The Logies outrage (if anyone cared). Anybody who says Australia doesn’t have fine cultural traditions obviously hasn’t logged onto Twitter during a Logies ceremony. For one night a year, the glitterati and the Twitterati join together and engage in the greatest national pastime: Logie-bashing. There were plenty of digs to be had this year, from some more disgraceful-than-average red carpet disgraces to shocking and unexpected wins, audio problems in the pointless international guest artist’s performance, and a lip-synching controversy that gave everybody the chance to get in on another time-honoured tradition: Kylie-bashing.
Over the next few days, as is the tradition, people will take a good, long, hard look at the Logies and ask how we can fix things and what can be done to improve the integrity of the voting system. People will call for sweeping changes to television’s night of nights. These are fair questions to ask. People should be asking, for example, why there are no comedy categories. Instead, they’re lumped together with “light entertainment”, which means that comedies are up against reality shows and talk shows (ABC’s Upper Middle Bogan versus The Voice). Surely there were enough quality comedies on TV last year to justify a category of their own.
And some commentators have already come out batting against the voting system, which splits categories into “most outstanding” and “most popular”. It’s always been a bit of a joke that the popularity awards gain more kudos than the industry-voted awards. When Asher Keddie won the Silver Logie for Most Popular Actress in 2011, she joked in her acceptance speech: “You’ve no idea how happy I am that I’m the most loved. The most popular. That’s so cool, I don’t care if I’m good or not.”
Even 3.2m readers couldn’t save Ladies Home Journal. When the fifth-biggest selling magazine in the US dies, you know the magazine business worldwide is slowly dying. Late last week the internet and its allies claimed the Ladies’ Home Journal and not even its 131-year record and monthly sales of 3.2 million copies could save it, nor could revenues of more than $US150 million a year.
Published 10 times a year, Ladies’ Home Journal was an American institution, appealing to older readers. With a circulation of 3.2 million a month (admittedly down from 6.8 million in 1968, a long, slow fall rather than a terrifying quick plunge) its owner, Meredith Corporation, has decided to turn it into a grab-bag magazine that will appear as a quarterly newsstand-only publication. In this form, it will have no subscriptions. The ads and articles will come from other publications in the Meredith empire, such as Better Homes and Gardens (over 7.6 million copies sold a month) and Family Circle (over 4 million copies a month).Meredith reported a US$3 million dip in sales for the March quarter last week to US$367 million because of the lower ad sales in its magazines. Profit in the magazine business fell to US$33 million from US$43 million. Meredith’s core operations fell 5%.
According to the US Association of Magazine Media, Ladies’ Home Journal generated an estimated $US152 million in ad revenue in 2013. That’s impressive, but was down nearly 14% on 2012. But ad pages fell 22% in the first quarter this year (and there were bigger falls for Better Homes and Family Circle, which stopped being published in Australia years ago), five times the 4% fall for entire industry. Single-copy sales from newsstands and other outlets rose 4% in the first three months of the year. But ad revenues continued to weaken.
Ladies’ Home Journal will move from being a giant of print to what is called in the US a Special Interest Publication (or SIP), available every quarter on newsstands only. The entire editorial staff of 35 will be sacked. But it will still have a website presence, which is a bit like saying that there is life after death. Existing subscribers will get make-goods for the term of their deals, including magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens. — Glenn Dyer
Fairfax shuts Tullamaine printing plant. For 12 years, every visitor to Melbourne heading into the city from the airport has passed a large sculpture of a rolled-up newspaper, standing proudly outside The Age‘s printing plant on the Tullamarine Highway. On Friday, that facility closed its doors. The closure isn’t unexpected — it was announced 18 months ago as part of the “Fairfax of the Future” plan, much of which has now been executed. Melbourne’s Age and Australian Financial Review papers will now be printed in Ballarat to cut costs.
According to a staff email by Fairfax general manager of printing Troy Mansell, sent out to mark the occasion, “since the closure was announced … most people predicted endless industrial action and late papers … But what happened was an improvement of every KPI measured at the plant and an improved business relationship between management and trade employees right up until the last day.” Several employees have left the business as a result of the closure. — Myriam Robin
An ode to Henry Ergas. Lines on the Occasion of The Australian publishing a verse op-ed by Henry Ergas (in the style of the op-ed by Henry Ergas) …
When free-marketeers with Hayek mo’s
who do Oz op-eds ‘cos their business went broke
turn in their latest submission in verse
a conscientious editor could do much worse
than insist that the poem at least rhymes and scans
lest readers suspect no one gives a damn
what actually appears in their vanity newsletter
or that no one there knows any better
to distinguish between writing’s goodies and baddies
and the “angry of Punchbowl” out-and-out maddies
who bombard letters pages with green-ink stanzas.
This Caters for critics as a kind of bonanza
suggesting that lacking an adult supervisor
nonsense gets published with no one the Weisser
a worrying sign — took me nine minutes, this little bit
And still it’s better than Ergas’ shit.
Own the ‘World is Fukd’ collectors’ edition AFR. Poor Michael Stutchbury. Last week, The Australian Financial Review‘s editor-in-chief had to explain to the Australian media why his paper printed a whopping number of glaring errors on the front page. And today, Business Insider‘s coverage of the cock-up made its United States front page (it called the edition “one of the most error-ridden front pages in history”). If you’ve got a copy of the infamous paper lying around though, you could stand to make some good money. “Nt007Jake” is selling his copy on eBay for $75; another copy sold for $49 this morning.
Video of the day. The Australian has a new iPad app, and its ad for the new app is telling. Of the 10 journalists highlighted in the ad as a reason to subscribe, only two — fashion editor Glynis Traill-Nash and columnist Nikki Gemmell — are pictured. The other eight are all white men, including Paul Kelly, John Durie and Peter van Onselen. And it’s a further pity the only two women featured don’t cover the Oz‘s core beats of business and politics, as the paper does have women doing just that. Patricia Karvelas, for example, is Melbourne bureau chief and manages to break plenty of political stories to boot …