News Corp has shuttered Climate Spectator five days before the UN Climate Conference conference in Paris.
The website, purchased by News Corp’s then-CEO Kim Williams in 2012 as part of the Business Spectator stable, had a devoted and large readership. As Crikey reported yesterday, editor Tristan Edis was made redundant on Monday. By yesterday afternoon, the site’s closure was announced. In a piece explaining the decision to readers, Australianbusiness editor Eric Johnston and Business Spec editor Cliona O’Dowd write the closure was “part of the ongoing evolution of News Corp Australia”:
“Like every business operating in today’s media landscape, News Corp Australia continues to re-position and rebalance its organisation to meet the changing behaviour of its audience and advertisers …
“Sadly this has resulted in some product changes across the organisation including, from today, ceasing publication of Climate Spectator.”
The closure comes six months after the website’s resources were cut back severely, leaving Edis, a former Grattan Institute analyst lured by Alan Kohler to write on policy for the website, the sole staffer tasked with keeping the site running.
The site’s founding editor, Giles Parkinson, was scathing of the decision to close the site,writing on Renew Economy:
“It’s unfortunate, and very sad. The Murdoch camp has sacrificed one of their most popular columnists in the Business Spectator stable; another media title has folded; and an important voice has been lost in a country where the majority of mainstream media (with a few notable exceptions) expresses an ignorance and a hostility to new technologies that is quite astounding.”
Speaking to Crikey this morning, Parkinson added that his only surprise was that it had taken News Corp so long (three years) to finally axe the site. “It was only a matter of time before some mid-ranking executive with a reduced budget took a thick blue pencil through Climate Spectator, in pretty much same way the organisation looks at the broader climate issues,” he said.
When News Corp first purchased the Business Spectator stable, Kohler promised it wouldn’t affect the coverage of Climate Spectator. For the three years it survived, this has been the case — the site often took a markedly different stand on climate issues than the rest of the News Corp stable.
By the by, also notable for taking a different stand on economic issues to the rest of the News Corp stable was Business Spectator economics editor and former RBA economist Callam Pickering. This didn’t pass unnoticed.Herald Sun economics editor Terry McCrann dismissed Pickering, in print, as a “twit”, to which Pickering argued back. Pickering was also made redundant on Monday.