New Matilda saved! Sort of.

With 10 minutes to go and $25,000 remaining in the New Matilda subscriberthon, things were looking a little desperate for the opinion and analysis website. It was attempting a community-radio style subscriberthon, the largest crowd-funding of its type for online journalism in Australia. And then …

Breaking News:

The New Matilda fundraising campaign is now closed. No new support payments will be accepted via FundBreak.

The NM team have received a last-minute offer of an interest-free loan to reach their target. In view of this exceptional circumstance, New Matilda and Fundbreak will make a final decision about the campaign by Friday at 5pm. If New Matilda accepts the loan, the website will publish throughout 2011. If not, the site will close and your money will be refunded.

Shortly afterwards an email appeared, outlining the offer in more detail. A total of $151,458 was raised through subscriber donations. Editor and owner Marni Cordell saw the $175,000 target as the very minimum to get the site running for a year. As the latest editorial says:

“We’re very grateful but this arrangement is not ideal: it means we’ll be working hard in 2011 to make that money back and then some. We need to take some time to consider what this will mean for NM and crunch the numbers before we decide whether we can take up the offer. We’re still very keen to hear from a major donor to help us through.”

Not quite the hoped-for white knight, but a decent offer. Crikey hopes they give it a crack. — Amber Jamieson

O-dear: The Tele has Oprah fever. It’s a bird, it’s a plane … no, it’s a klutzy mutant without a functioning braking mechanism. Front pages across the nation today worked themselves into a frenetic lather when news of Hugh Jackman’s Oprah show stunt going wrong hit the wire.

“OMG!” shrieked the (w-O-efully renamed) Daily Tel-O-graph, whose headline writers were apparently so distraught they lost all powers of articulation. Thankfully, the folks over at The Sydney Morning Herald were coping a little better, managing to string together an actual sentence with “Cut! Jackman’s flying visit a show-stopper”. Meanwhile, the dastardly Herald Sun crew saw their chance for a misguided pun and ran with it, cheekily exclaiming “Hugh’s a Hit with the Big O!” alongside photo of the X-Men star, eye bloodied and squinting.


Mega-watt smile undimmed by the mishap, Jackman’s leading news item ran along with reports of the 2010 Year 12 academic results — undoubtedly, Knox Grammar School’s 1986 captain did his bit to promote the institution’s educational credentials by slamming head-first into a solid wall. With Mama Oprah there to kiss it better, Jackman continued with the show’s filming despite a noticeably swollen, blotchy eyelid. Bet he wishes he really did have Wolverine’s powers of regeneration. — Crikey intern Alexandra Patrikios

A paywall for the kids. Forget mixed lolly-bags and crappy Reject Shop toys — if the newest tween venture by Pacific Magazines is anything to go by, kids are spending their pocket money online. The company announced today its popular K-Zone magazine would be launching the “first opt-in paid online subscription model in Australian consumer magazines”, no doubt spotting a lucrative new opportunity in the previously overlooked pre-pubescent investor market.

According to Pacific Magazines Youth Publisher Mychelle Vanderburg, the new VIP service will offer kids the opportunity to explore a “fun, learning environment” where they can enter competitions, play online games and create personal avatars — all for the princely sum of $2.95 a month. Piggy banks across Australia must be shaking in their porcelain hooves.

K-Zone editor Daniel Findlay is confident kids will be willing to cough up for the new service, which he terms a “safe and controlled environment”. Apparently in-touch with the discretionary spending habits of his tween readers, Findlay says the new site over-delivers in terms of value for money. Notably, it includes a virtual prize system that encourages kids to raise online points to claim real-world prizes, thereby educating “children about the values of saving and managing money”.  — Crikey intern Alexandra Patrikios

Britons still reading newspapers, despite online increase

“In a country with an adult (15+) population of 50m, that’s pretty good penetration. If we allow for the fact that most titles will be read by two or three people, then it shows that we remain a nation of avid newspaper-readers…” — The Guardian

AP cuts its 26-year-old graduate program

“AP officials have confirmed that the news service’s internship program will be eliminated as a part of an overall restructuring…” — Maynard Institute

Clay Shirky on the death of the scoop

“Giving credit where credit is due will reward original work, whether scoops, hot news, or unique analysis or perspective. This will be great for readers. It may not, however, be so great for newspapers … because most of what shows up in a newspaper isn’t original or unique …” — Nieman Journalism Lab

Reuters ramps up to ‘fill gaps’ in overstretched US news

“Reuters is shifting from its traditional focus on international and financial news for the US market, with a push into local political and general news and a drive to aggregate sports and entertainment coverage to fill gaps left by local newspaper and television newsrooms’ shrinking budgets.” — Reuters

Yahoo struggling to keep up with Google and Facebook

“Layoffs at Yahoo would stand in stark contrast to other Internet companies, including Google Inc. (GOOG) and Facebook Inc., which are competing with each other to hire top-notch engineers. Google last month told its more than 23,000 employees they would get a 10% pay raise in January.” — Smart Money

Facebook, the Grinch that stole the Christmas card

“The rise of social networking, smart phones and Apple iPads is changing the way friends and family stay in touch, diminishing the Christmas card’s long-standing role as the annual social bulletin …” — Chicago Tribuine