Peter Costello gets to be the captain at last. Welcome to 2009. It’s a brand new year but, for some people, things never change. Peter Costello finally got to be in charge, but not until the race was well and truly run. This picture from the annual KPMG Couta Boat Classic accompanied the article “Costello predicts choppy sailing for Rudd” in The Australian:

It seems we narrowly escaped a disaster. He’s facing the wrong way and gripping the tiller upside down. He looks like he’s holding a golf club. Maybe he’s going to join Alexander Downer and Mark Vaile in retirement? As for predicting choppy seas ahead, he’s surveying the chop he left in his wake. — Crikey reader John Goldbaum

Is anyone awake at the wheel at the SMH any more? Perfect placement of story and advertising again in today’s SMH. A story lamenting the appallingly bad jewellery made by ‘Pandora’ and an ad within the story imploring people to click on a link to get a free piece of the stuff:

Crikey reader Malcolm Grant

An end, and a beginning, for the media. When the economy sneezes, the media business catches pneumonia. The problem for the media business in 2008 was that the economy caught pneumonia. When the economy gets pneumonia, the media business gets it too — then someone knocks it across the back of the head with a shovel. Or several shovels. Advertising is cratering. (GM is essentially a media-funding company with a car-maker attached.) The audience is fragmenting. And the old means of business — grinding up trees and delivering them, shooting radiation to antennas–are being superseded by the Internet. Journalists now read the business pages the way octogenarians read the obituaries. The Tribune Co., which owns the Chicago Tribune and the L.A. Times, declared bankruptcy. National Public Radio laid off 7% of its staff. The New York Times mortgaged its headquarters. Media companies from Viacom to NBC to Gannett to (gulp) Time Inc. had massive layoffs. Newspapers contemplated not publishing on certain days, going online-only or closing altogether. It’s enough to make journalists wonder, Is this the end? — Time Magazine

Newspaper share value fell $64B in ’08. In the worst year in history for publishers, newspaper shares dropped an average of 83.3% in 2008, wiping out $64.5 billion in market value in just 12 months. Although things were tough for all sorts of businesses in the face of the worst economic slump since the 1930s, the decline among the newspaper shares last year was more than twice as deep as the 38.5% drop suffered by the Standard and Poor’s average of 500 stocks. The debacle was widespread and thoroughgoing. — Reflections of a Newsosaur

Israel arrests newsman with Iranian TV for prematurely reporting on IDF entry into Gaza. A reporter for Iranian television was arrested by Israeli authorities on Monday for a dispatch which broadcast news of the Israel Defense Forces’ entry into the Gaza Strip. The journalist is alleged to have violated military censorship laws which forbade the news media from releasing information during the initial stages of the ground incursion. The reporter, a resident of the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al Amud, was questioned by the police international investigations unit. He turned himself into authorities via his attorney. — Haaretz

Twitter gets hacked, badly. Phishing attacks, which hit Twitter over the weekend, are a sign a service has arrived (Facebook has the same problem). But someone hacking into Twitter’s internal admin tools and compromising 33 high profile accounts, including President Elect Barack Obama, has Twitter users freaking out about what to do. — TechCrunch

US media starts falling apart… literally. The natural elements have it in for American newspapers now too. On the last day of 2008 we hear that the wind blew off the U off the USA Today‘s building in Virginia.

Wonkette called it “more tragic news of journalism layoffs” saying “The “U” has been fired from the sign atop the USA Today building. It will now blog for the Daily Beast.” — Wonkette and FishbowlDC