Switzer bowes out. So farewell then to Tom Switzer, who is stepping down from the editorship of The Spectator Australia after five years in the job — and two weeks after publishing a cover featuring various right-wing warriors celebrating the demise of a carbon tax that had, er, not yet been abolished. Coincidence, no doubt. The Speccie Oz will continue under the stewardship of the even more right-wing Rowan Dean. Our sources tell us that it sells no more than 1800 copies a week — not much more than in the days when they simply imported the UK edition, and costing, of course, a motza more. Never mind. As long as we can still get a magazine that publishes both endless denunciations of “the anti-Semitic of the Left” and the unquestionably anti-Semitic columnist Taki in the same magazine, we will be satisfied. — Guy Rundle
Pedants Attack. The first of two extracts from Nick Davies’ book Hack Attack hit the webs this weekend past, and very entertaining it looks like being. But how good is the fact-checking? Here’s Davies, giving his view on the life and times of our Rupert:
“Murdoch creates media triangles. Country by country, he has bought a downmarket tabloid (the Sun in the UK, the New York Post in the US, the Herald Sun and the Telegraph in Australia); then he has found himself a quality title (The London Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Australian).”
Well, yes, except, no. As any cursory reading of the voluminous Murdochiana out there would have made clear, Murdoch founded The Australian in 1964 (why doesn’t the Oz blow their own trumpet about it? What wallflowers they are.), and only acquired the papers that would form the Herald-Sun and the Telegraph-[Mirror] decades later. The order is crucial, for it was these purchases — plus papers in Adelaide and Brisbane — that permitted Murdoch the anti-democratic control he now exercises over Australian life. A pretty elementary error from Davies, for whom this is starting to become a habit. Any Aussie editor would have picked it up in a trice, of course, but good luck finding them at The Guardian. — Guy Rundle
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Pearson buries Financial Times sales figures. In the half-year financial report released by Financial Times owner Pearson on Friday night, something was missing — the sales and profit figures for the business bible, which were included in their past financial reports. Previously, sales figures for the “FT Group” were included in the divisional sales and profit breakdown. Now they’re part of the “Professional Division”, a group that includes Pearson’s educational products.
The 2013 results, issued in February of this year, showed sales of 447 million pounds and a profit of 55 million pounds. In the interim report issued on Friday night, that breakdown is absent. It does seem odd that a paper that has made improved disclosure and reporting transparency for company accounts one of its credos should allow its parent to get away with such a backward move.
Not that there seems to be any reason to hide the figures — data contained in the report shows the FT’s combined digital print circulation continues to climb as more people take out mobile subscriptions. The paper’s combined sales rose 13% in the year to June to more than 677,000, according to Friday’s report. That is despite a drop of more than 14% in the print circulation (just under 38,000 copies a day, Monday to Saturday) in the same period — to just over 220,500 in June 2014. Some 455,000 of the 677,000 are paying digital subscribers — by far the highest proportion for any major newspaper. Around 290,000 of those digital subscribers are corporates, and of those, the paper claims to have 50 central banks around the world signed up. Just under 50% of all traffic to the FT comes via mobile, as do 20% of new subscriptions, and mobile ad revenues rose 9% year on year.
Also according to Friday’s report: “The contribution from The Economist Group (in which Pearson owns a 50% stake) fell slightly, primarily reflecting increased investment in digital development and marketing, and declining print advertising revenue. Circulation at The Economist was robust at 1.6 million, with digital subscriptions growing 20%. The Economist Intelligence Unit again benefited from the strong performance of its healthcare division.” — Glenn Dyer
New York Times gets aboard marijuana legalisation. The NYT editorial board has formally come out in support of marijuana legalisation, telling its readers that prohibition doesn’t work, and the cost it places on society is too great.
“We recognize that this Congress is as unlikely to take action on marijuana as it has been on other big issues. But it is long past time to repeal this version of Prohibition.”