“That map is frightening,” Sunrise co-host Samantha Armytage said, “it looks like a child has scribbled on it with a crayon. Chinese people from Wuhan have gone everywhere. Do we keep our travel ban in place beyond Saturday?”
Turns out a child with crayons might have done a better job than some of the media – including Nine, the New Daily and news.com.au – on a University of Southampton population study that identified cities at high risk from the spread of the coronavirus.
“This map shows the movement of 60,000 of the estimated 5 million people who got out of the Chinese city of Wuhan before it was placed into the lockdown,” Armytage said. “It shows that they have travelled to all parts of the globe.”
Only it didn’t. For one thing, most of the traffic was between London and New York, not Wuhan.
What the scary red map actually showed was the pattern of global air traffic back in 2010.
Southampton population scientist Prof Andrew Tatem, the author of the coronavirus spread study, told Weekly Beast the map used on Sunrise came from a scientific paper he wrote in 2014 – but was not part of the latest study.
It was used to illustrate the extent of global connectivity and mobility through air travel.
But not all the blame for the misinformation can be laid at the feet of Sunrise, Nine, news.com.au and the New Daily. The map was posted on Twitter by Tatem’s World Population Project, although it has now been deleted.
It was used “simply to illustrate global connectivity through flights nowadays, not as a model of spread”, Tatem said.
Radio broadcaster Ray Hadley is not known as a film critic, and he admits he hasn’t seen Parasite, the South Korean satire which picked up four Oscars on Monday. But that didn’t stop the 2GB morning host pouring scorn on the film’s triumph.
Parasite was the first Asian film to win best screenplay, but Hadley preferred a British film, The Gentlemen, which he had seen.
“I’ve got an email from a couple of people of South Korean background who tell me the movie’s not very good,” Hadley told his 2GB listeners on the morning after its big win at the Oscars. “Now I haven’t seen it.
“I can’t understand how The Gentlemen didn’t get one award because I think it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long long time.
“But apparently it was too politically incorrect and apparently stereotyped certain type of people. It was a really good British flick.
“People writing to me of a South Korean background say ‘Ray it’s almost embarrassing that movie won’. Well I haven’t seen it, so I can’t comment.”
We’d love to see those emails.
Too good to waste
Peta Credlin’s bosses at News Corp might want to check that they are getting value for money from the former Liberal staffer, because there is a remarkable similarity between her Friday night editorial on Sky News and her column in the Sunday Telegraph.
Sky After Dark pitches Tony Abbott’s former chief of staff as “Australia’s most sought-out political commentator”, who “offers her razor-sharp political analysis each weeknight”. The razor-sharp commentary appears to run out on a Friday night, because Credlin often doubles up for her second job.
On Friday Credlin told Sky viewers, “Plainly, votes were bought to keep Michael McCormack in his job”. On Sunday, fans of Credlin read: “Plainly, votes were bought to keep Michael McCormack in his job.”
“The one Nat to act with real honour was Matt Canavan,” was another line on repeat.
The people’s verdict is … not that clear
The Australian showed just how stung it was by criticism of its coverage during the bushfires by publishing not one but two defensive pieces about how many subscribers it has.
Guardian Australia reported that throughout the bushfire season the Oz kept up its climate denial commentary and underplayed aspects of the fires, and the New York Times and others had a similar view.
The issue further blew up when an employee accused the company of “misinformation” and diverting attention from climate change during the bushfire crisis in an explosive all-staff email, and when even James Murdoch criticised News Corp’s Australian outlets for their “ongoing denial”.
The Oz took the opportunity of the release of the Nielsen digital news rankings this week to hit back.
“After a summer of dishonest, distorted and desperate claims by Twitterati, Guardian Australia and The New York Times – which, despite its scant knowledge of our nation’s conditions, misrepresented The Australian’s coverage of the bushfire disaster – the people’s verdict is in,” an editorial thundered on Thursday.
“Eager to experience full, accurate coverage of the disaster, and to understand what it meant for the nation, new readers flocked to The Australian.
“Our digital readership surged to more than 2.5 million in January – the biggest monthly audience ever recorded – and 19.1 per cent higher than in December.
“In a time of fake news and hysteria, thoughtful Australians opted for factual content and unbiased analysis.”
But sadly for the Oz, the newspaper didn’t even crack the top 10 of the Nielsen rankings, coming in 16th behind stablemates the Courier Mail. The big winner was ABC News, which soared into first place for the first time since 2016 with 11m readers.
The Guardian held seventh place with 6.511m, a 10.8% rise from December.
Miranda’s mega Maga moment
Daily Telegraph columnist Miranda Devine has received the highest accolade for articles she has written for the New York Post, where she is on secondment for the US election.
None other than Donald Trump has praised Devine for her work – twice.
“I haven’t looked [at Twitter] for a couple of hours but when I did look I’d had something like 1,200 new followers, so that’s pretty good,” Devine told 2GB’s Ben Fordham on the momentous day.
“A lot of love from the Maga people!”
So thrilled was the Tele that its correspondent was noticed that it commissioned an article about the president’s latest tweet.
“Mr Trump on Tuesday lauded Ms Devine’s latest article pointing to the President’s boosted approval ratings since the impeachment trial began,” the Tele reported.
“The words of praise come just days after Mr Trump retweeted Ms Devine’s column for The Daily Telegraph last Friday, writing “so true!”, just hours after it was published.”
Devine told Fordham on radio she was having an exciting time in the States and there was no shortage of things to write about. She hoped to meet Trump in person, maybe at the 90th birthday party of New York Post columnist Cindy Adams in April, she said.
Foxtel targets ‘binge-conscious consumers’
Foxtel announced another management shake-up this week, promoting two executives – Les Wigan and Lesley Portwain – after the departure of chief operating officer Euan Smith.
Chief executive Patrick Delaney admitted the business model, which has been under pressure from Netflix, Stan and Amazon Prime, needed a restructure.
“We now have an opportunity to bring forward our plans to reset Foxtel’s operating model,” Delaney said. “This will involve bringing best-in-class digital technology, including that created for the Kayo Sports streaming platform, across the entire group with the aim of delivering a material improvement in efficiency and customer experience.”
At News Corp’s results last week, the global chief executive, Robert Thomson, said Foxtel was developing a streaming service like Kayo Sports, which has been successful in the Australian market. Foxtel’s subscription revenues are down by 11%.
“Finally, at Foxtel, we are planning our entertainment OTT product, which is built off the Kayo system, and like Kayo will help maximise the value of existing rights, and reach binge-conscious consumers outside our traditional [base],” he said.
Lobbying the Coalition government for ABC funding has never been easy.
But after their excellent work covering the recent bushfires, there was a lot of love for Aunty in the corridors of Canberra this week.
So much love Scott Morrison was keen to post a selfie with ABC chair Ita Buttrose who was accompanying her MD David Anderson for talks about reversing the $84m budget cut.
Buttrose told the Heywire Regional Summit everyone acknowledges “the tireless work of the ABC keeping communities informed, connected and supported during the terrible events so many Australians have endured over the summer months”.
“As deputy prime minister Michael McCormack said yesterday, the ABC saved lives,” she said. But is saving lives enough to claw back the funding?
“It was a constructive conversation about the ABC and the valuable services we provide to rural and regional Australia,” an ABC spokesman said.