Archive for March, 2009

Paper, TV stations merge newsroom

March 31, 2009

AMERICA’S oldest, continuously published newspaper is merging its newsroom with two TV stations in an effort to cut costs and survive the downturn.

The Hartford Courant will combine news operations with WTIC-TV and WTXX-TV – all of which are based in Connecticut and owned by the Tribune, publisher of the Chicago Tribune and currently using America’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection laws to stop it going under.

The Pulitzer prize-winning Courant has lost its editor and now a TV executive has its publisher.

“This is the future of media,” the Tribune’s chief operating officer, Randy Michaels, said in a statement.

The Tribune also runs the LA Times, Baltimore Sun and 23 other TV stations around America.

Yesterday was a significant day for the American newspaper industry with major changes being implemented in Detroit, New York and Washington.

The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press both began giving out newspapers for free in their city centre, having decided to cut major editions to three days a week.

For the first time in memory, the Washington Post went to press without a business section – a strategy in part to ensure financial news is in the front of the paper, and also to cut newsprint costs. It will not print daily stock updates. It has also cutback on its cartoons, though its normal selection remains available online.

Meanwhile the International Herald Tribune – a popular national read in America, as well as having good distribution in Europe, South American and Asia – has launched a redesign. It has put a much greater emphasis on the word “international”, according to reports from Associated Press.

Perhaps more significantly, its website has now been merged with its sister paper, the New York Times. The Herald Tribune’s site now looks identical to the NYT, and online editors of both titles can select stories from either newsroom.

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Brisbane website gets facelift

March 30, 2009

Australia’s first stand-alone online newspaper website, brisbanetimes.com.au, has had a facelift to celebrate its second birthday.

Since its launch in April 2007, brisbanetimes.com.au has grown its monthly unique browsers by 158 per cent* and today it reaches over 812,000 UBs per month.

To augment its focus on local breaking news, the site now shares a content distribution system with smh.com.au, theage.com.au and WAtoday.com.au, which allows it to publish breaking news in a matter of seconds.

The new-look site, developed following extensive customer feedback, also includes a new section for video news on the homepage, an expanded entertainment and lifestyle section, and the addition of Business Day for comprehensive business news and views as it happens.

Its coverage of the Queensland election (21-22nd March) drove a 41 per cent increase in traffic as Queenslanders followed Pemier Anna Bligh’s surprise victory in the polls online, in real time.

Fairfax Digital General Manager – Media, Jane Huxley, said: “This redesign is the first in a series of enhancements we are making to brisbanetimes.com.au this year.

“Beyond promoting further brand consistency across the Fairfax Digital network, the redesign is part of Fairfax Digital’s strategy to strengthen our video and mobile offerings, for the benefit of our viewers and advertisers alike.”

The new look brisbanetimes.com.au will be supported by a significant investment in above-the-line marketing, including outdoor advertising, radio and ambient media.

Minister launches probe into Fairfax scoop

March 27, 2009

SKY news is reporting the Australian Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has launched an investigation into how Fairfax newspapers obtained information about an internal investigation into himself.

The investigation, conducted without the minister’s knowledge, is said to focus on locating the source of information following internal Defence Department probe into the business dealings of its own minister.

Mr Fitzgibbon is said to have a relationship with a Chinese-born businesswomen, Helen Hui. This as first reported in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Media reports say the relationship between Mr Fitzgibbon and his department has collapsed. The Australian Prime Minister, Mr Kevin Rudd, said while in the US that he expected Mr Fitzgibbon to “lift his game”.

The investigation comes just a few days after the Special Minister for State, Senator John Faulkner, outlined draft legislation to protect whistleblowers in government so they may avoid prosection or workplace persecution in circumstances of public interest.

APN consolidates subs for 14 regionals

March 26, 2009

MOVES have started to consolidate the editorial production operations of 14 Australian regional newspapers owned by APN News and Media.

A central subbing desk is being established at the offices of the Sunshine Coast Daily in Queensland. The operation will follow a similar model that the company established in New Zealand two years ago.

The desk will also handle some 60 other local publications, although key designers will be retained at the various offices to ensure each publication maintain their own identity. For example, the Daily Examiner in Grafton and Yamba will retain a small subbing resource to work on key pages.

The move would “protect” newspapers in regional Queensland and New South Wales that were struggling to hire good quality sub-editors, said APN Australia Chief Executive, Mark Jamieson, a former PANPA board member.

We also believe the new centralised operation will lead to improved quality and efficiency,” he said.

The transition will take 14 months. Some 110 staff have been affected by the changes but there would be no redundancies, Mr Jamieson promised.

Press freedom fighters welcome FOI move

March 25, 2009

THE Australia’s Right to Know coalition has welcomed the federal government’s draft legislation to significantly reform Australia’s Freedom of Information regime.

The media coalition said that while the ultimate test of the new regime will only be fully apparent once it takes effect, “the spirit and intent of the legislation is extremely encouraging”.

“The government has crafted a comprehensive package of initiatives that, if faithfully implemented, will fundamentally alter the culture of disclosure within government and the public service.”

Cautionary tale: Tabloid apologises over photos

March 23, 2009

EARNING editorial coverage from around the world, the editor of The Sunday Telegraph has apologised to Australian politician Pauline Hanson for publishing photos of a nude women and claiming them to be of her.

Ms Hanson has threatened legal action.

Yesterday, editor Neil Breen apologised in his own newspaper, publishing the headline “Hanson pics were one giant con”.

Its rival publication, the Sydney Morning Herald, publishes a large p5 photo-story today, showing how the editions of The Sunday Telegraph changed as it became increasingly clear a mistake had been made.

Its first headline stated: “Photo gurus: Majority rule it’s not Pauline.” By the end of the print run, the “giant con” headline was preferred.

Mr Breen is quoted in sister News Ltd newspapers today as saying: “We’ve proven it to ourselves. So, Pauline, I’m sorry.”

The story has gained global coverage, including an article on the BBC website.

Dow Jones angry at Singapore contempt finding

March 20, 2009

A S$10,000 fine has been handed to a Wall Street Journal senior editor over three articles that were found to have insulted Singapore’s judiciary.

 

New York-based Melanie Kirkpatrick was found to have been in contempt for allowing the newspaper to question the integrity of city courts.

 

She had been the editor overseeing two editorials and a comment piece by Chee Soon Juan of the opposition Democratic Party, in the Asian Wall St Journal in mid-2008.

 

Last November, the newspaper was found to have been in contempt and was ordered to pay S$30,000 in legal costs. The ruling against Ms Kirkpatrick was handed down yesterday with the S$20,000 legal bill.

 

The newspaper owner, Dow Jones, condemned the action against an individual editor, saying it was “regrettable” the government had been determined to pursue an individual. Initially, the Attorney-General had intended to pursue two of Ms Kirkpatrick’s colleagues as well.

 

The company statement said neither Ms Kirkpatrick nor the company agreed with the “the substance of the charges or the contempt judgment”.

 

Dow Jones would continue to defend the right “to report and comment on matters of international importance, including matters concerning Singapore”.

 

The Government has argued the case – and those similar to it involving foreign publications – was essential to maintain the reputation of the country.

 

Reporters Without Borders said earlier in an Agence France-Presse report that the action showed a “chronic inability to tolerate criticism”.

Fairfax chief restructures operations

March 18, 2009

THE new chief executive of Fairfax Media, Brian McCarthy, has put his stamp on the organisation with a management shake-up and restructure announced this afternoon.

He has grouped the business units around core functions, ending a structure under previous CEO David Kirk in which some worked autonomously.

Arguably the most significant move is to have what Mr McCarthy called a “new framework of co-operation across print and online”.

He told staff in an internal memo that he would bring the online sites – Drive, My Career and Domain – under a combined print and online model in all their markets. The move was a result of “listening to customers” and would provide “better customer service”.

Support functions, such as trade marketing and promotion, would be “optimised”, he said.

In the internal memo, he said Fairfax Media had “many strengths… excellent brands, strong circulations, growing audiences and talented staff”.

He noted the company was diversified across print, digital and radio. “This has helped us withstand the present economic conditions and will help us benefit from the upturn when it comes,” he told staff.

Mr McCarthy said he had not needed to bring in anyone external to shore up the management team, saying this “shows the strength and depth” within the organisation.

One of the major changes is the appointment of Allen Williams to be publisher of Fairfax New Zealand – the country’s second largest publisher after APN News and Media. Mr Williams, who is treasurer of PANPA, succeds Ms Joan Withers, who announced her retirement last week. She leaves in July.

Key Appointments:

Lloyd Whish-Wilson – Sydney Publishing
Don Churchill – Melbourne Publishing
Jack Matthews – Fairfax Digital
Bob Lockley – Printing and Logistics
Michael Gill – Fairfax Business Media
Allan Browne – Australian Regional Publishing
Grant Cochrane – Agricultural Publishing
Allen Williams – New Zealand Publishing
Ken Nichols – Regional NSW / ACT Publishing
Graham Mott – Radio

The key corporate roles go to:
Gail Hambly – Group General Counsel and Company Secretary
Brian Cassell – CFO
Tim Mannes – IT Manager
Frank Reed – Training and Development
Michelle Williams – HR
Phil McLean – Group Executive Editor

New Editor in the West

March 18, 2009

THE West Australian, in one of the most anticipated editorial appointments in the region, has selected former News Ltd journalist Brett McCarthy as its new editor.

McCarthy, 42, was previously a six-year editor of The Sunday Times – another Perth newspaper. He left the role in 2007 to work with his wife in their small business.

Editor-in-Chief Bob Cronin said he was the “right age for the job” and had the necessary “skills” and “work ethic”.

Mr McCarthy spent five years earlier in the decade working as an editor for the Sydney-based Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph.

Post stops business section lift-out

March 18, 2009

THE Washington Post is to stop printing a separate business section – at a time when an increasing percentage of coverage focuses on economic issues.

The Post said in a statement that business news would now get a higher profile in its A section. The closure of the business section will also result in savings from newsprint reduction.

It has also dropped the markets listings from Tuesday to Saturday, preferring to run a daily half-page of indices from sources such as Dow Jones and Reuters.