A New York Times editorial has slammed Goldman Sachs for its role in the financial crisis and said that instead of paying big bonuses to its employees it should make a multibillion-dollar gift to help reduce the US national debt.

The editorial, published on Saturday, attacked Goldman for everything from its top executive’s failure to apologize properly for his investment bank’s part in creating the crisis as well as Goldman’s awarding of bonuses related to profits that the paper said were boosted by a government bailout.

The Times sniffed at Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein’s acknowledgment last week that his bank “participated in things that were clearly wrong”, saying that he was not specific about what the company had done wrong and his remarks did not “come close to an apology.”

It cited the company’s ability to set aside $16.7 billion for bonuses this year as it was able to post “blowout profits” after receiving a $10 billion government bailout and $12.9 billion in payments and collateral in relation to the government bailout of American International Group.

The paper described Goldman’s pledge earlier this week of $500 million over five years to help small businesses as “crumbs from its table,” saying it should do much more.

“The money will be welcomed by recipients, but if Goldman wants to make a meaningful contribution, it would have to be in the billions and aimed more directly at taxpayers,” the Times said.

In another story published in Saturday’s NYT, Gretchen Morgenson quotes Janet Tavakoli, an expert in derivatives at consulting firm Tavakoli Structured Finance, who urged Goldman to repay money from the AIG bailout, saying Goldman should be forced to take back toxic collateralised debt obligations, or CDOs, which had been insured with AIG. — Glenn Dyer

The Ten Network has a tough decision to make, what to do with Australian Idol in 2010. There was just enough good news in last night’s figures to encourage Ten that Idol can go around for another year, but only just. The decision making is different to the one that Ten took in 2008 to axe Big Brother, which had clearly fallen behind its audience, or rather the audience had grown away from it.

The winner announcement last night averaged 1.471 million, down 10% from the 1.6 million of last year, while the lead up to the winner segment (called The Final Verdict) averaged 1.236 million, down noticeably from the 1.551 million in 2008 (which in turn were both down from 2007). The start of the telecast from 7.30 pm called Live from The Opera house averaged 1.108 million.

Surprisingly, the Christmas special of Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation at 6.30 pm could only average 1.060 million (but was double the figure for the poor Electric Dreams over the preceding couple of weeks).

Despite the fact that the contestants came from central boring and didn’t have an acne scar between them (or so it seems), the final ep was a big wholehearted effort by Ten, and that’s what probably got it home. Certainly, for its its contrived nature, there was a bit more enthusiasm at the Opera House than on Nine at the Gabba in Brisbane where the All Stars tip and giggle cricket game averaged just 1.129 million.

Ten has a third digital channel (an SD one) to introduce next year. What better than to boost it with performance, audition material for programs like Idol and MasterChef Australia and The Biggest Loser; material that wouldn’t normally make the weekly programs. Ten doesn’t have top hold anything back, just remember that more half half the audience now is digital capable and increasingly understands where the new FTA channels are located, and will go and watch if there is material of interest.

If Ten, Fremantle and Cowell are of a mind to, nightly Idol eps can be run on the digital channel, with a weekly wrap up on the main channel on Friday nights, (with all the voting and twittering etc that goes with the marketing of programs these days). Sunday nights would see the performance ep for the week.

If Idol suffers another 10%-20% fall in audiences next year, it will die. It is now all up to Ten, Fremantle and the rights holders in the UK and US (Simon Cowell) to revitalise the brand in Australia. — Glenn Dyer

Sorry, you’re too happy. A woman on long-term sick leave for depression says she lost her benefits because her insurance agent found photos of her on Facebook in which she appeared to be having fun. — The Australian

How do writers make money out of new media? There is so much about the way the current technological tsunami is affecting the publishing industry that is hopeful for writers — and also a fair bit that is scary. One worrying example is how digital publishing models seem increasingly geared towards not paying writers. The Punch, for example, does not pay its writers. Nor does the enormous Huffington Post (which, perhaps ironically, now has a Books section). The Punch and HuffPo may look and act like multi-user blogs, but they are money-making websites. — Lisa Dempster Unwakeable

A message from Uncle Rupert. Buying The Sunday Telegraph from Frank Packer in 1972 was one of the best decisions I ever made. Even though the paper was making a loss back then I would have paid much more. Today, The Sunday Telegraph is a priceless asset. Today, The Sunday Telegraph is a priceless asset. For 33 years under Packer ownership, the paper struggled to close the gap on its rival The Sunday Sun which later became The Sun Herald. — The Sunday Telegraph

How will the media downturn affect higher education? With the decline of newspapers, newsmagazines, and broadcast-news outlets are drastically cutting staff members, bureaus, page counts, and news holes — that is, when they’re not simply going out of business. The Chronicle Review asked some prominent thinkers on issues of education, communications, and news and cultural literacy how the decline of those news media will affect higher education. — The Chronicle of Higher Education

The five best attempts to describe “emo” on local news networks. The Daily RFT linked a video from last night’s KSDK broadcast about the apparently dangers of the “emo lifestyle.” The story’s tied to the case of Alyssa Bustamante, a 15-year-old from outside of Jefferson City charged with killing her 9-year-old neighbor — Riverfront Times

US newspaper circulation figure may be even worse than thought. While U.S. newspapers are losing subscribers at a staggering rate, a few dailies stand out because their circulation is rising. But they aren’t necessarily selling more copies. Here’s why: Since April 1, new auditing rules have made it easier for newspapers to count a reader as a paying customer. — NY Times

Kristof calls for a boycott of “Chinese propaganda tool” Microsoft Bing. Western corporations have often behaved embarrassingly in China, sacrificing any principles to ingratiate themselves with the Communist Party authorities. Yahoo was the worst, handing over information about several email account holders so that they could be arrested — and then dissembling and defending its monstrous conduct. Now Microsoft is sacrificing the integrity of Bing searches so as to cozy up to State Security in Beijing. — On the ground blog, NY Times

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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