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The Magpie

Saturday, August 6th, 2016   |   94 comments

The Silence Of The Townsville CBD … Is Golden? It’s a tourism winner says one Townsville Enterprise board member.

And that’s just one of the astounding public statements about Townsville tourism from ferry boss Paul Victory on radio a few days ago, during an interview in which he inadvertently inferred what we all know … that Townsville Enterprise is spectacularly asleep at the wheel.

Also … oh dem numbers … things are looking surprisingly rosy for some sectors of the print industry, but not the Townsville Bulletin, shedding more punters in the latest three monthly readership figures.

And how much truth is too much truth? One of the best media shitstorms in a while has blown up around a leading national cartoonist and those experts on aboriginal affairs, the latte-sipping hanky wringers of St Kilda Road and Paddington.

… and the human side of Hillary Clinton as a caring mum … a touching pic for the ages.

But first …

Drip Politics

Remember some light years ago in a galaxy far far away, there was a council election, where we were warned of an on-going water crisis in Townsville. Well one candidate warned us, but her opponent ran the persistent ‘what crisis?’ line, ridiculing her opponent’s ‘wasteful and alarmist’ policy of beefing up our water supply?

The naysayer was of course Jenny Mayor Mullet Hill, who romped home with a full house of her own drips. Might be worth keeping in mind from Monday when we go to Level 3 water restrictions. Bentley certainly remembers the priorities of that campaign.

drought flat

The Limpics Limp Off To A Shaky Start

Let’s get this particular bit of hoopla out of the way early, god knows, it’s going to be wall to wall grunting, groaning and sweat for the next couple weeks … and that’s just the media editors trying to ramp up interest in a despoiled event of disgraceful proportions. As if Zika virus wasn’t enough, there’s an even more dangerous airborne threat.


And then there was this story in Fairfax papers today.

gina rinehart

The ‘Pie can exclusively reveal the background to this possible scenario … the plot to nab one of the world’s richest women was uncovered by her 28-strong personal security team, and details are said to have involved a knock-out drug cocktail, a heavy duty fork lift and a low loader. The idea was that the kidnappers would demand a handsome ransom, and if not paid, they’d give her back. The flaw in this plan was that the demand would be made to her children and to the ACTU, who would be too busy to take the kidnappers calls.

Speaking Of Calls …

Another ‘Pie exclusive!! Early in the week, there was a private phone conversation, a recording of which The ‘Pie has secured, and Bentley has illustrated

ewen-cathy smallIt went on …

Ewen Jones: Just wanted to say you win.

Cathy O’Toole: WTF!! Look I know it’s you, Ewen … oh, just bugger off, and don’t call again until you’re ready to concede.

More Naughty Numbers For The Astonisher

Readership figures are more or less the foreplay of the publishing industry. They traditionally precede the real deal – the audited circulation figures – which either move editors to burst from their offices yelling ’Yes, yes, oh, God, yes’, or leave the boss frustrated and fuming at being left to lie in a business damp patch.

In fact, generally, the latest Roy Morgan readership figures show that the double digit declines have been largely halted but numbers for print readership continue to drop in most cases, but there are some significant exceptions (have look at Wizard Webber’s Gold Coast Bulletin!). Alas, the Townsville Bulletin ain’t one, recording bigger drops (weekdays down by 3000 and Saturdays a whopping double 9000) than even Cairns Post (weekdays off two thousand and Saturday’s just a thousand down … and both figures more than the Bulletin’s).

Screen shot 2016-08-06 at 5.29.12 PM Screen shot 2016-08-06 at 5.29.29 PMBut for the big boys, the heartening news is that there have been some spectacular gains in digital readership and subscriptions. While good news, this digital take-up carries with it lower advertising revenues, which will never be enough to indefinitely prop up print runs. These rates are kept in check by other social media presences on the internet.

All this leaves the Bulletin in a tricky position. They’re digital take-up has been a joke, which is not too surprising, given the (admittedly improving) but still slipshod ‘close enough is good enough’ approach to cross-platform presentation (less than 150 digital readers at last count … that is one hundred and fifty … don’t add any thousands), but they’ve been hammering a bundle deal, trying to piggy back on other papers in the News stable. Only the forthcoming circ figures will tell us if they’ve been able to fool enough of the people enough of the time.

The Iditor Has A Huh, How’s? Moment

Ben 'Bogan' English

Ben ‘Bogan’ English

The print edition of the Bulletin is far from dead, getting a weekly infusion of cash through national advertisers for whom they act as a local conduit – especially inserts, that small forest of booklets that falls all over the floor on Saturdays is one of the most lucrative aspects of papers. So the paper is transparently an outpost for Rupert’s southern counting house, so it doesn’t really need to worry about any journalistic indiscretions that don’t get them into legal hot water.

Or worry about the often shallow reasoning of iditor Ben Bogan English in iditorials. Monday was a most interesting example of his courageous fearlessness in the face of humiliation, when he unequivocally (and mysteriously) declared ‘Challenge In Herbert Not In Our Interest’. First, in the famous words of Tonto to the Lone Ranger, ‘what’s this ‘our’, white man’; as though you have some actual personal care about the interests of Townsville. But Bogan’s argument was that a re-run would create ‘genuine concerns about what impact any continued uncertainty will have on the city’. This reduces the matter to a simplistic case of sour grapes versus one of the most basic democratic rights of Australian citizens.

In a glaring News Corpse self interest point of view, it completely ignores the impact on upwards of 300-400 voters – most of our fighting people or our hospitalized ill – who it appears were denied their democratic right to have a say in an outcome that turns on just 37 votes. So in the name of populism, this faux-intellectual popinjay rates an arguable impact on a city more vital that a basic democratic right of our society.

Mate, you should be in there screaming bloody blue murder against the bureaucrats who buggered up the sacred right of citizens to have their say at the ballot box (a right many a fighting man has died to preserve). If the allegations are proved that that many people missed out through AEC incompetence in a razor edge election, a re-run isn’t a matter of choice, it HAS TO BE A GIVEN – indeed a right – which you should champion in OUR town.

Meanwhile, In The Real Media …

We were all suitably appalled by the Four Corners revelations about the treatment of aboriginal kids in the Don Dale juvenile naughty corner in Darwin. Disgusting stuff, all round, from the warders to the politicians, particularly the shifty, lying chief minister.

But in the ensuing debate when a Royal Commission was established, several people, many of them indigenous, pointed the finger at the kid’s parents who’s indifference and dysfunction put their children there in the first place. Calls for more responsible parenting were loudly made. But when The Australian’s respected and biting cartoonist Bill Leak gave his take on this aspect of the problem, all hanky wringing, indignant hell broke loose. Suffice to say, it’s been a grand old slanging match, all the more entertaining as a debate because it’s all done pictorially.

First, here’s what kicked off the outrage among mainly people whose closest encounter with an aboriginal is in the stands at a big city footy match.

Leak cartoo n

The uproar was such, and the Australian’s admirable defence of Leak so staunch, that the cartoonist drew in his own defence.Leal on leak

And there was no way Larry Pickering was staying out of this one, and he shoved it up the handwringers unmercifully.Pickering on Leak

Sterotyping maybe, but The ‘Pie for one is not about to take moral instruction from a self-appointed politically correct cheer squad. Fuck ‘em, and good on you, Leaky.

Why Good Media Advisers Are SO necessary

There are some truly heartening stats that visitor numbers to Magnetic Island have taken off this year, with July alone ticking up a decade best 35,000 visitors.

TEL's Paul Victory

TEL’s Paul Victory

Those figures came from ferry boss and TEL board member Paul Victory, who presumably just did a head count of his bums on seats – covering both ends, one would say, which is fair enough. But just one of the deeply baffling things Mr Victory had to tell Paula Tapiloas on ABC radio was a breakdown that showed 55% of these visitors were ‘out of town’. He didn’t say how he knew this, and it isn’t apparent.

However, let’s not quibble, we’ll take the cheery news.

But after that positive beginning to the interview, things got very wobbly very quickly. You can hear the 6 minute interview here, but highlights (?) of the interview included the startling and original assertion that tourists like the ‘quiteness’ of the CBD compared to say Cairns, because they can find some ‘peace’ there. So can the retailers, one guesses.

When the redoubtable Ms Tapiolas suggested some have criticized the lack of things to do in Townsville, Mr Victory said more than once that ‘ummm, there are things to do in Townsville’ – he kept mentioning Paluma and the Burdekin, which makes him geographically challenged if nothing else – but he said he was repeatedly told by visitors that they wish that had known more about Townsville before they arrived because there’s more to do than what people actually plan for. ‘When they get here, they realise they should have planned for more time,’ he said.

Ms Tapiloas asked how this might be addressed, and was told that trade marketing and informing the travel trade was the way to go.

Err, pardon, mate? How long have you been on the board of our ‘peak marketing body’ aka the (clearly well named) Dudley Do Nothings aka Townsville Enterprise. And what the hell have they been doing all these years with the inter alia $750,000 of annual ratepayer funds?

You couldn’t get a clearer admission of this crowd’s failure yet again to do their basic job.

But thank you Mr Victory for your courageous/accidental expose of this shameful waste of council money. You can now proceed with dignity to continue to make a handsome profit from your government mandated monopoly ferry service. Now we just need chairman Gill’s thoughts on what is needed to neatly round out a summary which spells out up what mugs we’ve been taken for.

Finally, In The Good Old USA

Of all the memorable moments in the current presidential campaign, The ‘Pie has come across something quite weird.  No surprise that now its down to tin tacks, family profiling is a major part of campaigning. But one wonders what the photographer asked of the posers to get this shot; one can only surmise that Hillary Clinton wanted to come across as Everymum, just another woman having a heart to heart about the birds and the bees with her kid. She seemed to be using a couple of everyday objects to gently explain the biological effects of female ageing. Like they say, a picture is worth …

Screen shot 2016-08-06 at 5.51.10 PM

That’s it for another week. If you can help out with a donation to help meet the costs of the nest, it’ll be a great help. The ‘how to donate’ button is below.

The Magpie's Nest is now more than five years old, and remains an independent alternative voice for Townsville. The weekly warble is a labour of love and takes a lot of time to put together. So if you like your weekly load of old cobblers, you can help keep it aloft with a donation, or even a regular voluntary subscription. Paypal is at the ready, it's as easy as ... well, easy as pie. Limited advertising space is also available.

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