Media moguls fight – part two

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 15 May 2015

Earlier in the month talk of “the big fight” centred on Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Manny Pacquiao. Less than two weeks later it seems there are some new brawlers on everyone’s lips – and not in the sporting world.

While I am sure you all saw, for those that didn't, the full pictorial showed advertising entrepreneur turned media mogul John Singleton – aka the mail boy in Sydney office of J. Walter Thompson back in 1958, before rising through the industry to become Macquarie Radio Network boss – “lunge” at Hungry Jack’s owner Jack Cowin.

Does this behaviour bring the media industry into disrepute? Of course, let’s not forget it’s the second media tycoon street rumble. Coincidentally Singleton vs. Cowin is nearly a year to the day of the street wrestling episode between media moguls James Packer and David Gyngell took place. Perhaps it’s something in the May air?

Surely this harms our industry, which already struggles with its image reputation – the latest Roy Morgan Image of Professions report for 2015 showed that advertising, again, ranked second-lowest of all 30 professions, with only car salesmen seen as worse than admen.

While a lunge is one thing, as is a playful jostle with a buddy, to lunge with a weapon, allegedly a smashed piece of glass, is quite another and left me shocked – least of all at the fact the men involved were pension-aged and respected industry figures.

At a time when a plague of domestic violence impacts Australia, with journalist and broadcaster Waleed Aly this week calling for more funding – including for counselling services for victims of domestic violence – it seems almost laughable that a street brawl makes the front page and the real issues are left to scrap it out for air time and front pages.

Reports say Singleton lost his rag after Cowin made jibes about his choice of rosé wine – which wasn’t deemed the manliest of tipples. Granted there were a few sniggers in most offices, but, let’s be honest, rosé, Babycham or Cosmpolitan – it’s irrelevant.

Purely and simply such behaviour, as it’s been portrayed, is not only pretty cringeworthy but possibly taints the media industry as a whole.

Having covered many a court story as a hack on a local paper I’ve heard a grievous bodily harm case or two – and worse. I’ve seen CCTV footage of some unpleasant things and while this was part of the job, I did think my days of talking about violent incidents in a work capacity were over – until I spied the front page splash on The Telegraph.

Will this be the last media brawl we touch on at AdNews? Is it just two old friends having a drunken scrap or does it mean something more – and do people in the industry care?

Let’s hope that the next street scrap stays out of adland … or will we see another next May?

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