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Lessons from the ghost of Stan Zemanek

Posted September 29th, 2009 by debritz

The YG News blog hits the nail on the head with this post about news websites charging for access. Blogger "Young and Grumpy" notes, with a screenshot for evidence, that the Herald Sun's Confidential gossip site still includes a prominent link to a story about shock jock Stan Zemanek going for a drive along the Great Ocean Road -- even though Zemanek died two years ago -- and an item tipping Kate Ritchie as favouriie for the Logies, which were handed out in May. A Y&G says, "I just cant wait to pay for these types of breaking stories." The Zemanek and Ritchie stories are still there as I write.

As news websites struggle to find models that will allow them to charge for content, keeping things up to date should be a no-brainer.

No he wasn't

Posted September 28th, 2009 by debritz

I've never been a big fan of quotation marks in headlines, but I think they are misplaced in this blurb:

Surely, the story is that the skull believed to be Hitler's actually belonged to a woman - so the quote marks should be around the word Hitler not the rest of the heading.

He did what?

Posted September 25th, 2009 by debritz

No American will find this unusual or amusing, but many Australians will wonder exactly how close Democrats nominee Paul Kirk and the late Ted Kennedy really were after reading this wire-service intro:

As you were ...

Posted September 24th, 2009 by debritz

Can pay. Will pay

Posted September 24th, 2009 by debritz

OK. I give up. I will pay for news on the internet, as long as the Optus meerkat never again gets between me and the information I want to read. Daily Telegraph website front page with Optus ad

PS: Seriously, getting rid of those page hijacking pop-ups, be they for Optus or any other advertisers, must be a condition of paying for news on the net.

Mythical creatures

Posted September 23rd, 2009 by debritz

A search on the Ticketek website for next year's Australian gigs by US punk band The Pixies also comes up with details of appearances by kids' TV favourites The Fairies.

Now, that's a big boat

Posted September 22nd, 2009 by debritz

From an story about Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich's new yacht:

I think most guests would have been happy with just one swimming pool in their room.

Pimpin' my website

Posted September 17th, 2009 by debritz

Some clever person has come up with a trick that will transform your website. Just type in (e.g. and you'll get something like this:

No news today

Posted September 16th, 2009 by debritz

It's not only newspapers that are closing. So, too, are news websites. The latest casualty is, where this message now greets readers:

What price content?

Posted September 14th, 2009 by debritz

I think most of us will end up paying for some news content on the web. The challenge for the big media groups and other web publishers now is to make it worth buying. And that means developing unique content rather than regurgitating (sorry, aggregating) stuff that's available elsewhere. It's amazing how many "news" sites currently rely on photo galleries and second- or third-hand celeb gossip to get hits rather than play to the strength of content generated by their own journalists. Having said all that, the readers of one website that does provide often-provoking original content (albeit opinion rather than news), The Punch, don't seem to be convinced yet -- if the results so far of their own push poll are to be believed.

PS: APN News & Media chief executive Brendan Hopkins talks here in The Australian about a "two-tiered" system, where consumers and companies (like Google) that use the content both pay. Again, of course, the content has to be worth buying.

Deal or no deal?

Posted September 12th, 2009 by debritz

We've all received lottery scams by email (just check you junk folder, there's probably one there amid all the variations on the Nigerian scam), but what's the status of this offer that arrived in my letter box via snail mail? It came as part of the "Yellow Envelope" promotion and it promises the chance to win $8000 if I send for free information about playing the EuroMillions lottery from Australia. Now, the EuroMillions is a real thing -- I bought tickets while I was in the UK -- but is this offer legit or isn't it? Since they are offering a cash prize and the return address is in Sydney (Double Bay, no less), but the card doesn't include a NSW government registration number, I'm very suspicious.

PS: Exactly 29 minutes after I posted this item, I received a spam response linking to a the "lottery mega millions" website.

On the up

Posted September 6th, 2009 by debritz

Statistics for August show that had a record number of visitors and page impressions, with monthly readership twice what is was in January and February. had 13,304 visitors in August. While that may not be up there with the big boys and girls, it's not a bad achievement for a blog that's compiled on a very part-time basis. Chief among the search terms that brought people here from Google was, unsurprisingly, "Brett Debritz". People also came here looking for information about Channel 9's children's show The Shak (which has had some line-up changes recently), Nova 106.9's Meshel Laurie (who announced her pregnancy) and Kip Wightman (who left the breakfast show), Kyle Sandilands (well, you know about him) and Brisbane radio ratings. The blog has also spread its wings geographically, with most visitors coming from "unresolved" (i.e. the software can't work out where they are from), followed by Australia (no surprise), Luxembourg (I'm not sure why, but thanks for dropping by), Russia, Belgium, German, US educational, Poland, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden, Moldova and Mexico. Also in the mix are folks from the UK, India, South Africa, Italy, Seychelles, Norway, Japan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, France and New Zealand. I'm guessing a lot of those people are Australian expats. Thanks to you all; I hope it's been worth the effort.

If I've told you once ...

Posted September 4th, 2009 by debritz

Brisbane Times really, really likes this story about Neighbours star Caitlin Stasey wining the lead role in the film version of Tomorrow: When the War Began.

Desperate scammers

Posted August 31st, 2009 by debritz

Exactly how stupid do internet scammers think I am? I received this email today (to my inbox, not the junk-mail folder):

You have won ($167.000.00 USD) in the August 2009 Lottery your check has been shiped by FedEx Courier you please contact Fedex email: to provide you with details.

Yeah, apart from everything else that's wrong about it, FedEx would have a Yahoo mail address.

Google gets it wrong

Posted August 28th, 2009 by debritz

Google is good at things other than finding websites. It can also add up and subtract, convert currencies and supply selected other fast facts. For example, if I type "population of Scotland" into the search box, the first result reads "Scotland — Population: 5,062,011". But, if I type in "population of England", it returns "United Kingdom — Population: 60,943,912 (July 2008 est.)". Sadly, someone at Google thinks England and the UK are interchangeable when they are not. I wanted to know how many of those nearly 61 million people actually live in that bit of the UK bordered by Scotland, Wales and the sea to the east and south.

Proff in the puuding

Posted August 27th, 2009 by debritz

I assume this job ad was deliberately constructed in this manner:

Twitter: it's so 2009!

Posted August 20th, 2009 by debritz

The reports of the death of Twitter have been greatly exaggerated, according to blogger Anthony Caruana. Asking whether the social networking app has "jumped the shark" following revelations that children don't use it, and after recent denial of service attacks, he concludes: no. Caruana says it's a key sale channel for companies, like Dell, who know how to use it, and for many personal users it's as important as email. Whew! I'm still one of the cool kids ...
PS: On the other hand, I'd say MySpace has definitely jumped (see here for a definition) and the jury is out on Facebook.

Disappearing discs

Posted August 19th, 2009 by debritz

The other day, a Facebook friend noted how they were outnumbered by staff at a video store. Now comes news that music downloads will exceed CD sales in the US next year and globally by 2016. Soon CDs and DVDs, both invented in my lifetime, will be museum pieces.
PS: When they were introduced in the 1980s, CDs were said to be indestructible. Now it doesn't matter if they are or not.

I am Joe's wallet

Posted August 18th, 2009 by debritz

The folks at Reader's Digest must be hoping they'll soon receive a letter, perhaps with a plastic key attached to it, telling them they may have already won US$2.2 billion. That's the amount of debt the US operation of the ancient book-sized magazine has accumulated, and the firm has applied for Chapter 11 bankruptcy so it can reduce that to a mere, manageable $550 million. Seems to me that it's, sadly, another example of old media not being able to cope with the momentous changes we've seen in the past few years. Exactly how it's possible to rack up that kind of debt, I simply don't know.

Peter Pan of business?

Posted August 18th, 2009 by debritz

He may be a Gen Y pin-up for some in the business world but is Nicholas Bolton really - as he's described in this story - a "27-year-old Melbourne boy"? It's just a tad condescending, not so?

Brave new web world

Posted August 12th, 2009 by debritz

Apart from Kyle and Jackie O, the big media story of the past week has been Rupert Murdoch's revelation that he will soon begin charging for access to certain news on News Corp websites. A lot has been written and said about this, but the bottom line is that people won't pay for what they can get for free. By extension, that means the News Corp sites, and the others that want to charge, are going to have to change tack. Instead of chasing large numbers of hits with cleavage shots and showbiz gossip that readers can easily find somewhere else, the editors of these sites are going to have start posting local exclusives that aren't published elsewhere and people just might pay to read. At present, many of the genuinely exclusive - but not especially "sexy" - stories don't even make it on to the websites of major newspapers. Perhaps what we will see is multiple websites from the one publication - one free site chasing the big numbers by aggregating news that's already out there and one or more paid-for sites that can provide something unique that people are prepared to buy.

You are what you tweet

Posted August 11th, 2009 by debritz

What do your Twitter followers say about you? People who have sought me out on Twitter (as opposed to those, like the ubiquitous Stephen Fry, who added me after I added them) include a lot of people interested in media (no surprise there), several marketeers, a virulent anti-PETA campaign group, a roller derby enthusiast and a latex fetishist.

News before it happens

Posted August 5th, 2009 by debritz

The technology news is really fresh in the British Daily Telegraph. Check out the dateline on this story about a new INQ phone:

Bing goes bong

Posted July 20th, 2009 by debritz

Here's what I got when I searched for "image search" on Bing. Apart from the "sponsored" site, its first three suggestions are that I use Google - even though Bing offers a similar service. Wait until Bill finds out about this!

MasterChef: the mystery deepens

Posted July 20th, 2009 by debritz

Apparently, Channel Ten did issue an embargoed press release about the MasterChef result, which makes it even more mystifying as to how the Daily Telegraph got it so wrong. That the show attracted 3.7 million viewers is no surprise. Unlike Big Brother, it had broad appeal, had largely affable and supportive hosts and, although it was in so many ways, didn't seem contrived or manipulated.
Update: Crikey has a partial explanation of things here - including the bizarre revelation that the contestants took part in hypothetical interviews after they already knew the result.

Life is Tweet

Posted July 20th, 2009 by debritz

Some musings from Twitter:
Yoko Ono (@yokoono): "When you say "I love you" to the one you love, know that you are not only saying it to your love, but to our planet and the Universe"
Perez Hilton (@PerezHilton): "I am so blessed to be alive and healthy."
Anna Bligh (@TheQldPremier): "I'm listening to Spencer Howson talk about Twitter - Spencer, I think Twitter is changing way everyone communicates inc. politicians"

Power of the printed word

Posted July 16th, 2009 by debritz

Author John Birmingham has used his blog at to encourage people to name the new Hale Street bridge "JB's Big Erection". The Brisbane City Council has apparently banned the name, but at the time of writing it hasn't stopped people suggesting it to the official website (click on "read the suggestions so far" and read from the bottom up). Maybe a good name for the stretch of road leading to the bridge would be the Campbell Newman Humour Bypass.

The long goodbye

Posted July 14th, 2009 by debritz

I was surprised to see that the fourth most popular entertainment story on today concerns film star Patrick Swayze saying goodbye to his family "as his cancer spreads". The story is dated November 28, 2008 - more than seven months ago - and, as far as I know, Swayze is still with us. I hope he lives to see the story get older and older and older. But why is it that this item remains in the top 10? Presumably, Google keeps delivering readers who think it is current news.

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