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The Astounding Incompetence of City Ads (aka City News)

January 29th, 2007 at 11:50am

Canberra’s worst newspaper, the glorified freely-distributed glossy advertorial nonsense device known as City News, and affectionately called City Ads, has done it yet again.

Long term readers would know that I’m not a fan of City Ads for many reasons, including the fact that the three covers of the paper are pure advertising, and an interesting photo stuffup noticed by John B1_B5 where the front cover on the “Canberra Review” section was sporting a picture with no relation to the story it was supposed to promote.

Further investigations revealed entire sections of the so-called newspaper (exclduing an opinion piece) were ads masquearding as articles, plus ads, and then to top it all off, they lifted an opinion piece from

For obvious reasons, I generally pay minimal attention to City Ads these days, usually giving it a quick skim when it arrives, and checking to see if a real estate agent I know has an ad in that week. Usually I don’t find anything of interest, but this week’s edition (dated 25 January 2007) caught my eye with the Braddon advertising feature, starting on page 10.

City Ads has ben running these advertising features for a while, they take a look at a bit of the history of a suburb, and run advertorials on the businesses of the suburb. This week though, the history section caught my eye.

The crux of the article was the recent history of Braddon, mainly the destruction of the nice suburban area it used to be, to make way for masses of medium to high density housing, from about 1990 onwards. They decided to cite the ANU’s Fenner Hall as an example of high-rise accomodation from many many years ago, as Fenner Hall was built in the mid 1960s as general accomodation, and named Gowrie Hostel.

The Braddon article on Page 10 of City News, January 25 2007
The top three quarters or thereabouts of page 10 (click to enlarge)

Anyway, it wasn’t the article that caught my eye, but the photo of Fenner Hall.

Currong Apartments under construction, preumably 1959
Fenner Hall or Currong Apartments? (click to enlarge)

The picture is in fact of Currong Apartments, which are way over the other side of Braddon, and were built in a different year. I saw the photo and thought there was an article about Currong Apartments, and found it quite amusing when I discovered the mishap.

Here are a couple pictures of Currong Apartments which I took on the morning of Sunday January 28, 2007.

Currong Apartments, January 2007
Currong Apartments, January 2007 (click to enlarge)

Currong Apartments, January 2007
Currong Apartments, January 2007 (click to enlarge)

I believe that the second photo is roughly the same angle as the archival photo, just with more buildings, trees and a modified top window, and no fence.

This is what Fenner Hall looks like (again photos taken Sunday morning January 27, 2007)
Fenner Hall, January 2007
Fenner Hall, January 2007 (click to enlarge)

Fenner Hall, January 2007
Fenner Hall, January 2007 (click to enlarge)

The two places don’t look at all similar, and given the way Currong Apartments have been in the news in the last few years, you would expect that a journalist or editor would know which is which.

As the archival photo came from the National Archives, it is possible that they just picked an incorrectly labeled photo, so I decided to take a look at the photo they referenced “A1200/L30799”.

Information page for National Archives photo A1200/L30799, Flats at Braddon
Information page for photo A1200/L30799 (click to enlarge)

It’s titled “Flats at Braddon”, is it possible they just picked up the wrong photo?

National Archives photo A1200/L30799, Flats at Braddon
National Archives photo A1200/L30799, Flats At Braddon

Nope, that’s yet another photo, and it appears to be a photo of the Allawah Flats (since renamed Allawah Apartments), taken from Ballumbir/Cooyong Street.

So now they have not only used the wrong photo of the wrong building and not noticed, they have also got the year wrong for the building of Fenner Hall, and attributed a completely different photo, and not noticed.

I then went in search of the photo I think they were going to use, and I found one, photo A7973/INT793/1.

Information page for National Archives photo A7973/INT793/1
Information page for National Archives photo A7973/INT793/1 (click to enlarge)

The photo is titled “Cities and towns – Canberra – Gowrie Hostel, Canberra – 11.1964”, which leads me to believe it was taken in November 1964. Quite clearly the reference number isn’t even close to the one City Ads quoted.

National Archives photo A7973/INT793/1, Cities and towns - Canberra - Gowrie Hostel (Fenner Hall), Canberra - 11.1964
National Archives photo A7973/INT793/1, Cities and towns – Canberra – Gowrie Hostel (Fenner Hall), Canberra – 11.1964

But that still leaves the mystery of what photo they actually used, and whilst I can’t be certain due to the fact that there is no digital copy available of it yet, I believe it is actually National Archives photo A1340/1964/54, “Currong Flats – Section 52 Braddon”.

Information page for National Archives photo A1340/1964/54
Information page for National Archives photo A1340/1964/54 (click to enlarge)

It is beyond me how anyone, even City Ads, could get this so wrong. It should be simple, get a photo and add the correct attribution, but somehow in this case they have published the wrong photo of a building that just about everyone in Canberra would know is Currong Apartments, attributed it to a photo of Allawah Apartments, and seemingly lost the photo they were trying to use of Fenner Hall…not to mention gotten the date wrong for the construction of Fenner Hall.

I can’t understand how nobody managed to pick up at least one of the errors, but letting them all through smacks of pure incompetence. It just concerns me that some people in Canberra think City Ads is filled with quality journalism, especially when half the articles are undisclosed ads, and they can’t even work out what buildings just down the road from their office are called.


Entry Filed under: Samuel's Editorials

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  • 1. John B1_B5  |  January 29th, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    They certainly made a bad mistake there. Serious enough to
    warrant a correction and/or apology in the next edition of “City News” !

  • 2. Samuel  |  January 30th, 2007 at 7:54 pm

    Sorry about that John…oversensitive spam filter…just another reason to try to upgrade to WordPress 2.1 I suppose.

  • 3. Samuel  |  January 30th, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    It’s interesting that you mention a correction John. I ran into one of the City News sales reps in Dickson while he was handing out business cards in an effort to obtain advertisers for their upcoming Dickson feature, so I asked him whether he was aware of the photo error. He didn’t appear to recognise me, but he did say they were aware of the problem and would run a correction.

    Funny thing is, the way he was talking, it sounded like he thought the photo of Currong Apartments that they published was a photo of this part of Section 84.
    Section 84 block B
    Which is actually across the road and then some.

    The correction will be interesting…I wonder if they will explain their full range of errors? Or just say something about a wrong photo? I suspect the latter.

  • 4. John B1_B5  |  January 30th, 2007 at 8:22 pm

    Ah… I wondered why my comment didn’t show up – hence the “testing” post.

    I guess we’ll soon find out how extensive their correction will be.

    Also, it will be interesting to see how many mistakes they make with their ‘Dickson feature’.

  • 5. John B1_B5  |  February 3rd, 2007 at 9:40 am

    I wouldn’t be surprised if their Dickson ‘feature’ includes a big “Shop in Queanbeyan” advert.


January 2007

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