Here’s a heart-warming story, filed this morning by our intrepid reporter, Abigail Featherweight, on location at Jumpinup Downs, WA.
(Video shows a fire truck pulled up next to a very tall tree where a shirtless fireman in the basket of a cherry picker is rescuing a cat, which, having not only got stuck at the top of the tree, gave birth there to seven kittens).
Morning show host Gavin Brighteeth: Hi Abbey – tell us what’s going on.
Abigail, breathlessly brushing back tendrils of thin blonde hair from an angular face, nodding, as they teach television reporters to do.
“Hi Gavin, good of you to give this story a spin. As you may have heard in the voice-over, a missing neighbourhood cat, Charlize, was found this morning perched in the branches of this 25m Jarrah tree. (Telephoto closeup of Charlize nestled in a pocket of branches where she’s nurturing the seven kittens she gave birth to this morning).
Abigail: It was fireman Vince Colloseum to the rescue, after first taking off his shirt, as it is a steamy 42 degrees this morning at Jumpinup Downs, where this magnificent old tree stands alone at an intersection. Environmental activists who campaigned to save the tree amid urban development dubbed it “Last Jarrah Standing”.
“I see Vince is coming down with yet another two kittens, his muscular torso glistening with sweat.
“Vince is not only a fireman, he is a dedicated body builder and was Mr September in last year’s Firies Calendar. (close up of Vince’s glistening torso).
Abigail, thrusting her mike in Vince’s face: Vince, this is awesome – how many kittens have you rescued now?
Vince: Six, Abbey, so there is one more and Mum, which will be the last load.
Abigail: I see you have been scratched numerous times, Vince?
Vince: “Just a flesh wound or two, hahaha. You have to expect that with cat up a tree rescues. I’ve saved dozens over the years but this is the first one that gave birth way up there.”
Producer in Abigail’s earbud: “Can you find the cat’s owner and interview her now before we go to the next story?”
Vince climbs back into the cherry picker basket and is lofted high into the canopy. The small crowd of locals cheer.
Gavin: Leaving Abigail Featherweight at Jumpinup Downs and crossing to a breaking story where six rusting drums thought to contain pesticide have washed up on Buggerup Beach.
If you haven’t encountered a fluffy news story like that over Christmas, trust me, you will. There are 23 more days of this sort of bumf before school goes back and industry and commerce resumes.
Most news organisations assign reporters to assemble what is known in news parlance as the Yearender. Typically, it will remind us of all the awful things that happened since January 1, 2022, things most of us would rather forget.
If you want to quick snapshot of what the media concentrated on, online media and marketing specialist Mumbrella ran a feature from media-monitoring group Streem.
As Streem’s communications director Jack McClintock said, despite hopes that we had put the pandemic behind us, “Wall-to-wall COVID coverage in the opening months of 2022 ensured it would be the top story of the year.”
“As the year unfolded, numerous other major news events took place, including the War in Ukraine, the 2022 Federal Election and the death of The Queen. Add to these significant events strong undercurrents of cost of living pressures, including inflation and energy prices, and 2022 was as big a news year as they come.”
Covid dominated media discussions for seven months this year, interrupted only by big stories including Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, the March Federal election, the death of Queen Elizabeth and massive flooding in parts of eastern Australia.
Queen Elizabeth II’s death on September 9 was the most prominent story on one single day, Streem observed. Other big single-story days included the COVID wave in early January, Ukraine’s initial invasion and Shane Warne’s death on March 4.
As for the media ‘Person’ of the year, honours were shared (in Australia) between Vladimir Putin, Scott Morrison, and Anthony Albanese. All had very high peaks in prominence, and a strong level of sustained media attention. The exception was in January, when tennis player and prominent anti-vaxxer Novak Djokovic claimed headlines by his arrival (and subsequent expulsion) for the 2022 Australian Open.
All is forgiven, apparently, as Novak is scheduled to play in Adelaide and Melbourne next month. Also in the forgiven category was Premier Daniel Andrews, an emphatic winner of the Victorian election in November.
As we know the mainstream media (MSM) allots the biggest headlines and pictures and the longest radio or TV coverage to the ‘if it bleeds it leads’ category of news story. These days television is aided and abetted by amateur reporters who file breaking news videos for broadcast to live television. The most recent example was the fuel tanker explosion near the South African town of Boksburg which killed at least 15 people. The actual explosion was caught on a smart phone and broadcast by international media. Reports like this have led to many news broadcast warnings that ‘some people may find this footage distressing’. You reckon?
Most television channels now have a section devoted to ‘good news stories’, although I don’t always agree with their definition.
For example, in November there was a frantic search going on to find a man who bought a winning Powerball (lottery) ticket in Forster (NSW). This angle was spun until the man was contacted and notified days later he had won $50 million. And much was made of the Australian soccer team making its way to the World Cup quarter finals. No! We lost!
My definition of a good news story was when Shayla Phillips (4) and her dog went missing in dense Tasmanian bushland. We were in Tassie at the time (March) and could appreciate the concern as night temperatures plummeted. Shayla was found safe, dehydrated but well after two nights alone in the bush.
Earlier this month, grave fears we held for four teenagers on paddleboards who drifted into rough seas off the Mornington Peninsula. They were found safe the following day, but stranded on a remote island .
Good news from FOMM’s perspective included the Federal Government’s commitment to a 43% reduction in CO2 emissions and the first group of refugees leaving Nauru, bound for New Zealand.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese kept an election promise to quickly resolve the long-running saga of the Tamil refugees. The Nadesalingam family were released from years of detention, granted permanent visas and allowed to return to Biloela, where they had formed a community bond.
I’ll get off my soap box now and let you start the countdown to January 1, 2023. I imagine almost all of you (at a party) will form a circle and sing Robert Burns’ ‘Auld Lang Syne’, whether you know the words or not.
Maybe this can be a year when we who are most fortunate reflect on those who are not. As Burns said:
“Some hae meat and canna eat, And some wad eat that want it, But we hae meat and we can eat, And sae the Lord be thankit.”