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No moral mystery to 60 minutes child snatch disaster

26 April 2016 | Ray Cassin

Tara Brown on 60 MinutesThere have been attempts by some in the media to mount a moral justification of 60 Minutes' actions. At least they were trying to do the right thing, by helping a mother who would not have been denied custody in Australia But that opens another slimy can of worms. Do we think 60 Minutes would fund a child abduction in Australia, rather than a Muslim country with religious courts, however much the parent they were purporting to help might seem to have been denied custody unfairly?

The ills and thrills of talking about science

05 April 2016 | Ketan Joshi

Neil deGrasseTysonWhen Alan Alda was 11, he threw a simple inquiry to his teacher. What's a flame? The response he received was less than satisfying. 'All I heard from the teacher was "it's oxidation". That didn't explain anything to me.' It's a neat illustration of a modern problem. Merely presenting over-simplified factoids is no longer sufficient in a world filled with phenomena like climate denial and the anti-vaccination lobby. For science to be communicated effectively, it needs to spark passion and excitement.

'Jilted' Brownless saga shows AFL sexism still runs deep

16 March 2016 | Tim Kroenert

Sam Newman and Billy BrownlessIt's time someone called out this whole Billy Brownless/Garry Lyon saga for what it is. These former AFL footballers and sports media colleagues have fallen out over the past few months, over a reported affair between Lyon and Brownless' ex-wife, Nicky. This is not merely a salacious non-story. It is the nadir of a grubby grain of sports journalism that serves as the mouthpiece for an industry that has a long way to go before it leaves accusations of racism, homophobia and misogyny in its wake.

CommInsure exposé proves spin doesn't always win

15 March 2016 | David James

Still from the Four Corners program Money For NothingMost spin doctors are either former journalists, who have personal experience in how the industry works. If a story appears in the media, it is more often than not because some spin merchants want it to be there. Happily, there are exceptions. Gold Walkley winner Adele Ferguson did a brilliant exposé of the insurance industry that was definitely not on any spin doctor's agenda. Indeed it was a demonstration that spin has its limitations if the journalist is skilled enough to get beyond the wall.


02 March 2016 | Catherine Marshall

Chris RockChris Rock's hosting of the Academy Awards was a win-win culmination of the #OscarsSoWhite campaign in which no actual person had to take the blame. Instead, a faceless institution named 'Hollywood' was rapped over the knuckles for its racism while the flesh-and-blood white faces that represented it could get on with the business of congratulating themselves. While all this mollification was going on, there was another, gargantuan prejudice saturating the air these celebrities were breathing.

Time to retire 'magical negro' trope from Aussie sport

28 February 2016 | Erin Riley

Cyril Rioli in actionSports journalists shape narratives. There is drama intrinsic to sport, but the sports journalist draws it out, identifying heroes and villains, and slotting each performance into a broader arc. The power to influence the way the public understands a game or player ought to be wielded carefully. Too often, it is not. This is best demonstrated by the ways in which commentators and journalists speak about Indigenous athletes. A simple superlative can be loaded with more than a century of cultural baggage.

The Kanye West konundrum

25 February 2016 | Jen Vuk

Kanye WestIt seems not a week goes by that Kanye West isn't in the news. Over the past few weeks alone, West has among other things disparaged Taylor Swift, announced that 'white publications' had no right to write about black music, and tweeted in support of alleged serial rapist Bill Cosby. Depending on your perspective, West is either the gift that just keeps giving or the twit who just keeps tweeting. How has someone like him managed to flourish in a time in which online shaming has become the norm?

The butterfly effect of online grief

26 January 2016 | Kate Mani

Blue butterfly shapeA few months ago, someone I know died. We had only met a couple of times, accepted each other's Facebook friend requests, and messaged each other on and off. But I grew to know him well. His face filled my Facebook newsfeed weekly. Now I see his family's farewells, and the preceding year of photos makes it even easier to picture their grief. Be it the loss of a friend or a city shattered by terror, the 21st century colossus that is social media has reinvented the wheel of commemoration.

Battered broadcaster's Bolt delusion

26 January 2016 | Jeff Sparrow

Margaret Simons The Content MakersJosh Bornstein compared the ABC to the victim in an abusive relationship, desperately trying to ward off the next blow by anticipating the criticism of its enemies. Certainly, enlisting Andrew Bolt to participate in a documentary on Indigenous constitutional recognition seems like a pre-emptive defensive move against the accusations of bias that are routinely levelled against the national broadcaster. For Bolt the arrangement is win-win; for the ABC it's yet another example of self-sabotage.

2015 in review: Images that empower women

1 Comment
14 January 2016 | Catherine Marshall

Image from Getty Images LeanIn CollectionStudies confirm that sexualised images of slim young women used in advertising and popular culture lead to body dissatisfaction, psychological impairment and eating disorders. A new initiative from the non-profit is fighting this entrenched culture through a partnership with Getty Images. It has created a photo library depicting females in many sizes, cultures and styles of appearance, but all strong and determined and in-charge.

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