Sticky start for new West Australian Editor. On the first day of new editor Brett McCarthy’s reign, the West pulls a baffling ad stunt, putting a sticker over their main headline. Is this start as you mean to continue? I thought it was a one off on my version of the rag, (which fortunately I don’t pay for), until reader Grrr pointed out that his had it too. What does political writer (and editor nominee) Robert Taylor think about his page one story being defaced? Apprently the new editor, “…will be tapped into the WA community and will reflect the interests and aspirations of the people of this great state.” Apparently our aspirations will be augmented by investing with a global banking conglomerate, and damn us to hell if the headlines get in the way. — The Worst of Perth
PBL Media and Seven Media Group gloom and doom. As the Seven Media Group and PBL Media continue their search for cost savings, their magazine arms, Pacific and ACP, are facing more problems with what’s still known as Project Hero: the cost-cutting magazine distribution deal thought up in John Alexander’s days at ACP and PBL, but which hasn’t delivered the required efficiencies for all concerned, especially the transport company involved, First Fleet. The five-year contract is up for renewal in September and there have been unofficial moves to get the process started in recent discussions between the parties.
Tenders are due to be called, but because the terms of the current contract are so low other transport groups are not interested, even with the current slump in business. That slump is putting more pressure on transport companies, including First Fleet and its team of contractors in Sydney and Melbourne in particular. First Fleet receives payment from the magazine companies in seven days, but pays its drivers on 28 day terms. After last year’s spike in oil costs, many contractors have been doing it tough. Now the recession is cutting the volume of other transport business available.
The financial problems at PMP, the publisher of most of Pacific’s magazines and some of ACP’s is also raising eyebrows, as is the continued determination of PBL Media to spend the best part of $80 million building its own printing plant in Sydney within three years. And further complicating the matter are falling sales of major magazines like Pacific’s New Idea and ACP’s Woman’s Day, Australian Women’s Weekly and other men’s and women’s lifestyle titles. Pacific’s Better Homes And Gardens is the only major title growing its sales at the moment. — Glenn Dyer
Washington Post business cut. The Washington Post has canned its business pages for six days a week at a time when business and economic news is hardly out of the headlines. Business and economic stories will be incorporated into the news sections and a stand alone business section will only be published on a Saturday. Many smaller papers have stopped covering business in stand alone sections, have dropped share prices and other details and condensed the coverage into the general news sections. The Post is the first major metro paper in the US to take this step in such a dramatic way.
It is one of a number of changes outlined in a memo reported last week by Reuters. There is some irony in this decision: a major shareholder in The Washington Post Co is Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway company and it’s a “personal” holding that has been built up over time through his friendship with the late Kay Graham, the controlling family holding. Buffett is a director of the Post Company.
The justification was to cut paper and ink useage. The cost-cutting would allow the paper to keep providing readers with what they say they want, according to the memo signed by Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli and other editors. Since Brauchli joined the Post after leaving the Journal in the wake of the Rupert Murdoch takeover, the Washington paper has dropped other features, such as Book World and combined its Sunday Arts and Styles sections. — Glenn Dyer
Ideology in a bottle. Apparently in Victoria ideology can be bottled and sold as a beauty product — the variety that is “clear, clean, hypoallergenic and pH balanced”:
At first Crikey thought the name might be an accident, an uncomfortable hoax, but no. We contacted Concept Amenities, the people behind the erm, concept, who confirmed the bona fides of the product and said Ideology was being lapped up by local hotels, keen to placate their pH-challenged guests. Ideology’s website even has a “philosophy” section, entitled “Pure Ideology”, with an impressive definition apparently sourced direct from the ramblings of French Marxist Louis Althusser. However, there appears to be no mention of the pernicous, rash-like, effects of Ideological State Apparatuses:
Typo of the week. This is not even a word. Not even close.
The French paper trail. French papers should, some pundits say, be more serious, achieve worldwide recognition, and above all have more content (the weekend edition of Libération, one of the three main French newspapers, is only 40 pages, a far cry from the two-kilo Sunday edition of the LA Times). But since these papers are facing crisis too, French papers and their critics in dire need of a new model. Alain Minc, a former Le Monde director and now a close adviser of Nicolas Sarkozy, long maintained that if French newspapers were failing it was because of their lack of resemblance to the New York Times. His latest book predicts that this very same paper will be bought out by Google for a symbolic dollar by 2011. — Guardian
Pope admits online news can provide infallible aid. The letter released Thursday in which Pope Benedict XVI admitted that the Vatican had made “mistakes” in handling the case of a Holocaust-denying bishop was unprecedented in its directness, its humanity and its acknowledgment of papal fallibility. But it also contained two sentences unique in the annals of church history.
“I have been told that consulting the information available on the Internet would have made it possible to perceive the problem early on,” Benedict wrote. “I have learned the lesson that in the future in the Holy See we will have to pay greater attention to that source of news.”
In other words: “Note to the Roman Curia: try Google.” — New York Times
Newspapers and thinking the unthinkable. The problem newspapers face isn’t that they didn’t see the internet coming. They not only saw it miles off, they figured out early on that they needed a plan to deal with it, and during the early 90s they came up with not just one plan but several. There was one scenario that was widely regarded as unthinkable, a scenario that didn’t get much discussion in the nation’s newsrooms, for the obvious reason: The ability to share content wouldn’t shrink, it would grow. Walled gardens would prove unpopular. Digital advertising would reduce inefficiencies, and therefore profits. Dislike of micropayments would prevent widespread use. People would resist being educated to act against their own desires. Old habits of advertisers and readers would not transfer online. Even ferocious litigation would be inadequate to constrain massive, sustained law-breaking. — Clay Shirky