Digest: Ad crackdowns, the winding Blue Freeway, and the old journalistic model; Harto in quarantine

For a bank holiday when a fair chunk of the media industry will be thinking about anything other than the media industry, it was a pleasant surprise to see that The Australian has put the effort in with today media and marketing section.  

And the busy bee of the week award goes to Lara Sinclair, who’s written two of the most exhaustive items of the edition.

The first is a comprehensive analysis of the wave of government inquiries that could have an impact on freedom to advertise. It has felt like a while as though there’s a new report or investigation ever other week – and for the first time (that I’ve seen), Sinclair rounds them all up. It’s a daunting list, and arguably one that many within the industry are currently sleepwalking through.

Her second big piece is a round-up of the Blue Freeway saga – the two-and-a-half year adventure that’s likely to end with the Australian digital services group going into private hands later this month. However, one still has the feeling that there are still major parts of this story that haven’t yet reached the public domain. If only former CEO Richard Webb could be persuaded to write a book about it…

Still on the front page of The Oz’s media section , and there’s a roundup of those within media who’ve been recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours. Prominent among them is former 60 Minutes journo Ian Leslie.

And the paper also gives Crikey’s Jonathan Green a chance to make his case for independent online journalism. In an opinion piece, he says:

“Coming here was a breath of fresh and journalistically earnest air after years at papers whose editors put senior management meetings before editorial conferences, papers whose physical composition was determined by revenue streams rather than reader interest, papers whose editorial costs and necessities were most often seen as the one significant impediment to an otherwise cracking business model.”

 And journalism colleges are beginning to react to the changing model by putting more emphasis on digital says the paper. And in another take on the future of journalism, the paper reports on the Foundation for Public Interest Journalism, which is looking at new ways of funding quality journalism in Australia.

Meanwhile, life got a little tougher for magazines, with a sudden increase in the price of posting, says the paper.

But columnist Mark Day has remarkably philosophical advice:

“Rather than fret about the future we should all take a chill pill. It will all work out. Those who can call the shots and pull the ropes to ring in the changes will do so because their self-interest dictates that they should.”

But if one wants news about The Australian, then best to turn to Fairfax’s Sydney Morning Herald’s Diary, which reports that The Oz’s editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell and News Ltd boss John Hartigan went through a swine flu quarantine period last week so as not to risk giving anything nasty to staff. However, as the paper observes that their reason for being overseas was a budget meeting, other nasty things may yet be in store for staff. Indeed, a clue may come from another item within the SMH, warning that the jobs axe is to fall at Murdoch’s MySpace.

But before media types get too gloomy, there’s better news in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph today. The paper reports the monthly update on the Olivier Job Index. It says that in May, the number of advertising and media job ads actually increased by nearly 12%, the only sector to not see a decline.

Tim Burrowes


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