Not just mad rich men with too much money? When I read those stories about footballers being sold on the soccer transfer market for tens of millions of pounds and euros my mind turns to eccentric men with more money than sense who can afford to have a really expensive hobby by buying a side in one of the top European leagues. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi fits the image with his team in Milan and Roman Abramovich at Chelsea. But now, I notice, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) which is an inter-governmental body whose purpose is the development and promotion of national and international policies to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, has come up with a different theory.

According to this story crime watchers have just completed a study “Money Laundering through the Football Sector” on what may make the football sector attractive to criminals. Their report provides several case studies of areas that could be exploited by those wanting to invest illegal money into football.

Back to the future. Ken Randall, the president of the National Press Club, must have travelled down memory lane this week when up there on the dais with him was News Limited Chief Executive John Hartigan suggesting that it might be good sense if his company’s Canberra journalists did not work from Parliament House. For Ken the idea would hardly have been a new one. Some 35 years ago when he was tapping his typewriter for The Australian he regularly worked from the building over the Lake in Civic from which the Murdoch empire once printed the paper for national distribution.

I used the same offices myself back in 1971 or 1972 when the political correspondent for The Sunday Australian and then the Sydney Daily and Sunday Telegraphs. Being out of the parliamentary hot house certainly gave me a different perspective on the events of the day with judgements about what really was newsworthy regularly quite different from my peers crammed in alongside each other. I do admit though, that spending as little time as possible in the old Parliament House office I officially shared with Alan Ramsey was also an incentive to work alone somewhere else. If you thought Ramsey was a cantankerous old B in his writings before his recent retirement let me assure you he was no different in person as a younger man although I subsequently discovered he can be quite a pleasant fishing companion.

And yes, now I’m at Crikey I still resist the temptation to prowl the corridors of power but work from home. As a journalist I think you certainly get a different view of politics when you read your colleagues but don’t spend time talking to them.

Journalists are all just aggregators most of the time. As they flounder around trying to work out how to make a dollar as people turn increasingly to the internet as the source of their news, press proprietors have finally decided that “aggregator sites” are the evil bludgers stopping them from getting their just return. Australian News Limited boss John Hartigan was echoing his American master Rupert Murdoch on this subject on Wednesday while expressing confidence in an address to the National Press Club that people will pay for “well researched, brilliantly written, perceptive and intelligent, professionally edited, accurate and reliable” information.

I hope my old editor is right, and he probably is, but I see one very obvious weakness in the argument that it is some kind of aggregation free descendant of the traditional newspaper that will be providing the reading matter. For newspapers, when you really analyse them, are largely nothing more themselves than aggregators of information from other places. Very little of the daily content is unique to the paper that prints it but most is a collection of information from other newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals and public relations handouts, and words spoken in parliaments and courts and company meetings and descriptions of things seen on sporting fields or at murder scenes. What people over the years have been prepared to pay newspapers for is for providing the format in which all the words are brought together.

How much people all paid was determined more often than not by the economics of an aggregation process that was expensive with all its printing presses to spread the ink over newsprint. There were natural monopolies in many places and oligopolies in almost all of them which helped profits be made to hire the journalists like me who put it together to gather the readers that attracted advertisers. It was all very cosy.

But then along come these infernal computers and people not only can read from screens not newsprint but they do read from screens. And then, the greatest indignity of all, some fellows at Google work out how to continually aggregate news to sort out the kind of material that people actually want to read without intervention by a journalist being necessary. No printing press; no paper; no transport and negligible distribution costs and stuff all staff! In this new electronic world freed from monopoly rent seeking, things are going to be different. What people will need to pay for John Hartigan’s for “well researched, brilliantly written, perceptive and intelligent, professionally edited, accurate and reliable” information is going to be substantially less than under the old system and with far less scope to skim off a considerable proportion for the people who hire the aggregators.

Hoons and mall brats. A fear of the young is clearly a factor in the law and order preoccupation of governments whose voters are increasingly getting older and are thus the people that politicians believe they must respond to. The prime example of the last year or so has been a concentration in every state on how to stop on so-called “hoon” drivers from what has always been a preoccupation of youths – driving cars in a fast and furious fashion. The Adelaide Advertiser was on the case again this week as you might have noticed in our Crikey morning media wrap yesterday when for good measure the paper came up with a second category of youths to hate – mall brats. This morning they were back on the case of the motorised hoons with their story “Hoon drivers post illegal street race videos on YouTube“.

Now if only they would do something about those kids at the Duffy shops with those skateboards …

All over bar the counting? Indonesians go to the polls on 8 July and surveying voting intentions in such a large and diverse nation must be no easy feat but the indications such as they are point to incumbent president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono being returned by a big margin. The Indonesian Survey Institute (Lembaga Survei Indonesia – LSI) polled 2,000 people across 17 provinces between 15-20 June and found that 67.2 percent of respondents intended to vote for Yudhoyono, 15.8 percent for former president Megawati Sukarnoputri, 8.3 percent for Vice President Jusuf Kalla, and 8.7 percent undecided. In the LSI’s April survey, Yudhoyono obtained 75 per cent, Megawati 16 per cent and Kalla only 3 per cent.

Simon Roughneen, writing for the International Security Network, says that the placid electoral campaign might disappoint political junkies, but given the prohibitive birth pangs for democracy in Indonesia, this outcome must be seen as evidence of longer-term success.