More US papers have died. Two more American newspapers bit the dust on the weekend, the first time more papers were shut in the US than banks were (No banks were shut by regulators for only the second time this year). USA Today publisher Gannett said on Friday it is closing down the print edition of the Arizona newspaper Tucson Citizen, but keeping the online edition operating and the Ann Arbour news in Ann Arbour, Michigan announced that it would close on July 23.

The Tucson Citizen was Arizona’s oldest continuously published daily newspaper (it was founded in 1859, before the American Civil War started) and the final edition Saturday carried a last headline: “Our Epitaph.” Gannett said the last print edition of Tucson Citizen came after last minute talks with two possible buyers fell over. Lee Enterprises, which publishes the larger Arizona Daily Star newspaper, had also formed a joint operating agreement with Gannett to publish the Citizen. Such agreements are forged in certain instances to allow multiple newspapers in one city. That agreement ended on Saturday. Lee plans to publish a Tucson Citizen weekly editorial in the Daily Star as part of a partnership with Gannett.

The Ann Arbor News plans to continue after July 23 with a twice-weekly online-focused operation taking the place of the print edition. The new site will also produce a print edition on Thursdays and Sundays. The News said in March it would cease publication after 174 years because of steep revenue losses. The paper is owned by Advance Publications, owned by the Newhouse family, which controls Conde Nast and a string of magazines, including Vogue.

The two papers follow E.W. Scripps Co’s Rocky Mountain News, which was shut earlier this year. Hearst’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer also shut its print edition and has an online edition that is far smaller than the printed newspaper was. Others, like the New York Times Co-owned Boston Globe and Hearst’s San Francisco Chronicle, continue to shutdown, despite doing deals with employees to lower costs to try and survive the slump. Other papers, such as the Detroit Free Press have stopped distributing papers to residents other than on several high advertising spending days (relatively speaking). The News will still be sold through newsstands and vending machines during the week. — Glenn Dyer

Maureen Dowd: copy cat? Did New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd borrow from Talking Point ‘s Josh Marshall? Controversy rages. Dowd’s column on Sunday reads:

More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if the torture was to prevent terrorist attacks, it seemed to happen mainly during the period when the Bush crowd was looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Josh Marshall’s post last week read:

More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if the torture was to prevent terrorist attacks, it seemed to happen mainly during the period when we were looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq.

The Huffington Post reports:

Dowd claims that she never read his blog last week but was told the line by a friend of hers. In a follow-up email, she forwarded her desire to apologise to Marshall, writing that had she known, she would have gladly credited Marshall. Dowd notes that the Times is fixing her column online to give proper credit to Marshall and that a correction will run tomorrow.

Canwest sells assets. In Canada there’s confirmation the struggling Canwest Global Communications Corp, is selling its indirect interests in four Turkish radio stations as continues to try and keep itself alive and out of receivership. Canwest did not disclose the value of the deal with Spectrum Medya, a Turkish-based company. It said the proceeds will be used to pay down debt outstanding under a credit facility of its main subsidiary.

The decision to sell the stations comes five days days before a May 19 deadline in negotiations with its creditors and noteholders. Canwest had previously sold small interests in a Canadian sports channel and sold a US magazine. There’s now talk that Canwest could be talking to a handful of groups, (including one Australian private investor) about a refinancing and restructure of its debt.

The Toronto Globe and Mail said some proposals will be looked at this week and named Fairfax Financial of Canada, Onex Corp, (which was a small investor in the aborted private equity buyout of Qantas) and Brookfield Asset Management, which has a link to Multiplex in Australia. An unnamed Australian private equity investor is said to be interested in a stake in the Ten Network in Australia. — Glenn Dyer

Independent News & Media lifeline. In London the struggling media group, Independent News & Media faces a deadline this week for the refinancing of a 200 million euro loan. (INM controls APN News & media in Australia). Some reports say the the owner of The Independent and Sunday Independent newspapers is now in serious doubt after the group failed to reach an agreement with bondholders over the debt. Other reports say the company is positive that the required 75% will give their consent for a standstill agreement that would give the group until June 26 to refinance the loan.

If a deal is reached, it is expected to be announced this week. INM wants to extend the maturity of the 200 million euro debt and that of a further 590 million, due later this year and next. Another 591 million is due in 2012. If bankers can give Canwest repeated extensions, they should be able to give INM one on a much smaller debt burden. Canwest owes close to $C4 billion, INM owes nearly 1.4 billion euros. That much less than Canwest’s burden. — Glenn Dyer

Battle of the nerds: Turnbull vs. Rudd. When it comes to social media Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is lagging behind Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull worse than MySpace. As Rudd throws billions into the fibre-to-the-home network and the National Broadband Network, it’s ironic that his own personal use of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr etc has dropped off dramatically in recent weeks. In contrast, Turnbull seems to be picking up his online game. Which, considering this morning’s figures about Rudd’s popularity dropping 10 points, should be of concern for the PM’s office.

Malcolm Turnbull has uploaded personal photos from the budget lockup and the budget reply last week, sent 42 times tweets this month – including some personal tweets to individual voters — and uploaded a YouTube video of his initial reaction to the budget. Turnbull even tweets to non-supporters who are throwing insults at him.

Kbcool- The libs shit me. They want to run the country into the ground with surpluses. Spend spend spend. Malcolm show some balls @turnbullmalcolm

Kbcool- @turnbullmalcolm waiting for a shadow budget. Complete with surpluses and economic recovery. You can’t do it. So shut up. Opposition = fail

Turnbullmalcolm- @kbcool its actually called the budget in reply and it will be delivered tomorrow night. I would be more than happy to send you a copy!

In comparison, Rudd has definitely dropped several paces off his election campaign Kevin07 high — often regarded as a campaign that very effectively used social media to engage the youth vote. He tweeted just nine times this month and three of those were on last Friday alone. The KevinPM team mostly writes his tweets — he never does individual reply tweets — and his Facebook profile only contains links to press releases. Only one photo has been uploaded to his Flickr in nearly two months. His YouTube videos are also far more like traditional advertisements than Turnbull’s, focusing on “nation building” and interviews of how Wayne Swan has been “extraordinary”.

Obviously there are probably a few other things on the Prime Minister’s plate right now – i.e. the budget, Pakistan, football group sex and nation building. But, it’s not like he even has to personally do most of the social media stuff. Hopefully one of his new 65 staff will be able to help him out. If not, Turnbull might make some serious ground with his popularity figures in the coming months. We only have to look at President Obama to witness how powerful new media can be in mobilizing voters. — Crikey Intern Amber Jamieson

Meet the nicotine addicted fast food coming to a TV near you! The Coalition on Food Advertising to Children’s “Shamburger” ads depict a cigarette smoking man in a hamburger suit showing up on a suburban doorstep to visit “little Nicholas” (presumably to chat about how great hamburgers are). Nicholas’ daddy then beats hamburger man up and throws him out on the street. Message: fast food and nicotine bad, violence good.

This is what they say: “Young children can’t tell the difference between tv ads and regular programming, and don’t have the cognitive skills to question sales messages. CFAC commissioned this viral ad to lobby the Australian Government to ban junk food advertising to kids.”

The best voxpop ever. You have to watch the footage to fully appreciate the voxpopping beauty of Sydney nighclubbers when confronted with what appears to be some Kiwi street violence. Particularly wonderful is “Clare” and her description of a shooting in Kings Cross over the weekend: “The fatter [man] said to the skinnier [man], ‘Oi bro, you slept with my cousin’. And the other one said ‘Nah man, I didn’t.” Oh yes. This is pure tabloid gold.

The shortest story ever published on Fairfax digital?

Offsiders big “tip”. Yesterday’s ABC Offsiders’ panel, including keen punters Barrie Cassidy and John Harms, excitedly previewed the forthcoming big races in Singapore for Takeover Target, then said the Preakness Race at Kentucky would give super three year-old Rachel Alexandra, the chance to be the first filly to win the race ever. One to watch they said. Indeed. The race was run at 8.13 that morning, just over two hours before Offsiders and indeed the mighty filly Rachel Alexandra went to the front and won decisively.

Mason’s willy acidity. You’ve got to love it when the image doesn’t match the headline. Nice work NineMSN…

The newspaper savior. As she becomes the first governor in the nation to funnel taxpayer money into her state’s ailing newspaper industry this week, Washington state’s Chris Gregoire is being hailed as a crusader for the survival of the press. This week she signed into law a 40 percent corporate-tax break for “every person engaging within this state in the business of printing a newspaper, publishing a newspaper, or both”—a measure that gives newspapers the same preferred tax status as Boeing and Microsoft. Thus Gregoire, a two-term Democrat, became America’s first governor to funnel taxpayer money to the imperiled newspaper industry — but possibly not the last. — The Daily Beast

App revenue is poised to surpass Facebook revenue. More than a social phenomenon, Facebook harbors a lively and growing ecosystem of game and other application makers, ad networks and retailers of virtual goods. What happens when businesses running on Facebook become bigger than Facebook itself? “It wouldn’t surprise me if apps on Facebook generate more revenue this year than Facebook,” said LivingSocial CEO Tim O’Shaughnessy, whose app is Facebook’s most popular at the moment, thanks to its “Pick Your Five” feature. “The overall platform is in the hundreds of millions of dollars.” — Advertising Age

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey