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Paper chase

Posted October 27th, 2009 by debritz

“If they come up with a model that works, I’ll pinch it.”

So says West Australian Newspapers CEO Chris Wharton about whether he'd follow News Ltd in charging for online content. Interestingly, Wharton also says he thinks former WAN editor Paul Armstrong got it wrong and "it wasn’t the kind of paper that I enjoyed". Here he touches on an interesting media topic: everybody's talking about their online strategy, but few in newspapers are talking about their strategy to prolong the life of the print product. It seems to me that many newspapers are losing readers at a greater rate than they should because they are creating products for people who don't read papers, never have and/or never will, rather than for those who do, always have and always will (as long as the papers are targetted at their interests).

No news today, unless you pay

Posted October 23rd, 2009 by debritz

Rupert Murdoch must be pleased. He's been the one talking up paid subscriptions for online news in the past few weeks, but he hasn't had to make the first move in one of his prime markets. Newsday, a New York paper focussing on Long Island, is tocharge $5 a week for access to locked content on its website. I imagine the New York Times and Murdoch's own New York Post will follow suit rather quickly.
PS: As I've said before, including on 612ABC this week, I'll gladly pay for content online as long as it's worth paying for. Many news websites have a long way to go before they provide it.

A case of aggregation and theft

Posted October 20th, 2009 by debritz

Media Watch last night did a good job of summarising in a very short time the challenges facing traditional media. It visited some of the issues I wrote about yesterday, and included some interviews of its own with key Australian media players. Which leads me to a point I'd like to pick up on: not all bloggers are simply aggregators and thieves -- unless newspaper columnists and website editors who "write-off" and link to stories from other news sites are too. On this blog, for example, there's plenty of commentary about news in other media, but there's also original reporting (such as the Brisbane radio ratings results, which almost always appear here first). Unlike some "mainstream" media websites, I always endeavour to link to the source of my material, I declare any potential conflict of interest I may have, and I make it clear when I am quoting from a media release. Some newspapers have a policy of pretending (by omission) that material they've lifted straight from a PR handout is the result of their own interview. What blogs like this also do is they allow realtime feedback by readers, and sometimes by key players in the issue itself (as it was a few days ago when Busting Out producer Simon Bryce responded to other comments about the show being refused hire of the Theatre Royal in Hobart). The one thing that's for sure is that things are different now, and it's up to the consumers themselves to decide what they read and what they will pay for.

Pay for what?

Posted October 19th, 2009 by debritz

I've been saying for a while that newspapers won't get away with charging for the current content they are serving up on their websites. In this column, Mark Day (who says he has no inside running) gives a hint of what News Ltd is up to:

... I gather the aim is to create sites that appeal to various user groups, built in the style of social networks. Some will be aimed at youth markets, others at the so-called working families, others at upmarket, culturally influenced, older audiences. Some will be defined by geography (that is, city or regionally oriented); others by specific interests.

If it's implemented properly, I can imagine paying for it in the same way as I am happy to pay for Foxtel.
PS: Roy Greenslade has this to say about what News International will put behind its paywall in the UK: star columnists (including Jeremy Clarkson), sport and Page 3 girls.

Gene's brother?

Posted October 19th, 2009 by debritz


Sophie to replace Kyle?

Posted October 14th, 2009 by debritz

Sophie Monk PETA adA cryptic gossip item on the Daily Telegraph website suggests Sophie Monk (pictured in a PETA advertisement) will "take the controversial shock jock's seat on his morning radio show later this month". Are they suggesting that Sandilands will be oustered or that he will just be away? I can't really see Monk as being the panacea to 2Day's problems. As I've already said, if I was an Austereo suit, I'd be looking closely at possibilities involving Hamish and Andy.

Battle of the Brisbane media

Posted October 14th, 2009 by debritz

Meshel Laurie publicity pictureLooks like we've got ourselves a good, old-fashioned media feud going in Brisbane between the Q Confidential column in The Courier-Mail and Meshel Laurie at Nova 106.9. Laurie has Twittered her displeasure with QCon in the past, and today the newspaper attacks her for allegedly making irresponsible remarks about alcohol (saying she could tap a keg at the age of 4). The current backdrop to this is the drink-driving episode involving Laurie's colleague Ash Bradnam. One blow I know they won't take well at Nova is QCon calling the station the former No. 1. In their minds, they are are still leading in breakfast because they don't think the ABC (whose 612 Spencer Howson show really is No.1) counts.
Disclosure: Brett Debritz is heard on 612ABC on Wednesdays about 6.40am.

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.

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.

Don't call us ...

Posted September 20th, 2009 by debritz

Terry Sweetman is on form with his column about the Do Not Call Register. He notes that politicians, charities, religious organisations and marketing companies are exempt from the law, and suggests that only inertia has stopped 100 per cent Australians asking to be placed on the don't-call list. I'd like to see a marketing company cold-call people who are on the DNCR and solicit their opinions on the subject.

Hair today, $180,000pa tomorrow

Posted September 17th, 2009 by debritz

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has defended her husband Greg Withers' promotion to a public service position with a $180,0000 salary. She says he works hard -- and the proof is the amount of hair he has lost. Well, in that case, I must be worth $200,000+. He's hirsute compared to me.

Farewell, Keith Waterhouse

Posted September 6th, 2009 by debritz

I was just reminscing on Friday night about my whirlwind trip many years ago to Perth to see the play Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell and interview its star, Dennis Waterman. As fate would have it, around that very time, the play's author, Keith Waterhouse, passed away in the UK. Waterhouse was a novelist (his Billy Liar was a best seller that became a film starring Julie Christie), playwright, journalist - regarded as a true Fleet Street legend, no less - and a renowned wit. Here's some his better one-liners thanks to The Guardian:

"I never drink when I'm writing, but I sometimes write when I drink."
"I believe that no one should go back to work after lunch, but for some unfortunate people it's in the middle of the working day."
"Brighton is a town that always looks as if it is helping police with their inquiries."
"Should not the Society of Indexers be known as Indexers, Society of, The?"

Bring back Warana

Posted September 3rd, 2009 by debritz

If you read the front-page article in this week's edition of innercity community paper The Independent about the campaign to bring back Warana (or even if you didn't), you may want to check out the Facebook group.

ABC right-wing bias?

Posted September 2nd, 2009 by debritz

The ABC is a hotbed of conservatism and Rupert Murdoch's a leftie, according to research into the media while John Howard was prime minsiter. OK, that does oversimplify it, but ANU researchers say newspapers tended to the left while the ABC tended to the right during that time. In an unsurprising finding, it said radio talkback was largely right-wing.

How did this headline happen?

Posted September 2nd, 2009 by debritz

Ant are Dec -- a.k.a. Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly -- are a popular male double act in the UK. They work together and sometimes holiday together, but there is no suggestion that their relationship is anything other than just a very good friendship. So how, then, did the Daily Express come to run this headline?

The short answer is that it's a "spread" over two pages and one side was changed before the other, while the presses were still running. The full answer is here at Media Guardian, along with a warning about newspaper subs fiddling too much with their headings.

Funny old world, indeed

Posted September 1st, 2009 by debritz

"Dim man to divorce big breasted woman." That's how the perceptive parodyists at Private Eye magazine summed up the UK media hype surrounding the separation of Australia's own Peter Andre and Katie Price, a.k.a. page 3 girl Jordan. Call them the poor man's Posh and Becks if you like, but this couple, who met on I'm a Celebrity Get Me out of Here, have kept dozens of British journalists employed (and, presumably, millions of British readers entertained, if not enthralled) with their antics over several years of TV reality shows, minor charting singles and romance novels which carry Price's name on the cover but she doesn't actually write (she's too busy, apparently). According to Popbitch, however, there's a strong rumour that the separation is just a stunt and the duo have already recorded a Christmas single to celebrate their reunion. Ain't love grand?

A tale of three stories

Posted August 31st, 2009 by debritz

I know everybody likes to blow their own trumpet, but it can be overdone. Of the three stories I've found online about the Queensland Media Awards, not one gives me the full results. The ABC, Brisbane Times and The Courier-Mail highlight their own staff's achievements at the expense of the kind of full, unbiased coverage they would most likely provide on an event in which they didn't have a vested interest. At least the C-M and BT did a better job than the ABC. They both reported that The Australian's Michael McKenna was named journalist of the year (which the ABC report did not), and noted the late Albert Asbury, who worked for the ABC for 50 years, won the award for most outstanding contribution to journalism. I believe there were also radio and television categories, but I suppose I'll have to wait for broadcast reports on those results.
PS: Congratulations to all the winners (whoever they may be).

Lifeline for newspapers

Posted August 28th, 2009 by debritz

Now here's something you can't do with the internet: wrap up fish and chips. A Edinburgh restaurant has decided to reintroduce newspaper wrapping.

Warana campaign makes the news

Posted August 21st, 2009 by debritz

In case you missed it (but don't let this stop you buying a copy), here's an item from The Courier-Mail about the Bring Back Warana campaign.

Freesheet's time is up

Posted August 21st, 2009 by debritz

News that News International in the UK is to close its freesheet The London Paper may be cause for concern for staff of Australia's MX commuter papers. As a champion of diversity in the media, and of newspapers in general, I hope News Ltd doesn't follow the lead of its British big sister.

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.

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:

I know what I don't like ...

Posted July 21st, 2009 by debritz

"I haven't seen it myself, nor shall I ..." So writes Christopher Hart in this Daily Mail story about the British decsion to allow screenings of the Lars von Trier film Antichrist. Despite this, and after calling himself a "broad-minded arts critic", Hart goes on to demolish a film he's only read about and call for it to be banned outright rather than given an 18 rating. Well, I'm sorry Christopher, just reading about it isn't good enough. Before you can have a valid opinion, you're going to have to actually see it - especially since it's your job to do so.
Update: On reflection, if only I'd known about this scam when I was reviewing plays, films and TV shows years ago ... It would have made life a lot of easier (but I probably wouldn't have been able to sleep at night).
Update: Mail Watch demolishes Hart's story here.

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.

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