Ausmarine Editorial – August 2012
Having been on the receiving end of many thousands of press releases over the last 35 years or so, I never cease to be amazed at the stupidity of some of their creators.
I hasten to add, though, that despite what some of my counterparts in the general media propound, we in the media would not survive without a steady flow of good press releases.
An editor’s problem is that a certain percentage of the press releases received are mis-directed, simply silly, inaccurate or so full of hyperbole that you can only laugh at them.
Over the years I have become used to a reliable standard of sober common sense in the press releases I have received from Defence Media on behalf of the Royal Australian Navy. This comfortable arrangement has been sabotaged recently by the receipt of two astonishingly stupid releases from that once reputable source.
The first disappointment came in a highly political “fantasyland” effort describing how HMAS ‘Stirling’, the Navy’s West Australian base is to be powered by wave energy. I know I’m not the only one to comment on the silliness of that release. It was badly written and badly focussed. I trust the Chief of Navy has been appropriately embarrassed as a result.
Even worse was the one that arrived the following week headed: “HMAS ‘Farncomb’ celebrates successful sinking at RIMPAC.” In the most glowing and over-hyped terms it described how a stationary derelict target ship – presumably with all water-tight doors open – sunk 40 minutes after being hit by a Mark 48 torpedo fired from the ‘Farncomb’.
Well, big deal! That is about as exciting as shooting chooks in the chook pen. I cannot believe that the boat’s C.O. really made the self-congratulory comments attributed to him in the release. Nor can I believe that his boss, Commodore Stuart Mayer, really made the comments attributed to him.
By all means highlight notable achievements but please don’t subject us to this kind of drivel. If the ‘Farncomb’s’ C.O. had missed such a sitting duck it would have really been news. This kind of great “success” hardly improves the already sufficiently tarnished reputation of our Collins Class subs.
The Navy really needs to refit its PR department before it suffers greater embarrassment.
Italian hype, though, is even worse
A day after I was advised of the “sitting duck success” of the ‘Farncomb’ I received a desperate release from the PR department of the Italian naval shipbuilder, the government owned Fincantieri.
It’s no wonder that Italian economy is in trouble if the best its biggest ship builder can do is serve up a load of untrue twaddle.
In celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the record trans-Atlantic crossing of the speed boat ‘Destriero’, which was built by the yard, it informs us, for example, that ‘Destriero’ was the “largest ship in light alloy ever to be constructed”.
I won’t go into the remainder of the rubbish the release gushes with. Fincantieri shouldn’t just refit its PR department, it should replace it.
A “corrective” release was received the next day but is was still replete with errors.
Meanwhile from Australia’s capital of socialism, Adelaide, comes…
…another asinine release, this time from the South Australian Maritime Museum. I quote in part:-
“MICROMACHINA was created as a social comment on human’s destructive and capitalist drive to control our planet. Money, profits and economic growth take precedence over enviroment, habitat and entire species.”
This is to promote a coming art exhibition at the museum.
Apart from showing zero cultural and political sensitivity, the S.A. Museum’s PR person seems to have no knowledge of or interest in where its press releases are directed. I know it’s unreasonable to expect that museums would be able to employ the best and brightest, but… Anyway, when the S.A. Maritime Museum comes begging for money, keep this indiscretion in mind.