Different ‘gong’ for some of the players in the recent fortunes of the Fairfax media empire. John B Fairfax (who was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 1994) has now received the second highest of the Bunyip gongs, the Office of the Order of Australia (AO), for service to the print media, particularly in country areas. (But obviously not to shareholders, including his family’s 14% stake in the staggering group).

And Fairfax’s former CEO, David Kirk, became an Australian citizen yesterday, a move that received international coverage — not just across the Tasman. London newspapers marked his surprise move. His decision receiving more column centimetres around the world than John B Fairfax’s second gong. — Glenn Dyer

Headline of the week. We salute Mackay’s The Daily Mercury effort in its 14 January edition:

News.com subs fail spelling test again.

Selling a city at the tennis. Watching the tennis over summer has highlighted how far Brisbane has to go before it can match Melbourne’s singularly effective city branding. The Australian Open features the simple and uncompromising MELBOURNE logo, appropriately placed to ensure any highlights package on foreign news bulletins get a clear and uncomplicated brand message. By contrast, the first event held at the new Brisbane Tennis Centre had two competing logos dominating the screen. The first read, “Brisbane Marketing, supported by the Brisbane City Council”. The second read, “Queensland Events.” Who or what is “Queensland Events”? And who cares about “Brisbane Marketing”? Can you imagine a logo at a multi-million dollar Adidas Tennis World Cup in Europe with the slogan “Brought to you by the Marketing Department of Adidas?” Long ago, Melbourne adopted a simple and powerful brand for its city. They realised that know one knew or cared about obscure marketing departments or government bodies. It is time Brisbane did the same, if it wants to truly shed its provincial, backwater reputation. — Crikey reader

Advertising and politics blur on British TV. Britain’s commercial terrestrial broadcasters this evening went ahead with a humanitarian aid appeal for Gaza, despite Sky News joining the BBC in refusing to screen it. Pressure mounted on the BBC throughout the day to back down on its decision to reject the appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee, an umbrella group of humanitarian charities including Oxfam, Save the Children and the Red Cross, but it resisted, saying to broadcast the film risked compromising its impartiality. The BBC confirmed it had received 15,500 complaints over its decision, while its own staff and broadcasting unions joined in the criticism. — The Guardian

Microsoft uses a MacBookPro on their Songsmith demo video. Some art director somewhere is in hot water. Maybe an entire agency will get put up for review. And maybe Songsmith will rock the world like RockBand has, but this is amazing. In their new promo video for Songsmith, Microsoft’s application is shown running on a MacBookPro. Granted the little girl has stickers all over the back of her MBP, as does my daughter, but you can even see a little bit of the Apple logo poking up above the flower sticker that takes out the bulk of the Apple. The music created by this beast of a karaoke software system is bad enough, but who could’ve approved, and approved, and approved this video with a MacBookPro running Songsmith. Thousands of viewings at the agency. Hundreds of views with Microsoft staff, and NOBODY ASKED, HEY WHY IS THIS ON A MAC? — uber.la

Thailand bans Economist magazine. The latest edition of UK-based current affairs magazine the Economist has been banned in Thailand, amid local anger over its coverage of the royal family. The Economist‘s Thai distributor held back Friday’s issue — which contains an article about an Australian writer who was jailed for slandering the monarchy. Last month another edition was banned because of an article questioning the Thai king’s role in public life. Thailand’s laws against lese-majeste are among the strictest in the world. — BBC News

Wired‘s February issue is three millimeters thin. More evidence of the abominable ad market: Wired‘s February issue is so thin, its binding is thicker than its actual pages. It feels startlingly flimsy to the touch. The issue numbers just 113 pages in total. Wired‘s January issue contained 128 pages; the December issue, 231 pages. Of those 113 pages, only 31.5 are ad pages. That’s miserable. The usual ratio between editorial and advertising hovers around 1:1. — Silicon Alley Insider

US News launching digital newsweekly. There’s been a lot of talk lately about the decline and fall of newsweeklies, some of it fueled by the shift of U.S. News & World Report to biweekly, and then monthly, publication. But U.S. News hasn’t given up on the idea of the weekly news digest. In fact, later today, in a soft launch, it will rolling out a new product: a “digital newsweekly” that reproduces, in pixels, what the magazine once did in ink and paper. — Portfolio

Twitter rumours of dramatic Qantas fire in Melbourne prove to be a faulty indicator light. The couple of months has seen a series of articles about the power of Twitter in a breaking news event. First came the dramatic scenes in Mumbai, then the more miraculous plane crash on the Hudson. But Twitter’s tendency to turn a minor drama into a crisis was demonstrated last week after a routine technical problem at Melbourne airport escalated into what sounded like the beginnings of a full blown disaster by the time it had been retweeted to thousands of people. — Mumbrella

Peter Fray

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