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15 responses to “End days for dead paper and “Murdochracy”?”

  1. paul walter

    Is circulation the same as readership when few hundred thou token paper artifacts when the readership expands by hundreds of thousands or millions from forms of electronic media that diffuse or coagulate the audience?
    I suppose what control the source owners have over delivery is one factor, if control of content is exploitable and exploited.
    In Murdoch’s case we may be seeing someone in the process of losing this asset, like a kid having its toy taken from it. Like Lear, he seems on his travels, with Wendy Deng doing a fiesty Cordelia. But the fortress is still a long way from being down and it’s the culture that must be changed, (Mirror allegations?) not the facade.
    But as Guy points out, it is a deeply gratifying thing to have the Grauniad vindicated and Tabloid sleaze is so rarely exposed for what it is until its complacent overtness reveals darker elements within culture as to power structures and distribution of value that contradict the given wisdom. But it goes further.
    The Guardian’s win vindicates broadsheet in demonstrating the extent to which tabloid culture can wreck the very base, beyond superstructure, because its attack is on knowledge, the defacto currency of meaning fuliving and the concept and discipline of wisdom as these default to fear and an urge to control.
    But wait.
    Might some feel the above an example of “cultural marxism”?
    Methinks I’ll steal away…
    You know what they do to “cultural marxists” these days.

  2. m0nty

    The Herald-Sun is down 5% in circulation year-on-year on May 2011 figures. I read someone in the Age yesterday attributing that to the recent trend of the Hun following the Oz’s lead in becoming a campaigning newspaper, though that’s possibly overegging the pudding.

  3. Mercurius

    We can live in hope that the stink from the UK will at least get some Aussie politicians to grow some backbone when it comes to their own dealings with journalists. I’m not talking about what goes on in door-stops and press conferences, but rather the ‘backgrounding’ and cultivation of clandestine ‘contacts’ that infests the Canberra press gallery and state MPs.

    The recent alignment of The Australian masthead editorial with opposition party policy positions (anti-NBN, anti-Carbon Tax, anti-RSPT, anti-BER, anti-roof insulation, anti-Henry Tax Review, anti-Malaysia “solution”, anti-live exports suspension, anti-CSIRO, anti-Treasury) has been breathtaking.

    It’s fine for a newspaper to give the government curry — and The Australian was very tough in its pursuit of the AWB scandal — but this craven proseltysing of every Coalition policy position and talking point (The Greens must be destroyed at the ballot box! Bob Brown is running the country!) is as corrosive to democracy as was Pravda.

    And this state of affairs has only come about because politicians perceive the Murdochs to be Kingmakers. Once that perception is dispelled, the impetus for all the media collusion dies away. And the result would be better scrutiny of government by a disinterested and non-partisan media; coupled with better policy-making from politicians who don’t keep one eye glued to Newspoll and one ear glued to Sky News.

  4. John D
  5. paul walter

    #4, Now we have a glimpse of what journalists would write if they thought they were free of scrutiny- Hartcher unchained!

  6. Aidan

    If I were a financial advisor or a stock market activist, I would have some serious concerns about the transparency of the dealings of the various family members perched around the top of the News hierarchy, and advising my clients accordingly.

    Pardon me for being skeptical that this might come to pass. It has long been obvious that News Corp was not interested in good corporate governance. They have voting and non-voting shares which are designed to give Murdoch’s control of the company whilst happily taking the cash of sucker investors. The voting shares trade at a 3% premium. I don’t think investors have historically cared much how transparent News Corp might be. Their only concern is their money. If that looks in danger, then yes there might be repercussions.

  7. Adrien

    When News of the World published its final edition, with all proceeds going to charity, it had trouble finding charities willing to accept its money


    That’s really funny.

    The details of recent formal and informal meetings between the Prime Minister and the Treasurer with members of the Murdoch family are now being pored over with genuine distrust and disdain in the public, rather than the indifference that is typical.

    To what extent are these little confabs ever pored over? Right now News Ltd gets it but these private little meetings between the private and public wings of corporatocracy are standard ways of doing business. Tony Blair met with Wal-Mart in camera and decided to reorganize the commercial districts of regional UK for mutual convenience. Anyone drag the corrupt little meglomaniac out of his chair and cover him chocolate and ants?

    Hell no.

    Easy to demonize Count Rupe but there’s a lot more of this about and no-one is innocent.

  8. Adrien

    And after BSkyB’s collapse and this I’d be very surprised if Rupe ain’t finished. The brood don’t have it. So goodbye News Ltd as we’ve known it. What a damn shame. I’ve always wondered what it was like to read Pravda in 1951 and thanks to the Herald-Sun I know.

  9. Guy

    m0nty #2 – For whatever reason, in Sydney and Melbourne the Daily Telegraph and the Herald Sun are seen by many people as the “default newspaper” to buy, and its difficult to see that changing, even as circulation slowly declines. At least in NSW and Victoria we have a bit of a choice given that Fairfax has a bigger presence – the other states aren’t so lucky!

    Mercurius #3 – The Oz is truly awful these days – it is no longer worth trying to engage with.

    Aidan #6 – You’re probably right there – I guess I am making the assumption that the market might actually do its job. 😉

    Adrien #7 – One good thing to come out of this is in the UK is that it looks like meetings between senior members of the Government and media proprietors are likely to be subject to much more public scrutiny. For example, David Cameron spent some of Christmas last year with Rebekah Brooks on a “social basis” near Chipping Norton; sure they might be friends, but eyebrows are raised when such close relationships are maintained to such a level in light of their respective roles.

  10. Adrien

    One good thing to come out of this is in the UK is that it looks like meetings between senior members of the Government and media proprietors are likely to be subject to much more public scrutiny.

    I have a most sincere lack of optimism. How do you stop these cozy chats reliably? Especially considering that they are bipartisan events. What I’d like to know is, going back to Tony Blair (yeah, sorry I don’t like the guy), how the hell does a British PM meet with a retail chain’s grey men in camera.

    One answer is that the Labour supporters let him. The Conservatives don;t make a fuss because they’re just as bad.

    A lot of Republican supporters would spew chips if the Democrats did this.

    These people should be in jail.

  11. Zorronsky

    “These people should be in jail.”
    At least!

  12. Keithy

    DICK SMITH has warned us that even the ABC sells the propaganda of unsustainable Perpetual Economic Growth.

    This is why he didn’t partake in selling the Carbon Tax: otherwise his reputation would have been ground into the dirt by the Murdoch press so that no one would listen to his more general and much more important warning!!


  13. Bill Posters

    I read someone in the Age yesterday attributing that to the recent trend of the Hun following the Oz’s lead in becoming a campaigning newspaper, though that’s possibly overegging the pudding.

    That’s part of it. But probably a bigger reason is that there’s simply less in the Hun these days. It has steadily been shedding staff, the pictures are bigger and there are fewer words. More celebrities, less hard news. All this at a time when there are more media choices than ever. Couple that with a general tone of nastiness and you can see how the appeal would fade.

  14. Brian

    I’ve been wondering about how the newspaper division, which I recall Murdoch saying comprised 200 titles, sits in News Corp. You can find the annual reports here.

    Seems that newspapers are one of seven divisions and make up about 19% of revenue. If you take the four electronic divisions, they make up 65% of revenue.

    Newspapers are only about 13% of profits, before impairments, which exceeded profits in 2009. Not sure what the story was there – probably write-downs of asset value.

  15. Guy

    Adrien #10 – Well due to the ongoing inquiries, senior members of the Coalition have been legally compelled to disclose all formal and informal meetings with Murdoch et al – and have done so. So it’s not necessarily unworkable if disclosure legislation is put in place.

    Brian #14 – News of the World was apparently Murdoch’s most profitable rag, if I recall correctly, and even then it only made something like £30 million profit last year. Small fry compared to the billions being pulled in by BSkyB (which Murdoch was trying to get his hands on), which is probably why it wasn’t necessarily such a financially destructive decision to kill off the paper.