December 04, 2013

Horse 1574 - The Newsprint Supernova

When a star is in the process of dying, the generally accepted theory is that after it has run out of hydrogen to fuse into helium, it begins to contract; becomes hotter, smaller and denser, throws off ejecta and fuses helium into heavier elements.
Is it analoguous to when a media organisation is in the process of dying?

Certainly we've seen both News and Fairfax throw off ejecta like sub-editors, in house photographers and many many decent journalists and I think that it's fair to say that News in particular is becoming hotter, smaller and denser. Instead of writing proper news articles, it now spends a lot of time, ragging on the ABC who it sees as a competitor and the Labor Party who it also sees as an enemy.
Yet whose fault is it that both News and Fairfax are visibly in the process of dying? Well...

In Australia, circulation of all daily metropolitan newspapers peaked in 1981. This is curious since television was introduced in Australia in 1956; so if the peak was 25 years later, television can't have been to blame. If the blame doesn't lie with television, where does it lie?
It's curious that in just four years between 1988 and 1992, every single daily evening edition was axed. All of them; that's going to have a significant impact on circulation figures. If people can not but a thing any more then it obviously stands to reason that number of sales of that thing will be nil; since daily evening editions of newspapers were included in total newspaper circulation figures, then those figures must fall.

I find it odd that in The Australia for instance, whilst it's busy putting the boot into the ABC whereever it can, it gladly will stand with its other boot on the flailing body of its rival Fairfax:
FAIRFAX boss Greg Hywood yesterday dismissed the threat of online competition from the ABC against his media group and News Corp Australia as "hypothetical" as he set out how he plans to manage the transformation of the business.
"We are focusing on what we do and are not interested in what the ABC is doing," he said. "We are of the view the ABC is part of the news and information landscape and has been for years and will continue to be.
"They are . . . providing information online and there's nothing that says in the ABC that it has to be via radio or television (and) if it is online so be it. They will continue to fulfil their charter through whatever technology they have available."
- The Australian, 26th Oct 2013.

The thing is that whilst Fairfax doesn't see the ABC as a threat, clearly The Australian does:
THE ABC emerges from the Indonesian spy scandal a diminished organisation, morally compromised and journalistically discredited. The problem is not that the ABC published stories which contained confidential national security information. Every decent media organisation does that from time to time.
The problem is actually the reverse. The ABC did not behave as a credible media organisation. Credible media organisations do not act as the handmaidens of competitor news organisations to amplify and dramatise their competitors' scoops. They may well report on those scoops, but the ABC did something altogether different. It emerges as an organisation lacking effective accountability and with a leadership that is hopelessly confused and amateurish about how to behave when dealing with serious national security issues.
- The Australian, 30th Nov 2013.

What better way to attack a percieved threat than with an ad hominem attack. All this goes on whilst the former editor Luke McIlveen, defects to the Australian arm of the Daily Mail's website where presumably he'll be in charge of all those stories about things that will give you cancer.

Realistically, with the split of the former News Corporation into Twenty-First Century Fox Inc and News Corp. (which includes the former News Corp's newspaper and book publishing businesses including News UK, News Corp Australia and Dow Jones & Company) on June 28 of this year, it heralded what I think are the opening signals of more things to be ejected from the group.
I've already heard rumours from News Corp Australia's offices at Holt St that the mood inside the building is becoming more and more nasty as it becomes hotter, smaller and denser.

Personally I have a theory that News Corp Australia won't last very long beyond the death of Rupert Murdoch. The Australian in particular is his baby, having been personally started by him in 1964. After Rupert goes, would the company want to keep printing things on dead trees anymore? I doubt it. I'm going to make a bold prediction and suggest that by the next federal election, there will be no physical daily newspapers in print in Australia.
Like a star is in the process of dying, print will be another bit of ejecta thrown off.

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