Inside the Daily MailA former journalist for the Mail Online in America has spilled the beans in an astonishing post written for Gawker:

“The production process was simple. During a day shift — 8 a.m. to about 6 p.m — four news editors stationed together near Clarke’s desk assigned stories to reporters from a continually updated list of other publications’ articles. Throughout the day, they would monitor the website’s traffic to determine what was getting clicked on and what to remove from the homepage.

When a writer was free to write a story, he or she simply would shout “I’m free” and an editor would assign a link to an article on the list. In many cases, it would be accompanied by a sensationalized headline — one that may or may not have been accurate — for the writer to use.

During a typical 10-hour shift, I would catch four to seven articles this way. Unlike at other publications for which I’ve worked, writers weren’t tasked with finding their own stories or calling sources. We were simply given stories written by other publications and essentially told to rewrite them. And unlike at other publications where aggregation writers are encouraged to find a unique angle or to add some information missing from an original report, the way to make a story your own at the Mail is to pass off someone else’s work as your own.

As part of my initial training session, I was told that any link or attribution in an aggregated piece should be placed no higher than the first set of images in the post — which were typically three or four paragraphs in, where a reader might overlook the fact that the information provided in the preceding paragraphs had no attribution. If the original report was an article in the New York Daily News, a direct competitor of the Mail’s, I was sometimes instructed to not give attribution at all.”

In Australia, News Corp last year settled with the Daily Mail‘s local operation after accusing it of plagiarism.

Too nutty even for Bolt. A couple of days ago your correspondent noted, in his continuing series Mahabharata 2: The Self Destruction of the Australian Right, that Sharri Markson’s remarks on Sky that David Hicks should be tortured were found abhorrent even by Sky’s audience. I suggested that in their eyes Markson came across as a “twisted vengeful nutter”, which was probably not the effect intended. Tim Blair took up the challenge of behalf of the fair Sharri, and Andrew Bolt took the flick pass.

And then a very interesting thing happened. There’s only about a dozen or so main comments (and about 35 replies to such), but of the main comments, about two-thirds run in favour of Hicks. Maybe that’s a few lefties trolling the Bolter, but it doesn’t sound like it. It looks rather more like something that proves my point — that even among the sort of people who read Andrew Bolt, there is a lot of objection to the way Hicks was treated. Given that Hicks has now renounced his youthful activities, the Right’s obsession with him continues to be counter-productive. Long may it run. — Guy Rundle

A blow from Bolt. A coda to the latest Blair/Bolt screw-up over Hicks. Bolt begins his blog post:

“Want to win the support of a Leftist like Guy Rundle? Me neither …”

Really, Andrew? Funny that. During your 18C stoush, you were pretty keen on calling on support for your right to publish vile, libellous deranged racialist baiting under the guise of “free speech”.

And you got it — from myself and others on the Left who believe that only the most minimal restrictions on speech should be in place. Meanwhile you were deserted by ostensible allies such as the churches and peak Jewish and Zionist bodies. Pretty desperate to win our support then, huh, mein liebling? 

Even with a sympathetic government in place you stuffed that one up too. You’re a hopeless lot. — Guy Rundle

Now for good news from a TV station. As the embattled Australian commercial TV industry grapples with weak revenue growth, profit strains and cost pressures, they can only gaze enviously at the latest full-year results from the UK’s main commercial TV operator, ITV in wonder and amazement — record profits and a 250 million pounds (nearly $500 million) special dividend to shareholders (thanks says John Malone’s Liberty Global, which owns 6.4%).

Controlling more than 49% of the UK commercial TV market helps, but it is up against the monster known as Sky, 39% owned by the Murdoch clan and a formidable operator. As well Virgin Media (owned by John Malone) and BT are trying to grab ad pounds from ITV, while the BBC is a fearsome competitor in ratings terms, and the quasi-commercial government-owned Channel Four is also chasing ad revenues (like SBS), as is the Viacom-owned Channel Five.

And, considering eight years ago ITV was nearly broke and crippled by the share register assault and abuse from James Murdoch when he was running BSkyB (now just plain Sky), ITV knows a lot about being on the floor, being counted out, and coming back. ITV reported a 6% rise in ad revenues to 1,6 billion pounds (well over $A3.1 billion) in 2014, and has forecast an 11% rise this quarter because of the UK general election in May. While that means ad revenue growth will slow in the rest of 2015, it is still looking to either match or top the 2014 figure.

ITV’s profit jump came despite a fall in the network’s share of UK TV viewing to the lowest since 2010, when the current CEO Adam Crozier took over. Despite the World Cup and two extra TV channels, ITV’s share fell to 22%. It blamed a very competitive BBC for that. But ITV’s main channel lost share while the secondary channels recorded small rises in viewing levels and share. — Glenn Dyer

Peter Fray

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