‘Only a matter of time’. 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, Australian business 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 …

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“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. — Myriam Robin

A gold watch and a redundancy. Herald Sun true crime editor Paul Anderson announced his departure to staff this morning. In an email he wrote:

“After nearly 26 years service with the company I officially accepted a voluntary redundancy package yesterday afternoon, ironically only minutes before heading upstairs to receive a gold watch for 25 years’ service …

“I was eligible for a voluntary package this time around as I had flagged interest during the last round a couple of years ago. I started on The Herald straight out of school as a copy boy in January 1990 and, needless to say, I have seen many changes occur at HWT as a journalist in that time. I found my niche on the crime round early on (or maybe the crime round found me) and I was lucky enough to work at the ‘pointy end’ on the police and court rounds for 20-odd years, all up. My experiences as a crime reporter have given me a pretty good idea about life and death and everything in between. I thank the company for the opportunities it presented me during my time on the mighty Herald Sun … I am leaving with no grudges or feelings of ill will. “

His last day is December 3, pending “official approval”.

Crikey understands four production workers at the Herald Sun were also made redundant yesterday. — Myriam Robin

Pollster hits back. An anonymous pollster has written a piece for Vice criticising a poll he helped conduct, which the Sun relied on to claim one in five British Muslims had sympathy for jihadis.


The pollster said the poll was poorly worded, unusually conducted, and in his experience, not a single respondent had answered the questions in such a way to suggest they had sympathy for jihadis.

“[T]here was the specific question about sympathy for fighters in Syria. (Note: there was no mention of the word ‘jihadi’ in the script at any point.) One question asked which of the statements the interviewee most agreed with: a) I have a lot of sympathy for young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria, b) I have some sympathy for young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria, or c) I have no sympathy for young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria.

“The overwhelming majority of those polled responded to this question with answer c), but some did say they had some sympathy (no one I spoke to said that they had a lot of sympathy). The problem with this question is the word ‘sympathy’. What does ‘sympathy’ mean? Does sympathy mean pity? Or does sympathy mean empathy?”

Those who agreed to respond to the poll, the piece alleges, often both condemned Islamic State while expressing sympathy for young Muslims who supported them, saying they had been “brainwashed”. But given the reductive questions, the piece alleges, such sentiments would have been counted as “sympathy” for jihadis.

“The front page of The Sun yesterday came as a nasty shock to me. Based on their statement, it may well have come as a shock to [polling company] Survation too.”

— Myriam Robin

Front page of the day. Tense days ahead.


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