Costume drama: the great blazer race that rocked the ABC

Guardian Web |

It’s been called the “great blazer race of 2018” and the email exchange enthralled Aunty’s staff for hours. It all began when the wardrobe department sent an email to all staff at Ultimo offering old ABC Sports blazers and blouses with logos.

“The Costume Dept is always tight on space. There are some old – and very old – ABC Sports logoed blazers, male and female, and a few blouses, available to all staff. They are on a rail just outside the lifts.”

Minutes later they were all gone. “You should get the CCTV vision of the ‘great blazer race of 2018’,” said one staffer. “That was super fast!! Someone should make sure this lightning event from ABC Wardrobe is registered on our ABC internal news.”

But then almost as fast came the all-staff messages of regret, tinged with anger. “If you got one and only using for dress ups... [I] know a few sport presenters that could have used them for on air!”

And another empty-handed staffer: “Didn’t see this message until now as was on breakfast shift but like Shannon said there’s quite a few of us who present TV sport for N24 every week who could well do with a logoed jacket. Shame sport news wasn’t considered first.”

Coveting old sports jackets with logos is a trait apparently shared by media professionals across public broadcasting and pay TV, one commenter revealed: “It was the same at Fox Sports when they came out, like seagulls over chips.”

Soon the costume department was calling for calm.

“PLEASE NOTE THOUGH – they were old jackets – most with old ABC logos that should not be worn on air … so please don’t. They had made their way to/been in the way in the Costume dept, since the ‘old Sports dept’ was dismantled some years back. We do still retain a selection for production requirements (which make for an interesting ‘thru the years’).

“Re current news sport presenters – IF it is determined the most recent logo that we have is OK for on-air, we have blazers you can utilise.

“But it is likely current logo/ABC branding is required … We will discuss direct with you.”

An hour later and the servers were threatening to collapse. The technology help desk sent out a warning to stop replying and commenting.

“Could you please limit the replies and comments to the original sender of the email ‘Costume Wardrobe Department general enquires Ultimo’. This is causing a lot of email traffic and load on the ABC internal email system.

Seeing an opportunity, comedian Dan Ilic, who had already grabbed two of the jackets, snapped pics of everyone wearing one to make it look like Tonightly had the lot and sent them to his colleagues. In truth, Ilic told Weekly Beast, he was trying to fill seats for the Tonightly studio audience.

“If you do want a blazer,” he wrote. “Come to our studio audience tonight … We are low on numbers and you can fight us for a blazer … WE HAVE ALL OF THEM!!!”

A little over a year after it launched promising to buck the digital trend with a local, hand-delivered print newspaper, the Neighbourhood paper has stopped publishing. Weekly Beast understands a number of freelance writers claim they are still owed thousands of dollars, including one who claims to be owed as much as $3,000.

The monthly newspaper, published by Jonathan Samway and edited by Mark Mordue, was aimed at the inner-city suburbs with a high-density arts, business and media community, and was a quality publication which was well-received by those who read it. It was funded by advertising and available in venues across the inner city suburbs of Sydney, and online.

Sources say the editor, Mordue, had no control over the finances and is distressed some writers have not been paid yet.

?? Perfect Saturday morning reading - thanks Jonathan! @JonathanSamway#neighbourhoodpic.twitter.com/XFaBfyFOr4Sophie Walsh (@sophie_walsh9)

The Neighbourhood announced it had ceased publishing on its Facebook page, although it was framed as a “short break” rather than a closure.

“We’re restructuring our business and hope to be back in a few months,” the unsigned message said.

“Since launching in we’ve delivered a monthly print edition for free to an average of 70,000 homes across Sydney’s inner east, inner city and inner west. Combined with our commercial distribution to select cafes, cinemas and retail outlets we’ve reached an estimated audience of 450,000.

“Our website traffic has grown exponentially. We have in excess of 42,000 people a week – nationally and internationally – visiting the site.



“Launching a publication and creating a new approach to quality media has not been easy. It’s why we’re pausing now as we negotiate with investors and examine the best path forward... We continue to believe in our mission. And in doing work that matters.”

Samway and Mordue have been approached for comment.

News Corp commentator Andrew Bolt is furious advertisers are being targeted to drop Sky News in the wake of the offensive interview with Senator David Leyonhjelm.

At Balsam Hill, we believe in spreading joy and embracing diversity. In the wake of the broadcast attacking @sarahinthesen8, we have decided to pull our advertising dollars from @SkyNewsAust. https://t.co/0FM5odE0X1 — Balsam Hill AU (@BalsamHillAU)

Sky has declined to confirm reports there were no ads in an episode of Outsiders this week and whether advertisers have pulled their money from other shows.

But it does seem like they are spooked because Bolt did an editorial on his Sky program, The Bolt Report, in which he slammed “activists and journalists of the left” for pushing a boycott of Sky.

He said they had turned Leyonhjelm’s comments about Sarah Hanson-Young into an “ideological weapon to drive Sky News off your screens”.

BOLT: How dare the haters now misuse the wrong done to @sarahinthesen8 and turn it into a crusade against @SkyNewsAust. #theboltreport

MORE: https://t.co/FO70JNIIqRpic.twitter.com/paSX8ggzIx — The Bolt Report (@theboltreport)

Without naming the lobby group, Sleeping Giants Oz, which has been encouraging advertisers to drop Sky from their roster, Bolt said it was unfair an entire station was being “demonised” because of one incident.

He said unlike the ABC, Sky was balanced because it had commentators from the left and the right, naming former Labor politicians Graham Richardson and Craig Emerson and Guardian Australia’s Melbourne editor Gay Alcorn as evidence of non-right commentators.

Media on the tiny island republic of Palau have joined the New Zealand press gallery in supporting Australian journalists who have condemned the Nauruan government’s restrictive reporting conditions imposed on the Pacific Island Forum.

News Corp remains the only media organisation to not support the ABC after it was banned by Nauru.

The Palau Media Council asked Nauru to reconsider the ban on the ABC because without coverage from Radio Australia people in island states will be left in the dark.

“And we from the north Pacific, the south Pacific, the islands, depend on it for so many programmes, from the University to the environmental programmes to the fishery,” the Media Council’s Kambes Kesolei told Radio NZ.

“And a lot of those issues are very important to be discussed at PIF Forum. We’re not going to have that information that we want if the Nauru government blocks Radio Australia from covering it.”

Finally some good news about the fate of public broadcasting, from the chairman of the ABC Justin Milne, who gave a stirring speech this week warning the ABC would die if it had to restrict its output on digital platforms.

“If the ABC were barred from serving audiences on digital platforms, it would wither away and cease to exist,” he told the American Chamber of Commerce in Sydney.

During a Q&A after the speech Milne revealed he had received a letter from Mitch Fifield in the wake of the Liberal Party conference passing a motion to privatise the ABC which assured him the ABC was to remain in public hands.

“The government is not trying to destroy the ABC, the prime minister is not, the minister for communications is not,” Milne revealed the letter said. We are all mightily relieved.

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