The Sunday Age faces curve ball over copying.  The Sunday Age’s magazine M this weekend published a clever little graph predicting the imminent rise and fall of popular culture phenomena. It’s a pity the concept appears to have been lifted almost directly from New York Magazine. The Latino musical In The Heights is at the height of its popularity, according to M’s “Culture Tracker”.

You have to wonder what relevance the musical has to Australian audiences… but the strange choice is explained when you discover that New York Magazine placed it at the same point over two weeks ago. Writer Adam Sternbergh has been using the graph regularly in the magazine since he came up with it in 2005 to analyse the “corkscrew of hype and backlash”. The Undulating Curve of Shifting Expectations, as he calls it, bastardises a graph usually seen in quantum physics, applying it to cultural phases of hype and bust.


The magazine charts books, films, music and theatre on the up through “pre-buzz”, “buzz”, “rave reviews” and reaching “saturation point” before they descend through a route of “overhyped”, “backlash” and “backlash to the backlash”. The M version is slightly altered, with “raves” at the peak of the cycle and a “recovery” instead of a “backlash to the backlash”. Author James Frey’s new book also gets a mention in both graphs, New York Magazine giving it a “buzz” rating and M predicting a “backlash”. Does mimicking ideas from another magazine put you within the territory of “overhyped”? — Crikey intern Nidhi Prakash

Chinese whispers from the Hun.  What a lovely scene … Aussie hack plays pingpong with Beijing locals saying “dui dui dui” all the time — “correct, correct, correct” — to show his apparent proficiency to unsuspecting Herald Sun readers. And the Herald Sun describes expat Patrick Whiteley as a “working journalist” in Beijing. What the Herald Sun chooses not to point out is that he is a staff columnist for the Chinese communist party’s English-language propaganda organ, The China Daily. — Crikey reader Luke

Redundancies at WIN Wollongong. This memo was issued to staff yesterday:

TO: WIN Corporation Management & Staff
FROM: David Butorac
DATE: 23 June 2008

Dear Colleagues,

I write to inform you of some significant structural changes that have been made to our Head office staff in Wollongong today.

As you are aware, we are currently operating in difficult economic times and the company has seen challenged performance results over the last several periods.

In order to work to remedy the situation and in recognition of the trying economic circumstances in which we operate it is imperative that we look closely at the overall cost base of our business to ensure we can rationalise it for the immediate future.

As such, I have had to take the difficult decision to remove some positions from our Head Office team. I can assure you that such decisions are not taken lightly and are a reflection of the times we and most companies currently face.

Today we will be parting company with some friends and colleagues who have worked with us and our company collectively for a considerable period. I wish to pay testament to their efforts and dedication and I am sure you will all join me in wishing them well in their future pursuits.

Please also recognise the magnitude of such decisions, and please ensure that in every step of the way in which you carry out your work you ensure that costs are kept to a minimum and we can maximise the efficiency of our business moving forward.

I can assure you we remain dedicated and committed to investing in the growth of this business on many fronts. In order to achieve that, it is vital that we make every effort to streamline our operation to ensure its maximum efficiency and I would appreciate your individual and collective assistance to do so in the way you carry out your individual tasks.

I do appreciate that structural changes such as today’s cause some element of concern but I wish to assure you that I, the Board of Directors and the Executive Management of our company are working to ensure a strong future for all of our businesses.

Kind regards,

David Butorac
Managing Director

The Tele’s tastless graphics. Sydney’s Daily Tele website is at it again. Another crime story, another accompanying “splattered blood” image. Crikey has spotted its use before and this time a man had to be stabbed in the neck for the graphic to be wheeled out (image and story below). From the Tele’s website yesterday:

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
Seven News was tops again with 1.694 million viewers, with Border Security second at 7.30pm to 8pm for Seven with 1.547 million. Today Tonight was 3rd with 1.533 million viewers and Sea Patrol ‘s final episode averaged a solid 1.497 million people. Seven’s Surf Patrol averaged 1.365 million at 8pm and Nine News was 7th with 1.351 million. Home and Away won the 7pm slot with 1.304 million and A Current Affair averaged 1.299 million; the 7pm ABC News averaged 1.253 million for 10th spot nationally and beat Nine’s repeat of Two and A Half Men which averaged 1.249 million people. Seven’s 8.30pm program, Criminal Minds averaged 1.078 million at 8.30pm and Ten News averaged 1.029 million people for 13th spot. next came Four Corners with 1.028 million with Chris Master’s excellent expose on yet another Christian religious cult run to benefit a narrow group of people, and Andrew Denton’s Elders series was 15th and last with 1.024 million for his good chat to Dame Elizabeth Murdoch.

The Losers: Big Brother. Sorry to mention it again, but last night it fell to fifth for a while (that’s LAST), beaten by Top Gear on SBS. It was 4th at 7pm behind Seven, the ABC and Nine but at 7.30pm, it fell further behind. BB averaged 898,000 from 7pm to 8pm; Top Gear, 928,000 from 7.30pm to 8.30pm. BB has never finished last in any timeslot in its eight seasons on air. Ten’s highest rating program was out of the official ratings timeslot of 6pm to midnight. Ten News averaged over 1.02 million viewers. As a result of BB doing badly, the last episode of How To Look Good Naked was also fifth at 8pm with 708,000 viewers. It deserved better from Ten and the audience. Big Brother Big Mouth at 9.30pm: 581,000 viewers and a figure that says why it shouldn’t be on air. In between this, Good News Week did well to average 927,000 at 8.30pm to 9.30pm.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market but Melbourne where Nine won. Today Tonight won all markets. The 7pm ABC news beat Nine into second place behind Seven in Sydney in the rankings! Ten’s late News/ Sports Tonight averaged 333,000 viewers. The 7.30 Report averaged 802,000. Media Watch after the million-plus Four Corners , averaged 871,000. Lateline averaged 238,000. Lateline Business, 115,000. Nine’s Nightline is resting for the tennis. SBS News at 6.30pm averaged 239,000; the 9.30pm edition, 140.000. 7am Sunrise on Seven, 355,000; 7am Today on Nine, 275,000.

The Stats: Nine won with 28.4% (28.3%) to 28.4% for Seven (28.6%), The ABC averaged 17.7% (18.1%) and beat Ten into fourth with 17.4% (17.7%). SBS was on 8.0% (7.2%) Nine won Sydney and Melbourne and Adelaide. Seven won Brisbane and Perth. Nine leads 31.8% to 27.1%. In regional areas a win for WIN/NBN and Nine with 33.6% from Prime/7Qld with 26.5%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 16.3%, the ABC with 15.1% and SBS with 8.5%. Seven said it won prime time in 16-39s, 18-49s, 25-54s and all viewers under 55.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Sea Patrol ended last night for Nine and will be back next year. Perhaps the producers can get another free ride from the Navy to make it: its final episode audience was actually lower than the penultimate one a week ago, but the series average was up on its first series in 2007. Criminal Minds at 8.30pm averaged 1.078 million for Seven against the last Sea Patrol. That was higher than what it is getting Wednesday nights at 8.30pm. Criminal Minds though is keeping the slot warm at 8.30pm until City Homicide arrives in about a month. Tonight: The final of  Australia’s Got Talent on Seven at 7.30pm; the second part of the Corby doco at 8.30pm on Nine, NCIS on Ten at 8.30pm (after a fresh Simpsons episode at 7.20pm).

Source: OzTAM, TV Networks reports

CLARIFICATION: In yesterday’s Crikey, we said the 7pm ABC News beat Seven and Nine in Melbourne Monday to Friday last week: it didn’t. It did however beat Nine nationally!