At Australian gymnastic team announcement, media turns out for Tony Abbott

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Australian media covering the Australian artistic gymnastic team announcement yesterday
Image: LauraHale.
Australian media getting a bird-eye view of the floor at the Australian Institute Sports Gymnastic Centre
Image: LauraHale.

Bruce, Canberra

The Australian media turned out in force yesterday at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) for Tony Abbott's appearance at the Australian artistic gymnastics official London Olympics Team announcement. According to the press conference facilitator, the media set a record for most people attending an Olympic team announcement at the AIS.

BigPond Media, the Liberal Party's own media people, the Daily Telegraph, and 2UE were some of the media organisations present, with some having made the trip up to Canberra from Sydney. The level of media present stands in stark contrast to the Australia women's national basketball team training camp at the AIS in May where Fox Sports, WIN News, and the Canberra Times were the few media outlets in attendance.

While a team practice open to the press started at 10:30 a.m. Canberra Time (0030 UTC), many in the media corps arrived after athletes finished practice but before Abbott was scheduled to speak. Those who arrived early had to be asked by coaches to step off the mats as the gymnasts were still practicing, which sport journalists and photographers in Australia do not generally have to be told. Following the press conference, when Abbott and Australia's Minister for Sport Kate Lundy jumped off the trampoline into a foam pit, they got an upfront view of photojournalists who climbed into the pit beforehand in order to get a better picture.

The Australian media's lack of interest in the gymnastics announcement made its way into the printed coverage, with The Daily Telegraph's Alison McMeekin poking fun at Abbott as "Trampoline Tony", and not a single gymnast's name in her coverage. Sister News Limited tabloid, and Australia's highest circulation newspaper, the Herald Sun also carried McMeekin's jabs at the opposition leader. Ben Packham of The Australian, another News Limited publication, spun the announcement of the gymnastics team to criticise with the headline Abbott accused of carbon tax gymnastics.

Australia's Liberal Party sent their own media representative to cover Abbott's appearance. The cameraman had one job, to cover Abbott. His boss told him he did not need to get any footage of the gymnasts if Abbott was not in frame.

Shortly after Abbott and Lundy left, most of the press corps disappeared from the AIS facility.


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