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Sometimes there’s a contribution so appallingly egregious to journalism that can’t go unnoticed, and Crikey likes to recognise those efforts with a Wankley Award. And one particular effort by an unnamed-author for the Daily Telegraph‘s website over the weekend is particularly deserving.

One of the Tele‘s favourite genres of news story is how well it’s doing compared to rivals. Nielsen’s latest news website rankings came in last week, showing a 4.6% increase in the Tele‘s online readers for July since the previous month, was a perfect example for another tale of success.

But this online-only special took the rhetoric to a new level. More than celebrating its own success, the Tele‘s piece published on Friday evening (without a byline) takes the opportunity to claim that “readers are switching off in droves from left-leaning websites such as the ABC and Fairfax”.

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According to the article, the biggest fall belonged to BuzzFeed, “famous for its stupid lists and clickbait”. The Age is described as “Melbourne’s extreme left-wing [newspaper]”. There was even a flattering mention of Crikey: “As many people read the satirical Betoota Advocate as read the Crikey website.”

Editorial flourishes aside, the Tele isn’t comparing apples with apples. While judging its own success by month-on-month change, it has measured the failure of the ABC and Fairfax against figures from the same month a year ago — July 2016, when a federal election was held. Most news websites experienced a bump in their audience numbers then. At the time, Nielsen’s figures were billed by the insights agency as a record, “with Australians keen to see the election results”.

The Tele noted that the ABC’s audiences had “crashed over the past 12 month [sic]” by 28.5%, The Guardian had fallen over the past year (3.97%), as had The Sydney Morning Herald (19.7%) and The Age (26.6%). What the Tele doesn’t mention is that the ABC’s audience increased month-on-month by 3% and The Guardian‘s by 4.13%. And while the SMH might have been down year-on-year, compared to the previous month it was up 12%, to almost 4.2 million — far more than the Tele‘s 4.6% increase to 2.29 million. No mention, either, that the website with the biggest audience, news.com.au (and owned by News Corp, as is the Tele), recorded a drop from 6.248 million in July 2016 to 5.9 million in July 2017.

And a Wankley honourable mention today goes to the Tele‘s broadsheet stablemate The Australian, which also took a look at the Nielsen rankings in its Media Diary today. After a straight mention of the top three, the Oz notes that it has overtaken “youth-oriented site” BuzzFeed. It then goes on: “This weekend The Australian launched its investigative documentary The Queen & Zak Grieve, while BuzzFeed ran a feature headlined: ‘23 things you’ll only understand if you are obsessed with wine‘.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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