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Chirpy chirpy cheap cheap

Posted May 10th, 2010 by debritz

The Australian's Sally Jackson writes that the sacking of The Age's Catherine Deveny "has again demonstrated how vulnerable news outlets are to embarrassment from the tweeting of their journalists". At least Deveny's tweets from the Logies -- including one where she said she hoped 11-year-old Bindi Irwin "gets laid" -- weren't published on The Age's front page, which is what some news website are doing with tweets from their staff and contributors. As I've already noted, this is a dangerous practice as it potentially puts the paper in the position of publisher of the comments. How long before we see the first big Twitter defamation case in Australia?

Going for broek (sic)

Posted May 9th, 2010 by debritz

There's no stopping Britain's Daily Mail when it comes to pursuing its own agenda. According to the rightwing newspaper's website, a poll says "most voters want Tories to govern without Lib Dems". Well, that's not what the voters said at the only poll that counts just a few days ago. The truth is that Tory leader David Cameron snatched defeat from the jaws of victory when he failed to win a majority despite the pathetic performance of the Labour Party. He may end up running the country, but his mandate is pretty shaky.

Meanwhile, in Brisbane, the Courier-Mail's website is running the following blurb for Terry Sweetman's column. Things must be very dire indeed for LNP boss John-Paul Langbroek if the web production staff at Brisbane's only daily paper can't spell his surname properly. For the record, Sweetman gets it right in the actual column.

Update: Since I wrote this, the mistake has been corrected.

A matter of standards

Posted May 5th, 2010 by debritz

I was just looking at a news story on the website of a well-known newspaper and noticed how the formatting - in this case the presentation of quotation marks - changed midway through the story, then reverted to the previous style towards the end. Once upon a time, newspapers employed professional sub-editors and other production staff whose task it was to make the product read and look as if it had been compiled by professionals. A lot of what they did was not immediately noticeable to the general reader, but it was considered important because it ensured consitencey and separated the work of professionals from that of amateurs. The standard of design and editing often marked the difference between a paid-for quality paper and a free rag. So, I find it ironic that in the same week Rupert Murdoch revealed that a pricing policy for his papers' websites is imminent, many of his (and other publishers') titles are still presented online in an extremely amateurish fashion. I don't know a lot about running a business, but I reckon you should get the product right before you start charging for it.
P.S. Just in case you're thinking of criticising the production standards of this site, bear in mind that it's free and it's written and published by me on my own in my very limited spare time.

No need for feed?

Posted April 15th, 2010 by debritz

An update on this item about the Twitter feed on the front page of, and whether it's a good thing for its parent company, News Corp. As I write, the scrolling feed features a series of free plugs for a rival media organisation; lots of personal chatter, some of it bordering on the inane; and a link to a story that mocks the pricing policy of the iPad edition of the Wall Street Journal (proprietor: News Corp).
Update One of my tweeps writes: Someone thought this a good idea? Obv I read paper for insights like "Wont be seeing Hubby for 4 days...tres sad, I'll miss him.."

Poll axed

Posted April 12th, 2010 by debritz

Apparently the great Australian public has no opinion at all on the subject of how our politicians travel. This poll, with its revealing insights, is from a website.
PS: On a not totally unrelated issue, The Australian's Media section has just caught up with changes at Queensland Newspapers first reported here on March 19.

Will the iPad save newspapers?

Posted April 10th, 2010 by debritz

Media Watch host Jonathan Holmes has his say on the issue of whether tablet computers like the iPad will "save" traditional newspapers. He draws on his interview with Chris Mitchell, the editor in chief of The Australian, which hopes the new technology will help his paper charge for its online content. As Holmes points out, its success is really dependent on how many people want to buy the Oz's news agenda, rather than do as most people do online now -- switch from site to site searching for the news that interests them. You may care to read just one thing -- a favourite columnist or a quirky story -- from each site you visit. It pains me to say it, but I think tablets will just delay the death of newspapers as we know them rather than be their saviour. It could well be that it's the concept of a newspaper -- paying to read somebody else's selection of news and opinion -- that is dying, not just the idea of it being printed on paper.

The future of news

Posted April 7th, 2010 by debritz

If newspapers are to survive, they should stop playing catch-up with news on the internet. So says Peter Preston in this Guardian column.

Courier becomes more social

Posted April 6th, 2010 by debritz

Maybe, despite what some newspaper stories tell us, Facebook isn't the work of the devil after all. Fresh from putting a Twitter stream on its front page, is now displaying pictures and links to a changing random selection of its Facebook fans. I wonder what, if any, liability the paper has for the profile pictures these fans might post or the content of the Facebook pages they link to. Perhaps a disclaimer is warranted.
PS: Every time I load the page, I've known at least two of the eight people displayed. It's still a small town ...

A bunch of tweets

Posted April 1st, 2010 by debritz

Brisbane's daily newspaper has introduced a Twitter scroll on its front page, aggregating tweets from several staff members. A good idea - as long as the staff involved realise that tweets hitherto seen only by their followers are now open to all readers of the website. So far, we have one staff member talking about going to a gig and getting drunk, and another bidding us all good night. Not exactly the stuff of a great metropolitan newspaper.
PS: The rest of the tweets tend to point to stories on the website. But, of course, anybody reading the feed is already there.

Oops, wrong code

Posted March 30th, 2010 by debritz

Memo if Allan "Alfie" Langer is a legend, why don't you know which sport he played? As everybody in NSW and Queensland knows (even if we're not huge NRL fans) he was a league star, not a rugby (union) player.

Times announces online price

Posted March 26th, 2010 by debritz

From early May, The Times and Sunday Times will launch new, separate websites and charge users £1 a day or £2 a week for access. The Independent has the details here. How long before News Corporations's Australian titles follow suit, and how much will they charge?

If the shoe fits ...

Posted March 26th, 2010 by debritz

An online contact writes:

Computer control is out of hand. I was looking at a story on Peter Slipper, the snoozing pollie, on the Courier [Mail] site and under "related coverage'' found a Golden Slipper* yarn. Does anyone pay attention?

* It's a horse race.

New C-M editor speaks

Posted March 23rd, 2010 by debritz

Michael Crutcher, the new editor of Brisbane's The Courier-Mail, spoke to Spencer Howson on 612ABC. Spencer asked him about plans for the paper and the website. You can listen here.

Everything you ever wanted to know

Posted March 20th, 2010 by debritz

.. about Chatroulette*.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Tech-Talch - Chatroulette
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Reform

* But were afraid to ask.

The best things in life ...

Posted March 16th, 2010 by debritz

Getting people to pay for online content is "like trying to force butterflies back into their cocoons", according to this report on research conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. Ars Technica writer Jacqui Cheng says the research found "that 81 percent of Internet surfers say they're cool with online ads if it means the content remains free, although 'much of that is because they find them easy to ignore'."

Lara, Lara, Lara (and Michael)

Posted March 13th, 2010 by debritz

Are we a nation obsessed? As I write, four out of the top five most popular stories at are about Lara Bingle and Michael Clarke. I wonder how many of those hits were a consequence of people looking for copies of that photo?

A tawdry tale

Posted March 11th, 2010 by debritz

Is it time for the media to lay off Lara Bingle? Sure she's done her best to be famous, but is there any reason now for blow-by-blow coverage written by journalists who are apparently being paid to trail her every step. And do the public really care that much?

From the glass house

Posted March 3rd, 2010 by debritz

The internet continues to present a challenge for radio folk who've never had to know how to spell. Here's a bit of my pedantry on Twitter (read from the bottom up):

Are nudes good news?

Posted March 2nd, 2010 by debritz

Take a look at the list of the most popular stories on any news website and you're almost certain to see at least one with the word "nude" in it. It is, of course, one of the most searched-for words and it draws Googlers to sites they might not otherwise visit. At the moment, the story doing all the business is about footballer Brendan Fevola's nude photograph of model Lara Bingle, with whom he had a brief fling a few years ago. (Are the management of Fevola's new club, the Brisbane Lions, surprised it took him so long to get into the headlines for the wrong reasons, I wonder.) However, with paid content very much on the agenda at the major news organisations, is this kind of traffic really helpful? How many of the people who come to these websites because they think they are going to see a naked model would ever pay to do so? (A quick estimation: none. Especially after they discover that they don't actually get to see a nude photo.) And does a reputation for prominently posting such material (or at least pretending to be publishing it) really help the credibility of news sites that hope to charge for content one day soon? These are questions people in high places in the media really should be asking themselves as a matter of urgency.
PS: Before anybody else says it, the Fevola-Bingle story is a legitimate one. But plenty of "nude" news stories are not and their presence on news websites is used purely to draw traffic in what I would argue is a very short-term strategy.

Search me

Posted February 28th, 2010 by debritz

I am trying to put together a showreel of highlights from my various radio spots and decided to search for audio on the ABC Brisbane website. Although I know Spencer Howson posts my segment every week, a search for "Debritz" at yielded just one result (from 2007, when I co-judged a 612ABC competition with Lord Mayor Campbell Newman) and this message:

Night of the stars

Posted February 26th, 2010 by debritz

A big week in Brisbane radio, which has seen the release of the first ratings survey for 2010 and 20th anniversary celebrations for B105 and Ipswich's River 949, will culminate tonight with a party to celebrate the retirement of uberproducer Majella Marsden. Over three decades in radio, Majella has worked on popular programs at 4BK (the Wayne Roberts Show, where she was also heard on air as "Deirdre Slack"), B105 (the Morning Crew with Jamie Dunn and Ian Skippen), 4BC (the Peter Dick program, among others), River (Wayne Roberts again) and 612ABC (Breakfast with Spencer Howson and Drive with Kelly Higgins-Devine, who'll be paying tribute to Majella on air this afternoon). A big night is guaranteed, with many current and former radio stars in attendance, and there'll be news, gossip and pictures here tomorrow.

How the weather works

Posted February 25th, 2010 by debritz

This image from Brisbane Times had me scratching my head for a while. Presumably the maximum was a forecast that's been overtaken by reality.

Killing time

Posted February 24th, 2010 by debritz assassinates the language.

Can pay, won't pay?

Posted February 24th, 2010 by debritz

Nielsen Research asked 27,000 people from 52 countries what they have paid for on the internet and what they might pay for. Movies top the list, but only about 10 per cent of people have actually bought them online and less than 60 per cent of respondents said they would consider paying for them. It's no surprise that 85 per cent of people said they'd prefer everything to be free. Is there a business model for paid content within this data?

It'll be all Mike on the night

Posted February 24th, 2010 by debritz

Users of Australian news websites will, by now, be intimately familiar with Mike Van Niekerk. He's the bloke who pops up on video whenever youcall up one of the Fairfax web pages, such as or, telling you how wonderful the new page design is. Problem is, Mike just won't go away. If you access the sites from different computers, as I do, you're likely to see and hear him several times a day. And it's been going on all week. Mike, I'm sure you and your team are very proud of your work in redesigning the sites and making the video more prominent (even though I have my reservations about it), but I think you've outworn your welcome.
PS: By the way, Mike, I think you need to do a bit more work on the sites -- unless, of course, you can explain how "Porn star demands apology" is a "related video" to your invasive instructional one.

Forever young

Posted February 21st, 2010 by debritz

Common wisdom in the media is that the web is a hangout for young folk. Well, the top stories on the Farifax news websites today suggest otherwise. The No. 1 story on its Brisbane, Sydney and Perth sites? An affectionate review of a Cliff Richard and the Shadows gig mostly attended by senior citizens.

Time-shifting: a solution

Posted February 17th, 2010 by debritz

Further to my previous post about time zones, maybe Australian TV and radio stations could use their websites or some of their digital spectrum to provide a genuinely live feed, especially for programs that are likely to generate real-time feedback in social media.
Update: The more I think about this, the more annoyed I get. The networks (especially TV but now radio, too) are the ones who took away our local viewing options and forced us into having a national water-cooler conversation with the same programs on at the same time across Australia. But when the time zones change, and with social media allowin real-time conversations, it's just tough luck for us. If I was a TV executive, I'd be addressing this as a serious issue.

Twitter Tardis time

Posted February 17th, 2010 by debritz

Twitter is a great tool for other media - as demonstrated yesterday in Brsbane where local media were able to provide flooding and transport-delay updates. But, as I've said here before (and on 612ABC last week), it presents a problem for national media trying to promote their shows when daylight saving means "live" is not "live". Some advice for tweeters from national TV and radio programs that are shown on delay interstate: how about adding to the tweet the time the segments you're promoting will be seen/heard elsewhere? People who don't live in the southern vortex get mighty upset when it's assumed that they do.

Juxtaposition of the day

Posted February 9th, 2010 by debritz

No booze for kids; let them have soft drinks and get cancer. From

Who wants to be a billionaire?

Posted February 9th, 2010 by debritz

It seems Senator Barnaby Joyce isn't the only one having trouble distinguishing between billions and millions. The website can't quite decide, between the headline and story intro, how much the Moranbah ammonium nitrate plant is worth.

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