In an echo of an infamous “magic water” feature it published 20 years ago, the Sydney Morning Herald has retracted an article which touted the unproven health benefits of “structured water” and was written by the media relations officer for the company that sells the product.
“There was a story in Sunday Life on the weekend about ‘structured water’ which didn’t meet editorial standards, specifically due to a significant conflict of interest for the writer,” the managing editor of SMH sections, Monique Farmer, said the day after the article was published. “The matter is being investigated.”
Paul Sheehan was the author of the memorable 4,000-word Wonder Water feature in the Herald’s Good Weekend Magazine in 2002 which asked if a $2.80 a bottle of Wonder Water – which had not been subject to proper clinical trials – could combat arthritis, fatigue and osteoporosis and help you live longer.
The bylined author of The Shape of Water, Joanna Webber, is not a Herald journalist. She works for Phi’on Water, which sells empty glass bottles with a “magnetic vortex device” in the lid which claims to turn “ordinary tap water into life-affirming structured water”. The price tag is $340 for two bottles. The relationship between Webber and Phi’on was not disclosed.
I had a look at the print version of this article. No indication there that it’s an advertorial either. But at least the word “science” doesn’t appear in the headline… pic.twitter.com/oYqSDgOXOs
— Stuart Khan (@stukhan) July 31, 2022
Webber wrote that “some experts are talking about a fourth phase” of water and quoted Rob Gourlay “an expert in biological research and water-structure science” without disclosing that Gourlay founded Phi’on Water.
“Structured water is also found in natural, pristine flowing rivers, streams, lakes and waterfalls all over the planet, and is essential for the cellular health of not just us, but of all living things,” Gourlay said.
“There are so many health benefits of drinking structured water, including improved hydration and uptake of minerals, increased oxygen, reduced inflammation, and elimination of foreign or toxic pollutants.”
On Friday in The Conversation, a Sydney chemist explained why structured water is “nonsense”. Prof Timothy Schmidt said the companies selling structured water products “use scientific-sounding words that are generally meaningless”.
Barty scoop scooped
The Courier-Mail’s senior sports journalist Robert Craddock had the scoop: Ash Barty had married longtime partner Garry Kissick in a secret setting in July and he had the exclusive Instagram photo of the happy couple for the front of the Sunday Mail and the Sunday Telegraph.
Sport’s best kept secret … Ash Barty’s wedding ceremony. Family plus great mates. No fanfare. Happy days. https://t.co/tXyYDyS8dD
— Robert Craddock (@craddock_cmail) July 30, 2022
“Three treasured pillars of Barty’s world – family, close friends and a very private, private life – came together in perfect unison in an intimate ceremony at a mystery venue in Queensland earlier this month, just after Barty returned from watching the British Open golf tournament,” Craddock wrote.
But when the story appeared on another News Corp site, news.com.au, on Saturday night all the details behind the “weekend Telegraph special” were published under the prize shot. “Warning not for online until Barty posts on social media. Robert Craddick jorno (sic) will come back to us when we can post.”
An embargoed photo of Ash Barty was published on news.com.au alongside the instructions not to publish until approved by the journo. Photograph: Instagram
V’landys cheer squad
Just when we thought the Daily Telegraph couldn’t be more slavishly devoted to promoting the interests of Peter V’landys, the chief executive of Racing New South Wales and chairman of the Australian Rugby League Commission, they go and prove us wrong.
Last month the Tele reported on page one that a Bruno Mars concert had been scheduled on the same day as The Everest at Royal Randwick, a move which had “stunned racing officials”.
In “Pop star head-to-head with Australia’s richest race”, V’landys said the state government’s decision to double book the Saturday would “undermine” the success of homegrown sporting events.
On Thursday the Tele handed over much of the paper’s real estate to V’landys’ various interests: the funding of stadiums and a puff piece about Racing NSW’s $350m funding package.
There were two news stories – an editorial and a sports story which claimed Dominic Perrottet would be shunned by his footy team because of his “refusal to fund the club’s spiritual home” – and a back page photo shaming the premier, who is a Tigers fan, for not funding the stadium. The editorial praised V’landys as an “innovative administrator”.
In one news story, the premier vowed he wouldn’t change the decision to delay funding for stadium upgrades at Brookvale, Leichhardt and Cronulla’s ground Shark Park despite the Tele campaign.
“Ultimately, I’m not accountable to Peter V’landys, I’m accountable to the people of New South Wales – they are my priority,” Perrottet said.
If only the Tele had the same view.
Tribute to ABC veteran
On Thursday Anthony Albanese paid tribute to the “sensational career” of ABC parliamentary bureau chief, Louise Yaxley, who has been covering politics in Canberra for 28 years.
“She has added to the quality of political discourse in this country through her work in the AM, PM, The World Today, ABC current affairs and ABC News programs,” he said.
“She is someone who is much loved across the parliament and is respected by all who have had contact with her. She brings to the profession of journalism honour, respect and integrity. I pay tribute to her on her final day, which happens to be as well the 90th anniversary of the ABC, our national broadcaster.”
Piers Morgan’s silent summer
Next week Sky After Dark will launch a new program, The World According to Rowan Dean, a new offering from the commentator who warned we were facing “three years of hard-core leftwing government that will destroy the fabric of this nation” after the election of the Labor government.
Piers Morgan is being replaced (at least temporarily) by Rowan Dean on Sky News. Photograph: Sky News
We wouldn’t normally take much interest in the Spectator editor’s views but he is stepping into the 9pm time slot occupied by Piers Morgan’s global show Uncensored so we wondered what that meant for Murdoch’s £50m man. Had the terminally low ratings led to a cancellation?
Our UK colleague Jim Waterson has written about Morgan’s ratings challenge on TalkTV, a new channel launched by News UK, and in Australia the program is also failing to attract big numbers – sometimes it has under 20,000 viewers.
Sky tells us Morgan is on a five-week summer break, during which he will film a true-crime documentary, and is due to return on 5 September. But Sky stopped short of confirming Morgan will be in the same 9pm time slot when he returns.
Awkward dinner at Ultimo?
On Friday night, the ABC’s Studio 22 at Ultimo will again play host to a celebration for the 90th birthday of the corporation. But this event will not be broadcast. It is a private dinner to recognise the importance of public broadcasting, with speeches from the prime minister, ABC chair Ita Buttrose and MD David Anderson. Guests include the communications minister, Michelle Rowland, and her Liberal shadow, Sarah Henderson, who may have some interesting conversations after her harsh words about Aunty on Chris Kenny’s ABC doco last week.
The leader of the Greens, Adam Bandt; former MD Mark Scott; and former chair Donald McDonald will also attend.