Monthly Archives: June 2019

2Day FM outrage: people power trumps regulators

The massive community backlash from the so-called royal prank-gone-wrong by two shock jocks on 2Day FM says a lot about the power of the people rather than the power of a company’s board or the regulators.
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So powerful was the community outcry when news spread that the prank had tragically culminated in the death of a nurse at King Edward VII Hospital that advertisers started to withdraw their advertising from the show and the company was forced to suspend it.

It was a similar community reaction to the comments made a few weeks ago by Alan Jones about the Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s father with suggestions that he had died of shame.

The regulator did nothing but consumers took to Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms, attacking the advertisers until they buckled under the pressure and withdrew their advertising. It also prompted Macquarie Radio Network to announce the temporary suspension of all advertising in its breakfast show and called it “21st century censorship via cyber bullying”.

In like fashion, the prospect of suspending the 2Day FM show along with the desertion of advertisers extended to the sharemarket, with the listed entity’s stock Southern Cross Media Group falling 6 per cent, as investors punted that the loss of advertisers would have a significant impact on the bottom line.

It is part of Australia’s culture to crack jokes but this time the joke turned from black comedy to a nightmare for all concerned.

It is yet another example of the power of social media to exert huge pressure on companies rather than the ineffectual regulators.

Just last week, Starbucks bowed to public pressure and pledged to pay taxes in the UK, despite regulators not being able to sanction the company for avoiding tax in the past three years as it was technically operating within the law. However, the consumer backlash – including people protesting outside its stores and the potentially huge damage to the brand – led to the company “volunteering” to pay 20 million pounds in tax.

Starbucks issued a statement that was gobsmacking but spoke volumes about the power of consumer and community backlashes. It said “it would pay a significant amount of tax during 2013 and 2014 regardless of whether the company is profitable during these years”.

Starbucks told the BBC the company had “listened to our customers” and was “making a number of changes in our business to ensure we pay corporation tax in the UK” – something it urged UK Uncut and other concerned parties to “carefully consider”.

There is no arguing that the 2Day FM prank was in poor taste but the tragedy that followed could never have been imagined. Nor do we know the background to it.

What we do know is the culture at Southern Cross Media Group is nasty and allows shock jocks to pull pranks all the time. The idea of a joke is everyone laughs, rather than it being at some unsuspecting person’s expense.

The board sets values for a company and if management takes decisions that are in contravention of the company’s values then something has to be done. Investors and directors of Southern Cross Media need to look at those values to see where they are falling short.

In this case the company has come out and said every attempt was made to ask for approval to run the pre-recorded tape but time ran out and it went to air and received lots of attention, which the station would have loved, until it all went horribly wrong.

What does it say about the brand? Does it put the quest for top ratings ahead of values?

With the power of social media growing exponentially, the debate is just about to begin.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net. Read more »

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If I’d known then what I know now …

“If you don’t have peers with pint-sized spit-bubble blowers, make mates that do. If at first your mothers’ group does not succeed, try again with another” … Melanie HearseAs Amy Corderoy reported earlier in the week, a new survey commissioned by the Mental Health Association NSW revealed that 42 per cent of mothers found the experience of parenthood much more stressful than they expected. And the twist in the tale? It’s the younger mothers who are most likely to be affected, with nearly a third reporting that they felt like other people were coping better than them, or experienced excessive worry and sadness.
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I’m not going to rehash the study. Instead, I’m going to rehash my own experience as a young mum that found parenthood much harder and more stressful than expected – so much so that by the time my first son was 15 months old, I was hospitalized with severe anxiety and depression. Before you switch off, it has a happy ending – perhaps the happiest part being that with baby number two, everything I learned from my experiences with number one made for a more enjoyable and relaxed ride.

The first few months as a new mum were okay. But I remember that when my hubby went to pick up takeaway on our first night back home, I ran away from my son as the thought ran through my mind that I could ‘squash him like a bug’. There was another moment, months later, where Max bounced face first off a coffee table in his bouncer, and I was terrified that if I told anyone they would take him away from me. But they were the only standout negative moments.

Then, when Max was about 10 months old, I stopped sleeping. I would have maybe two hours a night on a good night, but often I had none. After a month of this passed, I was a zombie. I was terrified and unhappy, and my mum and mother-in-law had to take it in shifts to take me to my doctor each day to report the same thing: still no change. I went on antidepressants, but I couldn’t shake the black dog.

At 2am, four weeks into the no-sleep regime, I called a cab, left a note for my husband, then set off for the emergency room to check myself in. My mum told me later how terrified she was to find out I was in the psych ward, and how brave she thought I was. But I wasn’t brave, I was determined – I had a son I’d previously adored who I was now afraid to be near, scared I’d become the star of one of those stories of a mum ‘flipping’ and hurting her kid.

With the support I had, I was able to be admitted as an outpatient, so I could go in and be checked out by day, see the counselors, and then go home to my parents’ house at night. I started to sleep again and the world slowly took on colour as my mum and I went for walks and talks. My husband bought my son to visit, and it makes me cry to say he barely felt like part of me – this is a kid I now consider a soul mate, we’re so in tune and alike.

One of the main things that moved my life forward was when my mum took Max and I to Ngala, a support service for families. I spilled my guts on the anxieties, the worries, the fears … everything that was becoming a new parent. I was the first of my friends to have a baby, so I had no one else to look and to see that what I was going through was all normal, and not at all the way I thought it would be. Without being too glib, the counsellor looked at me, almost puzzled, and said, “Well, all mums feel that way. It’s normal and it’s going to be okay.” And she helped me see how distorted my view of what parenthood ‘should’ look like really was.

Recalling that session reminds me of the funny photo doing the rounds at the moment. Snap one shows a mum and baby sleeping serenely side by side, captioned ‘perception’. Snap two, aptly captioned ‘reality’, shows a mum asleep with her toddler stretched across the bed, one foot planted over her mum’s face. The universal appeal of that meme tells us something – we all identify with having whole heartedly believed the top picture was what we were going to get, only to realize, after biting the apple, that picture two was the real deal.

So this is the happy part of my tale – the stuff that if I’d known then would have helped me enjoy little Max so much more (and why my experience with my second son, Sam, was light-years apart). The funny thing is that it has been almost seven years ago to the day that I first stopped sleeping, and therefore a month off the day I went to hospital. It goes to show that a lot can happen in seven years when you have lots of support!

Here’s my cheat sheet:Get as much professional advice and support as you can as a new parent, especially if you don’t have a huge and happy haven of girlfriends going through the same journey. Don’t ever feel afraid that what you’re going through is too weird, or too ‘not-fixable’ to share. Nothing is going to make you feel as normal (or as sheepish at your own anxieties/expectations) as another mum whacking you on the arm and hooting, ‘Oh my god, I thought it was just me!’ Accept help. Even if your sister, friend, mum or mother-in-law dish out unsolicited advice, or want to do things differently to you, grab their offers of help with both hands. You should have seen me go with baby number two – he was palmed off all over the place, even with his bachelor uncle. The kid is now confident, happy and sociable. You are not, as your mummy guilt might tell you, letting the team down by accepting a hand.If you are feeling like things are getting on top of you, visit your GP. Early intervention makes a difference – talking to them doesn’t mean you’ll ‘have’ to take medication, but they may refer you to a psychologist and set you up on the Medicare rebate plan.If you don’t have peers with pint-sized spit-bubble blowers, make mates that do. If at first your mothers’ group does not succeed, do try again with another. If your friend has a friend with a new bub, ignore any shyness or ‘can’t be bothered’-ness and catch up with her. Sharing war stories, poo jokes and special moments with someone going through the same thing is very reassuring. And if their house seems more pristine and ordered than yours … demand the house cleaner’s phone number.

To chat with other parents 24/7, visit the Essential Baby forums. To learn more about postnatal depression and anxiety, visit the PANDA website.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net. Read more »

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Chill-out zone: in the trenches with Melbourne Ice

Shannon Swan and Jason McFadyen turned their love of ice hockey into a compelling warts and all documentary.Some of the most compelling reality TV programs follow “ordinary” people in their extraordinary occupations. Goldminers in the Bering Sea; truckers in the Arctic; fishermen in the wildest waters of the Atlantic and Southern oceans; policing in fearsome urban jungles – shows that highlight such jobs are now a successful TV staple.
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Professional sports have remained one of the few realms to resist this trend, most clubs determined to protect and control how they are portrayed.

It took two Australians, following an amateur ice hockey team, to deliver a truly captivating “access all areas” sports documentary.

The Ice: Road to Three-Peat depicts Melbourne Ice in its 10th anniversary season as it strives to become the first team in the history of the Australian Ice Hockey League to win three successive titles.

The footage is not so much “behind the scenes” as embedded in the midst of them, the cameras mingling with coaches and players as they despair and exult, fight and score. For Resolution Media’s hockey-mad Shannon Swan and Jason McFadyen, it was a labour of love that blessed them with a surfeit of material.

In a remarkably eventful season, the club endured two major suspensions to key players, a form slump that tested their self-belief and team cohesion, and a near amputation to its star player, among many other dramas en route to a thrilling finals series.

Swan says the show worked because of trust and love.

“Deep down inside – we didn’t realise it at the time – but we’d fallen in love with the team and all the people involved.

“It’s a really weird thing because a lot of people say they were conscious of you having the camera around, and they were at the start, until we showed them the first episode – then we had their trust. And then it was almost like a cloak of invisibility: you could be in a room with a camera and no one would bat an eyelid. No one would even notice you were there, and that’s why we got all those shots.”

Swan and McFadyen believe that quickly winning the trust of the participants is vital to the success of such “workplace” documentaries. But they have further advice for those who would follow in their footsteps.

“Follow something that you love because you know it. And you’re going to spend a lot of time doing it so make sure you enjoy it.

“The other thing is they [the subjects] have got to have buy-in themselves. You can’t be continually trying to talk them in to doing something. They knew that they wanted to do it and why it was important.”

Ice president Andy Lamrock and coach Paul “Jaffa” Watson immediately grasped the impact the six-part series could have on their team, and the sport in Australia. But they could not have reasonably expected that it would be not only picked up and aired by Foxtel, but become the subject of international interest from documentary festivals and even US and Canadian broadcasters.

The producers say Watson was a “huge driver” of the show – calling the camera crew in when he knew something was going to happen.

“They realised what we were doing and that was when they saw the first episode they saw that we weren’t out to exploit them, that we had their back, we wanted to tell their story and promote the game.”

Despite its affection for the sport and the players, the production had to keep its distance.”Just observe the zoo, don’t be a part of the zoo,” Swan says. But that was a tough challenge.

“You’ve got to let the drama unfold in front of you. I found that probably the most difficult aspect of it, because they were all good blokes and we’re now friends with most of them.

“We had to make sure we weren’t censoring anything because we knew the guys . . . we definitely left a space for the audience to make up their minds. We didn’t sugarcoat any of the issues which happened . . . we had to stay neutral.”

That included keeping the cameras running when teammates were calling each other to account, or team captain Vinnie Hughes was involved in a controversial fight.

Swan and McFadyen were originally inspired to embark on a sports documentary in part by HBO’s acclaimed 24/7 series, which follows two professional ice hockey teams in the weeks leading up to the annual outdoors “Winter Classic” game.

However, the NHL teams involved in 24/7 remain commercial entities, the players wary, experienced media performers, and the production a commitment to just a slice of a long season.

Resolution considered doing the same for AFL, basketball or cricket in Australia, but found “they were all too censored and they were all too controlled”.

The best subject was right under their hockey-loving noses.

“People go on Big Brother to get something out of it, they want to be famous,” Swan says. “These guys were involved because they loved what they do, not because they wanted to be famous out of it, not because they wanted money but because . . . they loved what they do and they wanted to show off what they do. That’s why it was successful and people were themselves.”

Melbourne Ice players train and prepare as intently as many professional sportspeople, and the organisation, volunteer-run, has grown five-fold in three years since moving to the Icehouse in Melbourne’s Docklands.

The balance of the amateur and professional is precarious for Australian ice hockey, and its portrayal broadens the appeal of the series.

“They’re a minority sport, they’re amateurs, they don’t have to worry about sponsors, they don’t have to worry about a public profile yet – even though it’s on the verge of that,” Swan says.

“So they could be themselves. They didn’t have anything to lose, really, because they don’t have anything. So it was that opportunistic thing of their sport isn’t censored at this stage, there’s no public profile . . . So what you got was something that was really raw and it was real. So I think that’s why the results were so good and they were themselves.

“It did perfectly line up for us, the season they had, how down they got, even when they were two-nil down in the final. The story almost told itself, we were just lucky to be part of it.”

Swan and McFadyen enjoy all manner of documentaries – “Anything that gives an insight into what you just don’t get to see,” as McFadyen puts it. But they remain most in love with sport.

“I’ve always said that sport is the best reality TV,” Swan says. “A guy breaks his leg on the MCG on a Friday night and it’s everywhere. Someone on Big Brother does something and nobody cares, because it’s all set up.”

And they both loved making Road to Three-Peat so much that they are suffering withdrawal – it is hard to replicate that love they felt.

Detailing proposed follow-ups with Ice and the AIHL, McFadyen says they will miss “being part of the team and part of the club”.

“I don’t think we can handle not having any hockey around.”

But Swan says whatever the duo takes on next, it will never be the same as the extraordinary six months they spent with Melbourne Ice.

“That’s the hardest thing. Because even if we go on a road trip next year you’re not in the locker room, you’re not part of it, you’re in the crowd, you’re a fan again. So as much as you might have a couple of beers afterwards, you’re not in the trenches feeling every blow.”

Official site: The Ice: Road To Threepeat

The Age’s report on the AIHL 2012 grand final – click here

Melbourne Ice -click here

Melbourne Mustangs -click here

AIHL -click here

Melbourne Icehouse – click here

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net. Read more »

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‘This is going to be a fortune’: investors wanted Obeids out of coal deal, inquiry told

“Why would we leave?” … Moses Obeid. Ian Macdonald.
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“They’ve looked down our throats and up our arses and they haven’t found anything,” was Moses Obeid’s angry reaction on being told that his family’s reputation would damage a coal deal and that the other investors wanted them out.

Mining magnate Travers Duncan told the Independent Commission Against Corruption on Monday that in 2010, when he was informed the family of controversial Labor MP Eddie Obeid had a 25 per cent shareholding in Cascade Coal, he wanted them out.

The commission is inquiring into whether Cascade Coal was corruptly awarded a coal exploration licence in 2009 by the then NSW mining minister Ian Macdonald.

The Obeid family and their associates bought up key farms in the Mount Penny area in advance of Mr Macdonald announcing that the area would be part of a coal tender.

They also managed to negotiate a 25 per cent stake in the winning bidder Cascade Coal.

Mr Duncan, who the commission has revealed dined regularly with Mr Macdonald throughout 2009, was one of a group of seven prominent businessmen who invested in Cascade Coal. Mr Duncan, 80, has denied receiving confidential government information from Mr Macdonald in relation to the tender.

The commission has heard that Mr Duncan was “quite surprised” when he found that a third party had a 25 per cent stake in Cascade in 2009. He said that he was informed by either investment banker Richard Poole or fellow mining magnate John McGuigan, both of whom were major investors in Cascade Coal.

However, Mr Duncan has claimed that it was not until early 2010 that he learned that the Obeids had the 25 per cent. “You’ve got to fix it,” Mr Duncan said he told Mr Poole.

“I don’t wish to repeat the language,” said Mr Duncan of Eddie Obeid’s son Moses’s expressed reluctance to leave the deal.

“Why would we go? This is going to be a fortune,” Mr Obeid is alleged to have said about the amount of coal that lay under their farms at Mount Penny.

Mr Duncan said he told them they should go then and there or they would be left with nothing. “I will out-spend you and you [your shareholding] will be diluted,” he threatened Moses Obeid.

In February 2010, Mr Poole’s investment bank Arthur Phillip prepared a document called Project Phoenix which was aimed at finding a way for White Energy, a public company which had five of the seven Cascade investors on its board, to buy Cascade. Part of that document referred to the “Sanitisation of Cascade” which was a code for getting rid of the Obeids in preparation for the sale.

The proposed $500 million sale later collapsed after the Australian Stock Exchange made inquiries about the identity of some of the Cascade shareholders and a mysterious $28 million payment which has now been revealed to have been part of the Obeids’ buyout.

Mr Duncan will be followed in the witness box by fellow millionaire Brian Flannery. Mr Duncan and Mr Flannery made more than $500 million each in 2009 when they sold their mining company Felix Resources to a Chinese conglomerate.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net. Read more »

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