The great reset: Sky News flips on lockdown criticism

Sky News political editor Andrew Clennell followed in the fine tradition of colleagues Peta Credlin and Chris Kenny when he swooped into Gladys Berejiklian’s daily Covid briefing on Thursday and aggressively questioned the premier about the effectiveness of the lockdown.

A fired-up Clennell – who complained repeatedly about the burden of home schooling – dominated the conference, peppering the premier with about a dozen questions, interrupting her answers and talking loudly over other reporters.

“Premier, you have locked us down for three weeks and now you are looking at locking us down for another two weeks,” he said. “We are all home schooling and locked down. What is to say it won’t be another two weeks on top of that?”

For the regular NSW parliament press pack it was a Clennell performance they had witnessed before: he drops in to ask the “hard questions” he believes no one is asking.

Eventually the Clennell interrogation was halted by Channel Nine reporter Chris O’Keefe, who stepped in to say enough is enough.

Unlike Credlin, who criticised Victorian premier Daniel Andrews for subjecting Melbourne to the “longest and hardest lockdowns in the world”, Clennell demanded to know why Berejiklian didn’t lock Sydney down longer and harder.

“When are you going to acknowledge it is time to lock it down harder to get rid of this thing?” he asked.

Coming on the back of the wider News Corp rhetoric of Andrews as “Dictator Dan” who was crippling the state’s economy, it was quite the backflip.

Clennell’s line was not welcomed by the Daily Telegraph opinion editor and Sky Outsiders host James Morrow.

Berijiklian didn’t shut Clennell down – like Andrews did to Credlin – but she did say later in the briefing: “It’s not really nice being shouted at, can I say.”

Sky clear

The point of the Clennell performance became clear a few hours later when Sky News showed the exchange in full, with their correspondent as truth seeker “asking the questions that all Sydneysiders are asking”. The question which didn’t get a run was the one in which he demanded the premier guarantee the end of the lockdown.

“Can you guarantee we won’t be locked down and home schooling for the entire month of August … Can you guarantee us this will end on July 30th?”

Kelly gang

The podcast world was rocked by the news this week that Paul Kelly, the eminence grise of political journalism, is launching a podcast. With elegant simplicity the podcast was named Paul Kelly: Columns. Because that’s exactly what it is: the 73-year-old journalist reading his columns aloud.

As if that wasn’t enough to take in, the piece announcing the move contained the remarkable claim that Kelly is so “surprising” with his insights he even surprises himself.

“If you think you know what Paul Kelly is likely to write on a certain topic, you’re probably wrong,” the Oz executive editor Claire Harvey wrote.

The great reset: Sky News flips on lockdown criticism

“The Australian’s editor-at-large, the guru of national affairs, has devoted his 50 years at the heart of political journalism to surprising the reader – and himself – with insights even he doesn’t see coming.”

Some unkind observers believe the podcast, read in Kelly’s distinctive tone, might also be a cure for insomnia, much like the BBC’s Shipping Forecast, which has been used by Britons as a sleep aid for decades.

Canine campaigning

Annabel Crabb’s excellent new ABC TV series, Ms Represented, contains a rich collection of interviews with female politicians past and present who are unusually candid about the sexism they faced in politics.

In episode one Crabb talks to former Labor minister Ros Kelly who, in 1983, became the first federal MP to give birth while in office and served in the Bob Hawke and Paul Keating governments.

The former member for Canberra tells Crabb how she had to prove to voters that she was a “normal woman” in order to get elected.

“I then had a partner who didn’t want to be involved in the campaign at all so to soften my image I did two things,” Kelly said. “First of all I mainly campaigned with my dog.

“Everywhere I went I had my little yellow car [with the slogan] ‘Ros Kelly Cares for Canberra’ and my dog. And I had Mrs Kelly’s cook book.”

Kelly’s husband at the time was of course journalist Paul Kelly, whose name she retained after they divorced.

Bad Knewz

We called it the ugliest website to go live in decades when it launched last year, but just 18 months later News Corp’s global news brand has gone dark.

The aggregation site elicited cries of “It’s making my eyes bleed” back in January 2020 due to its cluttered links and yellow highlighter scrawl.

“Knewz nous is in the house,” the company cried about its project which was designed to compete with Google News – but only “balanced” – and present news from a wide variety of sources.

The farewell message at was surprisingly frank, admitting the project failed because it “certainly had provenance, but no profits”.

The decision comes several months after News Corp signed a multi-year partnership with Google that will lead to the search engine paying for journalism from news sites around the world, including the Wall Street Journal, the Times and the Australian.

Quieter Neighbours

For the first time in Neighbours’ 36-year history, the world’s silliest, sunniest show won’t screen five nights a week on telly.

“From Monday, July 26, Neighbours will air four nights a week, from Monday to Thursday at 6.30pm on 10 Peach,” Ten told popular blog TV Tonight.

But Neighbours fans here and in the UK can relax because the show is not being cut back. The change has reportedly been made to bring Australian episodes into line with the schedule on Channel 5 in the UK, which fell behind Australia when it ran only two episodes a week when the pandemic threatened production.

It seems the gap in transmission meant online spoilers were ruining it for British fans.

Balance of power

The power structure at the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age has been shaken up with the promotion of Tory Maguire to executive editor. The reshuffle came after the resignation of chief digital and publishing officer Chris Janz, who missed out on the chief executive role that went to Mike Sneesby when Hugh Marks abruptly resigned in November.

Maguire will now have editorial oversight of all the Nine metro mastheads, including the digital only Brisbane Times and WAToday.

Although never having edited a metro paper, Maguire is higher up the food chain than Age editor Gay Alcorn and Herald editor Lisa Davies. A former opinion editor at News Corp, Maguire was editor-in-chief of HuffPost Australia, which she launched in 2015.

She joined the Fairfax/Nine group after Fairfax Media’s joint venture with the Huffington Post came to an end in 2017.

Maguire takes over from James Chessell, who has been promoted to managing director publishing and now adds the Australian Financial Review to his remit. We hope AFR editor-in-chief Michael Stutchbury doesn’t mind sharing the reins with Chessell.