Thursday, August 21, 2014

How newspapers wither - News Corp in Australia, in two parts

On August 20  Crikey an independent on-line news source based in Melbourne, Australia released a confidential set of financial figures about News Corporation newspapers in Australia. News financial report The performance indicates a consistently steady reduction in the sales of the group, prompting layoffs. Surely in the future, some of these publications will have little value at all to Murdoch, except to keep up the political pressure in states and regions where he has an ongoing interest that he wants to protect and support.

In several regions and cities of Australia - Brisbane, Gold Coast, Darwin, Adelaide - News is the only paper publication, where Fox News has a presence on cable. The News argument has been that this is not a problem to have a monopoly on news because there is always the Internet as an alternative. That's like saying, "We have run out of water, but it's OK because you can drink your urine." (OK, so that's not the finest analogy).

Given a couple of years, loss leaders like many of the News organs may not be sustained.  

On a closer examination, the performance of the suburban newspapers is strong,  as is Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper. I once worked in both these organizations for News.

The confidential financial report is valuable for researchers and their students, as well as critics of News. It can throw light on the internal operations of the organization as the print media (non Fox) side of the business moves into sunset territory.

The second part of this story is also remarkable. Crikey reported the following:

Crikey owner Private Media and News Corp have reached a legal agreement that prevents Crikey from hosting or further distributing the News Corporation Australia Weekly Operating Statement for the week ended June 30, 2013.
As part of the agreement, Private Media has promised to destroy by 5pm today any hard and electronic copies in its possession.
I beg you pardon!? Crikey caves
Good journalism relies on public interest aspects of everyday life being exposed. Exciting secrets being revealed make journalism the fifth estate. Is Crikey a case study of great journalism turning to jelly?