The need for harsh decisions. There’s one harsh reality for we journalists who get published on the internet — you can’t kid your publisher about how many readers you have. Every last one of those blessed mouse clicks gets counted and an editor knows exactly what his readers really are interested in. That helps make the hard decisions about what to spend the precious Crikey resources on and it is the scarcity of readers that is the reason you will no longer be finding my breakfast media wrap on the website after today.

Out in the big time journalism at News Limited’s Daily Telegraph I thought they had reached a similarly harsh decision about the kind of subjects which interested their declining readership when they removed the editor responsible for a barrage of populist political campaigning becoming the staple fare. Presumably the new editor, I wrote in Crikey yesterday, would change things but how wrong can you be! The manufactured rage is back on page one again today with Secret poll shows bus pass fury puts 32 Labor seats in doubt . And this fearless prediction is made when the fixed term election is more than two years away.

Labor should not worry too much a bout the headlines I suppose because the vast majority of readers this morning would just have turned the page. I learned of the almost complete disinterest of the people of NSW in government stuff ups when I spent time behind the one way glass with Labor’s pollster in 1988 — when the last quite incompetent Labor State government was running the state. It was quite depressing for a political junkie to see how little most people actually read about politics.

The Tele should follow the Crikey guide and turn to its own website to discover the kind of people it appeals to and what their interests are. Have a look at this list of stories which have topped the most read list in the last week:

  • Today, Tuesday — Second George Bush snub for Kevin Rudd;
  • Monday — Couple had s-x on crowded train;
  • Sunday — Sonia Kruger shame over tasteless racial remarks;
  • Saturday — Samoan mother and son from hell;
  • Friday — Meet the world’s most beautiful Sloggi bottoms;
  • Thursday — 2GB broadcaster Ray Hadley shouts at the Premier Nathan Rees;
  • Wednesday — Sex slave teacher committed to stand for trial.

News by survey. What newspapers do love is a jolly good survey and there are plenty of examples of that today. In The Courier Mail they are relying on “an exclusive” Galaxy Poll showing 60 per cent of people are unhappy with the way the Government has handled the fuel price issue to justify a headline Petrol price fall fails to soothe voter anger. No explanation is given by Clinton Porteous to explain why the anger did not stop the previous day’s Galaxy Poll showing the Labor Government further ahead than it was at the election a year ago.

The Daily Telegraph had a double poll news day. The first it featured was not “exclusive” like in Brisbane — it’s was “secret”; so secret that Simon Benson gave no details of exactly who was polled about what to justify the claim about the bus pass fury story. Instead there was Labor Party general secretary Matt Thistlewaite confessing that internal polling had shown that the Government had not received the expected “bounce” in popularity following the dumping of former premier Morris Iemma and his treasurer Michael Costa. The source for this information was supposedly a briefing for State MPs where the general secretary told them that the polls had, in fact, “worsened”. With that out of the way it was on to the “secret” petrol business with its public anger instead of the fury.

In Melbourne the Herald Sun ran with a poll that found anguish instead. Single women are crying out for a real man — wrote Susie O’Brien and Rachel Hewitt turning to a survey done for a Barons Brewing promotional campaign. The PR company that came up with this idea will be well pleased this morning at getting such a good run with this complete puff piece.

But it’s not just the tabloids that love a good poll. The Sydney Morning Herald imported another PR job from overseas so it could declare Britons scared of children. It was really quite a depressing tale, actually, about how half the adult population in Britain is fundamentally prejudiced against the current generation of children and critical of their “animal” behaviour. Taken by YouGov for the charity Barnardo’s the poll found 49% of adults think children pose an increasing danger to society and 54% say young people are “beginning to behave like animals”.

Greenhouse gases on the rise again. There’s cause for a little alarm in a report this week released by the United Nations on greenhouse gas emissions from the industrialised world. It seems they are on the rise again. Data submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) shows that emissions of 40 industrialized countries that have greenhouse gas reporting obligations under the Convention remained in 2006 below the 1990 level by about 5%, but rose by 2.3 percent in the time-frame 2000 to 2006.

For the smaller group of those industrialized countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, emissions in 2006 were about 17% below the Kyoto baseline, but still growing after the year 2000. The initial decrease in Kyoto countries. emissions mainly came about through the economic decline of economies in transition (countries in eastern and central Europe) in the 1990s.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey