Australia’s remarkably similar online news site: Is there only one way to present an
Australian news service online? You’d
think so if you were looking at the freshly relaunched News Limited sites for
the Herald Sun
and the Daily Telegraph. They look astonishingly similar to the Fairfax sites for The Ageand The Sydney Morning Herald. There is the same cool blue, the same hard
news down the left, trivia down the right, the same layout, hotlinks and
all. If you didn’t bother to read the
masthead name you could hardly tell the difference. I hesitate to use the word “copy cat
“, but you’d think News Ltd would have come up with some fresh ideas.
What does this say for the battle to migrate trusted news “brands” to
new media? The News Ltd and Fairfax sites
are so similar that it is hardly worth choosing between them, even though they
are owned by different organisations. This is a good demonstration of the fact that diversity of media is not
only a matter of ownership. There is a paucity of fresh ideas in mainstream
media. Unfortunately, that is an even
harder problem to fix than flawed government policy. – Margaret Simons

NY Times cutting size and costs: The New
York Times
Company has joined the slowly growing list of major print media
companies cutting jobs and costs to save money and tackle the drift of ad
revenues to the net. The
paper says in a statement on its corporate website that it plans to “update the look of its print
edition” by narrowing the width of itspages from 13.5 inches to 12 inches by 2008. It will also close a
printing plant in New Jersey, resulting in the loss of 250 jobs. The
changes are expected to result in savings of $US42 million a
year. On
Sunday The Chicago Tribune said 120 jobs would be going in a downsizing of its
editorial and support staff while the Financial Times revealed last week that 50
journalists’ jobs would be lost in a major restructuring of work practices
designed to link the print and website more closely. – Glenn

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Seven’s 7.30 to
8.30 pm dominance resumed at the top of the most watched list last
night after the interruption the week before with the arrival of
Torvill and Dean’s Dancing on Ice. Border Security averaged 2.002
million at 7.30pm, Medical Emergency, 1.596 million, Seven news, 1.539
million with Nine News at 4th with 1.517 million. Torvill and Dean were
6th with 1.395 million (not good), All Saints was on 1.369 million, A
Current Affair
was 8th with 1.346 million, Temptation was 9th with
1.338 million and Home and Away was 10th with 1.324 million. Nine’s
repeat of CSI was 11th with 1.171 million, Ten’s All New Simpsons,
1.149 million, the 7 pm ABC News was 13th with 1.128 million, the 7pm
Big Brother, 1.066 million and Ten’s The Wedge, 1.002 million.

The Losers:Bert’s Family Feud did 730,000, Deal Or No Deal 977,000, but that was
down on the million plus the night before. Ten’s odd comedy The Wedge
managed another million plus audience: not really a loser, but it’s
definitely one for a certain type of viewer. The million plus is
despite the strength of Medical Emergency and the presence of Dancing
on Ice
, so not a bad performance. The Wedge is really for those with a
Bogan sense of humour that rose to prominence in the late 80s. Flannel shirts and tracky dacks anyone, Kath, Kim?

News & CA:
Seven News may have won nationally, but that was because of a big win
in Perth: the national margin was 22,000, the Perth margin was 119,
000. Nine won Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. Today Tonight
lost Sydney and Melbourne but won Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth: the
national margin was 135,000 viewers, the Perth margin was 86,000. The
Ten News At Five averaged 822,000, solid but not brilliant. The 7 pm
ABC News averaged 1.128 million but The 7.30 Report slumped to
7.30,000: that’s a big drop. Foreign Correspondent averaged 564,000
Sunrise beat Today.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of
29.5% (29.0% last week) to Seven with 29.4%(30.5%), Ten was third with
20.6% (22.6%), the ABC with 14.4% (14.5%) and SBS with 6.1% (3.4%).
Nine won Sydney and Melbourne, well. Seven won Brisbane, Adelaide and
Perth where Ice Dancing is not such a big deal. Seven leads the week
29.6% to 28.7%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Leaving the
Torvill and Dean mess aside, Nine’s performance was stronger last night
because the 6 pm News did a lot better. A Current Affair is a bit
closer, but still short of TT but the gap is closing. Tonight it’s House
vs a ‘special’ episode of Las Vegas. House will clean it up for Ten.
Nine has McLeod’s Daughters and Without a Trace at 8.30 pm and
Suspicious Minds at 9.30 pm. Nine will be wishing for a better
performance by those three programs compared to last week. Ten will
also be hoping Honey We’re Killing The Kids does better at 7.30 pm as
well. It could be a close night. It might all revolve around Seven’s
poor performer, 24 against Ten’s NCIS.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey