Internet
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Internet

A social occasion

Posted August 14th, 2011 by debritz

It's three years since I signed up for Twitter. In that time, I've sent out more than 6000 short missives, and had quite a bit of fun along the way. The first big thrill was getting an email, in December 2008, announcing that "Stephen Fry is now following you on Twitter!"

Since then, I've used Twitter to keep in touch with people in far-flung places, to let family and friends know what I'm up to, to keep in touch with events back home during my many travels, to exchange ideas about the things that interest me, to promote this blog, and to discuss many other matters both trivial and profound.

In the past few weeks, I've had a fun exchange with British actress Sallly Thomsett (I had a crush on her when I was a kid and she was the star of Man About the House), and a quick conversation with the Seven Network's social media boss Adam Boland about his decision to quit Facebook in favour of Google Plus (I've joined G+ too, but I'm still updating my Facebook page).

I suppose a lot of what I've tweeted has just been more unnecessary "noise" on an increasingly crowded channel, and, arguably, I could have spent the time taken up tweeting in more profitable ways. But I've never held a virtual gun to anybody's head and made them read what I have to say, and it seems that, without my really actively seeking followers, there are 1644 "people" (yes, I know some of them are bots) interested in what I have to say - or, at least, they see some advantage in connecting with me.

I like Twitter because it allows me to do what I've always done: to jot down ideas as they occur to me, and to broadcast things that interest me. I also like to know what others are thinking and how they're feeling. It's the perfect tool for a journalist with broad interests, so I'm going to carry on tweeting.

I'm also going to embrace the next thing that comes along, and the one after that - and I guess that, like that Bebo account I signed up for but never really used, my Twitter account will one day go quiet. But I won't.

From the glasshouse

Posted August 7th, 2011 by debritz

Oh, the dangers of filing quickly ... this is from The Australian online directly after the MasterChef grand final:


Even the Oz's Twitter feed was saying the same thing:

Puccini for the passengers?

Posted July 17th, 2011 by debritz

This from The Courier-Mail Twitter feed:


Sadly, while the actual story mentions the possibility of free drinks, newspapers and wi-fi for commuters who pay more, it doesn't appear to mention opera.
PS: Of course public transport in Brisbane is already overpriced compared to many other "world class" cities, but that's a whinge for another day.

A question of ethics

Posted July 12th, 2011 by debritz

The escalating phone-hacking scandal in the UK has made one thing clear: it's time for journalists and other media professionals everywhere to talk about ethics openly and frankly, and for all media organisations to formulate (if they haven't already done so) and clearly state their policies to staff.

While I know that most journalists are honest and decent people, I can also confidently say that some people I have worked with over the years have never even considered the moral or ethical implications of what they do on a daily basis. (See my previous post for more on that.)

Sure, they can mostly hold their head high and say, for example, that they've never stolen a child's medical records, but have they ever, for example, given undue prominence to a story on the basis of a gift or free service they have received? Did stories make it into the paper, or on air or online, simply because somebody offered a low-level bribe? Did something not make the cut because of a favour offered or owed?

These are extremely important questions that all journalists have to address - especially in jurisdictions where politicians are looking to change the law to make it harder for legitimate journalism to take place. If we want to avoid draconian privacy legislation that will shield the real wrongdoers, then we must get our house in order.

The devil you know

Posted June 4th, 2011 by debritz

The fourth and final episode of the Eddie McGuire-hosted sport quiz Between the Lines has gone to air on Australian television. It's the third show starring the former "golden boy" and onetime CEO of Channel 9 to get the chop this year. The others were Million Dollar Drop and This Is Your Life, which may return as a series of specials later in the year. (The Courier-Mail's Geoff Shearer has the details, here.)

While McGuire's Hot Seat continues to perform well in the 5.30pm slot, executives and shareholders at Nine must be questioning their star's long-presumed status as one of the network's solid-gold drawcards. While the exact details are secret, McGuire is reported to be on a very lucrative long-term contract, and he presumably gets paid handsomely whether he's on the air or not. Right now, the question is: should the man who also hosts a relatively-low-rating breakfast show on Melbourne's Triple M radio station and runs AFL club Collingwood be permanently benched by the TV network?

It could, of course, be argued that the "vehicles" (i.e. the shows) were flawed and it wasn't McGuire's fault that they all failed to live up to expectations. It could also be said they they weren't given a proper chance to find their audience (we all know stories of classic TV shows that took a couple of series to hit their groove). But, then again, it could also be argued that Hot Seat is a winning formula and it would be a success no matter who was hosing it.

From a business perspective -- and that's the way Nine management has to look at things, not least beause it is considering a float -- McGuire would seem to be a liability who doesn't deliver sufficient "bang for the buck". But he's not the only one in the broadcasting industry.

It's very common for TV and radio stations to pay way over the odds (and well beyond market rate) to hang on to certain talent -- if only to keep them away from other neworks. Earlier this year, after rumours he was in talks with Channel 9, the Seven Network reportedly upped the annual salary of The Morning Show's Larry Emdur to "well in excess of $800,000 a year". The Sunday Herald Sun quoted a Seven source as saying the deal "set a dangerous precedent".

It's about here, I suppose, that I should make some sort of comment about what heart surgeons, nurses, teachers, police and fire officers etc. are earning for the very important work they do, but we can take that as read. The fact is that TV stations are commercial enterprises, and it's entirely a matter for the owners of those businesses to decide how much they want to spend and how much they want to earn from their investment.

My real concern is that because they always take the "safe" option of using the same talent on air and off -- how many opportunities are there for first-time writers and producers, for example? -- television is becoming blander and viewers are deprived the opportunity to see something genuinely new and exciting.

Thank goodness, then, for the theatre and the internet -- and for all-too-rare initiatives such as Andrew Denton's $30,000 "disfellowship" for an emerging screenwriter. The TV execs would do well to note that the new ideas -- the ones that will make them money in the future -- are not all coming through the traditional channels.

You can fool some of the people ...

Posted April 3rd, 2011 by debritz

Among the many traditional April Fools' Day jokes in print and online publications last Friday was this item in The Bangkok Post. The story, claming pop star Justin Bieber was giving up his career and coming to live in Bangkok to be with an unnamed "Thai girlfriend", generated a lot of interest from readers of the paper and online visitors (as I write, there were 208 tweets and 1200 Facebook shares for that story - a huge number for the Bangkok Post site*). What surprised me is that many of the Twitterers and Facebookers believed the story to be true, at least at first. Only one or two tweets that I read immediately recognised it for an April Fools joke, and several others suggested that it might be a prank. Even some people I spoke to who had only read the story in the newspaper said they initially believed it to be true. All this, despite:
1) In print, this huge scoop was only on page 3 of the second section ("Life"), with no pointer from the front page of either that section or the main newspaper. Online, it was not featured on the front page and could only be found through the menu system (or - and I suspect this accounts for many hits - by Google searches*).
2) The story starts off with an improbable premise, then adds some plausible detail, but quickly becomes ridiculous. A reference to Mark Zuckerberg, who did attend a wedding in Thailand recently, adds some credibility (although I doubt that he and Bieber are friends, as the story states), but that's about it. The story then suggests that Bieber and the girl had a chaperoned date, where her mother sat between them at the movies, and that the star would record an album of Thai-language love songs. It also makes fun of his reported use of the Auto-Tune software, and suggests that a superstar who can sell-out stadiums would perform live at a small jazz club and an expat pub.
3) The last paragraph clearly indicates it's the kind of story that could only appear "on this date" - i.e. April 1.
So, what to make of all this?
1) Obviously, it struck a chord with many people. Some readers probably wanted it to be true, or were so shocked that it might be true that they didn't read it in a discerning way.
2) As all newspaper people know, or ought to know, readers seldom make it all the way to the end of even a relatively short story, and they often don't fully comprehend what they read.
3) It was all good fun and nobody got hurt.
4) And for those who are asking the by-now obvious question, the answer is: Yes, it was.

* Bieber was, obviously, chosen deliberately because he's a hot topic online and off.

From the glasshouse ...

Posted March 7th, 2011 by debritz

According to this item on The Drum, by 612ABC's Madonna King, before the Queensland floods, Premier Anna Bligh "couldn't turn a trick". Funny, I though turning tricks was what ladies of the night did; perhaps "win a trick"* -- a card-playing analogy -- is what was meant.



Meanwhile, brisbanetimes.com.au refers to Newcastle as a "northern city". Well, that's true of Sydney, where a similar promo box ran on smh.com.au, but not of Brisbane -- unless they mean one of the two in England (or you want to keep going north until you cricle the globe to get to the one in Australia).


*Update: A correspondent on Facebook suggests "take a trick" is the more common expression in card-playing circles.

Radio gaga?

Posted March 2nd, 2011 by debritz

Barely a month after Farifax launched its new line-up at Sydney's 2UE, The Australian is reporting analysis that the diversified media group would be better off ditching its radio assets. Now, I'm not in a position to crunch the numbers on that suggestion, but I can pose a few questions about 2UE, Fairfax and radio in general.
1) Why would 2UE want to emulate the far-more-successful 2GB by hiring announcers with similar political viewpoints and on-air styles? The rationale that its younger line-up may one day draw an audience from GB, sometime after Alan Jones and Ray Hadley retire, doesn't make a lot of sense in the short or medium term. And when the long term rolls around, well the whole broadcasting/media landscape almost certainly will have changed (see point 3).
2) Why would anybody want the 2GB audience anyway? Owner John Singleton has been known to complain that his station doesn't get the slice of the advertising pie it deserves on the basis of its large listener numbers. But take a look at who these listeners are. They are over 50, and mostly over 65. Now there's nothing at all wrong with that, but -- as far as I can tell -- they mostly reside on Alan Jones's fabled "Struggled Street". They are on the pension; they don't have the money to spend on big ticket items; so the advertisers aren't especially interested in them. Wouldn't 2UE be better off adopting a more moderate and thoughtful editorial stance and try to lure well-heeled older listeners away from the ABC? Numbers don't count a lot these days, but demographics do. Because 2UE's new political stance and demographic is at odds with at least the perception of where the Fairfax newspapers stand, there is no real synergy to be had between them. If Fairfax wants to have audio on its websites, iPad editions etc., it doesn't have to own a radio network to do it -- just as it didn't need to own a TV network to put video on its sites.
3) What exactly is the value of a broadcasting licence these days? Everybody who's got a smartphone, a netbook or a tablet device also has a portable "radio" that can stream audio from anywhere in the world -- regardless of whether the person operating the "station" has a licence or not. It's as easy to listen to Brett FM broadcast from my bedroom* as it is to listen to the "real" broadcasters who, in Australia and elsewhere, have paid huge amounts of money for their licences. Quality may vary but, as YouTube has proved, dodgy production values are not necessarily a barrier to popularity. While it long been possible to be served a "local" ad on a foreign website, surely foreign broadcasters will soon have the technology (probably already being tested in the Google Labs) to insert Australian ads into their audio streams for Australian audiences. More competition for the advertising dollar, and less opportunity for radio stations to make money.
4) What next? The shape of the future is changing every day (which is why I predicted that many of the predicitions I made at the start of the year won't come true) and all broadcasters -- indeed, all media organisations -- will need to be focused and flexible. They'll also need to be considerably slimmer than they are now.
* This station does not exist -- yet.

Shurely they can't be serious

Posted February 1st, 2011 by debritz

From news.com.au:


If you missed it, read the caption again with particular attention to the third last word on the last line.

Spot the mistake

Posted December 20th, 2010 by debritz

I think the Daily Mail means Honecker rather than Hitler:


Update: The headline has now been changed.

Not the news

Posted December 18th, 2010 by debritz

From news.com.au:


It seems to me that most of the page impressions are coming from people who've searched for sex-related terms, not from people who are genuinely interested in the news.
Update: I relented and read the top story. Do these bras really have "invisible magnets"? The potential applications of this technology are earth-shattering.

Too many Dicks

Posted November 25th, 2010 by debritz

Peter Dick has been in radio for more than 30 years, but the 4BC website still can't get his name right:


PS: Perhaps "dick dick" is the sound of the clock ...

From the glasshouse ...

Posted November 16th, 2010 by debritz

Presumably this news.com.au blurb was meant to read "non-bank lenders". Getting a loan from a non-lender is, by definition, impossible.

A tweet too far?

Posted October 28th, 2010 by debritz

I love Twitter; I use it daily and I choose to put my Twitter feed at the top of this blog. But I still have very deep concerns about the way it has been adopted by the mainstream media, and especially by the ABC. Australia's national broadcaster has embraced Twitter to the point where it streams tweets across TV programs, including Q and A, which has a very strong online following, and reads them over the air on radio stations that activly encourage listeners to tweet their opinions. As I write, 612ABC in Brisbane is running a competition for Twitter users only -- and I think it's wrong. I can see why radio stations would see Twitter as a gift. Rather than having to talk to phone callers, they can see and read listeners' thoughts (in convenient short form) on a computer screen directly in front of them in real time. But, exactly who does tweet, and why should their opinions get priority? The answer is that nobody knows for sure yet, but we do know that tweeters are not a representative sample of the Australian public, and especialy not of ABC local radio listeners, many of whom are elderly and unlikely ever to embrace new technology. Being able to tweet gives some listeners an unfair advantage in terms of participating in "our ABC". Tweets are easy to send and easy to receive -- if you have the technology. And the more tweets that are read on air, and the more Twitter is spoken about, the less time there is to broadcast the thoughts of people using that now, oh-so-old-fashioned telephone technology. For one thing, a phone call has to be answered -- and I've sat in enough radio studios in my time (public, community and commercial) to know that many calls go unanswered or callers are fobbed off. I believe the ABC, in particular, should tread carefully in its use of social media. There's a great risk here of marginalising the majority, disenfranchising loyal, longtime listeners and viewers, to indulge the minority. And I say that even though I am a part of that minority.

Slip is showing

Posted October 17th, 2010 by debritz

At ninemsn.com.au, they don't seem to realise that, while it is located on an island, the country with Belfast as its capital is Northern Ireland.

Another miracle?

Posted October 17th, 2010 by debritz

According to brisbanetimes.com.au, the clocks are moving more quickly than usual in the lead-up to the canonisation of Australia's first saint. Last time I checked, all hours were the same length.

Bad medicine

Posted October 17th, 2010 by debritz

Hello, come on in. Would you like a cup of tea? Some cake? Please settle down; make yourself at home. Now, tell me, exactly how ugly is my wife?

An unlikely scenario? Sure. But it's not far removed from what one radio station is doing in order to better understand its llisteners and, hopefully, to score a few more ratings points. The station has, apparently, commissioned market research which includes soliciting a "listeners' panel" over social media -- offering to pay the participants -- with the strange expectation that this will somehow provide honest and useful information. The station has already been "outed" as the client, so anybody who joins this focus group will be providing information filtered through this knowledge. People like to be nice, especially to their hosts, so it's extremely unlikely that they will provide any negative feedback (Imagine: "Yes, your wife is extremely ugly indeed, sir. And, yes, I will have another scone.") -- and brutal honesty is exactly what this particular station needs to hear. Ruling out the very real possibility that this is a stunt just to make some listeners feel loved, this is pointless, indulgent research. But, of course, this kind of thing is not limited to radio stations. I've seen similar things happen at two other media businesses: one of them is defunct and the other has seen its huge market advantage drop away dramatically. In both cases, management commissioned "experts" who came back with the answers they wanted to hear (to fit strategies that they wanted to implement anyway), not the answers they needed to hear. So, how should proper, useful research be conducted? Well, for starters, there should be no initial assumptions; the survey should be "blind" -- disguised as a quiz on all media, or at least all radio stations -- it should not contain leading questions and multiple-choice answer options (easy, though, they are to collate), and the panel should be assembled scientifically, not recruited over social media sites (thus limiting and skewing the available demographic). I could write a lot more about this, but I'm not especially keen to give good advice away. I will say, however, that if this isn't a stunt (and I actually hope it is), it's a very silly or desperate move. And it pains me to say that, because I love radio and I want to see vigorous competition, and plenty of audience choice, in the Brisbane market.

Social media: The big question

Posted October 14th, 2010 by debritz

Does size matter? And by that I mean, does the number of Twitter followers or Facebook friends you have really make a difference -- especially if you're an old media company trying to make it in the brave new digital world? Without naming names, I've done a quick headcount among newspaper and other media Twitter feeds and discovered that a lot of them really aren't cutting it in social media. While a lot of them boast about the figures they are getting for their websites, some of them have miserably tiny numbers of followers on Twitter. Now I wouldn't read too much into this except that I know they are furiously promoting their Twitter streams in print, on air and online, so having just a few thousand (or in the case of some media, a few hundred, and some individual "stars", a few dozen) followers is a pretty poor result. It's also a danger signal for proprietors. With newspaper circulations falling and broadcasting audience numbers stagnating, they've got to make their presence felt online in every way possible. If their Twitter content is not engaging enough to pull in followers, or they simply just aren't on the radar of social-media buffs, then they do have a problem connecting with a potentially huge audience. And if, for example, my personal Twitter feed, promoted only by virtual word-of-mouth, has more followers than a major suburban newspaper group and not a heck of a lot fewer than a national radio network, it's a serious problem. With Twitter itself and some individual users starting to monetise their tweets, it's all revenue that used to go to the big media groups but isn't any more. And, the way they are going, never will again.

How soon we forget

Posted October 6th, 2010 by debritz

In its otherwise excellent timeline of the Brisbane nightclub scene, brisbanetimes.com.au published this paragraph:


The author and/or sub managed to mis-spell both the first name and surname of the state's longest-serving premier, Joh Bjelke-Petersen. As some of the oldtimers who enjoyed the article might now be saying, it wouldn't have happened in my day ...

An open letter to Steve Ballmer

Posted September 18th, 2010 by debritz

Steve, you're a busy man so I'll try to keep this short. On Twitter today, one of your disciples told me that Windows 7 was the best, most awesomist (or something like that) computer operating system ever. Well, as somebody who once lovingly upgraded to Win 3.1 using (from memory) nine 5-1/4inch floppy disks and many hours of my life - and then dutifully reloaded those disks time and time again when my old IBM clone failed, as it inevitably did - I say your man speaks with forked tongue (or at least from a viewpoint not shared by 99 per cent of the population). I'm sure the first customers who bought tiny black-and-white television sets didn't mind waiting an age for them to come to life as the cathode-ray tube warmed up (or whatever happened, I don't care how my technology works). But in 2010, Steve, I want a computer that starts working a nanosecond after I press the on button. I don't have to make a cup of coffee, go to what you Americans euphemistically call the bathroom and read the paper for 10 minutes before my TV or radio (or my iTouch for that matter) starts to work, so why should I wait so long for my 18-months-old HP laptop to be ready for me? It even took the best part of a day to upgrade from Vista to Windows 7. Why does that happen? Windows has been around now for a very long time, and I surely can't possibly be the first customer to mention this. I've fallen out of love, as you do, and lost my patience. Also, I don't want software that keeps nagging me as to whether I really want to do something - surely you could build in a "decisive operator" mode to avoid that plus some good software that'll stop me from doing something harmful - and I definitely don't want messages that tell me the computer is doing something when it clearly isn't doing it, or isn't doing it at a speed acceptable to anybody other than a tortoise. I could go on, but I promised to keep this short. Suffice it to say, Steve, I think Microsoft employs far too many geeks and not enough ordinary folk who only ever use their computer as a tool to do the things they have or want to do, not as an icon of technical achievement to be worshipped with unquestioning faith. When I mentioned some of my frustrations to one of these people, he suggested (with a wink, to be fair) that there was an "operator" issue - presumably I'm too stupid to make Windows go faster or suit my needs. Am I not pedalling hard enough? Was I mean to it, so it's not going to behave? For the above reasons, and a few others I don't have space for, I'm putting my hand up us a "keep it real" person who'll test your products with no knowledge or thought as to what's "under the bonnet" and just tell you what millions of potential customers want to know: will it do the job without driving me crazy? If you're serious about prospering in what's becoming an increasingly competitive field, you'll think seriously about my very genuine, and generous, offer.
Yours very sincerely,
Brett Debritz

Not so flash

Posted September 12th, 2010 by debritz

Maybe Steve Jobs was right ...

Spot the difference

Posted September 5th, 2010 by debritz

Just who is calling the shots in Australia's hung parliament? The ABC seems to be suggesting on its homepage that Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai and independent MP Rob Oakeshott are one and the same.
Update: After quite some time, the error was corrected.

Not the whole story

Posted August 29th, 2010 by debritz

In journalism, it's variously called a "write-off" (or "woff"), a "blurb", a "gofirst" or a "standfirst" - a short, snappy line that summarises or teases a story and, hopefully, encourages people to keep reading. Some sub-editors are very good at writing them, to the point where the standfirsts oversell the story and reading on only sets up the reader for disappointment. Some blurbs, rather like the one I've cut from brisbanetimes.com.au and pasted here, miss the point. Surely the big news about Matthew Newton is not how he worked so hard for months and will now miss the chance to host The X-Factor, it's the fact that he had a spectacular metldown (not his first) and allegedly beat up his (now ex) girlfriend Rachel Taylor, who has taken out an AVO and vowed to press charges, and was consequently dumped by the show and by his own management. I don't think anybody is, as the blurb seems to imply, standing around the barbecue today discussing how unlucky Newton is. (Apart from the one X-Factor wannabe quoted in the story.) In fact, I suspect many people will, like News Ltd writer Paul Kent, vigorously take another tack. My opinion? Newton probably is ill, in which case he needs treatment, but that shouldn't be allowed to overshadow what he's (allegedly) done. We should all take a reality check on who the victim really is.
PS: Yes, the blurb is supposed to summarise the story at hand, but it doesn't even really do that. Maybe "X-Factor contestant defends hard-working Matthew Newton"?

This time it's not personal

Posted August 16th, 2010 by debritz

We journalists are a sensitive breed. We take it personally when people say bad things about our profession or our particular medium. In fact, we often get so emotional in defending ourselves that we don't do what we're trained to do -- and that's look clearly and objectively at the facts. For years now, many newspaper journos have had their heads in the sand about the implications of declining circulation. If they are not in denial about it -- and how could you be when you look at the figures -- they are full of wacky ideas about how they can reverse the trend. The sad fact is that the decline of newspapers is terminal, it's just a matter of when the plug will be pulled. Specialist publicaions may have a little longer, but it's likley that print will be dead within a decade or two. This doesn't mean newspaper journalists are necessarily doing a bad job, it means the demand is for online delivery. All very good -- except that too many online consumers expect their news for free, and it's near-on impossible to deliver a quality product for nothing. In the UK, the Daily Mail may have found a formula that works -- but it's too early yet to say whether advertising alone can support the major mastheads as we know them. Even if it does, further staff cuts are inevitable -- and, of course, that will impact on quality. It's hard to know what to make of Rupert Murdoch's plan to introduce a national "newspaper" for delivery on iPads, but some commentators have already written it off. At least Murdoch is putting his money where his mouth is and giving it a go. And, by doing so -- and by constructing paywalls around some of his existing online products -- he's acknowledging the thing many of his own employees can't accept: that newspapers are living on borrowed time.

Whither online video?

Posted August 15th, 2010 by debritz

I was complaining on Twitter recently about the trouble I've been having with video on the websites of Australia's two biggest newspaper publishers. On the Fairfax sites (including brisbanetimes.com.au and smh.com.au), videos auto-load after a short delay in which, if I can find the right place to click, I can switch them off. Videos on the News Ltd sites (news.com.au and its subsidiaires) give me the option to watch or not but they take an age to load (and I'm not a patient person, so I often abandon my attempts). Neither situation, I ventured in a Tweet, is ideal. One of my tweeps said video has no place on newspaper sites. I disagree. I think they should offer video -- and, inevitably, they will have to do so just to be able to compete -- but they should invest more not just on the content (which can be amateurish) but on getting the technology right. Then I remembered one provincial newspaper where I worked as a younger man, where the IT guy (as he would be called today) was a slacker who deliberately made maintaining the very basic computer system seem more difficult than it really was. Because nobody else on staff knew much about computers, he'd created a nice little earner for himself and his secret knowledge. Of course, nowadays there are many different technologies at play and different delivery platforms to consider, so the job is genuinely difficult. But the fact is, they've got to do it. If the product doesn't work to the expectations of the potential readers, they will go somewhere else. A technological failure could sink a masthead just as easily as an editorial error.

Deja-vu all over again

Posted July 30th, 2010 by debritz

The quickened pace of the news cycle continues to confuse traditional media. For newspapers, one of the big questions these days is: should we publish something in print after it's already appeared online, especially on our own websites? In the case of the Courier-Mail today, the answer was yes (in regards to a picture on page 14 which was all over its webpage yesterday). Today, the printed C-M finally caught up with the death of the world's oldest Twitterer, Ivy Bean, who passed away on July 28. A two-day lag for news from Britain used to be commonplace, but it's not now. Meanwhile, mX surely set some kind of record yesterday with an item about this controversial new website, catsthatlooklikehitler.com. Sorry to burst the bubble, but it's been around since June, 2006 (do a search on the Wayback Machine if you doubt me)! A hip'n'groovy, youth-oriented paper like mX oughta know stuff like that.
PS: This intro from the C-M could have been written by the copywriter for a washing powder commercial:

NEW tests have smashed Queensland's first case of DNA innocence testing after analysis found a convicted killer was 45 billion times more likely to be linked to blood from the scene.

More likely than who or what?

Moderation, please

Posted July 26th, 2010 by debritz

This comment slipped through the net at The Australian online today. The blacked-out words have been censored by me; they appeared in full on the Oz's site:


The comment, which probably isn't from the well-known journalist it's attributed to, has since been removed from the Matthew Franklin article.

How the gossip cycle works

Posted July 13th, 2010 by debritz

Report about Rove McManus signing to fill-in for US talk-show host Craig Ferguson:


... and, later, a tweet from Rove himself:

Ferguson himself was all over it, tweeting several times, including these gems:

And here's what Adam Hills tweeted in the wash-up:
Update: The amazing thing is that, 13 hours after Ferguson denied the report, and six hours after Rove denied it, the story is still online. (Although I note it includes a line from Rove's spokesman saying he's not aware of the deal.)
July 16 update: The story is still there, with no correction. Surely one thing that ought to separate the mainstream media from the online pack is a commitment to correct or, at least, remove inaccurate stories.

Appsolutely fabulous?

Posted July 12th, 2010 by debritz

There's much excitement in journalismland about apps for iPads and other devices. If we believe all we read, they will be the saviours of newspapers. This Sydney Morning Herald article trumpets the fact that readers can now access the SMH and other papers in multiple digital formats for varying amounts of money. That's all very well, but it's based on the possibly erroneous assumptions that Australians a) still want to pay for news and b) still want to pay for news as it's packaged by News Ltd and Farifax. Will more people buy the SMH just because it's accessible via an iPad app, or will the dwindling number of loyal readers simply swap their print subscriptions for digital ones, meaning no significant net gain in paid circulation? While the publishers may save on printing costs in this event, they really won't be rescuing their businesses in the long term if they don't do something to grow the pie.
P.S. Another big question: will advertisers see the same value in an advertisement on an A5 screen as they do in one on A3 newsprint?

Bangkok: the lighter side

Posted May 17th, 2010 by debritz

Journalists, you just can't trust 'em ... The Nation newspaper's website ran this pointer on its front page.


The actual story reads somewhat differently.

For my updates on the violence in Bangkok and beyond, follow my Twitter feed, @debritz. I was on 612ABC with Spencer Howson this morning (Monday) and will be again in my usual Tuesday 6.50am slot. Also, I am due to speak to Carol Duncan on ABC Radio Newcastle this afternoon.

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