Fathers – a tribute in image, text and song.

PLEASE excuse this break in regular programming as I tip my hat to the fathers of the world.

The below image is a beautiful representation of the father-child relationship that requires little explanation.

Keep scrolling down for A Letter To My Hypothetically Gay Son, a heartwarming note penned earlier this year by John Kinnear.

Dear hypothetically gay son,

You’re gay. Obviously you already know that, because you told us at the dinner table last night. I apologize for the awkward silence afterwards, but I was chewing. It was like when we’re at a restaurant and the waiter comes up mid-bite and asks how the meal is, only in this metaphor you are the waiter, and instead of asking me about my meal, you said you were gay.

I don’t know why I needed to explain that. I think I needed to find a funny way to repeat the fact that you’re gay… because that is what it sounds like in my head right now: “My son is gay. My son is gay. My son is gay.”

Let me be perfectly clear: I love you. I will always love you. Since being gay is part of who you are, I love that you’re gay. I’m just trying to wrap my head around the idea. If you sensed any sadness in my silence last night, it was because I was surprised that I was surprised.

Ideally, I would have already known. Since you were an embryo, my intent has always been to really know you for who you are and not who I expect you to be. And yet, I was taken by surprise at last night’s dinner. Have I said “surprise” enough in this paragraph? One more time: Surprise!

OK. Let’s get a few things straight about how things are going to be.

  1. Our home is a place of safety and love. The world has dealt you a difficult card. While LGBT people are becoming more accepted, it is still a difficult path to walk. You’re going to experience hate and anger and misunderstandings about who you are out in the world. That will not happen here. You need to know with every fiber of who you are that when you walk in the front door of your home, you are safe, and you are loved. Your mother is in complete agreement with me on this.
  2. I am still, as always, your biggest defender. Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you’re any less capable of taking care of and defending yourself. That said, if you need me to stand next to you or in front of you, write letters, sign petitions, advocate, or anything else, I am here. I would go to war for you.
  3. If you’re going to have boys over, you now need to leave your bedroom door open. Sorry, kiddo. Them’s the breaks. I couldn’t have girls in my room with the door shut, so you don’t get to have boys.
  4. You and I are going to revisit that talk we had about safe sex. I know it’s going to be awkward for both of us, but it is important. I need to do some research first, so let’s give it a few weeks. If you have questions or concerns before then, let me know.

That’s enough for now. Feel free to view this letter as a contract. If I ever fail to meet any of the commitments made herein, pull it out and hold me to account.

I’ll end with this: You are not broken. You are whole, and beautiful. You are capable and compassionate. You and your sister are the best things I have ever done with my life, and I couldn’t be prouder of the people you’ve become.

Love,
Dad

P.S. Thanks to a few key Supreme Court decisions and the Marriage Equality Act of 2020, you’re legally able to get married. When I was your age, that was just an idea. Pretty cool, huh?

If you’ve read this far – well done. But you should know that some fathers are still rubbish. And, frankly, If Your Dad Doesn’t Have A Beard You’ve Got Two Mums:

But seriously… Happy Fathers Day, to all the dads.

RS

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The courtroom Twitter ban sham

I AM eagerly awaiting the Victorian Magistrates’ Court’s comprehensive strategy to hold back the tides and unscramble eggs, after today announcing a ban on journalists tweeting from court.

The court’s new Use of Electronic Devices Policy prohibits the use of “any electronic device where such use constitutes instantaneous publication (for example social media, such as Twitter or live blogging)”.

Offenders may be booted from court or have their phones confiscated (and hopefully tucked in the Magistrate’s top draw, like a school teacher might).

This is an astounding policy which seems impractical and unwarranted, and goes against what the rest of the world is doing.

Lets start with the hypothetical of a journalist sitting in a big case and wanting to ‘break’ some news (which isn’t really hypothetical at all, it happens every day).

Like Jurassic Park dinosaurs finding a way to breed, it’s safe to assume our resourceful journalist will find a way to break the story on social media.

After all, that’s part of their job.

It might be they compose a tweet while sitting in court and then step out the door to ‘publish’ it. Or message it to somebody else via an entirly different method. Or just ignore the ban entirely.

It’s already customary for radio journalists (and those writing for online) to run out of court and file as son as they have something to report. With social media increasingly becoming a central part of a journalist’s toolkit, Magistrates might now have a hoard of journalists heading for the door.

Surely this won’t help ease the digital ‘disruption’ the new guidelines seek to avoid.

Melbourne lawyer Kyle McDonald argues the ban is a “welcome development”:

It could be possible for one witness, or observer, to tweet messages to future witnesses about the proceedings, undermining an order-out for witnesses. Or a voir dire ruling on admissibility or privilege would be effectively undermined if the argument was published online. Similarly too, restrictions on identification of witnesses could compromised either deliberately or unwittingly by a courtroom tweeter.

But again, if a witness wanted to do any of these things they could do it via email, text message, a message board post or by simply walking out of the courtroom and unleashing a carrier pigeon.

Likewise, if a court reporter was foolish enough to defame somebody, publish contemptuous material or jeopardise a legal proceeding in some other means, they would probably do it the old fashioned way.

Tweeting is the medium, not the message.

‘Not only must justice be done; it must also be seen to be done’, the cliche tells us.

This must include on social media.

When journalists become the story, only their egos win.

So 3AW heavyweights Derryn Hinch and Neil Mitchell have come out swinging over the decision of their employer to give Steve Vizard some temp work.

Vizard, you’ll recall, is spending 10 years in the company director’s sin bin after being found guilty of abusing his position as a Telstra director.

“If he’s not a fit and proper person under the law to be a director,” Neil MItchell thundered, “he’s not a fit and proper person to have the privilege of using a 3AW microphone”

Fairfax stablemate The Age quoted Derryn Hinch in viscous agreement with his morning show colleague.

“Vizard is not considered a fit and proper person to qualify to be a director of Fairfax, the company that owns this radio station. Yet he can go on air on 3AW.”

Where does one start?

It seems the internal machinations of 3AW have, themselves, become news. Why else would Mitchell and Hinch devote time to them?

Both agree being on air (especially behind a 3AW microphone) is a great privilege. But surely that privilege comes with an inherent responsibility to discuss serious news issues.

With debate raging over how to fund our schools, how to tackle carbon emissions, with scandals in the Reserve Bank, Olympic Dam sinking, the resources boom busting, newspapers looking in danger of folding, companies wiping billions off their balance sheets, war raging in Syria, Europe still teetering on the edge of financial meltdown and a million other things — who cares whether a veteran comedian who torpedoed his own corporate career will be telling jokes and taking talkback in the early afternoon?

Oh, silly me. I have missed the big picture. Vizard now lacks integrity because he almost went to jail!

“Many commentators, me included, said he should have gone to jail,” Hinch told listeners. “He knows he was lucky to strike the money deal that kept him out of clink”

Perhaps Hinch has forgotten he himself spent time in the clink and under house arrest (admittedly for different reasons).

And you can argue Hinch had his heart in the right place when he publicly named child sex offenders in defiance of the law, while Vizard’s wrongdoing was motivated by personal gain.

You can argue Vizard has ‘done the crime and done the time’, or that his 3AW exile should remain.

These are all valid arguments to make, but my original point remains — the whole debate is unworthy of a place on primetime radio.

No other workplace would allow it’s employees to so publicly waffle and fight.

Of course, this is nothing new. Mitchell and Hinch took to the airwaves just last week to (rightfully) condemn a Nazi rant by presenter John Michael Howson.

And the two bearded broadcasters have even been known to take aim at each other over journalistic standards, most recently over waiting times at the Royal Children’s Hospital.

Nobody really wins when journalists becomes the story, except their egos.

C’mon fellas, why not return to what you do best? And that’s turning the power of your venerated 3Aw microphones on the big issues — and not each other.

Welcome

THIS website will soon be filled with the media and musings that fill my life, including from my time in various positions across the Melbourne media sector.

I’ve worked as a political and general reporter across TV, print and online for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, in communications at the University of Melbourne and as a private social media consultant.

(VEXNEWS once labelled me “intrepid”, which I decide to take on face value.)

As former British Labour MP Harold Wilson once said,

“He who rejects change is the architect of decay.”

RS

Brumby’s weaving has journalists seething

  • This article and image first appeared on the ABC’s The Drum.

Dodging journalists’ questions is an art practised by most politicians, as they climb the slippery ladder to leadership.

Some, like Prime Minister Julia Gillard, do it with a disarming giggle, while others simply talk (and talk) until the pesky reporter has forgotten what they asked (read; Kevin Rudd).

But in the lead-up to November’s Victorian election, the Premier John Brumby has adopted a more blatant approach.

Increasingly, Mr Brumby will refuse to answer questions, referring them in their entirety to the relevant minister.

Melbourne’s Herald Sun this week ran a story critical of a planned new pokies venue, where children will be kept in a sound-proof room within view of the gaming floor.

On the same day, the state’s Auditor-General released a report which found no evidence the Government’s strategies to reduce problem gambling were working.

At his morning press event John Brumby was asked for a response.

“The Gaming Minister, I understand, will be commenting later today,” he weaved.

But do you think the strategies have been effective? the press pack persisted.

“Well again, Minister [Tony] Robinson will be out on this,” came the reply.

The media soldiered on; But do you have a view as Premier? Do you have a personal view? Would you want a “pokies creche” in your electorate? Etc.

“He’ll [the minister] be out later, and he’ll give you all of the information you need.”

On the face of it this may seem uncontroversial. After all, ministers are responsible for their portfolios and their advisers are more authoritative on specific policy areas.

And it should be noted that Mr Brumby is a highly accessible politician. He will ‘doorstop’ most days and always attends parliamentary Question Time.

But the duck-and-weave technique is being used inconsistently.

When Mr Brumby is making a ‘good news’ announcement, or fielding welcome questions, he’s more than happy to answer at length. It doesn’t matter if the relevant minister is standing beside him, the Premier takes charge.

Often, as with the recent release of the Government’s Climate Change White Paper, the relevant minister (in this case, Gavin Jennings) said only a few words at the tail end of a lengthy media conference.

And well-trained ministers normally preface their remarks with,”well just to back up what the Premier has said…”.

This inconsistency suggests the evasion of questions isn’t out of respect to the relevant minister’s autonomy or policy expertise, but motivated by other considerations.

On the eve of a close election, and with campaigning becoming increasingly presidential in nature, political considerations can’t be ruled out.

If John Brumby can minimise how often he appears under pressure and in ‘negative stories’ on the nightly news, it may be a win for his strategists.

But how does the public benefit?