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Ethical Australian Journalists Guide


February 27, 2004

Walking the talk

If you've ever wondered what a Pyrrhic victory is, or been unsure what a cappella singing is, then the New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy is for you. It covers all sorts of cultural references. Bone up here and you too can appear cultured and erudite (witty is up to you). It's from 2002 and is available through the Bartleby collection of online reference books. You might find it easier (and more fun) to browse here rather than search, but both are offered. Find it at
Posted by belinda at 09:06 AM | Comments (0)

February 26, 2004

Publish and be spammed?

While Web usability expert Jakob Nielsen believes email newsletters still have plenty of mileage in them, he warns that people who don't want to get them any more often block them as spam rather than go through the bother of unsubscribing. As Nielsen warns: "The fact that many users will declare a newsletter to be spam when they tire of it has terrifying implications: legitimate newsletters might get blacklisted and thus ISPs might block their delivery to other subscribers. This is a compelling reason to increase the usability of the unsubscribe process: better to lose a subscriber than to be listed as spam." Certainly anything that makes it easy for people to get off mailing lists they are sick of would be good. All too often unsubscribing doesn't work, or results in even more unwanted mail. Newsletter publishers need to address this. The full piece, "Targeted Email Newsletters Show Continued Strength" is at
Posted by belinda at 11:03 AM | Comments (0)

More than just apples

Launched online this month is new Tassie offering, Leatherwood Online, a full colour mag which bills itself as a Journey of Discovery for Tasmania. It covers the arts, food, travel, and heritage as well as stories about ordinary Tasmanians. It features some terrific photographs including wilderness areas and surfing shots from Shipstern Bluff. Get some tips for your next southern holiday. Find it at
Posted by belinda at 09:07 AM | Comments (0)

Going for Google gold

New companies are floated on stock exchanges all the time but only a few really get investors excited. The upcoming float of Google, called an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in the US, is probably one of them. US investors who got burned in the Nasdaq meltdown are probably hoping to recoup some cash by buying into the Google IPO. Wired News has a piece called The Complete Guide to Googlemania! at which explains what's happening and does a bit of crystal ball-gazing.
Posted by belinda at 08:52 AM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2004

Super not so super any more?

Last week, the Parliamentary Library looked at MPs' take home pay and allowances. Now they are looking at superannuation. The latest eBrief, Superannuation Benefits for Senators and Members, is at Apparently, it was compiled in response to 'client demand' - someone is trying to keep these people honest. Whatever the super scheme's like, it'll be better than most Australians have got, so it's high time it got an airing.
Posted by belinda at 03:08 PM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2004

Parliamentary super

John Howard may have committed future pollies to a more miserly regime of superannuation (while hanging on to his own large entitlement), but no politician should really cry poor. The Parliamentary Library has the lowdown on what they get and it's a lot more than lucrative than slinging burgers. Read all about it at
Posted by belinda at 04:15 PM | Comments (0)

And the winner is ...

Not the viewer anyway - MSNBC's second Big Picture feature, all about the upcoming Oscars ceremony, has an image problem - many people won't be able to view the snazzy Flash feature MSNBC ( has put together. This is a shame as it has long film clips of nominees in different categories (in large format too), interviews, voting and more. The site aims to provide interactive-TV-like audio and video coverage of the February 29 Academy Awards, so it's time to get the bugs out, folks. (I've got it working now, but it took a while ...) Despite this there is a lot that is working, and this is probably the Web way of the future for these kind of events. See for yourself at
Posted by belinda at 12:44 PM | Comments (0)

Election coverage

The excellent Poynter organisation has a Centerpiece on Election Coverage 2004, which would be interesting reading for any journalist who covers elections. While the Poynter piece talks about the US Presidential race, the ideas it raises are applicable everywhere - namely, "It's no mystery why journalists generally ignore outsider candidates: We don't want to lend credence to people with no chance, while giving short shrift to those who may actually win... What bothers me about this justification is that it assumes the only thing that matters in a political contest is who wins. Issues, in other words, are not very important." All too true. The piece goes on to say "... [while] we have no trouble covering the front-runners enough, we have trouble covering them well." Hear hear. This gets to the nub of what is wrong with a lot of coverage here - we know who's in front but very little about what they stand for. Yet if we can't get into issues at election time, when can we? Read the piece at
Posted by belinda at 11:52 AM | Comments (0)

I'm so surprised

The Union of Concerned Scientists, ( a group that includes 20 Nobel prizewinners, has condemned the Bush administration for distorting scientific facts to suit its own policy agenda on the environment, health policy, nuclear weapons and industry. Wired News has the story about the organisation's recently released report, Scientific Integrity in Policymaking, which can be found online at In addition, the UCS accuses the Bush administration of "stacking panels with like-minded and underqualified scientists with ties to industry, and eliminating some advisory committees altogether." Fighting words.
Posted by belinda at 11:16 AM | Comments (0)

Pornography in the hi-tech age

Porn over wireless connections? It'll be coming at you soon, and it could be "the end of privacy as we know it", according to Larry Flynt, long time publisher of Hustler magazine. He talks to Wired News about the changes technology has wrought in the porn industry. Flynt hasn't done badly out of pornography. As he says: "When I went into this business in the 1970s it was a $600 million a year business. Today it's an $11 billion a year business. It's not going away. People aren't interested in others controlling what they can do or read or see in the privacy of their own homes." Read the full interview at,1848,62343,00.html/wn_ascii
Posted by belinda at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2004

US Presidential campaign weblog

The New York Times has started up a blog to report from the campaign trail of the US Presidential campaigns. Times on the Trail is frequently updated and should be essential for those who have to get the latest. Find it at Expect some damaging revelations as the fight gets dirty.
Posted by belinda at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

February 09, 2004

Bad sports

While on paper Australia is a champion of the international human rights framework, in practice Australia is increasingly defiant of the umpire's decision on current human rights practices. The Gilbert +Tobin Centre of Public Law at UNSW has produced a paper on the topic, The sovereignty stratagem: Australia’s response to UN human rights treaty bodies, written by Devika Hovell. The piece includes a potted summary of Australian responses to human rights treaty bodies - which makes for depressing reading since much of it is along the lines of 'we'll take our bat and ball and go home because you're picking on us'. So mature. The research is at
Posted by belinda at 04:07 PM | Comments (0)

Good schools?

John Howard would have us believe the state school system is failing children, so it is timely that the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) has published an article entitled What makes a good school?. Presumably it's one where politicians don't venture for photo opps when they're in campaign mode. According to ACER, some characteristics include 'strong and effective school leaders', 'outstanding school cultures', a learning-centred approach and good monitoring and evaluation systems for school performance. Strong parental and community support is also key. Read the full piece at
Posted by belinda at 03:13 PM | Comments (0)

Whether we like it or not

Looks like we're on for the free trade agreement with the US, so it's best to be informed of the worst. The Parliamentary Library has prepared a Research Note entitled Australia–US Free Trade Agreement: overview of potential legal issues at It covers areas that are likely to be affected by the agreement.
Posted by belinda at 03:05 PM | Comments (0)

So what is news now?

What was newsworthy pre-Internet may no longer fit in the online news era, according to a new book by MIT Professor Pablo J. Boczkowski. A sociologist who studies how print news organisations deal with new digital media technologies, he's now written a book to describe the changes news has undergone online espcially with reader participation helping to define what news should be. Digitizing the News: Innovation in Online Newspapers will be published in April 2004 by MIT Press. It costs US $30 and has an ISBN 0-262-02559-0. Details can be found at MIT Press. Online Journalism Review has an article on the book and the ideas behind it at
Posted by belinda at 02:40 PM | Comments (0)

For the Record

Each year, the United Nations publishes For the Record, a country-by-country overview of human rights issues with links to relevant United Nations documents. The latest to appear is 2003 at . A few sections are still under construction but as these are the introduction, foreword, etc., this is not a huge problem. The other six volumes, which cover, in turn, Thematic Mechanisms & Approaches; Africa; Asia; Latin America & the Caribbean; Central & Eastern Europe; and Western Europe & Other (which bewidleringly includes both Australia and the United States) are all there. There are also Appendices. Older issues of the annual going back to 1997 are available at the site.
Posted by belinda at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2004

Being a Scientist

Science may not be the most glamorous profession, but knowing what kinds of science are possible in such a fast-changing field may be useful - to school students, journalists looking for interview subjects, and others. The Australian Academy of Science has put up a site of interviews with Australian scientists at Transcripts are available and teachers notes are provided for anyone wnating to use them in the classroom.
Posted by belinda at 02:16 PM | Comments (0)