Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New England glaciers, tent embassy & a Country Conscience

Over on my New England history blog, Did New England have glaciers? reports on evidence that Pleistocene New England may have been colder than previously thought. This gave me my theme for this week's Armidale Express column.

Writing a weekly newspaper column week in, week out, is an interesting experience.

I write all the time. You would think that a weekly piece would be easy. It's actually quite hard to keep it varied.

The lead for the story came from Rod's Northern Rivers Geology blog. In one of those small world things, it turns out that Rod's older brother Paul worked for me in Armidale as an industry analyst. I actually referred to Paul in Dreams past: Collective Wisdom, education & the NBN; Rod hadn't seen the post.

The affects of the Tent Embassy affray (The Tent Embassy mess, Sunday Essay - the long term significance of the Tent Embassy affray) roll on and on. With public opinion polling showing that ex-PM Rudd retains his lead over Ms Gillard as preferred PM, the whole thing is destabilising.

In Embassy new blow to PM's credibility, Age political reporter Michelle Grattan continues her long-running criticism of the PM. The column contains additional detail on the role played by Mr Hodges. To independent MP Andrew Wilkie still smarting from his defeat over poke machines, the Tent Embassy matter appears to have been a final straw: he has reportedly said that he will most likely support debate over a motion of no-confidence in the Gillard government following the "appalling events" of Australia Day.

Talking to a work colleague who was at the Embassy at the time, she wanted to know (as I had) just what bleeding idiot organised an official Australia Day function in an insecure venue metres from such a significant Aboriginal location. At the least, it displays remarkable insensitivity.

My train reading at present is Rod Kirkpatrick's Country Conscience: A History of the New South Wales Provincial Press 1841-1995.

It's an interesting book, one that has already inspired last week's Express column, Belshaw's World - newspapers' vital role in regional development.

Rod is an experienced country reporter and editor who knows the country press extremely well along multiple dimensions including the business side.

He paints the story of the NSW provincial press in multiple dimensions, drawing also from experience in other countries and especially the US.

I will write more in due course. For the moment, I'm just enjoying the book.    

By the way, as an inveterate reader I was struck by this Barnes Noble coupon offer. I miss my Borders’ coupons!

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