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Analysis and Comment (42)

The world is watching, 24/7. The world is watching, 24/7. STR/EPA

After Pistorius, South African media won’t be the same again

The murder trial of Oscar Pistorius is changing South Africa’s media ecology. It is the country’s first criminal trial to be covered fully on social media and live television, and both journalists and…
Fairfax journalists strike in Melbourne in 2012. Around 15% of the Australian journalist workforce was made redundant last year. Fairfax journalists strike in Melbourne in 2012. Around 15% of the Australian journalist workforce was made redundant last year. AAP Image/Julian Smith)

New beats: where do redundant journalists go?

You’ve probably heard the news: the Australian media is experiencing the most serious contraction in its history. The rise of online and mobile media has led to the collapse of the classified advertising…
Journalists break and analyse news using a variety of media, as they should. Journalists break and analyse news using a variety of media, as they should. clasesdeperiodismo

Walkley Awards recognise online journalism – it’s time we all did

The winners of this year’s Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism will be announced in Brisbane tonight. For the first time, the 2013 awards include prizes for Multimedia Storytelling and Podcast…
The New York Times launched its paywall in 2011 and in the most recent quarter claimed US$37.7 million in digital subscription revenue. The New York Times launched its paywall in 2011 and in the most recent quarter claimed US$37.7 million in digital subscription revenue. Andre-Pierre/Flickr

Making sense of Fairfax’s paywall figures

Media companies are failing to deliver transparency about their digital subscriptions, as my recent study about paywalls found. The research of paywalls in eight countries found paid online content presents…
Giant iPads: the only way to make Shepard Smith’s tan look subtle. Giant iPads: the only way to make Shepard Smith’s tan look subtle. Fox News

Fox lays down newsroom gauntlet with ludicrous giant iPads

In the autumn of 1997, a group assembled from across the BBC and beyond gathered to take part in a seminal moment of broadcasting history: the launch of the BBC’s first 24-hour news channel. The 24-hour…
Learn from the master to take over the world. Learn from the master to take over the world. fugutabetai shyashin

Five things the Washington Post can learn from Amazon

The Washington Post’s purchase by Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos is the latest example of a new generation of internet moguls spending big on pet projects. It was also revealed this week that Google…
Media giant Fairfax has been plagued by board troubles and company indecision, according to a new book. Media giant Fairfax has been plagued by board troubles and company indecision, according to a new book. AAP/Julian Smith

Billions lost, boards to blame: Colleen Ryan on the rise and fall of Fairfax

In the same week that Colleen Ryan’s tell-all book Fairfax: The Rise and Fall hits bookstores, Fairfax’s two biggest metropolitan newspapers will place their content behind a metered digital paywall. If…
There’s more information than ever before today but less journalists to cover it. Can institutional corruption still be brought to light? There’s more information than ever before today but less journalists to cover it. Can institutional corruption still be brought to light? Ahmad Hashim

‘Kindred souls’ exposing abuses of power: journalism in the information age

More then ever, we are awash in information. With the advent of the internet, search engines and now more than two billion people wired users globally, information “has become the modern era’s defining…
News Limited CEO Kim Williams has been forced to change tack on the online newspaper paywall model for the company’s metro mastheads. News Limited CEO Kim Williams has been forced to change tack on the online newspaper paywall model for the company’s metro mastheads. AAP/Joe Castro

The News Limited paywall dilemma: how to avoid competing against yourself

You could almost feel sorry for newspaper owners. The internet is smashing their hard copy advertising revenue and they have yet to work out how to make money out of their online editions. It is just over…
Like them or loathe them, advertorials are now a recognised part of the mainstream press, and a key source of revenue for struggling media organisations. Like them or loathe them, advertorials are now a recognised part of the mainstream press, and a key source of revenue for struggling media organisations. AAP/Dean Lewins

Paddy Manning was wrong - in defence of advertorials

RMIT professor Sinclair Davidson has recently defended the actions of journalist Paddy Manning, who was dismissed from Fairfax after writing an article in Crikey critical of what he called “advertorial…
Has Julian Assange’s whistleblower website WikiLeaks set a ‘new normal’ for investigative journalism in the mainstream press? Has Julian Assange’s whistleblower website WikiLeaks set a ‘new normal’ for investigative journalism in the mainstream press? EPA/STR

Wikiworld: the future of investigative journalism

If you are a crooked corporate mogul, property tycoon or prominent politician, chances are you are sweating a little bit this week. Sure, your millions of secret tax-evading dollars are - for the moment…
The problem with Fairfax’s “soft paywall” is that many readers may sample as much content as they can before going elsewhere. The problem with Fairfax’s “soft paywall” is that many readers may sample as much content as they can before going elsewhere. Image from www.shutterstock.com

A paywall is not enough —Fairfax must become bespoke or fail

Fairfax Media is introducing a “soft” paywall for The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH). Initially, the paywall will only affect readers outside Australia, but a domestic version will follow. Fairfax…
BBC Director-General George Entwistle has been forced to resign, plunging the public broadcaster into crisis. BBC Director-General George Entwistle has been forced to resign, plunging the public broadcaster into crisis. EPA/Facundo Arrizabalaga

BBC scandal: lessons for the ABC to learn

As the BBC considers splitting the role of its chief executive and editor-in-chief, should the ABC give serious thought to adopting a similar model? The ongoing turmoil at the BBC over an ever widening…
Roger Corbett told shareholders at today’s AGM that Fairfax Media was in good stead for the future, despite the price of the company’s stock falling by half its value since the beginning of the year. Roger Corbett told shareholders at today’s AGM that Fairfax Media was in good stead for the future, despite the price of the company’s stock falling by half its value since the beginning of the year. AAP

Fairfax’s strategy for ‘structural change’ does little to shake that sinking feeling

The Fairfax Media AGM took place in Melbourne today against a backdrop of financial meltdown in the company’s fortunes. The share price — currently at 38 cents — has halved since the beginning of the year…
Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood said that the company’s 6% decline in revenue was “disappointing” - with no expectations of recovery in the short term. Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood said that the company’s 6% decline in revenue was “disappointing” - with no expectations of recovery in the short term. AAP

Black and white and dead all over? Fairfax’s $2.7b loss suggests its future is far from rosy

Newspapers love a bold, standout headline. But not when it is about them and the news is bad. Fairfax Media today announced its annual results with a whopping headline figure of a net loss after tax of…
Newspapers are finally embracing the digital future: but what do the journalists really think of this? Newspapers are finally embracing the digital future: but what do the journalists really think of this? Image from www.shutterstock.com

Digital future or race to the bottom? What journalists really think

As major newspapers in Australia prepare to move to digital-first models, the old idea of a journalistic “priesthood” imparting wisdom to many is shifting. Our recently released survey, Journalism at the…
If Twitter allows us to follow (and share) our interests, then can it make a reliable measure of influence for media groups? If Twitter allows us to follow (and share) our interests, then can it make a reliable measure of influence for media groups? AAP/Tracey Nearmy/Twitter

How to measure influence: using Twitter to rate Australian news sites

News of significant job losses and organisational restructuring at Fairfax has thrown new spotlight onto the continuing transformation of the Australian media landscape. It’s clear that newspapers in their…
Certain obstacles - such as Fairfax’s 51% shareholding in New Zealand incorporated company Trade me - play a role in Gina Rinehart’s decision to lower her stake in Fairfax to 15%. Certain obstacles - such as Fairfax’s 51% shareholding in New Zealand incorporated company Trade me - play a role in Gina Rinehart’s decision to lower her stake in Fairfax to 15%. AAP

What’s behind Gina Rinehart’s Fairfax sell-down?

Hancock Prospecting’s explanation for selling down to 15% of Fairfax suggests it is unlikely either to bid or sell down further in the short term. Its stated reason was to clear an obstacle - arising from…
Media proprietors have complained about Federal Government plans for a public interest test - but are they using freedom of speech arguments to protect their commercial interests? Media proprietors have complained about Federal Government plans for a public interest test - but are they using freedom of speech arguments to protect their commercial interests?

Dear media CEOs, stop meddling in our democracy

Dear media CEOs, Thanks for your recent letter to Prime Minister Julia Gillard outlining concerns some of you have about regulation of the news media industry. First a question regarding your views of…
The problems facing the Australian news media are global; our companies must start providing solutions that their readers are prepared to pay for. The problems facing the Australian news media are global; our companies must start providing solutions that their readers are prepared to pay for. AAP

There’s life in them yet: why it’s too early to call the death of print

It took a while, but the Australian news industry has finally caught up with the crisis of journalism which has been affecting the rest of the world for quite some time. I say “crisis”, but let’s be clear…
The late Sir Zelman Cowen negotiated The Age’s Charter of Independence. The late Sir Zelman Cowen negotiated The Age’s Charter of Independence. Flickr

The Fairfax Charter: balancing media, markets and democracy

After the purchase of the London Telegraph and Evening Standard, someone asked Lord Beaverbrook why he bought it, given the apparently limited financial returns that could be expected. His answer was simple…
News Corporation will split its publishing assets from its entertainment arm - with the exception of its Australian operations. News Corporation will split its publishing assets from its entertainment arm - with the exception of its Australian operations. AAP

News Corporation is breaking itself up. Why?

News Corporation is breaking up. The process will take about 12 months and is subject to shareholder approval. The de-merger will separate News Corporation’s publishing assets from its media and entertainment…
As the “rivers of gold”- classifieds - dry up, there are alternative revenue models emerging - although none offer a simplistic panacea to the media industry. As the “rivers of gold”- classifieds - dry up, there are alternative revenue models emerging - although none offer a simplistic panacea to the media industry. AAP

As the ‘rivers of gold’ dry up, what business model will save media?

Journalists have never been particularly fond of advertising or advertisers – to most journalists, advertising was space and time taken away from good stories and advertisers were commercial interests…
Most reporting still comes from a newspaper: Australia’s media troubles come from a failing commercial model, not a journalistic one. Most reporting still comes from a newspaper: Australia’s media troubles come from a failing commercial model, not a journalistic one.

Australia’s newspaper crisis is a failure of the market, not journalism

“Perhaps the single most dishonest aspect of the New Right’s campaign has been its attempt to rubbish and discredit the public sector.” That’s Keith Windschuttle in his excellent 1983 book, The Media…
Bogus certainty in the reporting of numbers can have dire consequences. Bogus certainty in the reporting of numbers can have dire consequences. rbbaird

Bad numbers make for killer headlines – and dodgy news

Last week, The Guardian informed us the Eurozone Crisis will Cost World’s Poorest Countries US$238bn. Really? Not US$237 billion or US$239 billion? Perhaps it was just a wonky headline, and the article…
Amid the battlefield in the boardroom, Kerry Stokes won the power battle and gained control of the Seven Network. But will Gina Rinehart have the same sway over board members at Fairfax Media? Amid the battlefield in the boardroom, Kerry Stokes won the power battle and gained control of the Seven Network. But will Gina Rinehart have the same sway over board members at Fairfax Media? AAP

Beware the boardroom blitz: can good corporate governance rescue Fairfax?

There is a lot going on in the media industry at present. It is not a surprise that newspapers (the paper kind) are struggling to survive in the age of the internet. It is more of a surprise, therefore…
Major media outlets predominantly use wire services such as AAP for their online breaking news. But this approach reduces media diversity and can perpetuate errors. Major media outlets predominantly use wire services such as AAP for their online breaking news. But this approach reduces media diversity and can perpetuate errors. Flickr/Dulnan

The new mantra of ‘not wrong for long’, churnalism and the role of AAP

In the swathe of important debate that’s occurred in the last week about the massive changes underway in the Australian media, there’s a piece of the puzzle that’s been ignored. Indeed, it’s a piece that…
As private newspaper companies decline, it will be up to publicly funded media to provide large-scale journalism. As private newspaper companies decline, it will be up to publicly funded media to provide large-scale journalism. Flickr/ finishrunfault

High stakes: Can publicly funded journalism fill the gap?

Newspaper revenue is sliding. The economics of supporting large teams of journalists no longer work. The collapse of the print business model will diminish the remaining large private news-gathering organisations…
News limited chief executive Kim Williams has outlined a coherent strategy for the future, while Fairfax has relied on panic tactics, stoking fears of a crisis. News limited chief executive Kim Williams has outlined a coherent strategy for the future, while Fairfax has relied on panic tactics, stoking fears of a crisis.

Media earthquake: panic, disinformation, and competing visions at Fairfax and News

So that was the week that was. The Conversation anticipated this would be a big week that required close scrutiny and debate. What we didn’t realise was that first thing Monday morning Fairfax would announce…
Facing a sigital future: the costs of getting your message out are no longer an insurmountable bottleneck. Facing a sigital future: the costs of getting your message out are no longer an insurmountable bottleneck. AAP

Is the cost of media independence really so high?

As I read it, there is much concern in Australia about Fairfax’s owners becoming more active editorially. But I wonder if this really exposes potentially the lack of value in owning media. In the world…
News Limited CEO Kim William’s plans for cross-media consolidation will have significant ramifications for Australia’s media landscape. News Limited CEO Kim William’s plans for cross-media consolidation will have significant ramifications for Australia’s media landscape. AAP

News Limited reveals its convergent future, but will its pay walls pay off?

A week is a long time in the media. Yesterday Kim Williams, the CEO of News Limited, announced a series of reforms to his company. This follows the slash-and-burn announcements by Fairfax Media earlier…
Journalists are the principal carriers of the lifeblood of democracy - but having fewer voices means we are vulnerable to vested interests. Journalists are the principal carriers of the lifeblood of democracy - but having fewer voices means we are vulnerable to vested interests. AAP

Fewer voices, less democracy - is this really the media we want?

“A newspaper is a private enterprise owing nothing whatsoever to the public, which grants it no franchise. It is therefore affected with no public interest.” - William Peter Hamilton, a former publisher…
No longer a free-for-all: how will paywalls affect the content of Fairfax’s news websites? No longer a free-for-all: how will paywalls affect the content of Fairfax’s news websites?

In the digital age, paywalls will force a paper tiger to formulate a content strategy

As a graduate student at the University of Sydney in the 1980s, I worked with a professor who had over 15 years of copies of The Economist in his office. Stacked from floor to ceiling in the corner office…
Rinehart will experience push-back from Fairfax staff if she tries to change the paper’s editorial direction. Rinehart will experience push-back from Fairfax staff if she tries to change the paper’s editorial direction. AAP/Julian Smith

Why does Gina Rinehart want control of Fairfax?

It is elementary that most business investors seek to make money. But Gina Rinehart’s investment in Fairfax is not aimed at a financial return. There are a hundred other, healthier companies where this…
Long-time friend of Gina Rinehart, John Singleton believes she should be able to influence editorial decisions at Fairfax. Long-time friend of Gina Rinehart, John Singleton believes she should be able to influence editorial decisions at Fairfax. AAP

With Gina poised, a new class of conservative elites now rule the roost

For years, in the tabloid media and on talkback radio, we’ve been hearing about the domination of Australian politics by a “new class” of left-wing “cultural elites”, but the Rinehart ascendancy at Fairfax…
Trust in the media is at the heart of issues around Gina Rinehart, Fairfax and editorial independence. Trust in the media is at the heart of issues around Gina Rinehart, Fairfax and editorial independence. AAP

Basically, the fight around Fairfax is about who we should trust

Amid indications that Fairfax is going into the corporate death spiral – ongoing disinvestment resulting in smaller market share - we’re asking the wrong questions about the future of the Australian media…
Malcolm Fraser and Gough Whitlam joined forces to protect the independence of The Age in Melbourne’s Fitzroy Gardens in 1991. Malcolm Fraser and Gough Whitlam joined forces to protect the independence of The Age in Melbourne’s Fitzroy Gardens in 1991. maintainyourage.org

Malcolm Fraser: Does it matter who owns our papers? Yes it does

The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald have maintained editorial independence since the foundation of the newspapers. It is an important principle of all great newspapers, but it is a principle that will…
Fairfax Media’s Melbourne’s printing operations in Tullamarine will be closed down under a radical restructure of the company. Fairfax Media’s Melbourne’s printing operations in Tullamarine will be closed down under a radical restructure of the company. AAP

Death by 1,900 cuts: will quality journalism thrive under Fairfax’s new model?

It was less than ten years ago that Fairfax Media’s The Age opened its shiny, new printing presses at Tullamarine. Billed at the time as “state-of-the-art”, the then Premier Steve Bracks opened the $220…
Fairfax Media needs a patron - and the one on offer is Gina Rinehart. Fairfax Media needs a patron - and the one on offer is Gina Rinehart. AAP

Fairfax is broke and dying before our eyes - it needs Gina

Every business needs paying customers. Who those paying customers are varies from business to business. The single largest paying customer for Australian universities, for example, is the federal government…
Gina Rinehart is poised to seize control of Fairfax. Gina Rinehart is poised to seize control of Fairfax. AAP

Fairfax or Gina-fax? Let’s have the debate before it’s over

The next two weeks will be defining moments for Australia. It’s when Fairfax is likely to morph into Gina-fax. On Tuesday Gina Rinehart, the world’s richest woman, is expected to confirm that she has acquired…
If your morning newspaper disappeared, would you miss it? If your morning newspaper disappeared, would you miss it? flickr/NS Newsflash

Will we miss our daily newspaper?

The hares are running on the proposition that the Fairfax Media board is considering a medium-term plan to give up on printed Monday to Friday editions of its main mastheads in favour of a digital-only…

Research and News (6)