Corporate movements and media blunders

Written by Alexandra Robins

Australians of the Year 2024 

Pioneering melanoma researchers Professor Richard Scolyer AO and Professor Georgina Long AO have both been awarded Australian of the Year for 2024. As co-directors of the Melanoma Institute of Australia, their innovative immunotherapy approach has revolutionised treatment, transforming it from a fatal diagnosis to a curable disease. After Professor Scolyer was diagnosed with an incurable grade-four brain cancer in June 2023, the pair is trying to use what they have learned treating melanoma to combat brain cancer, with Scolyer as patient zero.  

Other winners this year include, Yolngu cultural teacher Yalmay Yunupingu for Senior Australian of the Year, Emma McKeon was named Young Australian of the Year, and David Elliot was honoured as the Local Hero for his contributions to Australian palaeontology. 

Corporate shakeups 

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is set for a significant change in leadership as former News Corp CEO Kim Williams succeeds Ita Buttrose as the new chair. Williams, nominated by an independent panel, brings extensive experience from his time at Foxtel and News Limited.  

Concurrently, Australian airline Qantas is undergoing its own transition with Danielle Keighery’s appointment as chief corporate affairs and communications officer. Kieghery was poached from Optus two weeks before she was due to start in a similar role at the telecommunications company. These appointments signify strategic shifts for both ABC and Qantas in their efforts to improve reputation. 

Perth mayor media gaffe 

Perth Lord Mayor and prospective Liberal Party candidate, Basil Zempilas, has faced criticism for remarks associating the Australian Open women’s tennis final with a “reserves game”.  

The former sports reporter made the comments to a journalist on the scene during the set up of a press conference announcing his entry into state politics. He claims his intention was to highlight the competition between television news broadcasts and the tennis match.  

Nevertheless, the incident underscores the importance of public figures being mindful of their comments, given the impact they have in shaping public discourse, particularly when cameras are at the ready. 

The Color Purple influencer backlash 

Popular TikToker Mirta Miler has faced backlash for her sponsored video promoting the recent Warner Bros. film, The Color Purple. In her now-deleted post, Miler referred to the film as “heartwarming”, while wearing a purple wig and jumper, and eating a purple macaroon. The movie, based on the 1982 Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name, explores themes of abuse, racism, and sexism in rural Georgia. TikTok users swiftly criticised the video as ‘tone-deaf’ and ‘insensitive’.  

While Miler apologised publicly and refused compensation for the sponsored content from Warner Bros, the incident raises questions around how the video passed the film studio’s approval processes. It also highlights the need for influencers and clients engaging content creators to conduct thorough research to ensure synergy and sensitivity, where required.  

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