News bashing

There is an ongoing hatred between the Australian left blogosphere and News Corp – The Australian in particular. To pick out just one example, here is John Quiggin having a go at the Oz.

If the Oz were a blogger, I’d be expecting about now to see the full meltdown post in which some combination of personal hell/substance abuse/mental illness is revealed. But I have no idea how the process ends in the case of a national newspaper employing a large number of journalists, some of them with a substantial track record.

My theory is that The Australian behaves like a newspaper – critically holding those in authority to account with little fear or favor. They have been very critical of the Rudd-Gillard government because (1) they are the government and (2) there has been much to criticise. The left don’t take well to non-believers.

Then there is this piece by Jason Wilson at The Drum.

Here, News controls 70 per cent of combined national and metropolitan media newspaper markets. But that figure masks monopolies in Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart, Darwin and a range of provincial centres like Townsville, Cairns and Geelong. They also own the only major national daily, The Australian (we can leave aside the more specialised and niche-directed Australian Financial Review).

But why leave aside the Fin Review? It is a national daily. To simply claim that it is specialised misses the point. Fairfax have a national daily, and despite it being a very good paper, it is struggling. Its price is probably too high, its internet strategy is poor, and it doesn’t campaign on behalf of business or indeed run any campaigns at all. The ability to run a sustained campaign to influence public opinion, and be taken seriously, must be the hallmark of an influential newspaper. It is here that News – The Australian in particular – succeeds where Fairfax doesn’t.

Wilson has another criticism of News – their involvement in Rugby League and restraint of trade salary rorting at the Storm.

The News-owned club, in a league half-owned by News, was deliberately and systematically rorting the salary cap. The issue – not only for rugby league fans, but for all taxpayers who have subsidised rugby league’s operations and facilities – was one of accountability.

Was there an awareness of the salary cap problems at the upper echelons of News, or a failure of oversight in allowing the club to stray?

Sydney’s Daily Telegraph is the biggest-selling newspaper in Sydney, and the major outlet for rugby league reporting. Brisbane’s Courier-Mail is the only daily in Brisbane, rugby league’s second city, and it’s sister paper the Sunday Mail is the only Sunday paper in the state.

Melbourne’s Herald Sun is the only paper in the Storm’s home city that gives rugby league even passing coverage.

All three are owned by News.

This criticism is underwhelming – Sydney and Melbourne have flagship Fairfax papers in the from of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Each of these papers outsells The Australian. If the StormGate story was newsworthy enough to seriously embarrass News Corp they would have pushed hard.

The concentration of resources and outlets in News’s hands mean fewer alternative voices were around to pursue questions about the degree of knowledge enjoyed or negligence shown by News’s upper organisational echelons in the Storm’s cheating.

I think Wilson is forgetting his publisher, the ABC – this organisation has the full financial backing of the Commonwealth and an explicit mandate to pursue the public interest (whatever that means). In the context of state-sponsored media with very-deep pockets it seems strange to single out a private organisation as having too much power and influence. That media presence has to earned every day through consumer choice, the ABC earns its media power through taxpayer coercion.

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122 Responses to News bashing

  1. Tillman

    Wow.

    Quiggin summarises the last several years of blogging at the Cat in a single devastating paragraph:

    Anyone who’s spent time in the blogosphere has seen it happen, and most of us have been on the wrong side of it once or twice. A blogger or commenter says something silly, gets called on it and doubles down. Before long, they are engaged in meta-disputes about who said what about whom. As the flame war escalates, all sense of proportion is lost, and innocent remarks produce threats of litigation. Somewhere along the way, Godwin’s Law comes into play. If the process runs its full course, the blog in question is taken down (but of course the Internet never forgets), or the commenter identity is abandoned, leading to suspicions of sockpuppetry when someone with similar style and opinions turns up.

  2. Sinclair Davidson

    Nice try Tillers. We don’t take down posts.

  3. C.L.

    So the professor who predicted big things from Rudd and Obama (LOL) now says criticising the government is evidence of mental illness. John’s hasn’t come a long way from the Jim Cairns glory days of the Australian left in the 1970s.

  4. C.L.

    …leading to suspicions of sockpuppetry when someone with similar style and opinions turns up.

    Mmm. That reminds me of someone with a certain track record in relation to Jews.

  5. Tillman

    Quiggin sez:

    Before long, they are engaged in meta-disputes about who said what about whom…. Somewhere along the way, Godwin’s Law comes into play.

    CL sez:

    Mmm. That reminds me of someone with a certain track record in relation to Jews.

    Tillman sez:

    Quiggin summarises the last several years of blogging at the Cat in a single devastating paragraph

    Tillman proven correct again.

  6. Sinclair Davidson

    John has a sandpit feature for dealing with those meta-disputes.

  7. Mother Hubbard's Dog

    And if Quiggin’s blog was a newspaper, nobody would buy it.

  8. Niall

    The Oz is so evidently an organ of conservatism. The proof is in it’s pages, physical and virtual, daily. It’s editors obvious hatred of its opponents shines through in every self-justification piece it prints, which only serves to dig the hole deeper. I for one will be interested to see how much of The Oz survives Murdoch’s demise.

  9. C.L.

    A newspaper criticising the worst government in Australian history – a government whose death toll includes four insulation workers and 200 asylum seekers.

    It’s just outrageous.

    This is not what newspapers are meant to do.

  10. Sinclair Davidson

    The Oz is so evidently an organ of conservatism

    Surely not. I can think of one conservative columnist, and that’s not Shanahan.

  11. JC

    There’s a simple question that needs to be asked. This is nothing to do with the right to free speech etc. as the private media firms have every right to say what they think even if they choose to go broke doing so like Fairfax.

    Do the Fairfax two boradsheets carry the same number of rightwing opinions as the oz does leftwing?

    Obviously not.

  12. Jason Wilson

    Interesting to read that I’m not only on the “left” but part of the “Australian left blogosphere”. I’m struggling to remember when and where we’ve met and discussed my political leanings, Professor Davidson.

    The image of the News-hating lefty is convenient for the purposes of your post. In fact, I’m on the public record as a critic of the ABC as well, and I don’t rely on them as my only “publisher”. I’m also on the record as challenging conventional wisdom around the company, and specifically praising News journalists.

    The ABC has some power and reach, but it’s also heavily scrutinised from a number of directions. The point of the article is that News’s power and the range of its interests raise some concerns about accountability. News isn’t my only concern, though, just the most obvious example.

    Apart from anything else, I’m of the opinion that the positions of entrenched players inhibits competition and the growth of new media enterprises.

    I’m sure we share a desire for a competitive media marketplace in Australia. We could no doubt have a productive conversation about this, but it would appear you’d prefer to see me in terms of a stereotype. A shame.

  13. JC

    Was there an awareness of the salary cap problems at the upper echelons of News, or a failure of oversight in allowing the club to stray?

    hahahahahahahhahahaha This is what the idiot thinks is a scandal for the oz? Talk about gripping straws… lol

    What an idiot. This is the best the moron J school teacher can come with to attack the OZ.

    The reason why hardened left wingers like Jason Wilson hate the OZ is because it hurts them. It really hurts them and they feel pain. Good.

    I despise Fairfax’s The Age and because I think it’s a truly worthless paper I don’t read it or even go near it.

    If people like Jason Wilson are hurt by the OZ they should simply not read it… but of course they do.

    What a dickhead for thinking he can link a stupid scandal in an No-neck sport to the OZ by mere insinuation.

    On a more serious note… I was out this this morn so missed the daily mortality count from the Labor Government’s policies.

    Can someone please fill me in on how many people died overnight as a result of the governments policies.

  14. dover_beach

    It’s editors obvious hatred of its opponents shines through in every self-justification piece it prints, which only serves to dig the hole deeper.

    Of course, the same could not be said of The Age, SMH or Green Left Weekly. The casual or regular reader would not have a clue about who it’s opponents are, or of it’s various hatreds; no, these would remain, as it where, a ‘mystery’.

  15. Infidel Tiger

    Surely the first job of any news organisation is to make stacks of cash? Everything else should be secondary.

  16. ken n

    IT – not in media, it seems, even before Murdoch there was a tradition of people owning newspapers for political power or to do good or for some other non-economic reason.
    Over the life of the Oz, it has lost money. But Murdoch is not using it for power, he is keeping it to show that he can produce a respectable paper. And to impress his mother who dislikes the DT NOW and such.

  17. johno

    If the Oz has upset John Q and the Left it must be doing something right!

    If Jason Wilson is so concerned about media diversity why doesn’t he focus on the elephant in the room – the provisions of the Broadcasting Act that make it illegal to compete against the private free-to-air TV broadcasters. Commercial TV broadcasting is viewed by more people than those who read a newspaper and it is a government backed cartel. (See the 2000 Productivity Commission’s Broadcasting Inquiry.)

    A secondary media diversity issue is the lack of diversity in the State-owned media. (Is State-owned media undemocratic:-)) If the ABC and SBS actually adhered to their Charters, then I should be able to, on a reasonably regular basis, find some reporters, presenters, news stories etc that reflected my point of view. I don’t. Much of what I see or hear on the government’s media is tedious, predictable and dull left wing positions. If it wasn’t for taxpayer funding, the ABC and SBS would be going down the gurgler like that other outlet for tedious, predictable and dull left wing positions – The Age

  18. Peter Patton

    The Oz is so evidently an organ of conservatism anti-leftism. The proof is in it’s pages, physical and virtual, daily. It’s editors obvious hatred of its opponents shines through in every self-justification piece it prints, which only serves to dig the hole deeper. I for one will be interested to see how much of The Oz Leftism survives Murdoch’s the Berlin Wall’s demise.

  19. Peter Patton

    Do the Fairfax two boradsheets carry the same number of rightwing opinions as the oz does leftwing?

    I don’t know. But SMAGE certainly has a much larger number of people on its payroll who shriek about the government and RAN being responsible for boat people deaths. Not sure how well the leftoidsphere acknowledges this inconvenient truth, though.

  20. Peter Patton

    If the ABC and SBS actually adhered to their Charters, then I should be able to, on a reasonably regular basis, find some reporters, presenters, news stories etc that reflected my point of view. I don’t. Much of what I see or hear on the government’s media is tedious, predictable and dull left wing positions. If it wasn’t for taxpayer funding, the ABC and SBS would be going down the gurgler like that other outlet for tedious, predictable and dull left wing positions – The Age

    Indeed, THE main reason John Howard turned to talkback radio was the futility in trying to cut through the strident zombie luvvie-leftism in which the ABC and broadsheets were caged during the 1980s and 1990s.

  21. papachango

    lefties don’t like News Ltd and insist that the ABc and Fairfax is balanced?

    How exactly is this surprising and/or even newsworthy?

  22. Peter Patton

    The awful truth is that the Oz has been the sole leader of public debate in the country for the past decade or so. For example, without the OZ, Indigenous affairs would be beyond woeful, and very, very secret.

  23. THR

    Peter, the Oz has not only contributed nothing to debate, it’s detracted from it. As far as Aboriginal affairs go, it was the Fabians at the ABC who broke key stories on child abuse and service failure, not the Oz. About the only thing the Oz is good for is keeping aging, untalented right wingers off the pension (or the journal equivalent of a pension, Quadrant).

  24. Sinclair Davidson

    Jason – your memory misleads you. We have never met, I knew that straight away. Having read your stuff, I know you’re not a tory but have been very critical of News Corp.

    As to the substance of your article, the notion that News Corp has substantial market power is tempered by market forces. Even if The Australian itself has lost money over its life (this is well-known to be true) the corporation itself must make money to cross-subsidise it. News Corp has to compete on several margins, in the product market, in the labour market and in financial markets. The ABC, however, does not compete in financial markets and in a very limited way in product markets. If we are to worry about media power it isn’t News Corp we should be worrying about, it’s the government-owned, government controlled, and government financed ABC.

  25. Paul Williams

    I love this comment at Kwiggins.

    December 21st, 2010 at 10:54 | #6 Reply | Quote
    Your description of blogger meltdown is so accurate. Personally, I am really looking forward to the Oz going behind a paywall.

    Presumably so he wont be able to read it?

  26. ken n

    And then there is Pure Poison at Crikey

    How did they manage to convince us that the successful BER was some kind of a debacle?

    and

    so where are the apologies and corrections by the hacks at The Australian, and their hangers-on at the ABC?

  27. Peter Patton

    Actually, if the Oz goes behind a paywall, a large chunk of the leftistsphere will up shit creek, without any material to react against.

  28. ken n

    I hadn’t thought of that PP.
    Now they say “I never read it but I saw…”
    I guess they can say they saw it over someone’s shoulder on the bus.

  29. Peter Patton

    What is it with these people and their fricking apologies. Sure, I think the notion of redemption is one of Christianity’s greatest gifts to the world. But these leftist loons are surely beyond redemption.

  30. Peter Patton

    Now they say “I never read it but I saw…”

    This is also the precise tactic the luvvies use regarding drowned boat people. They say

    “We luvvies only want to weep at the tragic loss of life, that’s why we think Andrew Bolt is despicable….”

    Within a paragraph they’re all Howard and SIEV-X, and on and on.

  31. JC

    Jason Wilson.

    The image of the News-hating lefty is convenient for the purposes of your post. In fact, I’m on the public record as a critic of the ABC as well, and I don’t rely on them as my only “publisher”.

    Really? I’m interested in knowing exactly how you’ve been critical of the ABC in terms of “market power” and their obvious lack of need to make a profit. I would also like to see where you’ve criticized the ABC’s transparently false concerns over it’s obvious leftwing bias and the appalling mockery of citizens appeals against this.

    I read that someone emailed their concerns over a remark scrawled across the screen during Tony Jones Q&A, which suggested someone should throw a shoe and former PM Howard. The ABC’s response was that sort of remark was part of the normal give and take in spirited public debate and therefore wouldn’t be considered any further.

    This is the ABC you’ve criticized, Jason? Or was it some other ABC in some parallel universe?

    I’m also on the record as challenging conventional wisdom around the company, and specifically praising News journalists.

    And why wouldn’t you, seeing the opposition to News in the quality broadsheet category is virtually non-existent. However this hardly helps your current position in structuring your criticism from a leftwing perspective. Your real problem is obvious to me. Fairfax broadsheets are basically failing while the Oz is going from strength to strength. This hurts you obviously like it does any leftie.

    The ABC has some power and reach, but it’s also heavily scrutinised from a number of directions.

    Oh please. Who do you think you’re kidding here? If you’re going to be like this you’re wasting your time. That sort of remark doesn’t fool anyone here.

    See the above about citizens appeals. Don’t offend people’s intelligence, Jason. Not here.

    The point of the article is that News’s power and the range of its interests raise some concerns about accountability.

    Ummm so free speech and the right to express opinion are conditional now are they? Here’s a challenge for you. Murdoch didn’t have much of a leg up in terms of starting off except for a shitty little newspaper in Adelaide and he managed to sprint his way to the top because of his abilities. Now that distribution costs are next to zero, why not start up your own E-newspaper and compete or crawl up the pole in the same way Murdoch did. As distribution costs are down to zero your challenge is made a lot easier.

    The fact is that people buy News products and services because they like them. They like them more than their competitors.

    Apart from anything else, I’m of the opinion that the positions of entrenched players inhibits competition and the growth of new media enterprises.

    Umm….. how so now when distribution costs are as close to zero as they will ever be? Go ahead and compete. If you have a smart enough idea on how to do so you would get a lot of backing from angel investors and private equity people who are only too happy to see some smart person walk into their office with a great business plan. Go on Jason, I challenge you.

    Your opinion simply doesn’t add up to scrutiny.

    I’m sure we share a desire for a competitive media marketplace in Australia. We could no doubt have a productive conversation about this, but it would appear you’d prefer to see me in terms of a stereotype. A shame.

    It’s you that’s doing the stereotyping. Like all lefties all you’re doing is whining. I suggest you get off your backside and do something about it if you think there is room for more choice.

    Go on.

  32. rog

    Once the Oz goes behind a pay wall it will disappear.

  33. rog

    Interesting exercise, put Catallaxy behind a pay wall.

  34. JC

    Wodger… the joinery tycoon vs Murdoch the media tycoon.

    Who wins… Wodger and his prediction or Murdoch and his paywall?

    The battle of the Titans continues.

  35. rog

    And why not? Let the market speak.

  36. rog

    JC, the tycoons runner boy. Always there always reliable. Good boy.

  37. ken n

    Murdoch didn’t have much of a leg up in terms of starting off except for a shitty little newspaper in Adelaide and he managed to sprint his way to the top because of his abilities. Now that distribution costs are next to zero, why not start up your own E-newspaper and compete or crawl up the pole in the same way Murdoch did. As distribution costs are down to zero your challenge is made a lot easier.

    Y’know JC that is a very insightful observation. Few realize that Murdoch inherited very little. And few seem to understand that the barriers to entry now are so low that anyone can create a media outlet. Remarks like this “I’m of the opinion that the positions of entrenched players inhibits competition and the growth of new media enterprises.” are just ignorant, or lazy.
    Print media are fighting for survival.
    If you’ve got something to say, go start your own online outlet.

  38. JC

    Wodger,

    Not a runner boy… just realistic. The chances of your prediction being superior to Murdoch’s ability to figure out his own market is a non contest.

    You’re basically an idiot and he’s the best media operator the world has seen.

    Humbly I’ll back Murdoch while laughing at you

    You Dickhead.

  39. FDB

    It’s not at all clear that, taken broadly, the Oz is a loss-maker for News.

    The editorial line it runs helps produce debate and policy outcomes that advance News’ commercial agenda, irrespective of the actual rag’s bottom line.

    If this is untrue, then the only possible reason Murdoch could be continuing to fund it with shareholders’ money is as a pure vanity publication. It arguably doesn’t do anough transparent toadying for that to be a very satisfying endeavor.

    But that’s the business model now – advertisers are deserting in their droves. Putting the online version behind a paywall would be the end of it, and they know it. Hence, as has been abundantly pointed out elsewhere, the frankly pathetic recent claims to relevance.

  40. Sinclair Davidson

    rog – you can pay money to Jacques anytime you like.

  41. ken n

    Once the Oz goes behind a pay wall it will disappear.

    I don’t know if the Oz can survive behind a paywall. The WSJ is doing quite well, The Times seems to be doing not so well.
    But if you – or anyone – has better judgment about media than Murdoch, you are in the wrong job. Go build a media empire.
    I’ve got my doubts about News but I would not bet against Murdoch. At least he is doing things – Fairfax and most other newspapers are behaving like rabbits caught in the headlights.

  42. rog

    Murdoch is the son of Sir Keith Murdoch and was born into wealth. There is no doubt that he has made his fortune but it wasn’t exactly a rags to riches story that JC and other Murdoch lickspittles like to portray.

  43. FDB

    Sorry, I should say that putting it behind a paywall would be the end of it unless they also turn into a tabloid freakshow like the Herald Sun.

  44. Tillman

    Jason – your memory misleads you. We have never met, I knew that straight away.

    He wasn’t suggesting he had met you, Sinclair. Once again your inability to comprehend irony reveals itself.

    He was making the point that he had never met you, yet you nonetheless didn’t hesitate to characterise him as a member of “the Australian left blogosphere”.

    For such a literalist, you are very imprecise and sloppy with the facts, Sinclair.

  45. ken n

    FDB – The Oz is profitable these days, tho it wasn’t for many years.
    Murdoch is one of an almost extinct race – the press lords. Most papers used to be owned by one of them.
    Murdoch cares about media, and especially print. And his business has had near-death experiences before. That is why I would not bet against him. And why I am glad he is there.

  46. JC

    Not only that Ken…

    Every single Angel and Private equity investor and I-bank are throwing themselves at any good idea that comes through their door at the moment ans capital is plentiful.

    The ability to access capital for a good idea is leagues, in fact iniverses better than it was when Murdoch first started.

    With zero distribution costs, Jason Wilson could become the next great media tycoon the world has seen as the barriers to entry are virtually zero now despite the bullshit he peddles about entrenched interests and nonsensical swill like that.

    There’s the challenge to Wilson to go after Murdoch and beat him at his own game…

    After all it’s Wilson’s specialized background.

  47. daddy dave

    Murdoch is the son of Sir Keith Murdoch and was born into wealth

    But nothing like the level of wealth he has now. You’re implying that his business acumen is over-rated. it’s not. He’s a superb businessman (whatever you think of him personally).

  48. ken n

    rog Keith Murdoch wax a paid employee of the Melbourne Herald group. He was comfortable but not wealthy. JC is correct – all Rupert inherited was the Adelaide News wich Keith had just about forgotten he owned, because it as so unimportant.

  49. rog

    Sinclair, are you implying that Catallaxy is financially unsustainable without private contributions?

  50. JC

    Murdoch is the son of Sir Keith Murdoch and was born into wealth. There is no doubt that he has made his fortune but it wasn’t exactly a rags to riches story that JC and other Murdoch lickspittles like to portray.

    In terms of where he’s got to it is a rags to riches story by degrees, you undereducated pea brain.

    He’s the best in the business and he would have got there with or without that shitty little newspaper that wasn’t making much money.

    In terms of barriers to entry, Jason Wilson would be no worse off than Murdoch is now because of zero distribution, you numskull.

    There no longer are virtually no barriers as you don’t need a printing press and the transportation to get it around to the news agents.

    You’re thicker than granite, Wodger.

  51. Peter Patton

    Murdoch didn’t have much of a leg up in terms of starting off except for a shitty little newspaper in Adelaide and he managed to sprint his way to the top because of his abilities

    It’s exactly the same with pay TV in the UK. In the 1980s attempts by private capital and the BBC to make satellite television commercially viable failed dismally. When the UK refused Murdoch’s application for a license he bought the bankrupt and decrepit European dog Sky TV. Everyone laughed at him at the time (late 1980s). Not too much laughter in the BBC or Guardian today, though.

  52. JC

    oops…. there virtually no barriers to entry….

  53. rog

    See this is where I think that the comprehensive abilities of Catallaxians is sub optimal. Even when combined.

    I repeat, there is no doubt he has made his fortune.

  54. FDB

    “The Oz is profitable these days”

    Do you have a reference for that Ken?

    DD – rog was implying nothing of the sort, and made it explicit that he was not doing so. What a strange response.

  55. Infidel Tiger

    Sinclair, are you implying that Catallaxy is financially unsustainable without private contributions?

    I’m sure they’ll survive without any contributions from your invalid pension.

  56. rog

    JC says that Murdoch is the best in the business.

    The business of what?

    He is the last of the big paper men.

  57. FDB

    “rags to riches story by degrees”

    So, a riches to even more riches story?

    That, my silly amigo, is NOT a rags-to-riches story.

    Anyone with a rich family is automatically excluded from the rags-to-riches club. This is pretty basic stuff.

  58. JC

    Sorry, I should say that putting it behind a paywall would be the end of it unless they also turn into a tabloid freakshow like the Herald Sun.

    Oh yea, Lord Beever.

    The London Times has recently announced it crossed the 100,000th web subscriber and goign strong.

    Look you, moron… Before the Wall Street Journal was even on the web, I’d always rely on the office to have a spare one around and never even thought of buying it.

    At 79 bucks a year I’m a subscriber. At something like 4 bucks a week for the OZ, I’ll be buying it. Numerous other people will too because it’s a quality broadsheet.

    Here’s the thing you moron’s miss. Consumer preferences dictate who wins or loses. Despite bullshit, moronic comments about market power and entrenched interests that stupid leftwingers like to use which means nothing at all other than slight and envy.

    For instance I wouldn’t give Fairfax my used toilet paper in exchange for The Age.

    And here’s another thing. Murdoch will at some stage go after the AFR in a big way and destroy them too. At 3 bucks a copy and over 1000 bucks a year in subscription it’s much too expensive for a piss weak left wing business journal. However they need to price there because pretty much everything else in their stable is going to hell in hand basket.

  59. ken n

    The Oz is profitable these days”
    Do you have a reference for that Ken?

    Go look it up FDB.The Annual Report of News is online.

  60. JC

    JC says that Murdoch is the best in the business.

    The business of what?

    Find out for yourself, you cretin.

    He is the last of the big paper men.

    You idiot, he started a cable news channel in a market people thought saturated, which was producing $450 million a quarter even in the height of the 2008/09 recession, as it was growing and taking viewership from competitors. It turned CNN into an empty shell with the management there shell-shocked. Fox news will end up making $ 1 billion per quarter over the next few years if he continues to progress the way he is.

    Fox was the 4th free to air channel in America and it’s given its competitors an absolute drubbing.

    Murdoch is the best media mind the world has seen. Ever.

  61. Sinclair Davidson

    rog – catallaxy is perfectly sustainable without the need for a paywall. But you want to have one, so feel free to contribute. I look forward to your financial contribution. We will follow your example.

  62. rog

    Whilst it is obvious that JC is obviously overly enamoured with Murdoch’s career (would Rupert give a stuff over JC’s? – I doubt if he is aware that JC exists and would care less if he did) it is worth reminding all and sundry that quantity does not necessarily equate to quality. For years Murdoch said that the Oz was his only quality publication – and it was- but now it has bowed to the inevitable – money – and become another Murdoch scandal sheet.

  63. Tillman

    Go look it up FDB.The Annual Report of News is online.

    Does that provide revenues by paper? I doubt it very much.

  64. daddy dave

    DD – rog was implying nothing of the sort, and made it explicit that he was not doing so. What a strange response.

    Then why mention the starting point?

  65. Tillman

    Murdoch is the best media mind the world has seen. Ever.

    LOL. Now he isn’t. He was a very good newspaper man for a time, but even then it’s a big call to say he has a better media mind than (say) WR Hearst.

    And he has not proven his chops in digital by any stretch.

    The dude paid ten figures for myspace.com. And plenty of people knew that was an idiot deal at the time – this isn’t just hindsight.

    And I predict “The Daily” will be a flop.

    The whole paywall / segregated model is a flop. That Rupe sticks with it shows he just doesn’t get online. It’s not just a matter of revenues, it’s also a question of sharing links etc.

    You can not put a link to a (London) Times article in a blog post or an email.

    Unlinkability is unsustainable as a business model. Mark my words.

    The Murdoch revenue structure for online will not survive.

  66. rog

    I am glad to hear that Catallaxy is perfectly sustainable Sinclair, one can only wonder why Murdoch finds it so difficult to do the same.

  67. daddy dave

    one can only wonder why Murdoch finds it so difficult to do the same.

    The people who write on catallaxy do it voluntarily. Once you start paying wages, costs go up fast, unless you employ cheap labor in India or the Phillipines to write your news stories for you.

  68. Sinclair Davidson

    He probably has a payroll to meet, we’re all volunteers. He tries to attract paying customers and advertising and so on. But having offered to pay, I’m happy to accept your offer.

  69. Tillman

    Ken N

    News’ 2009 Annual Report can be found here.

    There’s nothing in it that helps you work out whether The Australian is profitable or not, but it does show a net loss for News of $3.3bn (p 53).

    So why are you so sure that the Oz is profitable?

  70. Tillman

    In terms of working out what people want to read about, Murdoch may be about the best ever.

    But whether he can work out how to get people to pay to read stuff online is a completely different question.

    I think the paywall model shows that Murdoch just doesn’t get how people like to use online material.

  71. ken n

    Till – tell you what, just once, trust me. The Oz is profitable.
    And your thoughts about Murdoch and paywalls don’t matter much. Have you ever built a media business? Online? Or anywhere?

    As I said, i don’t know either but Murdoch is the only media proprietor who is trying things. If you are sure he is wring, go short News – should be easy money.

  72. Peter Patton

    Anyone with a rich family is automatically excluded from the rags-to-riches club.

    It most probably is; among those who define “rich” as anyone who has money than they do. 😉

  73. Tillman

    “If you are sure he is wring, go short News – should be easy money.”

    Shorting doesn’t work like that.

  74. ken n

    JC Will you explain how shorting works? Till wants to try it.

  75. Tillman

    Ken, just because you think a business is making strategic mistakes does not mean that you can make money shorting it.

    Shorting requires constant payments of cash money until the day that the rest of the market works out that the company fucked up.

    You can easily go broke long before that happens.

    I think Murdoch’s paywall strategy (which will probably be implemented over the next several years) will ultimately be a loser.

    You said, “If you are sure he is wring, go short News – should be easy money.”

    But shorting doesn’t work like that. It’s not easy money.

  76. ken n

    Course not Till, it is putting your money where your mouth is. Backing your judgment. Just like Murdoch does.

  77. PSC

    Murdoch is the best media mind the world has seen. Ever.

    A $1,000 in News 10 years ago is now worth around $500. (pre-tax, reinvesting divs)

    There are several other media companies which have pretty much tracked the market, and a few that have done better.

    The ability to run a sustained campaign to influence public opinion, and be taken seriously, must be the hallmark of an influential newspaper. It is here that News – The Australian in particular – succeeds where Fairfax doesn’t.

    It happens that Fairfax’s 10 year returns are very close to News’.

    It appears that both right and left wing editorializing are equally destructive of shareholder value.

  78. PSC

    bah, that should read: A $1,000 investment in in News

  79. ken n

    We are going around and around. Let’s come back in five years and see which media business is still standing.
    Perhaps the one Till is going to start will be tops.

  80. PSC

    Dunno ken n, what are we going to learn in the next 5 years of ongoing shareholder value destruction that haven’t been clear from the last 10?

  81. Peter Patton

    A $1,000 in News 10 years ago is now worth around $500. (pre-tax, reinvesting divs

    What an odd baseline to pluck out of this air to make your point. It has absolutely no connection to the claim

    Murdoch is the best media mind the world has seen. Ever.

    The more appropriate baseline is the Adelaide Advertiser circa 1952.

  82. Tillman

    News is trading at the same price it traded at in April 1998.

  83. Infidel Tiger

    A $1,000 in News 10 years ago is now worth around $500. (pre-tax, reinvesting divs

    Sounds like Microsoft.

  84. FDB

    “Till – tell you what, just once, trust me. The Oz is profitable.”

    Tell you what – why don’t you tell us on what basis you’re making the claim? That would go a long way to establishing trust.

    Especially because with such a piddling print circulation, hardly any advertising, and many prominent media meta-commentators saying they’re making a loss, your unsourced, unargued assertion is worth almost exactly nothing.

  85. JC

    PSC says:

    It happens that Fairfax’s 10 year returns are very close to News’.

    More Left wing delusion.

    New Limited’s price on January 7th 2000 was 16 bucks and around the same now.

    Fairfax was $4.25 and 1.44 now.

    I guess in Leftland that’s about the same in terms of returns and not a 67% fall in the price of the stock.

    Let me know when you open a hedge fund PSC as everyone here would sure want t on vest with you.

  86. JC

    News is trading at the same price it traded at in April 1998.

    Tiller’s you need to compare like with like old old. How is News doing compared to the other large media conglomerates.

    Check it out against Time Warner.

  87. Tillman

    JC, if Time Warner is your benchmark for a well-managed company then you are setting a fairly low hurdle.

    Anyway I’m not saying Rupe isn’t a brilliant publisher of newspapers.

    I’m just saying that I don’t understand how paywalls work as a long-term means of building a business.

    And Murdoch paid over a billion for myspace. That was just idiotic.

  88. FDB

    “I’m just saying that I don’t understand how paywalls work as a long-term means of building a business.”

    It might work (even in an environment where everyone else is linking freely back and forth) if you were offering something of very high value and which couldn’t be found elsewhere.

    However, combined with the gradual hollowing out of the organisation’s original (i.e. investigative) news-gathering capability, it’s very clearly a loser. Who is going to pay to read a News Ltd hack’s rewrite of whatever’s on the wires when they can get it for free from better writers?

  89. Peter Patton

    If I knew there was genuine investigative journalism behind that paywall, I would gladly pay.

  90. Tillman

    I could see it working for established high-value name brands like the Economist and maybe the Financial Times and WSJ.

    But I don’t see it for mass market papers, like the Oz, the NY Post or Daily Telegraph.

    And I don’t think The Daily will work.

  91. JC

    JC, if Time Warner is your benchmark for a well-managed company then you are setting a fairly low hurdle.

    Lol…. Don’t be a smart alec. I’m just using a comparable in terms of a large conglomerate media company and that was the first one that came to mind.

    I thought it was a well run firm, no? 🙂

  92. JC

    And Murdoch paid over a billion for myspace. That was just idiotic.

    Around US$600 million actually. He runs a portfolio. He makes the occasional bad decision like everyone else. He’s not perfect but he’s near enough which is more than good enough.

    What do you think Fox news is worth which he started with a seed capital of US$10 million?

    $450 million per quarter by 4 = 1.8 million EBIT by a multiple of say 9 times (which is light on)

    $16 billion

    How about Fox itself?

  93. PSC

    New Limited’s price on January 7th 2000 was 16 bucks and around the same now.

    Fairfax was $4.25 and 1.44 now.

    Ever heard of dividends JC? Ever thought about reinvesting them? You might want to take them into account before you open a hedge fund yourself.

  94. PSC

    And while where on the subject of the skills of JC fund management – News had a 3:1 consolidation around 2004/2005.

  95. JC

    And News wasn’t paying divs, PSC?

    The divs make little difference to the capital loss, doofus.

    Unfairfax Paid a total of 64 cents in divs between 200 and 2005

    http://www.google.com/finance?q=ASX:FXJ

    News paid coincidentally 64 cents from 2005 to 2010.

    The effect is the same, you innumerate as you’re taking 64 cents from both sides.

  96. JC

    News had a 3:1 consolidation around 2004/2005.

    So what, it’s adjusted in the price.

  97. JC

    And there no evidence of a reverse split in the period you’re talking about.

    look. tab the 10 year period and see if there was a reverse split as the notation would say at the bottom of the chart.

    http://www.google.com/finance?q=ASX:NWS

  98. PSC

    JC – look at the bloody graph you link to – look what happens in late 2004.

    FXJ paid out around $1.50 dividends over the last ten years with a stock price starting around $4. It’s annual divs went up to around 20c just before GFC.

    NWS paid out around $50c total on a price around $16.

    I’m quoting from memory I’ll look it up properly when I get to work tomorrow.

  99. PSC

    And why I bother I don’t know.

    Ok – I was wrong, it was a 1:2, not a 1:3 – my bad. It was November 2004.

    See page 7 of this document:

    http://203.15.147.66/asxpdf/20041103/pdf/3njncrkmfbsgt.pdf

  100. JC

    JC – look at the bloody graph you link to – look what happens in late 2004.

    FXJ paid out around $1.50 dividends over the last ten years with a stock price starting around $4. It’s annual divs went up to around 20c just before GFC

    Not according the that chart they didn’t squire.

    I added them up and the total for the 10 years to from 2000 to 2010… that total was 79 cents for Fairfax. (My mistake saying it was 64 cents). But makes no material difference.

    News paid 64 cents.

    News stock price hasn’t moved but Unfairfax has dropped 66% .. the div difference of 15 cents makes no great difference as ai said.

    Where the fuck are you getting 1.50 from?

  101. JC

    Ok fine.. no probs. No great shakes. UnFairfax has been an investors incinerator.

  102. PSC

    UnFairfax has been an investors incinerator.

    Just like Mr Murdoch’s value destroying News Corporation JC.

    The dividends are from memory. I think you’re just counting finals and not interims or something.

  103. JC

    Dude,

    There are are two divs per year.. One is the interim and one is the final. Unless the google page is wrong then you need to come up with a better explanation. No excuses here, Champ. take another looks.

    I thought you admitted you were wrong, no?

    Just like Mr Murdoch’s value destroying News Corporation JC.

    In comparison? Are you kidding?

  104. PSC

    I’ve got no idea where they got their data from. But I just went here:

    http://www.fxj.com.au/shareholders/annual-reports.dot

    The last 18 dividends were:
    4.5+7+4.5+7+5+8+5.5+11+7.5+11+8+11.5+10+10+10+10+2+1.1

    Plus there was a 5c special dividend in 2005.

    I make it 138.6c for the last ten years.

    Now stop talking rubbish JC.

  105. JC

    Dude, forget the Aussie News Corp page. It’s better to look at the performance of News corp ion the over the past 10 years.

    They started the decade at 15.62 on Jan 5 2000. They closed at 14.49 yesterday.

    In 2004 News corp had a 2 for 1 stock split.

    So in 2000 you had 1,000 shares and in 2010 you had 2000share as a result of a stock split in 2004 (take a look).

    the net effect.

    1000 x 15.62 = US15,620 purchase price

    2000 X 14.49 = US$28,980 at the end of 2010.

    If you think an 85.5% return is a value destroying action by Murdoch you have rocks in your head.

    Compare that to the 66% fall in Unfairfax’s share price for the same time.

  106. PSC

    JC, in 2000 you had 1000 shares and in 2010 you had 500 shares. It was a consolidation.

    Trust me I kind of know this stuff.

    We haven’t even gotten onto correcting for Fairfax’s dilutive entitlement offer last March.

  107. JC

    I’ve got no idea where they got their data from. But I just went here:

    You know where I got the data, PSC, you mental ape. I told you it was through the Google link and you acknowledged it.

    I’m nor goign through each annual report you sent me to, as I could care much.

    Okay go through it

    Unfairfax $4.25 at the start of the decade finishes at $1.44 at the end. Lets take your total divs of $1.39

    Newcorp US

    15.62 at the start of the decade and finishes at 14.49 at the end. There’s a stock split 2:1 in 2004.
    they also of 78 cents in divs.

    http://www.google.com/finance?q=NASDAQ%3ANWSA

    And you call Murdoch a wealth destroyer? And you suggest I’m talking rubbish.

    It’s no use asking you to apologize the second time, right?

  108. JC

    JC, in 2000 you had 1000 shares and in 2010 you had 500 shares. It was a consolidation.

    I’m not talking about the Aussie operation here, PSC. I’m talking about the US operation which seems a lot cleaner to view.

    Go to the Google page here and take a look, it was not a consolidation in the US it was a straight out stock split of 2:1 for.

    JC, in 2000 you had 1000 shares and in 2010 you had 500 shares. It was a consolidation.

    Tab ‘all” and take a another looksee. There was a split in the US.

  109. PSC

    No JC, I assume Google source their data from someone, and whoever it is has got it wrong. Check the annual reports if you don’t believe me.

    No JC, it’s not a split, it’s a consolidation. Check the NWS IM page 7 if you don’t believe me.

    Yes JC, you’re talking rubbish.

  110. JC

    For fuck sake…

    News corp info on the Aussie google page seems incomplete. So the best thing to do is go to the US listing where the information is complete for the entire decade, you dope.

    Where I sent you is here.

    http://www.google.com/finance?q=NASDAQ%3ANWSA

    1. Was there a stock split in the US stock in 2004 or not?

    2. What was the closing opening decade price and the closing 2010 price yesterday in the US?

    3. The total divs for the period were what? Not 78 cents?

    Now figure it out. With the split in 2004 not including divs there was an 85% return.

    Can you see that or are you simply too delusional to admit it?

  111. JC

    No JC, I assume Google source their data from someone

    Appears to be mMrningstar, It think.

  112. PSC

    For fuck’s sake JC, has it ever occurred to you that Australian Dollars and US Dollars are different?

  113. JC

    So what?

    If we’re looking at returns on a like for like basis you should not take the exchange rate into account.

    Why would you? Why should you?

    We’re looking at the over all result of two firms in terms of management performance and what was returned to the shareholder in local currency.

    You made the following claims.

    1. Fairfax’s performance was okay. (it wasn’t)

    2. Murdoch has been a dead loss for shareholders. (he hasn’t and it’s quite the opposite.)

    It’s not Murdoch fault the Aussie has appreciated and News balance sheet and stock is expressed in US dollars. Conversely Unfairfax’s absissmal performance has been in Aussie Dollars and their shitty balance sheet is also in Aussie.

    Don’t you see that?

  114. PSC

    No JC I never made the claim that Fairfax’s performance was ok. Fairfax is not something I would touch in a fit. I was short FXJ early this year as it happens. I’m not short NWS and never have been. I claimed:

    It happens that Fairfax’s 10 year returns are very close to News’.

    It appears that both right and left wing editorializing are equally destructive of shareholder value

    Could you try making just one post without a substantial error in it?

  115. JC

    It happens that Fairfax’s 10 year returns are very close to News’.

    You mean like a bullshit erroneous comment like that one?

    Fairfax results are NOT very close to News Corps performance, you disingenuous dick. They in the abyss in comparison.

    Murdoch’s only job is to ensure the NWS stock price goes up. Seeing the firm’s stocks trades as a US stock with the firms balance sheet in US dollars his performance is measured in terms of how he does vis a vis the US currency. He doesn’t give a flying crap about your currency exposure to the stock.

    So an 85% return pre divs is a US dollar return. If the Aussie Dollar goes up that’s not his problem and his performance targets is not affected.

    News limited has done fabulously in comparison to Unfairfax and no amount of your bullshit will change that.

    I deserve an apology for ratting you out on your dishonesty. But like any cowardly leftie I won’t hold my breath.

  116. JC

    Fair dinkum, is there a leftwinger that doesn’t resort to bullshit and dishonesty?

    This lying bullshit artist was suggesting that Newscorp didn’t do well… as well as Unfairfax…. by disguising this by hiding behind the aussie currency appreciation.

    It was only through perseverance that I found out what the reprobate was up to.

    What a dishonest turd you are, PSC.

  117. PSC

    Let’s just go through your errors so far:
    – getting FXJ dividends completely wrong
    – forgetting news had a consolidation
    – confusing a 2:1 consolidation for a 2:1 split
    – not accounting for the FXJ equity raising in march last year
    – misquoting me when you said I claimed “Fairfax’s performance was okay” whereas I claimed they’d turned $1000 into $500.
    – And lastly I think News Corp used AUD for its accounts until 2005 – but I gotta check that one.

    My errors so far:
    – not being explicit about using AUD for calculations on an Australian blog

  118. JC

    You dishonest sack of shit, PSC.

    1. I didn’t get the divs wrong per the google information we were using. I haven’t checked your figures as yet, but judging from your dishonesty that would be a lie too I would imagine.

    2. You brought up the consolidation not me and as for being “wrong” this is what you said:

    Ok – I was wrong, it was a 1:2, not a 1:3 – my bad. It was November 2004.

    3. there was a 2:1 stock split you moron. Look it up again with the link I provided.

    4. Equity accounting has what exactly exactly to do with the relative performance of the two stock returns? Nothing?

    Exactly.

    5. News Corp has always had US stock listing in US dollars.

    My errors so far:
    – not being explicit about using AUD for calculations on an Australian blog

    Which is the biggest error you made dickweed as you are distorting the real returns made by Murdoch suggesting they have been equally as bad as Unfairfax.

    Here’s the pertinent point again that you were lying about PSC.

    Shareholders in Unfairfax have experienced a 66% loss on their stock over the decade before dividends.

    News Corp shareholders have experienced an 85% return measured in US dollars over the same period before divs.

    You said Unfairfax and News corp had an equal performance.

    They of course didn’t. PSC is lying.

  119. rog

    As usual JC sets the tone, and then lowers it. If it wasn’t for the film Avatar NewsCorp would have posted another loss. Last year they lost $3.4B, not a small amount. Would JC invest in his favorite scandal sheet? I doubt it.

  120. daddy dave

    So – let me get this straight.
    Fairfax is in Aussie dollars. News Limited is in US dollars. But the Aussie is at highs, way above average, against the US dollar, so any US asset will look like it’s plummeted in value if it’s valued in our currency.
    So PSC uses this financial anomaly to sneakily pretend that News Limited has underperformed (in Australian dollars). Why, even top US performers can be made to look bad this way. Just translate their value 10 years ago and today into Australian dollars and note the negative trend line.

    That’s really clever PSC, but it shows you to me a person of no principle.

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