"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself." - Friedrich Nietzsche
16.01.17 3:45 am
In the aftermath of reported incidents of sexual assault on women, a cultural dialogue and action is desperately needed …
Ted Mead* 'Toon: Leunig, http://www.leunig.com.au/ used with permission
15.01.17 4:05 am
Trolling is the neo wave of inciting discord. This action appears in all forms of online news, blogs and social media. In many aspects it is destroying the wonders of the Internet messaging forums. So what can be done … ?
Bob Burton* First published December 31
05.01.17 3:14 pm
“Retail frenzy: Tasmanians set for $52m Boxing Day blast,” screamed the front-page of the Boxing Day edition of the Mercury, a headline which would have delighted the major retailers whose advertisements accounted for over one-third of the newspaper’s pages that day ... In the world of corporate public relations and marketing a perennial challenge is in repackaging commercial events up to be sufficiently newsworthy in order to garner sales-boosting free media coverage. If the coverage of the Boxing Day sales is anything to go by, PR is winning over journalism big time as narrow corporate financial self-interest is conflated with the public interest.
• Grant in Comments: How can anyone not love the retail and real estate puff pieces that appear regularly in the Mercury? I think they are fantastic and hope everyone went to the Boxing Day sales to keep the cash registers ringing. It’s all that matters surely?
• Paul Carter in Comments: This analysis is worthy but outdated. These erudite energies are best focussed elsewhere. Journalism long ago left the building. The Mercury before it disappears is on track to become a surburban freebie, a Hobart shopper, with 70% ad to 30% editorial content. Its editor rose to that level of journalism and its news editor isn’t a journalist. So I don’t think they share your concern about “journalism”. They are salarymen and women, content with their journalistic standard. They are not crusaders for your journalism. The business’s only lifeline, the digital paywall, is doomed to fail when so much better is available for free and core advertisers develop their own digital projection platforms for a completely digital savvy audience. For the Mercury, the band is still playing but there’s no more lifeboats. They are presently managing decline. So you are fighting a good fight. It’s just that the fight at this location finished long ago. The dogs bark, but the caravan goes on.
Bob Burton* 'Toon: Leunig, http://www.leunig.com.au/ used with permission ...
28.12.16 5:13 am
Most people in Tasmania could be forgiven for not realising that the local media landscape may be about to go through a dramatic shake-up if the Senate bows to pressure from the big private media companies and allows much greater media consolidation. One effect of the demise of newspapers is likely to be that it emboldens those who already wield significant influence behind the scenes – government spin doctors, lobbyists, political donors and powerful lobby groups – to believe that they can get away with far more with little risk of being publicly exposed.
23.12.16 11:19 am
First of all a huge thanks to the monthly supporters including JB, PJB, AD, AB, Anon, Anon, Anon, Anon, Anon, RCH, Bob, Monthly Subs, O’Dw, N&CG, WB, Andrea, PJG, KR, Ben Bradlee, GC, CG, Gerry, BF, JH among many, many others. Thankyou Guyzzzz … Now to the Chrissy/New Year hiatus ...
Bob Burton* First published December 19
22.12.16 5:45 am
In the past decade the combined circulation of Tasmania’s three largest newspapers – the Mercury, the Examiner and the Advocate – has fallen by over one-third with no sign the decline has yet bottomed out. The dramatic decline of the three newspapers and a push by major media companies for the axing some of the rules blocking increased media concentration indicate further upheavals in Tasmania’s media landscape may be imminent.
• Mike Bolan in Comments: At a meeting of the media and public I attended 5 or so years ago ( TT here ), the media people expressed no interest in listening to the public regarding the content of their papers. It was a kind of ‘what would customers know about it?” stance. The established media organisations looked on growing organisations (like TT) with contempt because many of the writers ‘weren’t journalists’!! Yet what has the media become but a foghorn for government policy and propaganda, coupled with a desperate demand for ‘more advertising’. What it has utterly failed to become is a valued community information resource. (Spot on O’Brien @1) That failing means that it usually isn’t worth paying any of the cover prices for the paper, nor worth paying News to read about their ‘paywall’ articles. Until they start to deliver something that’s actually worth reading, their decline is likely to continue.
Bob Burton* First published December 20
22.12.16 5:30 am
The fate of the lobbying push by Australia’s largest media companies for the abolition of two legal rules frustrating greater media concentration may hinge on the vote of Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie.
01.12.16 4:00 am
December 1 ... and Hobart photographer Giles Hugo celebrates the incomparable Leonard Cohen ... who performed at the Derwent Entertainment Centre in 2010 ...
Lindsay Tuffin* Pic* First pub: Nov 29
01.12.16 3:25 am
Why? Why? Why has this documentary been hidden? Why is there no ABC link? Why? This is a BAFTA award-winning documentary ffs ... and yet there has been no promotion in Australia. And it’s on tonight - Richard Flanagan: Life After Death - ABC1 at 9.30pm.
• Poppy Lopatniuk in Comments: We are indeed fortunate to have such a great storyteller as Richard Flanagan in our midst. As an ancient relic of Tasmania I can relate to all the infamous times that he brings to light and to me especially the great poignancy of the Burma Railway episode which will forever have scars for many …
• Margaretta Pos in Comments: Further to my comment #6, Today’s Choices in the Mercury’s television guide for the said night were: First Dates UK (SCTV) and First Contact (SBS). It was only when I glanced down the guide that I saw the Flanagan program. Shame on the Merc … for which I worked for 21 years and which I still have delivered.
• Editor in Comments: Amanda Meade in the Guardian has detailed this tale of gross under-promotion ... HERE ... Says Amanda: “It might surprise you then to hear that the documentary was broadcast on the ABC on Tuesday and you probably missed it. For reasons unknown even to people inside Aunty, the doco was completely sidelined: not given the courtesy of a press release, a publicity campaign or an-air promo. “It is more than strange when a documentary on an Australian writer can succeed on the BBC and be set up for resounding failure a year and a half later on the ABC,” one insider said. So why did they bury something that would be popular, given the right handling? Politics? Resentment that the BBC made a successful blue-chip, Bafta-winning documentary about an Australian writer? We have no clue.
• Daniel in Comments: No conspiracy, merely incompetence, the iView version ends abruptly 4 minutes short. Probably a cap on the ABC servers data storage, or a failure to set it correctly. Luckily I watched the program on broadcast - I was deeply affected and so promoted it to family, that we watch it together on iView. The Burma Railway carries terrible significance to us and it was very disappointing to crash out of the program short of the summation and finale. Unfortunately, the ABC is buggered.
• Bob Hawkins in Comments: Came across the Flanagan documentary by accident. Had no idea it was on. For those who missed it, it is well worth chasing down on iView. Tasmania is indeed fortunate to have someone of so many fine talents. His capacity to say so much in so few words, a non-intrusive interlocutor, and good archival footage, made this fascinating television. I expect our own Booker prizewinner will be long dead before his truly immense value to the state is recognised by those in high office, who will, in all probability, still be ludicrously insisting that Tasmania is “clean and green” — and, worse, still believing themselves.
John Hawkins* Chudleigh. Pic* First published November 29
29.11.16 7:25 am
A most interesting case is currently before the Supreme Court of Victoria, S ECI 2013 2095 between …
• John Hawkins in Comments: Henry Melville comment #7 is correct ... the matter is now subject to a Deed of Settlement over the Restitution Claim conditional upon the Court giving or making the directions and orders sought by the Application. The important fact that Melville omits is that the Deed of Settlement between Forestry Tasmania and Korda Mentha is Confidential. The figure will therefore remain unknown ... perhaps John Lawrence could elucidate how it can be tracked down with the costs in this gravy train and how they fell? …
Kim Peart* of Ross. Pic* First published November 24
25.11.16 4:15 am
Re: TALKING POINT: Stirred but not shaken by a bitter online backlash to the new paywall. by Phil Young ~ deputy editor, The Mercury, 24 November 2016 Dear Editor, Did you know that I cannot read this story in the on-line edition of the Mercury?
EARLIER, Bob Burton on Tasmanian Times ...
MEANWHILE, Anthony Bacon ...
While I am flattered that The Mercury chose to publish and credit one of my aerial images on page 18, Wednesday November 23, 2016, I would like to state that I was not contacted or notified of it’s publication nor asked permission for it’s use in this instance. All my images are subject to copywrite, including any stills taken from video. I have never granted The Mercury perpetual usage rights to any of my images …
23.11.16 4:08 am
Firstly to the regular contributors to Tassietimes ... Alison, PJG, Kev, Anon, Claire, Geoff, gerrya, Andrea, Bob, Intheloop, Service One, Sir Andrew Bolt, Ben Bradlee. Guyzzzz ... your regular support is utterly priceless. Thankyou ... Now to the future: TT is planning to switch platforms to a rather cute Wordpress site which will be mobile friendly and ultimately include classies ... Hopefully the first version of this will be happening around February/March. There will be hotlinks to Ice Age TT (the current site), and Jurassic TT (the original) ... so all archives will be accessible over the 14 years of TT’s existence. The future beckons with enormous joy.
Urban Wronski* (aka David Tyler) http://urbanwronski.com/ . Pic* First published November 21
23.11.16 4:00 am
… Unchallenged also are MPs who insist billionaire Trump’s win is a victory for ordinary people, a spin happily encouraged by mainstream media and seized upon by Eric Abetz, George Christensen, Corey Bernardi and a crush of attention-seekers, nutters and trouble-makers infesting the lunar right of the Coalition or our own dark side of the mooners, the odd-ball cross-bench created by Turnbull’s double dissolution. Yet they, too, claim the same about their own nonsense; they are not using their position to promote their own lunatic views, they are just saying what ordinary people are thinking. …
• Urban Wronksi in Comments: … No hint in Operation Ring of Steel, moreover, that intercepting vessels carrying asylum seekers beyond the 24-mile contiguous zone is prohibited under the law of the sea. No hint either that it’s really a ring of cracked aluminium, given that the navy’s Armidale Class Patrol Boat fleet have aluminium hulls which are not wearing well. Since they entered service ten years ago, several of the 13 vessels have been laid up with structural, corrosion and mechanical problems. Unless there’s been a top secret (on water matter) change of plan, the fleet will not be replaced with steel hulled Offshore Patrol Vessels until 2022.
Bob Burton* First published November 15
21.11.16 3:30 am
In early August the Mercury enlisted Spiderman and a bevy of his superhero friends to help in a marketing drive aimed at arresting the nosedive of Tasmania’s largest circulation newspaper. But Spiderman and his allies may well be way too late to save from oblivion the weekday print editions of Rupert Murdoch’s largest Tasmanian newspaper.
• John Hawkins in Comments: … The independent Wilkie and those Greens in parliament are streets ahead of the Lib/Lab dross that represent us. Where is the Mercury or the Examiner as the disaster of a bankrupt Forestry Tasmania deepens and its debts are funded by Tasmanian taxpayers? Where is the Mercury and Examiner regarding the Tasmanian Planning Commission and the badly considered changes to our planning laws to benefit developers that put 500 thinking Tasmanians into the Town Hall - not a squeak …
• Bob Daniels in Comments: Unfortunately The Mercury is directed by News, Sydney. Increased subscription and advertising costs don’t encourage Tasmanians to support their local paper. A sure fire way to lose subscribers. It would have been better to lower subscriptions and keep advertising rates competitive therefore maintaining circulation levels and attracting bigger advertisers with an assured readership. After all, the staff as been cut to the bone to offset the profit loss. A crying shame for a once great local newspaper.
• Mick Kenny in Comments: This is a fantastic and detailed summary of the Mercury’s recent decline. Rupert might hope to shape the future of media to his own commercial ends but I doubt even he can turn back the tide of change … He struggles to tweet without sounding like a prophet short of a flock … On the up side, there are many alternative news sources, the Guardian not least, with its increasing local and national content.
• Mark Worley in Comments: The Mercury deserves a chance. It’s by no means perfect, it never has been. But Hobart needs it. Tasmania needs it. As much as I love the ABC, the state needs another voice. If anyone thinks Rupert or any senior News Corp execs give a damn about their smallest asset, they are mistaken. If anything, the push towards an online paywall appears to be ensuring the death of the paper - a case of Sydney HQ ordering Hobart’s editors and staff to play Russian roulette with a fully loaded gun. The online price point is simply too high to attract enough subscribers. I am sure the execs know that. But damn it, what is the alternative here? …
EARLIER on Tasmanian Times ...
• Ian M in Comments: … After an inquiry the ABC, I believe, reported it was found that the media had “contributed” to the tragic outcomes. While I do like some local content, the local rag has to do better than he said/she said, ads and syndicated content. And because of multiple failings, they deserve exactly fuck all until they can demonstrate they’ve resolved these issues.
• Matthew Sykes in Comments: … All this commissioned by a disgruntled former editor at the Merc. How’s that for balance? Editor: Helluva lot more nuanced than that Matthew. Firstly the article wasn’t commissioned ...
John Hawkins*, Bentley, Chudleigh.
18.11.16 3:05 am
Maybe a reader could help with the year (perhaps 1989-90) but while hunting for the date when Erich Abetz was made President of the Tasmanian Liberal Party I came across a surprising gem in the form of a complete Letters column in an issue of the Examiner of January 1990 entirely devoted to the career of serial letter writer Mr Trevor G Cowell and centred by his portrait …
Barry Jones* Pic* First published November 14
17.11.16 2:10 am
Once Science Minister Barry Jones delivered this lecture on August 8, 2012 ... Public debate is dumbed down amid sloganeering, manic polling, managerial talk and pernicious spin …
• Simon Schama, New Yorker: A New York Knight … I saw him for what turned out to be the last time a few weeks ago, in his rooms at Cambridge. Illness had shrunk him quite a bit, so that now he not only sounded like the elderly Voltaire but looked like him, too. Like Voltaire, Plumb held up a historical mirror that had become quite dark in old age. He was not sanguine about our chances of survival, and he likened modern America to the late Roman Empire, circa 300: impossibly overextended, beleaguered by barbarians, aware that all its glories of law and engineering might yet be demolished by incomparably less sophisticated peoples for whom destruction is a vocation and life is expendable. …
• Simon Warriner in Comments: … One of the things that is pissing people like me off about politicians is not their acceptance or otherwise of climate change, but their complete bastardisation of the science communication behind it by either telling lies to diminish, or exaggerating for effect. Both are destructive of public trust and counter productive, but hey, that’s what you get from the pointless dick measuring contest that is party politics these days. Oh, and one other thing, if you care to explore beyond the intellectual vallium type comfort of the clueless talking heads in the OZ media you might find that China and Russia have tied themselves together in ways that make the US unable to be besties with Russia while engaging in an arms race with China. Decades of watching the “leaders of the free world” terrorising the rest of the kids in the school yard promotes that sort of alliance, it would seem . Australia would be well advised to stand back and let the yanks find out the hard way without offending our biggest potential market by lining up, yet again, for the schoolyard bully.
14.11.16 3:55 am
HERE: New era for the Mercury The Mercury, that inter-generational champion of the state and esteemed benefactor of journalists, freight services, humble newsagents and expensive state-of-the-art printing facilities, heroically playing “a fundamental role in their day to day survival” (every bit as much as our nurses, paramedics, carers and diesel power plant hire companies ), boldly base-jumps into the future, ensuring the sale of digital freedom, justice and enlightenment to audiences for generations to come (for an as yet undisclosed monetary consideration), along with selling said audiences to a new era of digital advertisers, ever so much more in touch with your inner likes, aspirations and online browsing habits.
• Mike in Comments: ”...award winning investigative journalism which helped overhaul decades of archaic and secretive operations among some of our key councils and exposed widespread problems with everything from exorbitant expense keeping to basic accounting.” Don’t they mean that they have helped a lobby group backed by a group of wealthy property developers to use any excuse to create a one-stop-bribery-shop-super-council that will approve anything and everything ... and the first the public will know about it is when they find out that their new neighbours plan on building a replica of the world trade centre right next door to them.
Don Knowler* First published October 24
26.10.16 4:35 am
The decision of the Nobel awards committee to give Bob Dylan its prize for literature has met with a mixed response. Among those applauding the decision is Don Knowler, who remembers the momentous night he finally got to see his hero perform in Townsville and the simple twist of fate which nearly cost him his job.
Kelvin Jones* Pic*: of 'Geelong Star' from fleetMon.com First published October 5
07.10.16 4:00 pm
I was going to pose this question in comments to see if any of the fishing folk interested could answer. However, my own inquires have given me the answer …
EARLIER on Tasmanian Times ...
• Pete Godfrey in Comments: Hi Kelvin, there is historical ships position data available but unfortunately we have to pay to get it. It seems that data stored on computers costs heaps to supply. If we want data on who owns a company, we can look up ASIC records and pay to see the information. Now we can look up data on ships on sites such as AIS Vessel Tracking but again we have to pay. John Hawkins said in your previous article that Basslink have left the off cuts of the cable on the ocean floor. I would have thought that with the price of scrap copper these days that they would have recovered it, even if it was to buy a few years’ grog supply for the shipmates.
• Pete Godfrey in Comments: This is a bit of a stab in the dark. I am wondering if the rush to get a second Basslink cable has more sinister reasons. The possibilities are endless but lets look at a couple. First Tasmania is almost totally reliant on Hydro Power. The Dams have a finite lifespan. Already Lake Rowallan Dam has needed extensive repairs to prevent failure. What if the Government know more than they are letting on. Wouldn’t that be novel …
• ABC: Concerns Hydro Tasmania’s revised target for dam water storages will raise power prices
• Kelvin Jones in Comments: … A friend of mine in UK has been reading Tas Times ... he is an ex-academic and lived for a number of years in Australia. He has quite a sardonic turn of phrase ... here is a sample of his comments about Tasmania: “I followed the latest comments on the BassLink saga in the Tasmanian Times. Quite a multi-faceted debate is it not? Enough of you ‘stirrers’ exist to suggest the Geelong Star is culpable. From this part of the world, the State Government’s avoidance behaviour and disingenuousness seems absurd. Tassie is a relatively small place. The truth will out eventually. Better to face it now. I note that the Tassie Times considers itself a “cheeky, irreverent” alternative to mainstream media. It certainly appears to be that. Reading it as an outsider the impression created is of an island populated by seething malcontents, venal local councillors, devious soothsayers, single-agenda activists, and anti-government anarchists for whom any form of “rule” is the stuff of nightmares. Makes for a fun read though …
Bob Hawkins* Pic* First published September 28
07.10.16 1:00 pm
FRIDAY, October 7 ...
• Mercury: Former Glenorchy mayor and Elwick MLC Adriana Taylor new Commissioner of Huon Valley Council … “At the end of that period, the Government will decide whether to extend the Commissioner’s contract or to call fresh elections.” …
• Bob Hawkins in Comments: Now that the council is sacked, a commissioner can delve deeply into the administrative entrails of HVC. I think there is far more to find there than you would ever be able to find out about the individual actions of all nine sacked councillors. Expect a steady roll-out out of places to look, and matters to consider, over coming weeks. I’m sure the commissioner would welcome contributions from anyone who thinks they have something to say about the performance of their council down the years. In the meantime, I suggest the commissioner starts reading all four-score or so submissions that good people of the Huon made to the Board of Inquiry team. Also, it wouldn’t be a bad idea if the commissioner had some long, confidential sessions (that is, with no one else present) with the two members of the BoI. It will be a happy day when people can look forward to a brand new council and a brand new management, preferably in tandem with the good people of Kingborough. That would mean massive admin and operational savings and, more importantly, a severing of the age-old nexus between council and certain valley interests.
THURSDAY, October 6 ...
• Bob Hawkins in Comments: #19. That’s a great basis on which to start the future of LG in the HV. Most importantly, we must remember — now that Gutwein has sacked the councillors — that the commissioner makes it a main task to assemble a completely new senior management team to complete the clean-out. I’m pointing no fingers. It’s just that LG in the Huon, whether on its own or, preferably amalgamated with Kingborough, re-starts with a completely clean sheet — new councillors and new management — so that no one, not even the chief stirrer for new elections (and eternal but forever unsuccessful mayoral aspirant) will have anything to complain about.
• Peter Gutwein: Huon Valley Council This morning at a meeting of the Executive Council, I recommended to Her Excellency the Governor that she dismiss the Huon Valley Council. Her Excellency agreed to that request and I have today written to each of the Huon Valley Councillors informing them of that decision. This is not something that the Government takes lightly, but this is an appropriate response to a very serious situation …
SEPTEMBER 28 ...
Huon Valley Guessing Games Roll up, roll up! It may be your last chance to witness what normally is one of the most excruciatingly boring shows on earth. Venue: Huonville council chamber at 6pm Wednesday (September 28); starring: a dysfunctional, about-to-be-sacked, Huon Valley Council.
What it is that made Gutwein so reluctant to take the advice of his BoI remains a mystery. Words like forestry, Duggan, woodchips, fish, Armstrong, biomass, Harriss, barges, jetties, exports (plus a mix of other pie-in-the-sky speculation), have been flying around for yonks in the cargo-cult cocoon that occupies a substantial chunk of Huon society. Could any of these have anything to do with the quandary with which Gutwein wrestles? And where’s Premier Will Hodgman? …
• Geoffrey Swan, Lonnavale: More confirmation of dysfunction at tonight’s HVC council meeting … Since posting my comment in Tasmania Times I have heard from others who manipulated the survey data. I can now confirm that in excess of 102 of the survey results, complete with one line comments were completed by only 7 people – and 2 live in Hobart. Therefore 27% of the survey is CORRUPT DATA – and that is only from people with whom I have personally been in contact. How is it possible that Cr’s Wilson, Paul, Lange, Ruzicka and Heron can agree to accept the data as being of any future use whatsoever? …
MERCURY SATURDAY, October 1 ...
• Robin Charles Halton in Comments: … Eventually Peter Gutwein will have to sack the Huon Council, the longer he leaves it the worse it will get. It seems the Liberal government are stuck in the past too!
Madeleine Ogilvie MP*, Labor Member for Denison
19.09.16 11:00 am
“The internet is a telephone system that’s gotten uppity” Clifford Stoll. In that one phrase, US based author and tech commentator Clifford Stoll, nails the Tasmanian challenge …
Our digital economy is the fifth pillar of the Tasmanian economy - and we can grow our intellectual exports, consulting and professional services, data management and creative economy. At the heart of Tasmania’s ability to operate, trade, educate, heal and employ is a robust communications infrastructure. It is precisely because we have had such a good system that on a day to day basis many of us don’t need to give much thought to whether we will be able to access our Facebook today, do some online shopping or upload data to sell on the mainland …
• ABC: Fresh commitment to regional Australians
• What they say, Christine Milne, Scott Ludlum, Adam Bandt: Media reform, Andrew Wilkie
• Willkie – don’t abandon the public interest on media reform
• Internode extends $20 discount to 2800 exchanges
• Taxpayers’ money shouldn’t be invested in cigarette companies
• Battery Point Sullivan’s Cove Community Association Newsletter
• ABC Tasmania invites you to an exhibition ...
• No-one is buying GM canola in WA
• Edge Radio 99.3FM Celebrates Eight Years of Youth Radio
• Freshly Squeezed onto the airwaves –SEAFM Northern Tasmania’s The Juice starts Monday
• Northern Tasmania’s only dedicated talkback radio program
• Radio is once again Live & Local in North-West Tasmania
• Green Left Weekly’s Environment Film Festival Friday Oct 8th & Saturday Oct 9th
• Grant Broadcasters acquire new commercial radio licence in Launceston
• It will matter to the ABC who is elected on Aug 21
• Book Launch: ‘Standing Strong: Stories of Courage and Activism’
• Catherine Deveny Bites Back
• CALL FOR ACTION ON INTERNET ELECTORAL LAW
• FABC Calls on Govt to Fund ABC News 24/7
• Please Release Me ...
• OUR ABC – Photo Exhibition at Federation Square
Not only darts. A few other things besides. But we should try to get past our hard wiring anyway.