asia in 1990.
“A few days into the trip, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait,” he says. “Somewhere in Pakistan, Lindsay abandoned Evans (and me), worked out the flight schedules, got on a plane and hightailed it to Saudi Arabia. He told The Age foreign desk only once he arrived.”
During his many years as a correspondent, Murdoch was famous for his expense claims.
“He once claimed for ‘damage to a tank’ after he hired an armoured personnel carrier to get around Kabul, and the carrier was involved in a collision,” says Hyland.
“He hated being tied to a desk in the office. I remember he once hid under his desk at the old Age building in Spencer St when the then news editor Sean O’Connor came looking for him. Confined to the office, he was like a caged animal, edgy and pacing.”
After seven years in Singapore, Murdoch was sent to Canberra to be International Affairs correspondent, covering defence and foreign affairs, before being posted to Jakarta in late 1998, where he was on hand to report on the tumultuous events in Indonesia and East Timor.
Murdoch won two of his three Walkleys for his coverage of East Timor, a place he has visited at least 150 times on assignments.
“His performance in East Timor before and after the 1999 vote for independence was sustained, consistent and outstanding,” recalls Hyland. “Day after day he filed first-person pieces from the besieged UN compound, for page one, in the lead-up to international intervention.
“He wouldn’t admit it, but this took a toll.”
After five years in Jakarta, Lindsay was appointed Northern Territory correspondent and was in Darwin at the time of the Federal Government’s controversial indigenous intervention.
Murdoch spent eight years in the top end before being again appointed Southeast Asia correspondent, this time based in Bangkok, where he worked for seven years.
Murdoch won his third Walkley for breaking the “Baby Gammy” story in 2014, which prompted the Thai government to legislate to ban commercial surrogacy.
Anyone who has worked with Lindsay knows he is the complete journalist. He can break news or distil complex geopolitical issues into a engaging feature. His work rate has never slowed over the past 45 years. Indeed, he spent his last week immersed in a fantastic Cambodia-based investigation Fairfax Media will run soon.
Aside from being an excellent journalist, Murdoch has been a brilliant colleague. He will be missed by everyone who has had the pleasure to work with him or read his work.
Fairfax photojournalist Kate Geraghty said: “Lindsay Murdoch, here’s a man who tirelessly fights to right wrongs. His endless energy and passion to tell people’s stories is nothing short of inspiring. It has been an absolute privilege to join him on some of his adventures from bombings, tsunamis, drug wars to refugee camps. All I can say is, thank you, Lindsay.”
Read Peter Olszewski’s Mediaweek interview with Lindsay Murdoch here.
Listen to James Manning and Brendan Wood’s Mediaweek podcast with Lindsay Murdoch here.
There were a lot of promos for The Resident during the Winter Olympics. All I ever remembered from them was that the girl from Revenge must have been The Resident because she was front and centre of Seven’s campaign.
Um, no – everyone in the show is a resident except Emily VanCamp, who actually plays a nurse.
TV doctors are hot right now and after the breakout success of The Good Doctor, Seven must have hoped it would have another blockbuster on its hands. Um, no, because The Resident only attracted half The Good Doctor’s audience. And got beaten by Travel Guides on Nine.
That’s a shame because The Resident had an outrageous opening concept about a struggling resident (played by Bruce Greenwood) who keeps killing his patients instead of saving them. That left it to the surrounding residents to cover up his mistakes and figure out how to get rid of their star surgeon, who was referred to as “McDreamy”. Yep, that was a Grey’s Anatomy reference in a pop-eating-pop-culture moment. And it’s just the sort of cheekiness one could expect from Aussie director Phillip Noyce, who is behind the first two episodes.
I have always loved that Phillip Noyce has never been a film snob who thought TV was beneath him. His breakthrough moment was 40 years ago with the iconic Australian movie Newsfront, but within just a few years he leapt to television to make The Dismissal and it became an instant classic too. Since then, he has continued to jump between movies and TV, and good on him for that.
He was also an executive producer on the first season of Revenge so no doubt he had some say in bringing Emily VanCamp onto his newest show. But The Resident’s so-so ratings, both here and in the US, suggest that the success of The Good Doctor was a one-off and inexplicable phenomenon. You know, like Australian Ninja Warrior was (and Australian Spartan was not).
The only medical specialists in Here And Now, the new HBO drama from Alan Ball, are therapists because these people have lots of crises. There are life coaches, fashion marketers and video game designers. Tim Robbins is a philosophy professor and Holly Hunter plays his wife.
With lead actors like that, you would think this multicultural, multi-sexual show would be brilliant, but after two episodes, it is verging on farce as it tries to shoehorn in every hot button issue going. There are Christian picketers outside abortion clinics, a cross-dressing Muslim child and a suggestion of something supernatural, so where it’s all heading is anyone’s guess. Maybe it needs someone a bit boring, like a good doctor perhaps? But knowing this show’s crazy premise, it’s more likely to bring in a naughty nurse.
Crocmedia CEO and co-founder Craig Hutchison took the podium in front of brand partners and agencies in Sydney this week, addressing his customers from what he joked was his spiritual home, the Sydney Dance Company.
Hutchy’s PR company Thread had secured a function room that is part of the wharf, home to the Dance Company and the Sydney Theatre Company, for the launch of its 2018 season. Guests had an uninterrupted view of the Harbour Bridge and across the water and also toward Luna Park on the north shore.
Crocmedia commentator Russell Barwick hosted the function and introduced the CEO.
Photos: Ashely Mar
Mediaweek’s John Drinnan rounds up the latest media news from the NZ market.
National Business Review owner Todd Scott says some ad agencies have been boycotting NBR after it stopped offering commissions. Scott blasted the ad agencies body CAANZ (Communication Agencies Association NZ), but CAANZ chief executive Paul Head told Mediaweek he was not aware of issue raised by Scott. NBR has made a name for itself with an apparently successful hard pay wall, moving from advertising to subscription revenue.
Tabloid-style media coverage of the Charles Wooley 60 Minutes interview with Kiwi PM Jacinda Ardern has raised eyebrows in New Zealand, illustrating a virulent atmosphere for mainstream coverage of social media outrages. Wooley described the 37-year-old PM as “attractive” and asked the PM about her pregnancy and the timing of her conception. The interview was largely innocuous, but was pilloried from local media quoting Twitter posts. The media commentator and former NZ Herald editor in chief Gavin Ellis was critical about tone and coverage for an interview that was not even shown in New Zealand. High-profile RNZ nine-to-noon host Kathryn Ryan lambasted over-the-top coverage of social media outrages, saying the media risk losing credibility.
NZME, owner of the New Zealand Herald, plans to put up a paywall around premium journalism on its website. Chief executive Michael Boggs says a subscription model for “premium content” would be in the market this year. The company was focusing on improving premium journalism on nzherald.co.nz and nurturing audiences over the coming months. User registration would then follow, with “monetisation” the last step in the process. This week NZME announced net profit of $20.9 million, compared with the previous year’s net profit of $74.5 million.
TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick issued interim results for what he called a positive first half. TVNZ had achieved strong TV and On Demand audience reach, and improved operational earnings through modest revenue growth and tightly managed costs, he said. Total revenue was $170.4 million. Operational expenses decreased $2.8 million to $140.1 million. TVNZ posted an interim after tax net profit of $17.2 million, up $4.3 million on the previous year.
Sky TV chief executive John Fellet has announced a new lower-priced entry package.
The new package offers just 18 channels for $24.91, less than half the price of the standard basic package.
Sky reported losing 34,000 customers in second half of 2017, many leaving for lower-cost over-the-top services such as Netflix and Lightbox. The lower Sky entry point is aimed at making the dominant Sky sports more attractive to budget customers.
Customers will be able to pick up the Sky Sport package for a total $54.81, down from the current price $79.81using the standard basic package.
Radio New Zealand is reviewing policies for using PR people in an afternoon comment spot The Panel. Questions were raised in Parliament on Thursday over a PR consultant working the PM’s office appearing on a state radio chat show as political commentator. Elsewhere, there has been a series of articles about a “revolving door” between politics, PR and lobbying and media in New Zealand, including two former chiefs-of-staff for the two main parties joining lobbying and PR firms.
Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran appointed a ministerial committee to implement Labour Party broadcasting policy, including a new low-cost TV channel as part of Radio New Zealand.
Appointees include high-profile businessman Michael Stiassny (founder of KordaMentha receivers), former TVNZ factual TV producer Irene Gardiner, former RNZ director Josh Easby and former State Services Commissioner Sandi Beatie.
According to the Magazine Publishers’ assessment, social media is the second-largest channel behind print, making up almost 30% of all magazine touchpoints.
The top five were Habitat with 458,796 followers, Now To Love with 406,094. Homes to Love 456,112, Fashion Quarterly 286,555 and the online current affairs website Noted with 276,622.
Stephen Smith has had a unique media career in both the public and the private sector, leading to his new role as head of audience strategy at Radio New Zealand.
By John Drinnan
He has worked in television and digital, for commercial media and non-commercial. Now he is at the top table of RNZ at a pivotal time, for it and for the media sector.
Like the ABC, RNZ has often been derided by conservatives. Some politicians have called it “Red Radio” and “Radio Labour”, claiming a liberal bias, though this is rejected by RNZ.
The National government froze funding for nine years from 2008 to 2017. That changed in September with the surprise formation of a Labour-led government, with a hands-on broadcasting minister Clare Curran targeting expansion of RNZ as a key part of Labour public broadcasting policy. This included sketchy proposals for a new free-to-air TV channel, RNZ Plus. With his background in TV, Smith is tipped to play a role in preparations to increase the amount of video content.
Smith worked at TVNZ from 1990 to 2006, working in sales and marketing and rising to become deputy chief executive. After 15 years he left for digital management roles at Vodafone, then at Fairfax. From 2011 to 2016, as head of platforms at Maori Television, Smith developed the website and on-demand offering. Last year he was appointed to a significant role at RNZ.
As head of audience strategy, his responsibilities include the branding and marketing of the broadcaster. Given his TV background he is also tipped to take a key role in video expansion through RNZ Plus. A well-placed RNZ source said Smith’s role will be large, but it has been only vaguely defined.
Smith told Mediaweek: “Someone has to be the custodian of the brand… and make sure there is a consistent representation of the branding.
“The brand values at the moment are about authenticity and credibility. Part of that is RNZ is not commercial and fiercely independent. There is a job to be done to let people know what it is about,” Smith said.
He insists that RNZ is focused on the whole country, although it is perceived as aiming at a liberal audience that is loyal and intractable.
While the audience has skewed older, RNZ now publishes a youth-oriented website called The Wireless.
Overall the RNZ digital audience has increased 71% over the past two years to 11.1 million users, with page views up 95% to 68 million.
“That is how commercial media tries to pigeonhole public media for its own benefit. For us to be sustainable we have to be available for all New Zealanders,” Smith said.
“It’s inconceivable that you can do that in any one program. To get that kind of reach and engagement over all New Zealander it has to be balanced across everything we can do.”
The RNZ digital arm has enjoyed strong uptake, and commercial competitors are wary.
Behind the scenes, staff worry that TV is expensive and the new multimedia approach with TV will take scarce resources away from radio.
Smith explained: “Our core competency is not going to be diminished. We just have to pivot to also be a multimedia operation. There is no sense of robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
Funding will be decided in the Budget in May. Curran has suggested a figure of $38 million in the first year, which would be a drop in the bucket for a TV channel.
Commercial media firms have criticised the plans. MediaWorks is lobbying against the proposal.
RNZ’s relationship with government is tense. On the one hand Labour is backing RNZ for a bigger role. Sources say there are concerns expectations might be too grandiose.
Smith insists the key RNZ value of independence holds sway and its credibility is what people can trust it.
“It’s the fact we are not commercial. We don’t have to perform a balancing act over native advertising so people are sceptical whether something is a story or an advertisement. It is about being non-partisan and fiercely independent,” he said.
• Seven wins Thursday with My Kitchen Rules back over 1m
By James Manning
Home and Away has been trading all week between the high and low 600,000s. It finished its week with one Thursday episode on 640,000.
My Kitchen Rules has another MAFS-free Thursday with 1.04m.
Coverage of day two of the Australian Swimming Championships then did 307,000 across four markets.
A Current Affair was on 718,000 at 7pm, again a clear timeslot winner.
An hour of RBT did 475,000.
The 2015 movie Fast & Furious 7 then did 289,000.
The Project Thursday was on 498,000 after 7pm.
Letters from home were a feature on I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! with 659,000 watching.
Gogglebox helped the TEN share with 692,000.
Call The Midwife was on 475,000 at 8pm.
The return of Unforgotten then did 399,000.
The walled British city of York was one of Michael Portillo’s stops last night with 250,000 watching.
The launch of How To Lose Weight Well then did 144,000.
|ABC ME||0.6%||7mate||2.5%||GEM||1.9%||ELEVEN||2.5%||Food Net||1.3%|
|ABC||Seven Affiliates||Nine Affiliates||Ten Affiliates||SBS|
|ABC ME||0.9%||7mate||3.2%||GEM||2.6%||ELEVEN||2.7%||Food Net||0.9%|
|THURSDAY METRO ALL TV|
16-39 Top 5
18-49 Top 5
25-54 Top 5
Southern Cross Media’s biggest shareholder Allan Gray Australia has increased its stake in the media company to 15.5%, after chief executive Grant Blackley signalled that he was ready to do a deal, reports The Australian’s Dana McCauley.
One of Australia’s biggest investors in traditional media companies, Allan Gray has boosted its share holding in SCA twice in the past four months in what appears to be a vote of confidence in Blackley’s focus on improving the company’s balance sheet ahead of an expected round of industry consolidation.
A training company boss who sued The Australian for accusing him of running a dodgy organisation will have to pay the newspaper more than $1m in costs after it proved that he did, reports The Australian’s Ben Butler.
Victorian Supreme Court judge Terry Forrest yesterday ruled that Atkinson Prakash Charan should pay all the costs The Australian’s publisher, Nationwide News, ran up during an epic 34-day trial last year.
Charan wanted $1.2m in damages and compensation over an article in November 2015 that described him as a director of Australian Careers Network, which at the time was under investigation by the competition watchdog.
Network Ten has appointed news presenter Sandra Sully to the additional role of managing news editor at ten daily.
Sully will continue as presenter of the TEN Eyewitness News First At Five flagship bulletin in Sydney, and in addition to her editorial direction and management role with ten daily, she will contribute to the new website.
Sully said: “I’ve been passionate about digital media for many years, in particular, the ability to engage people with News content across multiple platforms.
“My new role at ten daily is a natural extension of that passion. The digital space is an exciting place to be and ten daily will be a strong extension of our News skills and content.”
Ten daily is Network Ten’s new stand-alone, mobile-optimised website that is promising to be rich in short-form video content and with premium and exclusive news, entertainment, lifestyle, opinion and sport content.
At ten daily, Sully joins Lisa Wilkinson, who was appointed executive editor earlier this year. More editorial appointments will be announced soon.
Australia’s top news website has been forced to remove a story by the Classification Board in what has been dubbed an “extraordinary” act of censorship, reports The Australian’s Dana McCauley.
News.com.au was vindicated by the Press Council for its 2017 story exposing Islamic State’s use of sites like Gumtree to target potential victims.
But, despite today’s adjudication stating the article had not breached the Council’s Standards of Practice, it is no longer accessible online.
The publisher was directed to remove it in May last year by the Attorney-General’s office, after the Board found that it “advocates terrorism”.
It is believed to be the first time section 9A of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 has been used to censor a news report.
Jackie O from KIIS FM’s Kyle and Jackie O show interviewed superstar Cher exclusively on the KIIS breakfast show Friday.
Cher is in Sydney for the 40th Mardi Gras Party on the weekend in Sydney.
Jackie O revealed to the superstar that she had actually secretly stalked Cher while on a recent trip to Los Angeles driving by her home in Malibu.
Jackie O will be appearing on the KIIS FM float at this year’s Mardi Gras parade and asked veteran Cher for some advice.
Cher said: “You just look from side to side. Wave your arms like the queen.”
Jackie O asked was it OK to have a drink beforehand. Cher responded, “If you usually like a drink, by all means have a drink.”
The KIIS FM float with be themed “So Sydney” and will celebrate 40 years of Mardi Gras.
Nova announcers have gathered in Perth for the first Australian stop on Ed Sheeran’s Divide World Tour. Sydney’s Fitzy and Wippa, Perth’s Nathan, Nat and Shaun and national evening host Smallzy were among the hosts to get time with Sheeran yesterday. (See Entertainment item below too.)
Fitzy and Wippa chatted to Ed about having his own toilet at Optus Stadium, they gifted Ed a classy engagement gift (with the help of Russell Crowe), discovered he doesn’t want a bucks night and revealed Ed’s most prized treasure is signed by Bill Clinton!
Ed told Nova Perth’s breakfast team Nathan, Nat and Shaun that he wrote the song “One” last time he was in Perth.
Day four of The Kennedy Molloy Long Lunch Tour hit Adelaide. The program has been showcasing the respective Triple M breakfast shows in each market and at this stop Roo and Ditts were the local Triple M heroes.
In fact the Adelaide Long Lunch was held at Adelaide’s Alma Tavern owned by Roo – Mark Ricciuto. Mick said he knew it was Roo’s hotel because there are photos of him all over the place.
The Q&A with listeners in Adelaide got a little awkward. With a first question about anchor Dangerous Dave, Mick told the guest to f@#% off. “I do apologise for that,” said Jane Kennedy.
Then later when Mick indicated he would be prepared to take off his Long Lunch T-shirt, Jane noted she would not be. The audience turned and started booing!
Highlight of the show off course was when Dangerous Dave read a sentence from Thursday’s Mediaweek Morning Report on air.
Guests on the Thursday show included stars from the Adelaide Fringe – Triple M’s Lawrence Mooney, Nick Cody and Nazeem Hussain.
The drive show finishes its week on the road Friday night at Perth’s Wembley Hotel.
Triple M Brisbane has announced Sam Hargreaves will be the station’s full-time sports guy. Triple M says the move shows how serious the station is also about their local listeners, their local sports news and their local teams.
The station has announced exclusive partnerships with the Queensland Reds, Brisbane Lions, Netball Queensland and Queensland Firebirds, The Heat and local rugby.
Hargreaves will continue to anchor the Triple M AFL call team, be a regular guest on the Triple M NRL call team and lead Triple M’s Dead Set Legends, along with Margaux Parker, covering everything sport and lifestyle from 10am to noon every Saturday morning.
Netflix expects its library of original series to hit the 700 mark in 2018, a year in which it is set to spend an estimated $US8 billion ($10.27 billion) on content, the company’s chief financial officer David Wells told an investor event in the US this week, reports Fairfax Media’s Karl Quinn.
Wells added that its catalogue now includes about 80 non-English-language original series, including breakout hits such as the German crime series Dark.
“People are interested in stories – they don’t necessarily care where they came from,” he said. “More and more you’ll see production coming from all types of places in the world.”
That’s good news for the global industry, perhaps, but Australian film and television producers could be forgiven for wondering when they will see a bit more of the action.
Though it now has a market penetration of around 30% of Australian households, to date Netflix has commissioned just one local series from the ground up, the Queensland-shot fantasy/crime tale Tidelands, from Secrets & Lies writer Stephen M. Irwin.
It has also put money into a number of other productions commissioned by more established broadcasters, including Glitch and Pine Gap (both originally commissioned by the ABC) and a number of children’s series. Additionally, the Australian movies Berlin Syndrome and Cargo were both picked up by Netflix after they had been shot.
Sunrise has been denied Academy Awards red carpet accreditation this year because they are not the broadcast rights-holder in Australia, reports TV Tonight.
Last year there were suggestions that Seven was shuffled off the carpet at the last minute with the Academy exerting its muscle over non-rights holders.
Nine denied its LA bureau exerted any pressure on the Academy for a Sunrise ban but Darren Wick, director of news & current affairs, told TV Tonight, “My view on that is pretty black and white. They’re not a rights-holder. In the words of Barnaby Joyce, ‘Bugger off.’”
British pop sensation Ed Sheeran was in celebratory mode swigging from champagne and spraying its contents at a media call at Optus Stadium today as it was announced he’d broken ticket sales records for the Australasian leg of his Divide tour, reports The West Australian’s Jay Hanna.
Frontier Touring boss Michael Gudinski unveiled a commemorative ice sculpture as he told the media Sheeran had smashed the previous record of 950,000 tickets held by Dire Straits since 1986.
“To sell one million tickets is simply phenomenal,” Gudinski said.
The 27-year-old said he was looking forward to getting the tour under way starting with the first two concerts at Optus Stadium.
“It feels pretty stable and I don’t think anything will collapse,” Sheeran joked when asked how he felt to be the first act to play the 60,000-capacity stadium.