Saturday, August 17, 2013
Goodbye to all that ...
It began with the latest round of figures, which are neither surprising, nor news in any meaningful way.
Hard copy rags are shedding circulation like flies copping a blast of Mortein.
The response has been dismal, as noted by Crikey's Matthew Knott:
The industry has responded to the results with a mixture of silence and what looks like magical thinking. News Corp kept schtum on the figures; so did industry group The Readership Works, which will no longer comment on print-only data.
No longer comment? Talk about keeping the mad aunt locked in the attic ...
But then another line by Knott ...
It was almost as demoralising at News Corp: no wonder Col Allan has been shipped back from New York to wave his supposedly magic wand. The Australian fell by 9.8% on weekdays year-on-year to 116,655; The Weekend Oz slumped by 10.8% to 254,891. A full 19% of the Oz's sales are still in the accommodation, airline, education or bundled categories (compared to 13% at the AFR). (Newspaper circulation results a shocker: the contagion edition, may be paywall affected)
(... bundled here may be taken as giveaways, freebies, the rough equivalent of local rags, and if you do the maths, less than a 100k out of a population over 22 million now pay to get their jollies from the hard copy national rag ... no wonder they'll only talk of digital)
... but back to that line by Knott about Col Allan ... it was directly contradicted a little further down the page.
When Col Allan became editor of Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post in 2001, the paper was losing perhaps $20 million a year. Now, some estimates put the annual loss at $100 million. Allan might well have notched up greater losses than any other newspaper editor in history.
Yes, Rodney Tiffen's story Why Col Allan is Murdoch's $100 million newspaper man (may be paywall affected) is well worth a read:
It’s not as if The Daily Telegraph needs any help from Col Allan in honing its strident anti-Labor message or producing outrageous front pages. For a long time the paper’s editors have behaved like a group of ageing attention-seekers who have just discovered Photoshop. Peter Slipper was depicted as a rat on one front page, Stephen Conroy as Stalin on another. What’s revealing about the Hogan’s Heroes front page is that the last episode of the show was made 42 years ago, and the image would communicate little to anyone aged less under 45. That puts the Tele’s editors very much on the wavelength of Generation Last. Their election campaign so far has been an absolute Barry Crocker.
Take away sport from the Terror and the HUN, and they'd be as dead as the ancient dodo, and Col Allan's arrival and the booting of Kim Williams and the temporary stop-gap appointment of an old print hand in his place shows an aged still print-bound organisation writhing as it hangs and blows in the wind.
Now the pond is deeply conservative, but all this has been predicted over and over again, perhaps in ways less scientific than climate science but equally foreboding, and now of a night, it's common for the pond to sit with the television to hand, and a pad in hand, and free newspapers tossed around like confetti - the pond still has a soft spot for Nick Possum in the City Hub, though he's dropped to a fortnightly appearance, and nary a Murdoch rag in sight.
By last count, there are five easily accessible free local newspapers, a couple of street rock magazines, a couple of gay friendly rags - you only have to stoop to pick any of them up - and while none of them have the clout of free media in the USA, of the Village Voice, or the LA Weekly kind, their jumbled presence is more than enough to satisfy any nostalgia for tree-killing ...
As for the rest, disputes are now settled, information discerned, trivia accounted for, by immediate access anywhere in the wired house to the full to overflowing intertubes, and it's surprising how few times the MSM turn up in such searches.
Is it profoundly irritating to lie in bed listening to the clicking and clacking of the body next to you updating their Facebook page?
Why do you ask? But it's an inescapable reality, and just as some conservatives might flinch from calling up diverse ways of saying "grace" before starting their meal, many more will find a way to get information about such peculiar, quaint rituals ... (sob, of course there's a wiki for it, here, with complaints about accuracy and sourcing, but hey it's free)
It is interesting that there were a few winners in the magazine section in the lifestyle area, along with a bunch of losers as noted by Knott:
Unlike in newspapers, you can find some winners among the normally blighted magazine sector. At least 15 magazines saw their sales rise in the year to June, with the home, garden and lifestyle sectors leading the way. News Corp's NewsLife Media stable performed well, seeming to vindicate ousted CEO Kim Williams' decision to put Nicole Sheffield in charge. NewsLifeMedia's Vogue rose 0.4%, Vogue Living rose 1.8%, Delicious rose 5%, Country Style sold 1.5% more copies and Inside Out lifted its sales by 1.4%. Fairfax's BRW had a nasty drop: 17.4% to only 33,900.
The pond remains a devoted magazine subscriber, though it has to be said that the subscription's not to Country Style or Vogue Living but to the NYRB and The New Yorker.
This perfect storm has been coming for a long time, and yet the Murdoch rags think alienating a substantial swathe of their readership is some kind of business plan ...
Well played Col Pot ...
It got the pond to thinking of the way all things must change even if they stay the same.
Who'd have thought the pond would be using a microwave to prepare porridge? After all the death rays that a microwave produce are as dangerous to health as a wind farm ... (one cup rolled oats, one cup milk, half cup water, 3 mins 1000w, fruit and/or nuts to taste, dark brown sugar to taste, or honey or golden syrup for the true Tamworth taste).
The same turmoil newspapers are experiencing now was flagged by the music industry a decade ago, and attempts by film and television players to build a fortress have been equally risible.
Again the pond is deeply conservative, and even now a supporter of the local video store (hi there Adrian, how's it going), but it was gobsmacking to see the latest campaign by Foxtel on free to air media promising new product from the USA going to air domestically within 48 hours ...
By the pond's reckoning, that's five years and 48 hours too late ... and it was beyond tragic and pitiful to read of the recent moaning of the Australian makes of 100 Bloody Acres being pirated, as you can see in Director Colin Cairnes speaks out on piracy ...
Dude, your target demographic, nerdy, geeky horror movie buffs, is wall to wall young pirates, and the home of true piracy is YouTube - the difference being that the studios patrol its corridors fiercely but think nothing of, and do nothing about, all the ripping of foreign content that lurks in the YouTube shadows ,....
But where does it get us, all this remorseless change and turmoil?
Well this morning the pond feels entitled to say, if only for this Saturday, goodbye to all that ...
Goodbye to the lizard Oz's digital carousel of doom, which today features in order of appearance:
Dennis Shanahan on how Labor is doomed;
Paul Kelly on how Kevin Rudd is doomed;
Peter van Onselen thinking he's providing some balance by wringing his hands over victorious Team Abbott;
Chris Kenny blathering on about the serious need to rebalance state-federal relationships. Seriously? That old saw has been doing the rounds since fedration;
Greg Sheridan on why Kevin Rudd deserves to be doomed;
and last and least, dour old Judith Sloan wondering why neither party has proposed a police state in which the proper treatment of workers in the workplace might be allowed to flourish.
That's the weekend reading? That's all you've got?
Truly, it's like watching a parade of dinosaurs go about their business, a bit like the dinosaurs in that animated rip of Disney, Allegro non troppo.
But then came the capper - there's always a capper, and it's in the form of an allegedly top notch journalist:
Oh enough Hedley, more than enough already.
And this "story" about the "professor" is third from the top of the digital page - the first splash is naturally dedicated to the meaningless ongoing subsidy of the American car industry based in Australia, and the second to doing down Labor, with the editorialist wittering about how salvation lies in suburbs and regions. Tell that to your head of circulation editorialist, and see how far you get ...
You see, Hedley, as Jon Oliver pointed out, Australia has everything America has, except we pack our Rick Perrys, Anthony Weiners and Sarah Palins into a month (hasn't Oliver done well, and if you missed it, last time the pond checked, it was still up at pirate central, oops YouTube, here).
The point is of course that Clive Palmer is a bumbling billionaire, and we need him, because Australia needs its very own Donald Trump. In much the same way as we need the deep North so we can have a down under version of the deep South ...
Sending up "Professor" Palmer is like shooting fish in a barrel, or like watching him do a cameo on the wretched Wednesday Night Fever (naturally the ABC put it on YouTube here).
You see Hedley, you can't make this crap up, and you can't send it up. He might be the poor person's Donald Trump, but he's our Donald ...
Now Palmer might be offensive (Clive Palmer's crazy talk: Campbell Newman is bipolar) but he's no more offensive than Sophie Mirabella or Cory Bernardi, so why isn't the lizard Oz campaigning about other extremist ratbags?
Well d'oh, but that's because the Murdochians have never had any sense of balance, not when their duty is to listen to their master's voice, and now they're losing their circulation.
In the usual course of things, a media that was balanced, and approached personalities and issues without fear or favour, would long ago have punctured Clive's bubble, but back in the day, when he was a rootin' tootin' Liberal, he and the equally weird Gina Rinehart were given the soft glove treatment, and the Bolter still gives Gina a free pass ...
Is it any wonder that the pond looks elsewhere for its political fixes, and its political comedy?
And the reptiles at the lizard Oz watch their circulation figures plummet under the weight of their prejudices and pomposities ...
You walk into the room
With your pencil in your hand
You see somebody naked
And you say, “Who is that man?”
You try so hard
But you don’t understand
Just what you’ll say
When you print your rag
Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Murdoch editorialists?
Get off my lawn ...
Take it away Tom Tomorrow, give us a Trump and a Republicanado ...
(Below: more Tom Tomorrow here)
Posted by dorothy parker at 8/17/2013 09:08:00 AM