When news just isn’t news

I like the Sun-Herald and I read it every Sunday. But I didn’t like the fact that slap bang on today’s front page was Kristy Fraser-Kirk and her fiancee and the headline, “EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Kristy Fraser-Kirk on marriage and life after DJs”. It’s one of those stories that you would expect from trashy tabloids like New Idea (together with a massive cover photo). I do wonder, does anyone still care about a person who hogged so much of the spotlight last year? I’m sure we’re sick of hearing about her.

The Fraser-Kirk update wasn’t the only story that irritated me. On page three, there was another un-newsworthy story about Juanita Phillips, the ABC newsreader. Yes, a newsreader is a fascinating news item! It turns out her marriage is on the rocks and her husband is in hospital suffering from bowel cancer. As the ABC said, it’s a private matter, and also it’s none of anyone’s business.

Perhaps it was a slow news day. but how depressing to think that good ratings depends on stories like these.


2010: another year of sex scandals

Have you lost track of how many sex scandals have been exposed by the media during 2010? No doubt you would. 2010 was another year filled with plenty of scandal to keep the media happy. In Sunday’s Sun-Herald, Matt Golding published a witty cartoon that summed this up. I thought it was hilarious especially with the dog staring directly at “Canberra Raiders Lewd Act With Dog”.

Notice the pun used- “naughties”. I thought this was a very clever and accurate way to describe the decade that has passed. We like to talk about it as being a time of great technological advances thanks to smartphones and social media. But along with their popularity, we have seen a surge in the number of sex scandal stories to the extent that it might as well have its own section in the news.

Crikey recently published an interesting article describing how things have changed dramatically thanks to smartphones and social media. In the past, those whose dirty secrets were exposed were just unlucky. “The two Aston Villa stars made a VHS video (remember them?) in 1998 with four women only for “Joe Public” to “find” the video in Yorke’s garbage and hand it to UK tabloid The Sun,” writes Leigh Josey.

Nowadays, you don’t need to dig around someone’s trash to find a sex scandal because there is Facebook and Twitter, or better yet, the Internet where anything and everything will viral. There’s no point thinking about policing this because it’s impossible. Plus, you have to be really stupid to let people take photos of you doing something like having sex with a dog.

Unless these celebrities finally get the point and learn to think (I highly doubt this), we can only expect more sex scandals in 2011 and in the next decade.

Everybody hates Kristy

Kristy Fraser-Kirk has finally settled her $37 million claim against David Jones and its former CEO Mark McInnes. At last!

Sadly for her, she didn’t get that massive sum of money she wanted. Instead she received $850,000, which is still a lot of money. Never mind that she’s settled the case because Fraser-Kirk is not giving a single cent to charity.

What does that say about her character? In a statement, Fraser-Kirk says:

“I had asked the Court to award punitive damages, which was to go to charity, but as the Court will no longer be determining the case that’s no longer possible. I look forward, however, to participating in charitable work in the future.”

Pfft! What a lame excuse. Sorry guys, I would only give to charity if I got the sum I asked for, but since I didn’t I’m keeping it all to myself.

A cartoon by the Sydney Morning Herald’s cartoonist Cathy Wilcox explains this perfectly.

Well sorry Kristy, if you seriously cared about exposing sexual harassment in the workplace, you would have bettered your cause by perhaps giving some part of that money to an organisation or group that supports women.

A reader’s letter to the SMH probably explains it better.

“This is the latest distortion that has sadly affected Ms Fraser-Kirk’s credibility. First was the outlandish $37 million claim. ‘General damages in sexual harassment cases have never exceeded the low hundreds of thousands of dollars and ‘punitive’ damages are usually awarded in the low tens of thousands of dollars (if at all). Her claim can be viewed only as a poorly advised publicity stunt … To restore some credibility, she should donate some of the damages to charity. To say it is no longer possible is a distortion, and she knows.”

In a poll by the SMH, turns out most people agree that Fraser-Kirk was only out to get money.

Perhaps she was courageous (the other option) at first but any sympathy that I and probably many others had for her disappeared when she demanded $37 million, then asked David Jones to pay for her US holiday, and now this.

I hope she enjoys the money. She better save it because it’s highly unlikely any company will want to hire her now.

Junk food akin to drugs, according to ad

The whole debate over junk food advertising and its link to childhood obesity is one that will never go away. In the Sun-Herald today, there was an article about a controversial commercial that has been released online, which you can watch here. It’s been quite popular with over 230,000 hits on Youtube.

The ad made by Sydney agency, Precinct Studios,  shows a mother preparing heroin. As she is about to inject her son, the scene changes to show him eating a hamburger. It ends with the message: “You wouldn’t inject your children with junk so why are you feeding it to them?”

The ad blames parents for the obesity epidemic saying feeding them junk food is like injecting them with drugs.  This view is backed up by the managing director of the agency, Henry Motteram who told the SMH “it’s not their fault. The more I thought about it, the more it came back to the parents every time.” He adds that giving junk food to children is the same as child abuse.

While I believe that parents hold some responsibility for what their child(ren) consume, feeding them junk food is definitely not like feeding drugs. That is, unless it’s their staple diet and they are eating nothing else. But that does not seem to be the ad’s position. The ad is advocating NO JUNK FOOD at all. There is nothing wrong with the occasional hamburger. I’m all for it.

Those who disagree with the ad like Karen Sims from lobby group the Parents Jury say that advertisers are part of the problem. “Parents cop the blame for childhood obesity but that’s simplistic view,” she told the SMH. “There are plenty of products which are marketed as being healthy when they are not. Then there are the products which make children believe the world won’t spin unless they have them.”

With the exception of the argument that advertising contain false information about being healthy (this is where I strongly support the outrage of parent groups), at the end of the day, parents have the final say. Using Sims’ terms, it’s simplistic to just blame advertising for creating overweight kids. The food industry is a business and companies need to market their products.

Parents should encourage their children to develop good habits including healthy eating from an early age. They don’t have to give in to the advertisers or their kids when they beg them to buy whatever it is they want. There are a lot more dangerous threats than junk food advertising outside and you can’t censor everything.

A wonderful example of how not to advertise online

Today, I was reading an article on the Sydney Morning Herald, but as I approached the half-way point in the story, I found my reading interrupted by a flashy advertisement promoting the Australian Stock Report.

I respect the fact that websites need to have ads (to survive),  and I’m fine with them being there. I’m even content with those annoying ads that unexpectedly pop up videos and even flash animation. If there’s an option to close it, the website is forgiven. However, the Australian Stock Report is an example of an obtrusive ad readers are forced to look at because part of it cuts through the article.  And no, there was no close option.

Spot the punctuation mistake

I know I will sound like a grammar Nazi saying this, but this Citibank ad has annoyed me a little due to a tiny punctuation error.

You may not notice it, but there is a COMMA missing after the word world.

Put simply, this comma is important because it helps the reader to decipher the meaning. On the surface, people will automatically understand that the ad is just stating that in this man’s world, there are no monthly fees. However, if you read the ad literally, it would be “in my world bank accounts”. That definitely does not make sense.

My problem with an A Current Affairs’ story about dieting

Tonight, ACA did a story about sugar and how it is bad for your health. This is not new story, but just rehashed facts with a new spin/angle.

I will not do a deep analysis of the health aspects about the segment as I am not a doctor or a nutritionist but here are my thoughts on the story.

1. This expert (a lawyer), David Gillespie claims he lost weight by removing sugar from his diet completely. However, why is there a shot of him eating potato chips on a couch at the moment the reporter says that he “shed 40 kilos”. It seems quite ironic. (See picture below.) According to Gillespie, “cut out the sugar, you’ll notice the weight peeling away and you’ll feel better”. Yes, and it’s okay to have lots of salty snacks like chips.

2. Gillespie recycles facts that a person should already know about food in their supermarket. E.g. Coke contains high levels of sugar, manufactured apple juice is bad and so are sugary cereals.

3. The next part made me laugh when the reporter goes to the cheese section of the supermarket and calls it the “dieting disaster, the evil aisle”. Gillespie tells her that there is nothing wrong with cheese because there is no sugar in them .

4. Following this, the story focuses on a woman who has followed Gillespie’s diet plan and she happily points out the contents of her fridge: “there’s dips, there’s creams, butter, full cream milk, pasta, bacon, meat, eggs, cheese all of that and I lost 10 kilos”. Wait a minute! Creams? Full cream milk? Bacon? Aren’t those examples of items that people should be cutting down on? “It doesn’t feel like a diet,” says this woman. “It’s a change I’ve found extraordinarily easy”.

I am not saying ACA are entirely wrong but there are obvious holes in their story. They don’t even talk about exercise as being important to losing weight. It’s just a case of “get rid of sugar in your life and you’ll be fine”. I can’t help but be cynical of that.

You can watch the video (and read an accompanying article) on the ACA website.