Guardian nabs Marr for writing role. The Guardian has added to its stable of Australian writing stars, signing Quarterly essayist, Tony Abbott biographer and left-wing Sydney Morning Herald provocateur David Marr. He joins Lenore Taylor and Katharine Murphy (who’s already started filing for The Guardian‘s main edition) in a heavy-hitting political team ahead of the launch of the Australian edition “later this year”. Marr, who will work for the site part time, said in a statement:

“Discovering The Guardian in London in the 1970s was one of the reasons I decided to become a journalist. I’ve been reading it in print and online ever since and I’m looking forward to writing for one of the news organisations I most admire.”

Guardian Australia editor Katharine Viner — who has seemingly met with every journalist of repute in Australia on a national fact-finding tour — calls Marr an “immensely talented writer who can turn his hand to anything”.

Can digital save US newspapers? Maybe. The financial bloodletting in the fading US newspaper industry seems to have staunched in 2012, with analogue print ad revenues continuing their long fall and online ad revenues rising weakly. But the continuing pressure seems to have forced the industry to rethink the amount of information it releases as it tries to work out how its travelling.

New estimates prepared on the basis of information from 17 newspaper groups in the US give the impression that while still dire, the financial health of the US newspaper industry seems to be stabilising, with some $US6 billion in new sources of income revealed for the first time (or more clearly identified revenue attributed to other sources).

At the same time, circulation revenues are now being boosted by small but rising contributions from revenue generated by the increasing number of paywalls (some 400 at last count, according to this new report). The objective of the new approach was seen in this comment from the report:

“The numbers portray an industry that, faced with significant disruption in the last decade, has begun to measurably change its essential revenue model. That has begun by turning more to circulation, to digital, and to developing new revenue sources.”

The report says the 17 companies represent around “40% of the weekday print circulation in the United States, nearly 330 papers and close to half of all U.S. newspaper media revenue”. One of the report’s authors, Tom Rosenstiel, explained to Crikey yesterday the new reports contained projections — instead of actual figures, as in the past — that “draw from a larger number of companies and papers than has been the case in a number of years. — Glenn Dyer (read the full story here)

News Limited cries for Maggie. There’s no shortage of positive coverage of the life of Margaret Thatcher in News Limited newspapers today. The Herald Sun rolled out hagiographies from Rupert Murdoch (it also ran in The Australian) and John Howard (and there’s a separate piece on Howard’s reminisces of meeting Thatcher last year — she’s the “first lady of liberty”). And The Herald Sun didn’t miss an opportunity to take a swing at Julia Gillard in the process, via its editorial — is this rather a long bow to draw? We hadn’t realised the ALP of 2013 was so similar to Britain’s Labour movement in the 1970s and ’80s:

Youth commissioner to media: I’ll cut you. Here is hilariously modern Britain in one hit. A few days ago, Kent appointed a new police and youf commissioner, who was a … youf. Seventeen-year-old Paris Brown was presented to the meeja as the new face of inclusive Britain, part of the process by which ordinary folk would now be running the cops in the name of the people. Brown presented as a self-possessed and focused young person, perhaps even one of those tiresome prefect/youth parliament types. Until her Twitter feed was revealed, that is.

The new youth crime advocate was a “foulmouthed, racist homophobe” screamed the Daily Mail, which knows about these things. That was a bit of a beat-up. With the exception of one anti-Roma people tweet:

“OH MY GOD WILL YOU PIKEYS STOP NICKING THE F-KING TRAIN TRACK METAL i’m on a f-king replacement bus, stupid moronic tw-ts”

Which I’m afraid made me laugh out loud. And a sadly accurate piece of TV criticism:

“Everyone on Made In Chelsea looks like a f-king fag”

The rest was standard: misuse of s-xual descriptors as a generic term for lame (“faggots played knock dwn ginger at my house 3 times last night”), some reflections on multiculturalism (“F****** hell why are the people from Direct Pizza so difficult to talk too!! IT IS CALLED ENGLISH. LEARN IT.”), the health system (“I’m on so many prescribed pills atm its beautiful … feel so so lightheaded”), young person problems (“Worst part about being single is coming home horny as f-ck and having too sleep alone BADTIMES”) and, true to her new job, justice issues (“I dont condone violence but Im so pleased that my brother thumped the fat little c-nt that gave his tiny little friend a black eye”) [sic passim].

Once these tweets were revealed by the Mail, and quickly deleted by “vilulabelle” (“beehivemulletenightmaregirl” presumably having been already taken), all hell broke loose. Brown was defended on the grounds that what you do when younger shouldn’t be held against you. Which is true, unless you’re 17 and “younger” was 16 — and the commissioner who appointed her said “I wasn’t recruiting an angel”, thus sending umpteen C&W songwriters to the studio with an idea.

So far, so crazy, but then it took a distinctly British turn, with the Kent police she was supposed to be the boss of investigating her for possible breaches of the law for some of her tweets. Although whether this was for her thoughts on urban living (“Right either there are Owls outside my house or my neighbors dont know how to f-ck quietly”) or her haiku (“I want to f-king cut everyone around me”) is not specified. By today it was impossible for her to continue, even though she confirmed that she was not “a homophobic” in a press conference with more glottal stops than the slow train to Thames Estuary.

Her law-and-order career is finished; doubtless her VJ debut is a mere few days away. She is not much better or worse than your average gobby teen; only a terminally confused society could first create a tokenistic youf commissioner, and then threaten to prosecute her for being such. Given the times, it is difficult not to see her as Thatcher’s child, in Blair’s Britain. — Guy Rundle

Video of the day. Dapper Beijing correspondents Stephen McDonell (ABC News) and John Garnaut (Fairfax) have put rivalry aside to back the “30 Days of Press Freedom” campaign by the Media Alliance …