Archive for January, 2009

TV gets a jump in mobile news race

January 30, 2009

MOBILE phone users may soon be able to watch live television anywhere, anytime, after trials began for digital video broadcasting to mobiles in Australia, the ABC reported.

The technology would mean users could view TV channels on the move, including news programs, at the same time as someone at home would see their TV through a set top box.

The footage would arrive ‘over the air’ rather than the current method of receiving some content, such as Test Cricket and V8 Supercars, which relies on downloads through the 3G network. No data package downloads would be required – users would simply have to tune in to their desired station.

Existing handsets are being used in the trial, the report said.

If the trials are successful, the development could place TV networks in pole position to satisfy the mobile audience’s thirst for news on the go ahead of rivals such as newspapers.

To watch a video broadcast about this story, click here.

Show me the money – CEOs to address markets

January 29, 2009

THE financial reporting season begins next week with the industry’s two new chief executives – Fairfax Media’s Brian McCarthy and West Australian Newspapers’ Chris Wharton – to take the podium to address shareholders and market analysts.

The forecasts of WAN and Fairfax Media are seen as bellwether statements for economic activity.

The last round of fiscal reports were provided by CEOs who are no longer on the scene – WAN’s Ken Steinke and Fairfax Media’s David Kirk, who incidentally took Australian citizenship last week and stated his intention to stay in the country.

(more…)

Editor buys her own paper

January 27, 2009

FORMER editor of the Wanganui Chronicle Kirsty Macnicol has bought a newspaper of her own – The Fiordland Flyer – in the Southland of New Zealand.

The newspaper has changed its name to the Fiordland Advocate and has been distributed to local homes every Friday since January 9.

Previously, the newspaper was an advertising pamphlet.

Kirsty heads up the journalism side of the business while husband David Pickett will sell the ads. The office will be based in Te Anau.

Editor of the PANPA award-winning Wanganui Chronicle since 2006, Kirsty has previously worked on the Southland Times for 15 years.

Our picture comes from the Advocate’s Flickr photo site, displaying Kirsty’s first front page.

The first front page of the Fiordland Advocate

The first front page of the Fiordland Advocate

APN sale off the table, says key shareholder

January 27, 2009

THE immediate future of APN News and Media – one of the major publishers of newspapers in New Zealand and Australia – has been clarified.

 

Its 39.1 percent stakeholder, Independent News & Media (INM) has issued a statement saying it will retain its shareholding.

 

Last October, the company said it had had offers and, as a consequence, was  openly seeking expressions of interest for its Auckland and Brisbane-based operations.

 

In New Zealand, APN publishes the New Zealand Herald, Herald on Sunday, The Aucklander, as well as nine regional newspapers, 40 local titles and magazines such as NZ Woman’s Weekly and The Listener. In Australia, APN publishes regional and local newspapers, including the Sunshine Coast Daily and the Queensland Times. The company, the largest media operator in New Zealand, also owns more than 120 radio stations there.

 

The APN statement said: “We note the comment by INM that there was significant interest in APN and its quality portfolio of media assets, and the fact that the process instituted by INM in October has been impacted by the difficult credit markets globally.”

 

The move had been the subject of speculation that the INM had received bids trying to cherry-pick the premium assets but the company had wanted to sell its shareholding as a total package. The European-based company has subsequently denied that it will try to sell assets in the Northern Hemisphere for a cash injection.

625 jobs go at print press giant

January 23, 2009

LEADING newspaper press manufacturer, Germany’s manroland, is to cut 625 jobs globally as it adapts to the financial crisis and downturn in the newspaper and print markets.

 

Manroland has extensive business interests with newspapers in Australia, New Zealand and Asia, and it is the key supplier of presses to News Ltd.

 

No local jobs will be lost as part of the action. Manroland had been seriously affected by the “reluctance of customers to invest”, the company said in a statement. Orders last year declined “around 20 percent” although the company remained profitable.

 

A company statement said 515 jobs would be cut in “indirect functions in the Sheet-fed Press Business Sector and 110 jobs in indirect functions in the Web Press Business Sector over the years 2009 and 2010”.

 

It will close its Mainhausen factory and move product lines assembled there to the main sheet-fed press factory in Offenbach.

 

The statement said: “The objective of the personnel adjustments is to comply with the existing supplementary wage agreement and thus do without redundancy due to business operations. To safeguard the company’s long-term performance, manroland must align factory and fixed cost structures and thus its cost basis to the difficult situation. Constructive discussions have commenced with the employees’ representatives.”

 

In its sheet-fed printing systems sector, staff have been on short-time working since last 1 October in production administration at its Offenbach and Mainhausen locations. That practice will begin at is Augsberg web press operations in March.

 

Manroland has 8,656 employees worldwide (as of 31 December 2008). At the production sites in Germany, 2,494 people are employed in Offenbach, 285 in Mainhausen, 3,055 in Augsburg and 890 in Plauen, with a further 1,932 employed in subsidiary companies in Germany and abroad.

Obama boosts sales and web traffic

January 22, 2009

AFTERNOON wrap-arounds and spikes in traffic on leading newspaper websites marked the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States yesterday.

Newspapers put on extra staff and ran true 24-hour newsrooms to make sure their readers across the region did not miss a moment.

In Sydney, arch-rivals The Daily Telegraph and Sydney Morning Herald put out afternoon editions to catch the commuters. The Telegraph invested marketing dollars in spruiking its special on commercial radio stations – a strategy that would have also helped the Herald’s sales figures at the newsagent.

Other souvenir editions featured in the many cities of Australia and New Zealand and early indications are that newspaper sales increased as a result.

Coverage also marked a growing management maturity within the editorial departments, as online and print colleagues combined to ensure an integrated coverage and resisted the temptation to duplicate projects.

“The inauguration demonstrated that we are getting much better at planning who does what across the network of News Limited mastheads,” said the editor of news.com.au, David Higgins. “So, rather than seven sites producing seven identical picture galleries, we have more journalists assigned to unique projects, which is a better result for our readers.”

His website had six journalists working through the night. “One of the most pleasing parts of the process,” said Mr Higgins, “was seeing all of News Limited’s mastheads work together to co-ordinate editorial and multimedia content for the network for online and print.”

News Ltd colleague Nic Hopkins, of The Australian, said his newspaper had “people on from 3am with correspondents filing from 3.30am out of Washington.”

“We have seen an estimated 30 per cent increase in traffic, with much of that caused by strong Google representation, a large number of picture galleries and a higher-than-average volume of videos, plus we completely changed our homepage template to provide saturation coverage of the inauguration,” Mr Hopkins said.

“This met or even slightly exceeded our expectations.”

Back at news.com.au, Mr Higgins said: “I can tell you that Tuesday was the biggest day of the year so far for news.com.au with about 650,000 total unique visitors — and we expect Wednesday’s figures to be in excess of that.”

Mr Higgins said he would not know the final figures until later Thursday, “but our servers have been working over-time”.

Another News Ltd property, Brisbane’s couriermail.com.au, reported a “marginal increase in page impressions (with) unique visitors about average”. Editor John Grey said the increase was in “our normal main traffic times, not overnight”.

“We had a news editor from online updating the site and a print team preparing a souvenir print edition for inner-city counter sales,” Mr Gray said.

At Fairfax Media, online editor-in-chief Mike Van Niekerk, who has charge over the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age of Melbourne, said: “I can’t give you accurate figures just at this time.

“Events such as the presidential inauguration are significant new events that we will always do something special for, for our readers. All I can say is that we had additional staff overnight to work on our coverage.”

News’s global sites pitch for local ads

January 21, 2009

The chief commercial officer of News Digital Media, Ed Smith, today announced that the company has become the exclusive online sales representative in Australia for six of News Corporation’s international websites, including sites of The Wall Street Journal Digital Network.

Anyone with an Australian IP address visiting these sites will have advertisements from Australian advertisers displayed to them.

The six sites are:
The Wall Street Journal
MarketWatch
Barron’s

• The Times (of London) –
• The Sun – www.thesun.co.uk
• New York Post – www.nypost.com

Mr Smith said that the addition of these six world-renowned websites would boost News Digital Media’s business offering in the market.

“WSJ.com, with its finger on the pulse of the global economy and its unmatched coverage of the current economic crisis, is attracting over 150,000 of Australia’s top business and thought leaders and policy and decision makers.

“The Wall Street Journal is the world’s most respected and recognised financial news source. Combining this with The Times business pages and our recently relaunched Australian Business website, News Digital Media now has one of the most attractive online business products in the market.

“The quality of the aggregated Australian audiences visiting these sites is arguably unmatched in the international marketplace and we are confident that we will be able to deliver advertisers exposure to Australia’s most influential business and policy makers.”

These agreements follow News Digital Media becoming the exclusive Australian representative of the country’s largest online sports stable, comprising ESPN’s websites ESPNCricInfo.com, ESPNSoccernet.com and ESPNScrum.com.

‘Rumourtrage’ accusation hits business journalism

January 21, 2009

PRESSURE on press freedoms has emerged in the first weeks of 2009 with a complaint issued by Consolidated Media to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) about an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, claiming it was an example of so-called rumourtrage.

Journalist Elizabeth Knight had speculated on the reasons for a financial move by James Packer – a common enough practice in markets reporting.

This style of journalism is now under a cloud.

ASIC is investigating several other, non-media examples of rumourtrage. It is concerned about the practice being exploited by short-sellers to favourably manipulate prices. In a speech last year, not related to the complaint against the Herald, ASIC chairman Tony D’Alosio described this new term as “potential insider trading” or “market manipulation”.

He said rumourtrage was the second greatest challenge to the market after the loss of confidence from the global financial crisis. ASIC had “deterence teams” that would be dedicated to rumourtrage for the “next 12 to 18 months”. There was no suggestion at the time that such an initiative was taken to curb journalists, but the complaint now makes that a possibility.

Concerns of press freedoms continue to be voiced in other areas of society. Six of the leading newspaper associations, including PANPA, have written to the Australian Government, expressing concern about rules being imposed for media accreditation by Cricket Australia.

PANPA is also concerned the Australian Football League will, for a second season, refuse access to AAP photographers because of an arrangement with another company. This has served to prevent pictures being provided to regional and rural newspapers because of the additional costs it entails.

The Australian Government is to shortly release exposure draft legislation addressing FOI reform. Special Minister of State John Faulkner said the Bill would strengthen the right to obtain documents under the FOI Act and the Archives Act, promoting transparency and accountability of government.

Entries open for $20k journalism award

January 21, 2009

ENTRIES have opened for the $20,000 Graham Perkin Award for the Australian Journalist of the Year – the one of the nation’s most prestigious annual awards for professional excellence.

The award is open to journalists across the industry. Organisers have expressed concern that it is seen as open only at Fairfax Media because the award is in recognition of Graham Perkin, late editor of The Age (1966-1975).

The Graham Perkin Award was instituted in 1976. Previous winners have included Paul Kelly, Peter Wilson and Paul Toohey, all of The Australian, John Lyons, then of the now-closed Bulletin and Pamela Williams, of The Australian Financial Review.

The Award is open to any professional journalist whose work appears in any Australian newspaper or magazine in the previous year (2008).

Single contributions or a series of articles will be considered. The award may also be given for journalistic service in the public interest. Editors may also be nominated for outstanding leadership and campaigning.

The key judging criteria includes:
Overall excellence in the print medium,
Writing quality,
Investigative skills;
Impact and relevance;
Originality; and
Initiative.

A nomination letter, photo and three copies of the nominee’s work must be included. Self-nominations are welcome. For more information, contact Miranda Ramsay at The Age on Tel: (03) 9601 2661 or Email: MRamsay@theage.com.au. The winner will be announced at the Quill Awards of the Melbourne Press Club on March 20, at the Crown Palladium.

Fairfax “welcomes” Southern Star TV deal

January 20, 2009

FAIRFAX Media has sold its Southern Star television subsidiary for A$75 million to Dutch production company Endemol, it said in a statement.

Fairfax Chairman Ron Walker said: “This is a welcome transaction in a difficult market. The proceeds will be used to pay down debt and strengthen our balance sheet.”

The publisher will receive extra payments based on the performance of Southern Star.

The sale, which is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2009, follows Fairfax’s offloading of Carnival Film and Television Ltd to NBC Universal last year, netting the company around A$120 million in cash proceeds.

Fairfax acquired Southern Star, including Carnival, for A$150 million in 2007.