Roundup: Peter van Onselen, Joe Rogan, Jelena Dokic, Women’s Cricket

Julie Bishop

• Pregnant journo rejected by NZ, Heath Ledger Scholarship, and Sam Frost

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Pregnant journo rejected by NZ, embraced by Taliban

A pregnant New Zealand journalist denied re-entry to her home country to give birth due to strict Covid-19 regulations, and offered refuge by the Afghan Taliban, has been told by NZ authorities to reapply for emergency approval, reports AFP.

Charlotte Bellis had been working for Al Jazeera in Afghanistan, but said she didn’t realise she was pregnant until she was at the media company’s headquarters in Doha, Qatar.

It is illegal to be pregnant and unmarried in Qatar, so Bellis kept her pregnancy secret as she prepared to return to New Zealand.

Upon being told she did not qualify for an exemption under New Zealand’s strict Covid border controls, Bellis said she called senior Taliban contacts and was told she could give birth there.

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Rahel Romahn wins Heath Ledger Scholarship

Actor Rahel Romahn has been named as the 11th recipient of the Heath Ledger Scholarship, the richest acting prize in Australia.

Romahn will feature in the upcoming Apple TV+ series Shantaram, and recently appeared in Mr InBetween, Australian Gangster, Here Out West and Little Monsters. He was nominated for an AACTA and Logie award for The Principal.

Prizes this year include a US$10,000 cash prize to support the recipient with living expenses in the US while studying, a return economy flight to the US, plus the following educational training and career preparation training worth over $50,000.

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‘I can just think it’: Peter van Onselen admits controversial Grace Tame column was ‘probably unnecessary’

Political journalist and commentator Peter van Onselen has conceded his column criticising Grace Tame for being “rude” to the prime minister “probably” didn’t need to be written, reports Guardian Australia’s Paul Karp.

Van Onselen has told the Critical Line Item podcast that he did not resile from his view of Tame’s behaviour because: “I do think it was rude, I do think it was impolite, [and] unnecessary.”

Van Onselen claimed the “silent majority” of people agreed with him but the “loudest people don’t”.

“They didn’t change my mind. I’m still very firm, personally, of the view that [Tame’s actions were] uncalled for … and inappropriate and she shouldn’t have done it,” he said.

“However, on reflection, I also think it was also probably unnecessary for me to bother to write the opinion piece – I can just think it.”

Van Onselen insisted that he did not regret the column because of blowback.

“Seeing how strongly people feel about it doesn’t change my view, but it probably has changed my view on whether it needed to be written.

“What’s the point in saying it? In a sense me, on my side of the ledger, deciding to write about it, became me being – people won’t like this – as bad as Grace Tame choosing to act the way she acted, which I’m critical of.”

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Sam Frost may return to Home And Away after getting vaccinated

Sam Frost has been double vaccinated and the door is open for a return to Summer Bay, reports News Corp’s Jackie Epstein.

Frost quit Home And Away in December for a move back to Melbourne to be closer to family.

Her friend and Home And Away veteran Lynne McGranger said she expected the former Bachelorette to make a return.

“She spoke to me, can I just say the door is not closed, it’s very much an open door,’’ she told Nova’s Fitzy and Wippa, to air on Monday night.

“Sam needed to be with her family and they’re down in Melbourne.

“There was some issues of course with getting vaccinated but I’m here to tell you that she is double vaccinated now, possibly boosted as well.”

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Spotify announces new rules for Covid coverage in response to Joe Rogan controversy

Spotify has announced a new approach to dealing with Covid information after music legend Neil Young’s public denunciation of its popular podcaster Joe Rogan, reports News Corp’s Sam Clench.

Spotify swiftly did as Young asked and removed his music. A handful of other artists, including Joni Mitchell, subsequently followed Young’s lead.

Today, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek alluded to the controversy as he announced multiple policy changes. Most significantly, he said the platform was “working to add a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about Covid”.

“This advisory will direct listeners to our dedicated Covid-19 hub, a resource that provides easy access to data-driven facts, up-to-date information as shared by scientists, physicians, academics and public health authorities around the world, as well as links to trusted sources,” Ek explained.

“This new effort to combat misinformation will roll out to countries around the world in the coming days. To our knowledge, this content advisory is the first of its kind by a major podcast platform.”

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Sport Media

‘We need more of it’: Fourth day of women’s Test breaks viewers record

Cricket Australia is eager for more elite women’s red-ball cricket after figures showed the final day of the Ashes Test on Sunday was the most-watched day of a women’s Test match in the organisation’s history, reports SMH‘s Sarah Keoghan.

On a day that proved a major hit with cricket fans, England hung on for a draw in a dramatic final session at Canberra’s Manuka Oval to keep the multi-format series alive.

Figures provided to the Age and the Herald by CA showed Sunday’s broadcast was the highest rating women’s Test in the governing body’s history. An average free-to-air audience of 440,000 viewers watched the final session.

Total reach figures – which include streaming services such as Seven and Fox Sports – lifted viewer numbers above two million.

CA was quick to respond to the figures, vowing it would look to integrate more Test cricket into the women’s calendar.

Since 2000, the Australian men’s team has played 237 Test matches compared to just 17 for the women.

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Jelena Dokic wins supporters everywhere for her heart-on-sleeve commentary

Jelena Dokic’s no bulls–t, heart-on-your-sleeve approach to tennis, TV commentary and her life has seen her ace the Australian Open, reports News Corp’s Fiona Byrne.

After calling out body shamers, sharing her heartbreak over the end of her love match of almost 19 years with Tin Bikic and engaging in a tearful hug during an on-court interview with veteran French player Alize Cornet, Dokic has emerged as one of the surprise stars of the grand slam.

Her forthrightness, anger and frustration about online trolls and the schooling she served up to social media creeps, who targeted her because of her appearance, made her even more relatable and admirable.

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