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Press watchdog wades once again into Australian tabloids’ unfair reporting of trans issues

<span>Photograph: Paul Miller/AAP</span>
Photograph: Paul Miller/AAP

The press watchdog has found the Daily Telegraph failed to ensure a story about transgender players in a volleyball competition was fair and balanced.

It was a familiar story to anyone who keeps an eye on the reporting of trans issues. Since 2019 there have been 12 adjudications about trans issues at various Australian publications, all but one of which were found to be either inaccurate, offensive and harmful or both.

“There has been an increase in adjudications regarding reporting on transgender issues in recent times,” the Australian Press Council told Weekly Beast. “It is likely that this reflects growing community awareness of transgender issues, and the higher profile of these issues in the media.”

The spike in numbers does not include complaints about reporting in the Australian by the head of the Royal Children’s hospital Melbourne gender clinic who said the newspaper published 45 articles about her.

Related: Media watchdog dismisses accusations Sky News propagated hatred towards Muslims

A recent story on news.com.au included the caption: “Murder victim Peter Aston was beaten, shaved, tortured and buried alive” by Reid and his “transgender soldier lover”. The council said the story could lead some readers to conclude that there was “a connection between transgender status and the commission of the crime” and that prominently referring to the “accomplice’s transgender status” contributed to substantial prejudice.

The Herald Sun was rapped over the knuckles for describing a defendant in a court story as “a transgender woman who suffered from personality disorder” and the Daily Mail for saying “Cross-dressing serial killer, 75, wants YOU to pay for his sex change surgery when he’s released from jail.”

In 2019, the same year the council published advisory guidelines on reporting on persons with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics, the Daily Tele said: “Having been chopped herself” a “Sydney tranny” at the centre of another court case “allegedly sought to share the experience”.

The guidelines advise that “unfair or inaccurate reporting of persons with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics and issues related to them … can have adverse mental health outcomes and harmful implications.”

Foxtel basks in Emmy nominations

Succession’s Sarah Snook, who has received an Emmy nomination.
Sarah Snook has received an Emmy nomination for her role as Shiv Roy in the HBO series Succession. Photograph: Stephen Lovekin/Rex/Shutterstock

Foxtel is positively salivating over the number of Emmy nominations the pay TV platform has received: “Foxtel celebrates over 290 Emmy nominations” it declared.

The company claims “Foxtel content” accounts for “over 139 Emmy nominations this year”, including acting nods for Australia’s Sarah Snook (Succession), Toni Collette (The Staircase) and Murray Bartlett (The White Lotus).

Wait a minute. Did Foxtel commission, produce or fund Succession, The Staircase or The White Lotus? No, but Foxtel did screen the shows, which appears to be enough to claim the spoils. Success has many fathers.

But if Foxtel content has 139 nominations, where did the other 151 nominations come from?

Related: Emmys 2022: Succession leads the way with 25 nominations

Foxtel has included the nominations received by rival streaming platforms Netflix and Amazon Prime because … the Foxtel set-top boxes now give access to other streaming apps.

“Foxtel viewers are now able to enjoy more than 290 Emmy nominated moments all in one place thanks to the integration of Netflix, Amazon Prime, SBS and ABC iView apps on iQ3, iQ4 and iQ5 set top boxes.” Now that’s a real stretch.

The real winner in the Emmy stakes is HBO/HBO Max which had a total of 140 nominations, ahead of Netflix with 105.

Spin doctors switch it up

The Labor government is slowly filling its staffing ranks, hiring journalists from the press gallery, from other government departments, or transferring them between Labor members to make up the 470 positions needed.

Anthony Albanese’s long-term media adviser Matthew Franklin, who has been with the member for Grayndler through nine long years in opposition, told friends he chose to step down after the election. Franklin, who was a political reporter on the Australian before jumping the fence, simply wants a break from the long hours.

Anthony Albanese with long-term media adviser Matthew Franklin (left) in 2015.
Anthony Albanese with long-term media adviser Matthew Franklin (left) in 2015. Photograph: Tracey Nearmy/AAP

Joining Albanese’s office is another former journo, SBS’s former international correspondent Brett Mason, who has been on Jim Chalmers’s staff in opposition.

The West Australian’s federal political editor Lanai Scarr jumped straight from the election campaign to the staff of the minister for social services, Amanda Rishworth, who offered her a job as press secretary.

Former ABC and Sky News political journo Lyndal Curtis has joined the staff of the minister for infrastructure, Catherine King, after a stint working for the Department of Parliamentary Services.

Related: Shaun Micallef leaving Mad As Hell after next season, ABC confirms

‘Stoker’s delusion’

Former Liberal National party senator Amanda Stoker joined the Australian Financial Review this week with the first of a fortnightly column. The former assistant minister for women was pushed into third spot on the Coalition’s Queensland Senate ticket and was not elected.

Showing an admirable independent spirit, the Fin allowed Rear Window columnist Michael Roddan to sledge Stoker’s first column the very next day. Stoker had argued that the Coalition lost power because it caved to “leftist positions” on “climate, gender, identity politics or culture”.

“Stoker’s delusion ran deeper, however,” Roddan said, pointing out that her claim to “the highest individual below-the-line support of any candidate” was “an inglorious fallacy”.

Former Liberal National party senator Amanda Stoker had her first column in the Australian Financial Review sledged.
Former Liberal National party senator Amanda Stoker had her first column in the Australian Financial Review sledged. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Headline news

All newspaper editors live in fear of picking up the next day’s edition with a clanger in the headline, and no media outlet is immune, including the Guardian. But it was a particularly bad week for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age.

On the front page of Saturday’s paper was a report about the assassination of Japan’s longest-serving prime minister Shinzo Abe, while inside was the headline: “Now is the hour for Albanese, small target man to dare the snipers.”

After an outcry the online version was changed to “Now is the hour for Albanese, small-target man, to grow in stature”.

Then there was the headline with a misplaced apostrophe.

But it was the headline which claimed “women’s violence” was a problem when the article was actually about violence against women which upset readers: “Plan to deal with women’s violence top of agenda when ministers meet next week.”

It was eventually changed to: “National plan to end violence against women to top agenda.”

Dore defends pet project

In April the Australian launched a paywalled youth website called The Oz, said to be a pet project of the broadsheet’s editor-in-chief Christopher Dore.

The editor of The Oz, Elyse Popplewell, has a tough brief, especially since she was catapulted from the relatively junior position of social media editor to editor of The Oz, a section with around 10 staffers.

The Oz is hoping to attract young readers prepared to pay $8.99 a month for access to the content, a big ask for a generation used to getting free content online.

Related: The Australian has launched a new youth title. But who exactly is it for? And why?

Internally, there are grumbles about the amount of resources the section has when staff are stretched thin across the paper, and claims subscriptions and traffic are dire.

On Instagram and TikTok where The Oz is targeting its audience, many posts are lucky to get a handful of likes.

But Dore is resolute, telling Weekly Beast: “For a new brand, The Oz has already built a strong, loyal and growing audience across all platforms. The growth in audience is exceptional, well above expectations.

“Likewise the subscription numbers for The Oz are already fantastic and growing faster than I imagined. The Oz has more subscribers than any other news site (all of them combined in fact) purporting to serve a similar audience.

“Our young, extremely talented team is publishing brilliant content and building a great audience. I’m very proud of them and the groundbreaking site they are creating.”

Questionable quiz questions

With all the might and resources that News Corp Australia has at its disposal, where do you think it sourced the quiz questions which fill the back pages of the Herald Sun and the Daily Telegraph?

By lifting them – without attribution or payment – from freelance writer and producer Miles Glaspole, who posts popular daily quizzes on his TikTok10 account.

“I run a TikTok channel,” Glaspole told Weekly Beast. “Basically just doing 10 quick-fire questions a day. People can react to it and duet and all that sort of thing.

“I got tagged in a video yesterday by a user who was doing the Daily Telegraph puzzle page. And all the questions were from my quiz … just word for word my questions.”

News Corp has blamed it on a third-party provider.

“The concern has been passed to our third-party supplier for investigation,” a spokesperson told us.

Glaspole, who has an impressive 615.6K followers and 35.6m likes on TikTok, says he doesn’t want compensation but he urged the media giant to shell out some coin for a skilled quiz writer.

“It’s a really difficult time for creatives, especially a really hard time for writers,” he said. “Most people who work in quiz writing be it pub trivia or TV shows or anything like that, they’re usually freelance and they can’t live off that.”

You can buy Miles a coffee for the cost of the Daily Tele or the Hun if you think he deserves compensation.