News Digest: ‘No blame’ for cruise fiasco and too many Anglo TV stars

The NSW Premier delivered a press conference on the Ruby Princess fiasco on Monday. Source: Getty.

In a day of yet more Covid-19 bad news – 222 new cases and 17 deaths in Victoria yesterday – and little relief in sight, it’s stories with a flavour of opinion that are dominating the major media sites today, and there’s plenty to discuss! What do you think about some of these divisive issues?

The Australian’s ‘I’m sorry no one’s to blame’ hits out at the lack of heads rolling in New South Wales after a scathing report into the Ruby Princess cruise fiasco was released yesterday. Premier Gladys Berejiklian apologised for the debacle that led to more than 1,000 coronavirus infections around Australia and dozens of deaths but said no one in NSW Health – where the special commission investigating the flawed disembarking of the cruise ship found almost all of the ‘inexcusable’ mistakes were made – would face disciplinary action over their role in the matter.

On the ABC, the focus is on Rachel Black, a 56-year-old assistant school principal who admits she’s a “massive over-spender” in ‘MyPayNow will make you pay later, consumer groups warn [as] payday lenders flood the pandemic economy’. Her latest money trouble? Getting caught up in payday loans, which the ABC says are accused of being targeted at “vulnerable” Australians. These lenders aren’t subject to national credit laws, the ABC reports in an in-depth piece on the need for greater protections against predatory lending. But the boss of one of the lenders, Cigno, says his company is open about the charges it sets for its loans and accuses the borrowers complaining of having made no attempt to repay their loans and “looking for an easy way to get something for nothing”.

The Sydney Morning Herald, meanwhile, has doubled down on the media diversity research that was the key topic of discussion on the ABC yesterday. The research from Media Diversity Australia found that 75 per cent of presenters on Australian TV news were from a Anglo-Celtic background (based on frequency of appearance on screen), which didn’t reflect the fact that an estimated 58 per cent of Australians had an Anglo-Celtic background. Some news providers questioned the quality of the research, which based its findings on the nature of presenters’ ancestry on “publicly available information”. But the SMH features a subscriber-only column by ‘political philosopher and columnist’ and research co-author Tim Soutphommasane, who argues more Australian media organisations need to set targets for featuring minority talent. “In the case of our media, the numbers tell us we are still living in White Australia,” he says.

Lastly, The Courier Mail reports that Brisbane City Councillor Jonathan Sri was annoyed that he had to organise protests, such as the sit-in that blocked peak-hour CBD traffic in the city this morning. The sit-in outside Queensland Parliament House was held to protest offshore detention camps for refugees, but Sri told the newspaper that he didn’t want to have to “get up this early to come outside Parliament House to protest” when there was no reason for the federal government to hold anyone on Christmas Island.

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