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Jul 2, 2009

Six pieces of News Ltd we'd like to see behind a paywall

News Ltd CEO John Hartigan is absolutely right: the more News Ltd content that is moved beyond a paywall, the better. Here are some articles we'd like to see there.

I was pleased I watched yesterday’s National Press Club address by John Hartigan on the telly, rather than live. Yes, I missed out on the opportunity to ask a question of him, like inquiring as to how many staff he had sacked in recent months, or congratulating him on keeping a straight face when he used the words “News Ltd” and “integrity” in the same sentence. I was initially impressed he was speaking without notes, but wondered why he’d say a few sentences looking left, and then look right, pause or stumble on his words, and resume.

Only one brief cutaway shot eventually revealed what had been kept out of sight — he was using one of those Obama-style dual teleprompters, but kept losing his place whenever he looked at the other screen. Naughty ABC OB producer for showing up the News Ltd CEO like that. It was probably revenge for the fact that Hartigan used a solid 10 minutes of advertising-free ABC airtime to promote News Ltd products.

Oh, and what great coverage News Ltd provided of the Victorian bushfires. And to what exceptional profit! That was a particularly tasteful moment.

Things move slowly in the mainstream media, however. Hartigan went to great lengths to endorse the views of Andrew Keen, whose attack on the evils of blogging and “citizen journalism”, The Great Seduction, came out in 2007. Keen, who is these days a, um, blogger, has suggested the internet is worse than Nazism, although Keen’s real objection to the internet is the communist threat it poses to intellectual property rights — which is where he and News Ltd share an agenda.

News Ltd’s real beef is not with the despised bloggers or the likes of Crikey whom he singled out, but with content aggregators and the mighty Google whom he suggests are hijacking large amounts of online advertising revenue that should be flowing to Rupert.

The simple solution, as Hartigan noted, is to start charging for content, and move all that great stuff away from the clutches of Google to somewhere safely behind a paywall.

Hartigan is absolutely right. The more News Ltd content that is moved beyond a paywall the better. Here are six pieces of News Ltd material that we’d love to see out of reach of non-subscribers.

Soft-core porn on News Ltd tabloid websites. Never mind the regular moral panics run by News Ltd, you and your kids can see plenty of flesh — almost invariably female flesh — just a few clicks into News Ltd’s galleries. See why see Heidi Klum’s a Victoria Secret glamourpus! Former Hi-5 member Kellie Crawford has shed her children’s image for something more adult! Pregnant celebrities pose! Plenty of websites make good money from this stuff.

Virulent ethnocentrism from commentators.

What did Hartigan say about bloggers yesterday? “Something of such limited intellectual value as to be barely discernible from massive ignorance.” There’s probably no commercial case here — your average dribbling redneck isn’t going to shell out their hard-earned when there’s so much hate out there for free, but at least it’ll keep this sort of stuff from infecting legitimate debate.

Opinion poll spinning

There was only one thing funnier than watching John Howard struggle to avoid his electoral doom in 2007, and that was watching Dennis Shanahan try every possible reading of the polls to explain how a Howard victory was inevitable. This Comical Ali act was champagne comedy and many of us would pay good money to have a repeat in the run up to next year’s election.

News Ltd’s coverage of Rupert Murdoch’s business affairs

A cost-free option because, apart from extravagant praise of the Dear Leader’s genius, there ain’t any.

Angela Shanahan and Christopher Pearson

We’re talking about targeting audiences here. Who needs an insight in pre-Reformation Catholicism? Who are the sort of people interested in exploring religious views unleavened even by the Twelfth Century Renaissance? Yep, academic historians. And they’ll pay good money for this sort of documentary evidence of medieval thinking. Charging for Angela Shanahan and Christopher Pearson is, aptly, a no-brainer.

Hartigan also said he wanted to close News Ltd’s Press Gallery office (although this was edited out of the version now appearing on The Oz site) and reduce coverage of politics in favour of “hyper-localism” such as petrol prices and shopping information. So much for quality journalism. News Ltd political journalists, even the most biased ones, understand that in-depth political coverage and analysis is important. The boss clearly doesn’t.

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7 thoughts on “Six pieces of News Ltd we’d like to see behind a paywall

  1. Mr Squid

    the more light that newscrap filth like hartigan shine on themselves the better. and while crikey does a not half bad job at exposing the antisocial behaviour of hartigan and the above-named slime, it is not enough. nor are the various media blogs. there needs to be a blog dedicated solely to newscrap, covering every town in australia where these creeps publish a newspaper.

  2. David Sanderson

    Bernard, you’re obviously not taking your predecessors path into the heart of darkness. Very un-Christian of you.

  3. djpl

    As long as News Ltd continue to allow the likes of Bolt, Akerman, Milne, Albrechtsen, Shanahan etc etc etc write the rubbish that continually masquerades as journalism, they can’t be accepted as serious media. If Hartigan was serious about standards and decency he would have that lot removed from the payroll for starters. But he wont, their type of column attracts a type who need to have their hatred, their intolerance, their right wing religious views watered and fed.

  4. Christine Johnson

    Hogwash Hartigan’s got me totally confused. Yesterday he said the future of journalism was about “breaking stories people want to read and giving them something they can’t get elsewhere”. Today’s online Tele runs a soft porn video classified by U-tube for over18 viewers which puts the Tele’s readership at under 18?,22049,25721763-5001026,00.html
    In the Courier Mail he posts a gallery of human disfigurements that justifies his assertion “for every reader we lose from the paper we need to pick up 10 online”.,23816,5038427-5007115,00.html#.
    What he fails to tell us is tabloid and broadsheet sales are dead as is journalism and the written word and that newspapers are simply advertising brochures for X-rated video clips and degrading images. Pull the other one Hartigan.

  5. j-boy57

    Cheerleading the Iraq debacle was the shark jumper for the oz
    Murdoch owed Bush
    70% against ,150,000 dead?????
    the heart of the nation
    more like the colon

  6. Venise Alstergren

    Mr Squid. If I’ve got the gist of Humourless Hartigan correctly he wishes to attract the readers of the Herald Sun and it’s sister publications who dole out tits, bums, dumbs and bubs, get them to go behind a fire-wall behind which they will have to pay an annual subscription. I’m guessing many of these readers will jack up and ask why they should pay for this screed of tabloid crap on-line, when they have been getting the printed version for $1.10.

    But, there could be a terrific side-effect. Andrew Bolt’s audience who were initially attracted by the sports pages and the tits, bums, mums and bubs crap could be killed stone-dead. Olé, olé!

  7. phil dunn

    your right the news limited dribble just gets worse and the hide of hartigan to say that if the jornos get it wrong they should say so dont hold your breath and he knows it. I dont know if you read much of the advertiser from sa but it is shocking . A couple of months ago when the unemployment went down (how ever the figures work ) on the front page they had rudds bad hairdrier day not good news of lower unemployment and they wonder why people are not buying papers cheers