‘Part of doing business’. So says the opening of a multi, erm, platform Fairfax piece, about businesses using strippers and prostitutes to please or entice clients. Hardly an earth-shattering scoop, so why would this AFR derived article grace the front page of The Age online? Let’s just say the photo for it wasn’t of a fully-dressed businessman swiping an Amex card. Stick a twenty down the front of Greg Hywood’s pants, if you see him — he’s got an ancient media organisation to support.
Elsewhere Fairfax proves a little naif about such things — with the travel section running an agency story about the decline of the nudist movement in Germany, as measured by the fall in regular members of its nudist FKK — “Free Body Culture” — clubs.
Oh dear, auntie Fairfax, how can we explain it? The FKK clubs are — well they’re brothels, operating (legally) under the nudist banner, with free-agent prostitutes paying an entry fee and operating from within. The FKK initials turned out to be a fortuitous coincidence, brand-wise. “From bowling to table tennis and even sailing holidays in Greece, the FKK clubs offer a wide range of outdoor activities and competitions,” Fairfax trills. Activities, yes. We would advise wholesome naturist Australian families against turning up to FKK Artemis or FKK Kaligula with sunscreen and floaties — and for Fairfax editors to do a little more checking next time.
RA cuts. Concern is growing that China will take up the gap left by the ABC in the Pacific, after the government cancelled its international television contract with the ABC — a decision compounded by staff cuts in Radio Australia, which covers the region. RA will have only one program per day dedicated to reporting on Australian and Pacific affairs. Writing in Lowy Institute blog The Interpreter, Pacific analyst Jenny Hayward-Jones comments that in “retrenching its most experienced Pacific hands as well as abolishing correspondent positions, the ABC will lose much of its capacity to report”:
“The cuts are a huge diplomatic own goal for Australia. Whenever I have travelled to remote villages in the region, I have been struck by how much detailed knowledge the local residents had of Australia. There were hardly any books in the villages and no newspapers, let alone internet. All their knowledge was learned by listening to Radio Australia on shortwave radio. The growing coverage and availability of mobile phones and growth of internet access is changing the media scene but at a much slower rate in the Pacific than elsewhere. Many illiterate Papua New Guinean villagers, for example use their mobile phones to listen to radio rather than sign on to Twitter… It is worth noting that China is investing in its international television and radio broadcasting, including in shortwave in the Pacific. As Australia seeks to step up its diplomatic influence globally, it is not the right time for the ABC to be stepping back from its critical soft power role in the Asia Pacific.”
Journalists, we are fucked. The future for working journalists is bleak, according to US media columnist Bob Garfield, co-host of the NPR program On the Media. “Except for search, gaming and porn, nobody is making any money of any consequence online, he told the ADMA Global Forum in Sydney this morning.
When one journalist in the audience asked for his advice, given that traditional newsrooms were shrinking and online content choices were being driven by potential click rates, Garfield was blunt. “Look for a Plan B. And I know that sounds glib and heartless, but the probability is that this ‘hypothetical’ journalist will not have steady employment that offers a sustainable middle-class livelihood for the next 30 years … You are fucked. And there’s nothing we can do about that. Cobblers were fucked by the industrial revolution. You, my friend, are a cobbler.”
Garfield’s nihilistic views continued when he was asked about the rise of opinion over more investigative journalism. “There isn’t an appetite in my country for facts. There’s an appetite for things that look like facts … I guess the answer I have for you is the same one I had for him. We’re all fucked.” — Stilgherrian
Shining on. The three way merger of Shine (owned by 21st Century Fox), Endemol and Core Media (owned by Apollo Management) is moving towards completion with an announcement due within the next month to 6 weeks on the final terms, structure and management. Watch for Mark and Carl Fennessy to run the combined business in Australia (which would see Shine Australia and Southern Star (Endemol owned) merged. And there is talk that Ten is close, or is about to recommission yet another series of The Biggest Loser from Shine Australia for early in 2015. That is a big surprise seeing its ratings plunged this year, the final year of a four year deal with Shine. — Glenn Dyer
Making society worse. There’s a second book extract in The Guardian from investigative journalist Nick Davies’ book on the hacking scandal, and it highlights how toxic News of The World was to work in. But its toxicity wasn’t confined to the newsroom. Davies writes of the vast numbers of readers who contacted the paper, seeking to sell all sorts of damaging and salacious personal information about their families, their colleagues or those they’ve come across.
“The friends of tabloid newspapers often point out that their journalism exists only because millions of people pay money to read it. The internal messages go one step further, disclosing the fervour with which readers stepped forward to provide the News of the World with the information it craved …
“At worst, they are volunteering to sell the secrets of those who most trust them — their friends, lovers, family members. Some of them try to make sure of their sale by offering evidence to prove their story. A man has got in touch to say that he has just spent the night with a young actress from a TV soap, and that’s a story worth selling and, even better, he says that he managed to sneak a photograph of her giving him oral sex. Another message records a woman’s story about an England footballer: ‘Paula claims that she had a four-week fling with XX in Dec last year. She says they had sex in the back of his car in XX’s pal’s pub. Paula also says she has a jumper with XX’s semen on it.’
“Everything is for sale. Nobody is exempt. What begins to emerge is the internal machinery of an industry that treats human life itself — the soft tissue of the most private, sensitive moments — as a vast quarry full of raw material to be scooped up and sifted and exploited for entertainment.”
With that in mind, here’s the front page of today’s Sun.