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Jan 21, 2014

Media briefs: Reith in Fairfax ... SMH's world ... Nippon 'racist' ad ...

Peter Reith joins Fairfax as a regular columnist. And other media tidbits.

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Hendo out, Reith in at SMH. Left-leaning Sydney Morning Herald readers in Newtown and Balmain — already fuming over the publication of opinion articles by climate sceptics — will be spitting (kale) chips over today’s opinion page. As well as a column on President Barack Obama’s dwindling popularity by Spectator Australia editor and former Liberal Party adviser Tom Switzer, former Howard government minister Peter Reith makes his debut as a regular columnist. Reith is replacing Tuesday fixture Gerard Henderson, whose column ran for 23 straight years. The SMH wanted to make Hendo’s column fortnightly rather than weekly, so he upped sticks to The Australian (taking Nancy, his media watchdog, with him). When the move was announced last month, SMH editor-in-chief Darren Goodsir said: “Peter is a no-nonsense, policy-focused commentator who is making quite a name for himself on The Drum and Sky television through critiquing the government’s performance from a conservative perspective.”

Reith’s first topic — industrial relations reform — won’t surprise anyone who’s followed his career. Although Reith knows Abbott won’t break an election promise and introduce major structural changes, he wants him to make small, practical changes to increase flexibility in the IR system. Fellow Howard government minister Amanda Vanstone writes a weekly column for Fairfax sibling The Age. — Matthew Knott

More magical thinking at News Corp. Newspapers continue to gleefully report new Enhanced Media Metrics Australia figures showing declines in print circulation are being “easily offset” by online and mobile readership. Revenue, of course, is an entirely different matter, but why rain on the media’s parade? But The Australian‘s report on the latest figures (from surveys funded by newspaper industry group Newspaper Works) does deserve some scrutiny:

“News Corp Australia’s Melbourne title, the Herald Sun, was the best performing masthead, with 4.19 million total monthly readers, up 1.7 per cent from 4.12 million the month before.

“Its Fairfax Media competitor, The Age, saw the highest increase in total audience to 3.2 million, a rise of 2.5 per cent.

“News Corp’s Sydney tabloid The Daily Telegraph maintained a 4.14 million total audience, while Fairfax’s Sydney Morning Herald was stable at 4.81 million.”

On what basis is the Herald Sun the best performing masthead? It certainly doesn’t have the biggest audience — that’s Fairfax’s SMH. Nor did it achieve the biggest percentage increase — that was The Age. — Matthew Knott

Correction of the day. Coming in at a hefty 40,075 kilometres around the middle, Earth is quite small in planetary terms. Bigger than Mars, its closest competitor, it’s got nothing on those big balls of gas. So it’s a little surprising that The Sydney Morning Herald got its figures so wildly wrong in yesterday’s story about the Australian navy shipping out to the Middle East:

If the HMAS Darwin were to sail for 44,000 kilometres, it would end up just 3925 kilometres down the road. That is unless the Australian navy has now made that small step for man off into space, where 44,000 kilometres is just a scratch over a 10th of the way to the moon. The SMH corrected its error this morning:

Crikey intern David Ross

Video of the day. Japanese airline All Nippon Airways is in a bit of hot water after an ad promising to “change the image of Japanese people” depicted a Japanese man in a blond wig with a long, rubber nose. Japanese stereotyping has it that white Westerners have long noses and blond hair, and the airline has apologised for the  whiteface.

All Nippon Airlines

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