tip off

Media briefs: figures fudged … ‘Murdoch blonde’ … Veeps …

Labor luminary Bob Ellis is having quite the stoush with Sarah Le Marquand of The Daily Telegraph. Plus other media tidbits of the day …

Bob Ellis v Sarrah Le Marquand. It’s OK, Mark Scott, Bob Ellis isn’t coming after you. But Sarrah Le Marquand should watch out, the Labor luminary warned on his blog last Friday. Last week on Q&A, The Daily Telegraph associate editor used Ellis as an example of how she doesn’t go around suing those she finds most objectionable:

I might nominate Bob Ellis as the most offensive writer in Australia, because just when you think his misogyny has reached an all-time low, he manages to outdo himself. But would I take Bob Ellis to court and claim vilification? I wouldn’t, and the reason I wouldn’t do that is because to do so would actually be to make him a martyr in the eyes of him and his supporters and it would actually confirm his world view, which is that he is the poor repressed white male and I’m the evil woman trying to destroy the world.”

Ellis took umbrage, calling her an “ignorant Murdoch blonde” in response (proving her point re: misogyny?) and saying she should give him a quarter of her salary, “lest I sue her, and the ABC, for rather more”. But by Friday, Ellis had reconsidered taking action against the ABC, at least. He’s still after Le Marquand’s salary and now wants her to debate him in the Sydney Town Hall to boot.  — Myriam Robin

Oz journalist’s Abbott revenge. Tony Abbott was incensed two weeks ago when Australian reporter Nicola Berkovic asked him if he trusted the New South Wales government, “which is proving to be corrupt”, to deliver his major infrastructure plans. “That, if I may say so, is an entirely unjustified smear,” Abbott said, before demanding Berkovic provide evidence for her assertion.

Maybe she should put the question to Abbott again. Since Barry O’Farrell’s fateful resignation, several NSW Liberal politicians have stepped down following revelations about them made at ICAC. Last Friday police minister Mike Gallacher stepped down after ICAC heard he was involved in a plot to hide donations to a Liberal slush fund being made by a developer.  — Myriam Robin

A merger by marriage, indeed. News Corporation has bought Harlequin, the publisher of racy Mills and Boon bodice-rippers, such as A Merger by Marriage (how apt). Harlequin was Canadian print group Torstar’s single biggest business, accounting for 32% of pre-tax earnings in 2013. The CAD$455 million ($447 million) received from News Corp (leaving it with around US$2.1 billion in cash) will be used to pay down Torstar’s CAD$160 million in debt and finance some expansion.

But you have to wonder just what News Corp sees in Harlequin. News Corp’s Harper Collins arm did the purchase and will integrate Harlequin within its structure. News is looking to boost sales of e-books (which has become a growing part of Harlequin’s business) and sales of books in languages other than English. Harlequin appears to have a greater proportion of books published in other languages than Harper Collins has at the moment. But Torstar said last year that lower revenues were the primary challenge at Harlequin as the book publishing company adjusted to the digital environment. The Toronto Globe Mail pointed out:

The romance novel publisher has seen revenue stall — it fell 7.6 per cent in 2013 from the previous year — as it struggled to find the right digital strategy, particularly when it comes to higher royalty rates for its e-book authors. Its low-priced mass-market books are also finding it harder to compete against book discounting by online retailers. Harlequin was well positioned to take advantage of the erotica craze sparked by the publication of Fifty Shades of Grey in 2011, but the anticipated surge in readership never materialized. The company has remained profitable, however.”

So News has gone and bought a faded beauty in Harlequin (in Mills and Boon parlance). Will it be a Lethal Affair, to use yet another Mills and Boon bodice ripper?  —  Glenn Dyer

US circulation not as rosy as you think. Over the past year or so, the group that oversees the accuracy of American newspaper circulation figures has changed the rules to make the figures meaningless. The Alliance for Audited Media (the former Audit Bureau of Circulations) now allows newspapers to include as sales so-called branded editions, inserts, paywall subscribers, app users and multiple subscriptions. Some of it is very necessary (apps and paywall data) because media consumption is changing. But the changes mean that when you now try to compare the latest figures for the six months to March (which were not released publicly in their entirety, as they were for the period to September 30 and March 31 last year) to those previous periods, it is impossible to make any meaningful comment.

Instead of producing a list with the top 25 daily and top 25 Sunday papers, brief data for only the top three — USA Today (print and digital daily circulation of 3,255,157), The Wall Street Journal (2,294,093) and The New York Times (2,149,012)  —  were issued, along with scant details about the number and types of papers involved in the survey. Judging by the poor explanation on AAM’s website, more detail is available at a cost, instead of the free release in previous years. The March 2013 report showed the Journal leading with 2.4 million print and digital copies, the Times had 1.9 million and USA Today had 1.7 million (and was the big loser from 2011 and through into early 2013). Apart from those rankings, the rest of the report is scanty and can’t really be used for accurate comparisons with past reports.

According to the Poynter website, average Monday-Friday circulation at The Wall Street Journal fell 3.5%. Circulation of its weekend edition was also down 3.5%, to 2.3 million. At The Washington Post, which is now owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, average Monday-Friday circulation fell 8%, to 436,601, a figure that includes a small number of branded editions. Average Sunday circulation, which includes about 185,000 branded editions, fell about 4%.  — Glenn Dyer

Video of the day. America’s most famous fictional VP — and the very real one — decided to skive off together instead of going to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner …

Front page of the day. Orange is the new black in Brisbane today …

3
  • 1
    zut alors
    Posted Monday, 5 May 2014 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    It’s time Bob Ellis was on Q&A as a panellist. Instead we have a series of Murdoch employees, the occasional academic, the occasional comedian, the occasional author & an interminable trail of boring politicians. Not to mention endless appearances by Christopher Pyne & Malcolm Turnbull, yawn.

  • 2
    Bill Hilliger
    Posted Monday, 5 May 2014 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Zut you forgot to mention Amanda the simplistic rock.

  • 3
    AR
    Posted Monday, 5 May 2014 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    Ellis is beyond risible these days, not that he was ever credible even for a phantasist but I would like to see him and Mark Latham, the Gog & Magog of the ALP, on together.
    Ticket sales could fund a moon base.

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