Newspaper Death Watch. The US newspaper slump has worsened with the threat from Hearst Corp. to close its papers in San Francisco on top of a similar threat to sell or close its Seattle paper, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The news, revealed late this morning by Hearst, comes after two newspaper groups filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last weekend. That was after three other media groups, including the huge Tribune Co in Chicago, had failed from early December onwards. Hearst says it will sell or close its San Francisco Chronicle, which lost more than $50 million last year:

Hearst Corporation announced today that its San Francisco Chronicle newspaper is undertaking critical cost-saving measures including a significant reduction in the number of its unionized and nonunion employees. If these savings cannot be accomplished within weeks, Hearst said, the Company will be forced to sell or close the newspaper…without the specific changes we are seeking across the entire Chronicle organization, we will have no choice but to quickly seek a buyer for the Chronicle or, should a buyer not be found, to shut the newspaper down.

 — Glenn Dyer

Fresh scoop at the Hun. News Ltd loves a Germaine Greer story, and today’s Herald Sun had a corker — La Greer’s house has been burgled! A painting by Moncalvo was stolen! Greer described the policewomen attending the burglary as “not engendering confidence” due to their “deep cleavage and fishnet stockings” (ie. normal black stockings). Great stuff! Only trouble is the burglary took place 18 months ago, according to a piece in the Guardian —  reasonably reliable because it was written by, ahhh, Germaine Greer, the whole point of whose piece was that the painting wasn’t by Moncalvo, but by his daughter (women artists are disappearing from history because no-one takes them seriously, possibly due to earlier cleavage outbreaks). Nevertheless, a great fresh scoop for the Hun. In tomorrow’s edition: Heath Ledger, the Austrian adaptor,  is not well. — Guy Rundle

Lateline cross the line. A crew from the ABC was arrested and “assisted police with their inquires” last night, after being found inside one of the restricted bushfire zones near Kinglake. The Victoria Police say that at this stage no charges have been laid, but the investigation is continuing. VicPol told Crikey: “We are extremely disappointed with the crew as other media have cooperated with the restrictions.”

Deputy Commissioner Keiren Walshe said:

…last evening we did arrest a journalist and a cameraman, we have seized film and footage, that was taken in the Kinglake area. We have concerns about potential breaches of section 40 of the Coroner’s Act. No charges have been laid at this point in time and there are further inquiries pending. I just wanted to highlight the powers under the Coroner’s Act are very, very forceful, and if people are going to ignore that particular direction imposed by the coroner, they can expect action will be taken by Victoria Police.

Apparently the crew was from the Lateline program. A spokeswoman for the ABC said the crew was filming interviews that had been prearranged with local residents to continue coverage of the aftermath of the bushfires. Camera equipment and the vision recorded by the crew has been seized as evidence.

Neil Mitchell on Melbourne’s 3AW has already made the predictable point: that the ABC likes to consider itself superior to the beasts of commercial media.  — Margaret Simons

AL Daily raises eyebrows. Arts and Letters Daily has long presented itself as the place for the best that’s thought and read in the western world. Actually it’s become an increasingly cranky right-wing hidey-hole for climate-change denialists, Islamophobes and anyone with an obsessive hatred of the French. Nevertheless, its focus on the new book The Art Instinct by one Denis Dutton is raising eyebrows, given that the site’s founder and editor is, erm, Denis Dutton. No doubt he’s been rigorous in ensuring that his own work was something everyone should read. — Kim Serca

Brighton Grammar now offers more than education. In today’s Age (24 Feb 09):

Quite unbelievable — going to a private school apparently helps boys pick up girls as well. — Crikey reader Christopher Hurley 

Nine Network broadcast had racist overtones, media watchdog finds. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) says the news story, which dealt with changes to the baby bonus for parents with gambling and addiction problems, “gave undue emphasis to race in a number of ways”. ACMA investigated the segment, broadcast on March 19, 2008, after receiving a complaint that it exhibited racist overtones by using the term “deadbeat parents” directly followed by footage of Aboriginal communities. — The Australian

China launches paper in US. China’a global media expansion picked up pace this week with the nation’s top English-language newspaper launching in the United States, company officials said. The start of the US edition of the state-run China Daily newspaper on Monday comes as the nation’s communist authorities are spending millions of dollars to extend their media reach around the world. — Straits Times

Rupert Murdoch issues personal apology for ‘racist’ chimpanzee cartoon. Rupert Murdoch has personally apologised for the New York Post cartoon that critics labelled as racist for likening a violent chimpanzee shot dead by police officers to Barack Obama. — Guardian

“Cynical” digital sites accused of ripping off advertisers with dodgy ad placements. Online publishers are taking part in “cynical” ad placement to grab payments they don’t deserve, a media sales boss has warned. Laim Walsh, who heads up Microsoft’s Drive PM, says the tactic is used by publishers who want to make the most of cost per acquisition payment models. This is where advertisers who acquire a new customer make a payment to whichever site was the last one to serve them an ad. — Mumbrella

Thomson Reuters posts higher fourth quarter profit, sales. Thomson Reuters Corp. reported increased profit and sales Tuesday on last year’s acquisition of the Reuters news service, topping Wall Street earnings estimates. The Toronto-based financial news and professional information provider also raised its quarterly dividend rate by 1 cent to 28 cents per share and said it expects revenue growth this year despite the financial turmoil buffeting many of its customers. — Miami Herald

Economists comprised only 6% of guest appearances discussing stimulus on cable news, Sunday shows. A Media Matters review of the Sunday talk shows and 12 cable news programs from January 25 through February 15 found that during 203 hours of programming on Sunday mornings and weekday afternoons and evenings, only 41 of 722 total guest appearances in discussions about the economic recovery legislation and debate in Congress, were made by economists — a mere 6 percent. — Media Matters

B-to-B magazine revenues plummet 13.1% in fourth quarter. Advertising revenue for b-to-b magazines plunged 13.1 percent during the fourth quarter of 2008, leading to an overall slide of 7.3 percent, according to numbers released by American Business Media’s Business Information Network. Advertising pages fell 9.6 percent for the year—the sharpest decline since 2002, when pages slid 15 percent. — Folio