Bye bye Sportsbet, farewell revenue The Age has acted on a long-held ambition to remove the FormGuide from the pages of its sports section. There was no form in today’s edition, just a small pointer on page two of the paper, advising punter/subscribers that if they want a form guide they need to go to their newsagents and ask for it. This will no doubt anger punters, but it has also angered guide sponsors Sportsbet who have entered into a $3 million three-year deal with the paper to sponsor its form product. Taking the formguide out of the paper had been discussed with the sponsors, but the understanding had been that the paper’s 140,000 subscribers would be asked to opt-in or out of formguide home delivery. Fetching your own from the newsagent was never discussed.

Terminally angering Sportsbet — executives from the paper and the betting agency have been locked in discussions today — would be a big blow for Age revenue, currently said to be running behind budget by as much as $1million a week.

Meanwhile, the appearance of former Age editor Andrew Jaspan at yesterday’s Fairfax AGM in Melbourne has set tongues wagging, some wondering whether Jaspan might still be on the Fairfax payroll and on the verge of some sort of comeback. “He was ‘removed’ as editor, never ‘sacked’ said one Age insider. Rumour also has it that the Jaspan’s corporate credit card remains active, clocking debts still honoured by head office. Others contend that Fairfax chairman Ron Walker was never happy about Jaspan’s removal, and invited him to yesterday’s AGM as an act of contrition. — Jonathan Green

Ethically debatable photo wins prize. The recent WA Media awards on Saturday 8 November honoured Guy Magowan of the West Australian with the News Photography Prize for his front page photo of a man grieving at the moment he is told of his wife’s accidental death by drowning.

The photo was extensively condemned at the time of publication, received numerous complaints to the paper, including from the man in the photo, who demanded the sacking of the West’s editor over the incident. The story was investigated by Media Watch for breach of ethics.

The judges who decided that the photo deserved a gong commented:

A terribly sad picture of the type of event people live in horror of experiencing. The photographer handled this very professionally by not being overly intrusive, making use of a telephoto lens. The image was well used by the paper and is an outstanding news image. The use of the image aroused controversy from the public and the picture’s subject. However it is images such as these which bring to the attention of the public the reality of tragedy from which they are so often protected in this age of dumbed-down media.

The picture also showed the police in a very good light. This was a terrible moment for them too and reflected well on their profession. The photographer handled this situation a sensitively as possible in the circumstances and the manner in which it was used is a credit to the paper.

This comment contains some irony, since The West Australian is more guilty than most of “dumbing down”. I will let you decide whether the photograph, and the prize, are a “credit to the paper.” — Crikey reader from Perth

Blood flows in ACP’s circulations office Weekly magazine sales again fell sharply in the September quarter, as the pace of slump accelerated from the June quarter. In fact it was another quarter when blood must have flowed in the circulation and sales support officers at ACP, Pacific Magazines and smaller publishers. Fusion Strategy of Sydney pointed out that the average weekly number of magazines sold each week fell 6.74% in the September 2008 quarter, far worse than the 5.72% fall in the September 2007 quarter. “This is also a bad audit for weekly magazines, a really poor audit indeed. Most weekly titles are in double digit decline in this audit.”

New Idea (is) shedding less of a proportion of its circulation than Woman’s Day. Who is doing relatively best in its subset. But there is no real joy.” Who Weekly (Pacific) shed 6.6% in the latest quarter, which was faster than the 2.6% loss in the June on June comparison. ACP’s Grazia was a publisher’s estimate of 70,000, but that hasn’t made suggestions of its imminent demise go away. The other figures were full audits. Woman’s Day (ACP) sales dropped 13.8% in the quarter on 2007, New Idea (Pacific) shed 12.2% and NW (ACP) lost 15.3%. In the June quarter Woman’s Day sales fell 10.5%, New Idea, 10.3% and NW, 11.9%. Famous was the worst performer in the September quarter, shedding 18.4% on top of the 10.7% drop in the June quarter on June 2007.

Famous (Pacific) was revamped at the end to last month to try and arrest the collapse in sales. Pacific’s That’s Life shed 5.2% of its sales in the September quarter, which was better than the 6.6% in the June quarter. ACP’s Take 5 loss just 0.7% compared to a loss of 1% in June. ACP’s TV week lost 5.2% in the quarter on top of the 9% fall in the June quarter. Men’s Weekly lifestyle magazines again lost ground, but not at the 25% for some titles in the June quarter. the losses settled to around 3.8%-8.4%. Figures for the weekly women’s lifestyle mags like Cleo and for many monthly titles are not included in the quarterly audit. — Glenn Dyer

3 launches “Facebook phone” for Christmas. Mobile phone company 3 is hoping to capitalise on the success of Facebook with the release of a new handset in time for Christmas that integrates the social networking site with all the traditional functions of a mobile phone, such as contacts book and message inbox. The INQ1 — pronounced “ink one” — is likely to be dubbed “the Facebook phone” as it puts users in touch with their social networking circle at the touch of a button. The phone, unveiled today and available in the UK, Australia and Hong Kong from next month, is aimed squarely at users who find “smartphones” such as the iPhone, Blackberry Storm and G1 too expensive, but still want to use social networking, e-mail and instant messaging as well as surf the mobile web. — Guardian

A senior fellow at the Institute of Nonexistence. It was among the juicier post-election recriminations: Fox News Channel quoted an unnamed McCain campaign figure as saying that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent. Who would say such a thing? On Monday the answer popped up on a blog and popped out of the mouth of David Shuster, an MSNBC anchor. “Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks,” Shuster said. Trouble is, Martin Eisenstadt doesn’t exist. His blog does, but it’s a put-on. The think tank where he is a senior fellow — the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy — is just a Web site. The TV clips of him on YouTube are fakes. — International Herald Tribune

Progressive Media In The Obama Era. With the election over, prognostications about the new administration of Barack Obama, and the fate of the losers, began in earnest. Almost simultaneously, speculation arose concerning the direction and prospects for the media in general, and the cable news networks in particular. The conventional wisdom (always conventional, rarely wise) is that Fox News will thrive in the role of a voice for the opposition and MSNBC will struggle for lack of drama. This analysis presumes that audiences respond only to conflict and that the Obama victory will put conservatives on edge and liberals to sleep. — News Corpse

Helen Thomas Returns To White House To Harass Obama. Legendary political reporter Helen Thomas has sat in the White House Press Corp for seven presidents. President Elect Barack Obama will be her eighth.

Huffington Post and Fishbowl

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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