Japan’s disaster (or as ACA put it: “Catastrophe!”)

The trilogy of disasters: earthquake, tsunami and nuclear emergency, bringing untold misery and tragedy to the people of Japan — and what does ACA do? They use a caption which makes it sound like it’s a scene from a musical.

A Current Affair's caption for the Japan earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster

It was clear from the time the first videos were shown on Friday afternoon that this was serious. And perhaps the fact that it’s happened in a technologically advanced country (as well as one with relatively close ties to Australia) makes the impact all the more powerful — with saturation media coverage not seen for some other recent disasters. (Cyclone Nargis, anybody?)

I suppose it’s the nuclear aspect that has really focussed people’s attention. We’re a long way away, but it’s scary stuff — and it’s unclear what will happen next.

One can only hope they bring it under control as quickly as possible so the recovery and rebuilding can proceed quickly.

Red Cross Australia appeal

Mr Rabbit vs Mr Riley

I don’t necessarily agree with Tony Abbott’s policies, but I don’t think what he said to the soldiers, taken in context, was unreasonable.

Colonel Creighton says of the Digger’s death: “Was it tragic? Absolutely. But we’re all in the knowledge that all the stuff (firepower support) you see here and more was available on the day.”

In response, Mr Abbott says: “It’s pretty obvious that, well, sometimes s— happens, doesn’t it.”

Immediately, Major General Cantwell replies: “It certainly does, yeah.” — AAP report

So they’d been discussing the death of Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney, and whether the troops had enough support on that operation. The conclusion seemed to be that no matter how much support, how good the equipment, how good the planning, sometimes, unfortunately, soldiers die.

It’s an inherently dangerous job, after all.

It was probably a cheap shot from Channel 7 to use the footage — but perhaps hardly surprising, given the release of the full footage under Freedom Of Information had been blocked. Mark Riley must have figured someone had something to hide.

Abbott’s response — the 25 seconds of dead silent seething anger — made the story much, much worse for him. It made it bigger. It made it a talking point around the country.

Any response would have been better. Say you won’t answer the question because it’s unreasonable. Say the original comments had to be taken in context, and explain that if necessary.

It’s like those guys who get filmed coming out of court, and decide to attack the cameras, guaranteeing them a much more prominent place on the evening news.

From the sounds of it, Abbott’s office let him down, and despite Channel 7 giving advance warning as to the nature of the interview, he simply wasn’t prepared for it.

As a commenter on the Herald Sun web site notes: I’m so pleased that Tony Abbott glared at Mark Riley, the normal human reaction would have been to grab Mark by the hair and call him a few unprintable names. Abbott showed his control, and actually had just come from a very emotional session in Parliament where they reflected on the human tragedies in the floods.

Perhaps it’s a plus that he didn’t lose his temper, but then again, shouldn’t senior politicians be prepared to face this kind of stuff?

MediaWatch returned on Monday. I’ll be very interested to see what they make of it.

Photo library

I think I can understand why the gunzels find this irritating. All media outlets do this kind of thing from time to time — I’m only using an image from the Herald Sun here because they happen this morning to be showing two on the same page.

They have a story, say, something about trains, so they grab the first image from their library that matches the right keywords, and use it, without checking if it’s from the right city.

Wrong pics from the image library

In this case, it appears the Doncaster line story is illustrated by a Sydney double-decker train (I’m no expert but it appears to be one of the new Millennium fleet), and the Seaford level crossing accident is illustrated by an Adelaide train at a level crossing — I recognise the Adelaide colour scheme, which is used on trains, trams and buses there. (It is a Comeng though.)

The Metro performance story is illustrated by the correct type of train and platform staff member. The picture may be a few months old, as most (but not all) of the Comeng fleet have now been done over in the new Metro colour scheme.

Perhaps one out of three ain’t bad.

It happens in other industries too. Those who work in IT will know that recruiters looking for people will try to fill jobs by looking for someone with a CV that matches some (but sometimes not all) of the keywords on the job description they’ve been handed by the employer… years ago I remember being asked if skill X1 was related to skill X2, because I had X1 but not the desired X2… alas, the skills were unrelated, or certainly not directly transferable.

The Age’s new home page

This is what appeared on The Age’s home page this morning (with my additions).

TheAge.com.au new home page

They explained that there’s a new video tab, which you’ll see when the lead story is best told in video.

Eh? How is Ultimate Fighting in any way to be regarded as the lead story? Unless Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott jumped in the ring.

And why is a pr0n star (I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess it’s about Tiger Woods; I didn’t click on it) a related story to anything on that page?

What I do like is that they’ve split the Victoria and National stories apart, though as-of lunchtime some stories appear to be in the wrong spots — I doubt for instance that today’s Myki story has much national significance.

The Today’s Paper link reflects what’s in the print edition for the day, which is probably a good idea. I like the way it gives more prominence to the PDF copy of the front page.

And I wonder if this declaration is laying down the gauntlet to News Ltd, who have said in the past they’d be moving to a paid content model: But some things haven’t changed. We still bring you the latest breaking news as it happens, free, all day every day, in words, pictures and video.

Anyway, despite the teething problems, interesting to see them changing things around. Now, if they can just get rid of the annoying habit of having the video stories autostart…

Print’s not dead yet

If you’ve wondered how many people read the magazines you see in the newsagent, here’s the figures.

The only magazine I subscribe to, Australian Personal Computer, is sitting at 34,111, down 8% in the last year. Perhaps IT-related mags are more likely to be dropping with competition from online, though what caught my eye was that the one that’s lost the second highest percentage of readers in the past year, the AFL Record, down 25%.

When I was a kid you bought the Record every time you went to the footy. Do people not buy it anymore? Maybe kids don’t try and fill in the stats themselves these days.

Some magazines are gaining readers, which I guess shows that print is not quite dead yet.

And if you were wondering how Woman’s Day and Woman’s Weekly can afford to put all those annoying adverts on the telly, wonder no more — they’ve got the highest readership figures of anything in the list.

And can you believe that 302,000 people read That’s Life?!?