Meanwhile in media backdowns. The word “feminist” is rarely seen on the same company as “basic”, “turnt”, “kale” and “said no one ever”. The one similarity this motley crew shares is all of them were included in the Time magazine article and reader poll Which Word Should Be Banned in 2015? It’s the fourth time the magazine has invited readers to ban a word — previous now-unmentionables at Time HQ include “OMG”, “YOLO” and “twerk”.
Time’s description of the f-word is as follows:
“Feminist: You have nothing against feminism itself, but when did it become a thing that every celebrity had to state their position on whether this word applies to them, like some politician declaring a party? Let’s stick to the issues and quit throwing this label around like ticker tape at a Susan B. Anthony parade.”
A number of people in the mainstream media promptly slammed Time‘s inclusion of the word on its list, and meanwhile, the trolls at internet forum 4chan (many of whom are self-proclaimed opponents of modern feminism) began voting in the poll, leading to the f-word leading the field, with 45% of respondents voting to ban it. It all got a bit too much. This morning, Time managing editor Nancy Gibbs issued an apology for including the word on the list:
“TIME apologises for the execution of this poll; the word ‘feminist’ should not have been included in a list of words to ban. While we meant to invite debate about some ways the word was used this year, that nuance was lost, and we regret that its inclusion has become a distraction from the important debate over equality and justice.”
Coming in second place was the word “bae”, which Time says is a term of endearment that’s “been around for years, but suddenly it’s everywhere”. Your correspondents hadn’t heard of it before now. But presumably it’s now the winner. — Crikey intern Andrey Rodionov and media reporter Myriam Robin
Don’t mess with the digital giants. Decisions in the past couple of weeks by two of Europe’s most powerful media groups have shown clearly how much power now resides with the digital giants, such as Google and Amazon. The first was nine days ago when giant German publisher Axel Springer surrendered and dropped a ban on Google listing its web pages after traffic to those websites dropped by 80% during a two-week ban.
Springer said the two-week period of restricting Google’s access to some of its publications had caused web traffic to plunge for these sites. By banning Google from listing its pages, Springer had been trying to force Google to pay licensing fees for accessing the German publisher’s four most popular websites, such as welt.de, computerbild.de, sportbild.de and autobild.de, the company said.
Taking on the digital giants is a risky business. Last Thursday French book publisher Hachette waved the white flag as its brawl with Amazon over the pricing of e-books slashed sales ahead of the huge pre-Christmas selling season. Hachette recorded a near 20% slide in e-book sales in the September quarter in the United States .
Hachette had been fighting Amazon since May after it and other publishers tried to force the e-commerce giant to lift book prices via a now-discredited cartel-like joint agreement. The dispute has taken a financial toll on Hachette, whose authors include JK Rowling, Kate Atkinson and Donna Tartt.
According to Reuters, Google accounts for 80% of the European search market and 90% of Germany’s. Electronic publishing now accounts for 27% of US adult fiction and non-fiction revenues, and Amazon sells roughly two-thirds of all US e-books. — Glenn Dyer
Aussie Aussie Aussie. Taking place at Melbourne’s Crown Casino over the next few days is Screen Forever, an annual screen producers’ conference that draws together a bevy of Australia’s most powerful media executives to discuss the future of the domestic film and TV industries. This morning’s keynote was given by veteran ABC broadcaster and national living treasure Phillip Adams, who hailed a golden era of Australia film and TV production in the late 1960s and 1970s, while commenting on what lessons today’s film and TV producers could take form the period. He said:
“Film projectors project so much more than film. They project ideas and ultimately belief systems. It is my belief that the only way forward for our troubled industry is to retrace those steps and make the same arguments loud and clear.”
“The reason Australians won support in the late ’60s and early ’70s was because we argued the Australian case. To see our own landscapes, hear our own voices, tell our own history, celebrate our own heroes. That and that alone gave us political leverage … If you are to win ongoing support from government — and it matters little what brand of government you’re dealing with these days — the only weapon you have has Australia written on the blade. It is still the most powerful word, whether used as noun or adjective.”
Matthew Deaner, the executive director of Screen Producers Australia, says Adams’ speech highlights the two-fold answer to the Australian video media’s competitive challenges:
“Australian producers will need to be nimble in developing partnerships in a way that embraces rather than undermines our unique culture. But equally, Australia must accept the ongoing importance of content obligations and other support measures if we are to continue to have businesses capable of making programs where, in the words of Mr. Adams, we can see our own landscapes [and] dream our own dreams.”
— Myriam Robin
New media entrants throw scepticism to the wind. The Columbia Journalism Review has published an interesting article on how the Australian media reports climate change. News Corp gives significant prominence to sceptical opinion on climate change, the CJR notes, while Fairfax could potentially be stymied by the interests of its largest shareholder Gina Rinehart.
But a host of new multinational media companies setting up shop Down Under have tackled the issue rather differently.
“The Guardian Australia, which launched in 2013, ran a story late last month titled ‘Bushfire season ‘will be more severe as a result of climate change’. And when Mashable released an Australian edition in late October, one of its first stories was, ‘Australia is sweltering and the worst is yet to come’. BuzzFeed, too, launched an Australian edition in January of this year.
“‘The way that Mashable and BuzzFeed cover climate change from what I’ve seen of them is essentially that climate change is happening, it is a serious problem, and something should be done about it,’ said Catherine Alexander, a research fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Sustainable Society Institute.”
Catherine Alexander is, of course, Crikey‘s former deputy editor. — Myriam Robin
Cause and effect? At the start of last week, Trinity Mirror, one of the UK’s biggest dead-tree publishers, reported that print ad sales had fallen 12% in the 17 weeks since June. The fall was spread across the group’s print titles, including the Daily Mirror and the company’s collection of regional newspapers. The company said in a quarterly trading update that revenue from its digital businesses (including those associated with the papers) was up an impressive 44%, but nowhere near enough to offset the fall in print ad revenues, which was triggered by “weaker national display advertising, in particular supermarket spending”.
UK supermarkets are cutting ad spending in favour of increasing their discounts as they are engaged in a bitter pricing war with two German hardball discounters, Lidl and Aldi. The price war has already crippled the UK’s biggest retailer, Tesco, forcing it to report losses, sack its CEO and other senior executives, and watch its share price plunge as regulators investigate 263 million pounds of wrongly reported revenues and profits. To pay for the price cuts, Tesco and others have slashed their ad spending in newspapers, spending more on TV and online.
Overall Trinity Mirror said group revenues fell 5% in the 17-week period (against a 2% fall in the first quarter of the year). So out came the axe and out went some jobs. On Friday, Trinity Mirror revealed that it was killing off seven of these regional papers immediately for the loss of around 50 jobs. — Glenn Dyer
Front page of the day. We looked at today’s front pages but nothing was as interesting as this Saturday’s Courier-Mail, which, needless to say, has been milking this whole Russia/Australia showdown for all it’s worth. Is it unpatriotic to say we reckon the bear would win in a fight?