Media digest: Tabloid Australian?; How to give a leaving speech; Visiting firemen; Murdoch vs BBC; Get ready for a bigger Nielsen bill

Now, I’m not going to lie to you.

There’s not very much in the media and marketing sections today. There a few nuggets, but in all honesty, it’s a tad on the thin – and foreign – side.  

That becomes clear from the front page of the Australian’s Media section. It’s dominated by the weekend speech from James Murdoch, boss of the paper’s owner’s European and Asian operations. But it was mainly an attack on the “chilling” behaviour BBC for distorting the online market with its provision of news.

In other news from far away, the front page also reports on how a Chinese editor has been sacked, and how the co-founder of publisher Derwent Howard appears to have gone AWOL in Spain.

But in truth, the best stories come close to home in that they feature The Australian.

One of the more interesting ones of the week is that The Australian is to receive a facelift and marketing drive, reports Sally Jackson. Reading between the lines, it might even involve resizing the paper from broadsheet to tabloid or in-between Berliner size, either now, or later on. Jackson reports that “no one in the company would be drawn to talk further about the issue”. The story also mentions that The Oz’ s media section is going to be merged with its business section.

And then there’s a spectacular example of why the web is better for some things. Although Amanda Meade does her best, no written account of Australian journo Nick Tabakoff’s leaving song/ speech, could do justice to the video footage:


But Tabakoff, formerly business media writer on the Oz, leaves behind a team of pros. His former colleague Simon Canning deserves a special mention for a wonderful example of the Visiting Fireman genre. This usually follows a pattern familiar to many trade press journalists. The phone rings and the caller mentions that they’ve got a global bigwig in town. It’s generally one of those awkward calls because the person on the other end of the line is excited to have a visit from someone important to their organisation. But the journo’s heart sinks, because the visitor will know next to nothing about the market, and will probably at some point use the glib phrase “massive potential”. But Canning is clearly a kinder-hearted person than I, because he found time to chat to “Ericsson director of governemnt and industry relations in Sweden Rene Summer”. Mr Summer was kind enough to share his views on IPTV protocols.

Still with journalism, there’s an entertaining column from Business Spectator’s Alan Kohler, who hits backs at claims from Fairfax that his site has been plagiarising the AFR. Not only is it not doing so, he argues, but the abstracts of what other titles are saying do not even generate good traffic. (I know how he feels.) He reveals:

“The abstracts have turned out to be immaterial to our business model. They go largely unread and we’ll probably drop them soon for that reason. Our business model revolves entirely around the commentary we write ourselves and the news stories we write and buy from the wire services.”

The Oz also carries an obituary of the respected journalist Fred Brenchley, who died at the weekend.

Elsewhere, the paper carries the news that media agencies will love to hear – Nielsen is thinking of charging them more – this time for its upgrade to NetView.

And Nielsen also features in the AFR, where Neil Shoebridge reports some revealing data from the research company on how magazines are faring. The three magazines which have seen the biggest year-on-year drop in ad pages are all ACP titles. Cosmopolitan carried 19% less ads, , NW 17% less and House & Garden 16% less. Meanwhile Pacific Magazines appears to have been the beneficiary, with the publisher’s Better Homes & Gardens up 20% and That’s Life up 15%.

Tim Burrowes


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