“Don’t need a weatherman
to know which way the wind blows…”
Andrew Norelli & Mike Vecchione

Cooking Up A Winning Story

Even though I’ve mostly loathed the so-called ‘reality’ television shows, particularly the ones that seem to reward cunning and stupidity over talent and intelligence, MasterChef proved genuinely entertaining. It even got the chattering classes interested in things like duck fat and pigs’ heads. I was so hooked that – well, I was never really hooked. If I was not busy, the television was on at the right time and I was in the room, I watched it. If I was busy but at my computer, I’d check Twitter for updates from friends – mostly comedians – whose commentary was as entertaining as the show itself would have been had I caught it. On certain nights, one who had recently become a mum, would tape the show and watch it later, after bubby had been put to bed. Following her tweets an hour later, not having seen the show, was genuinely entertaining.

I knew, before the last couple of weeks, that most guys were in love with Justine, most viewers wanted to see Julie win, and expected her to be up against Chris in the final. By the endgame, it was down to Poh, and a lot of people still wanted Julie to win, but thought Poh was in with a good chance. The Daily Telegraph certainly seemed to want Poh to win. Before the show even ended – it was meant to finish at 9.10pm  – Erin McWhirter, TV Editor, broke the news at 8:57pm on the Daily Telegraph’s website: “Poh Wins MasterChef Australia”.

Poh headline


TV Editor Erin McWhirter, I don’t watch much television anymore. I prefer to consume the shows I like mostly via DVD, at the end of the season. But when I do actually watch shows as they’re being beamed out from television stations, am I watching the same shows as you? Because by the time you had filed your story, I think we pretty much knew who had won MasterChef Australia  – and it wasn’t Poh.

So what happened?

Were you slipped a preview tape with an embargo, that deliberately contained a trick ending just to test you? Did you write two stories in preparation and accidentally file the wrong one? Or did Channel Ten record two final episodes, with different endings, and despite gauging the reaction of a test audience, supply the media with the correct episode ahead of schedule, but accidentally screen the wrong one?

I asked as much, in the ‘reader feedback’ box on-line. After, of course, suggesting on Twitter that perhaps the Telegraph ought to reconsider who it employs as ‘TV Editor’ and directing traffic to the story. It took an awful long time for my comment to be submitted – all the while, a dialogue box that had a appeared when I hit the button to submit, instructed me to

Please note that we are not able to publish all the comments that we receive, and that we may edit some comments to ensure their suitability for publishing.

Feedback will be rejected if it does not add to a debate, or is a purely personal attack, or is offensive, repetitious, illegal or meaningless, or contains clear errors of fact.

Although we try to run feedback just as it is received, we reserve the right to edit or delete any and all material.

When I was able to close the dialogue box, I hastily ‘screen captured’ the page (in sections, and then assembled it in Photoshop):


Good thing, too: the page soon disappeared, hastily replaced with a new headline (but illustrated with the same picture; and followed, for the most part, by the same story).

Julie headline

Closer inspection revealed that the web address remained the same. Which was a bit unfortunate, since it contained the words ‘poh-wins-masterchef-australia’. I chose to point this out in the new ‘reader’s feedback’ submission I made, in the appropriate box below the story.


Was it any surprise that when I tried to find the article at that address a little later, I ended up with a ‘page not found’ error?

 Page not found

“Unfortunately, we stuffed up and now have to hide the evidence rather than redirect you,” doesn’t appear to be one of the reasons offered as to why they “could not find the page” I’d requested. Never mind.

Browsing further afield on-line, it turned out that the general News Ltd website, www.news.com.au was running the correct story – albeit with the dubious headline of ‘Shock Victory… Julie Cleans Up!’

Shock victory

Shocking? To whom? Oh yeah, to the TV Editor of that News Ltd paper The Daily Telegraph. And don’t you love how their breaking news headline, at 9:40pm is “MasterChef winner named”? What they mean is, “MasterChef winner correctly named”. That's the news!

Julie wins with photo

At least they saw fit to include a photo of the winner this time – even if the article’s headline still skews it towards the competition final rather than the winner.

Meanwhile, back at the Daily Telegraph website, there was a new headline on the ‘front page’: by now, they’d gotten the result absolutely correct. Even if the blurb accompanying it was questionable…

Didn't back her

A majority of Australia’s culinary experts didn’t back her, but MasterChef Australia contestant Julie Goodwin went from underdog to winner last night…

Majority of Australia’s culinary experts? Don’t forget entertainment reporters in denial after the actual results were delivered!

But at least, by 9:42pm, Erin McWhirter had filed an accurate news story. Even if Julie still wasn’t worthy of a photo to go with the article. 

Julie Finally

And now the web address correctly includes ‘julie-wins-masterchef’. I don’t know if it’s significant, but I can’t help noticing that between announcing Poh’s win erroneously at 8:57pm and finally reporting Julie’s victory at 9:42pm, Erin had somehow ceased to be ‘TV Editor’ – or at least ceased to be acknowledged as such in the article’s byline.

In totally unrelated news, by browsing the News Ltd family of websites, I discoverd that Kyle Sandilands’s wife has lesbian tendencies. Don’t know how that’s news, but lucky Kyle. I think. Perhaps not. Perhaps, should I try to find that article again in an hour or so, it might turn out that lesbians have Kyle Sandiland tendencies.

Thanks to Alexandra Craig for posting the link to Erin McWhirter’s original story on Facebook, pretty much as soon as it appeared.

Turns out Erin McWhirter prepared two stories and the wrong one was used; journalists got to conduct interviews on the Friday with conestants, who had been coached on how to give answers to hypothetical questions without giving away the results or lying – the final had been taped at the beginning of the month. Crikey has great coverage of the story.

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