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 Dead Tree Watch: Newspapers, books, mags & TV, including Murdoch's NoTW Phone-Hacking
The Antagonist
Posted: May 7 2009, 11:04 AM


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Joined: 25-November 05

The end of Dead Trees and 'news' papers in their historically fixed incarnations:
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Student's Wikipedia hoax quote used worldwide in newspaper obituaries

A WIKIPEDIA hoax by a 22-year-old Dublin student resulted in a fake quote being published in newspaper obituaries around the world.

The quote was attributed to French composer Maurice Jarre who died at the end of March.

It was posted on the online encyclopedia shortly after his death and later appeared in obituaries published in the Guardian, the London Independent, on the BBC Music Magazine website and in Indian and Australian newspapers.

“One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, music brought me to life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head, that only I can hear,” Jarre was quoted as saying.

However, these words were not uttered by the Oscar-winning composer but written by Shane Fitzgerald, a final-year undergraduate student studying sociology and economics at University College Dublin.

Mr Fitzgerald said he placed the quote on the website as an experiment when doing research on globalisation.

He wanted to show how journalists use the internet as a primary source and how people are connected especially through the internet, he said.

He picked Wikipedia because it was something a lot of journalists look at and it can be edited by anyone, he told The Irish Times.

Fitzgerald posted the quote on Wikipedia late at night after news of Jarre’s death broke. “I saw it on breaking news and thought if I was going to do something I should do it quickly. I knew journalists wouldn’t be looking at it until the morning,” he said

The quote had no referenced sources and was therefore taken down by moderators of Wikipedia within minutes. However, Fitzgerald put it back a few more times until it was finally left up on the site for more than 24 hours.

While he was wary about the ethical implications of using someone’s death as a social experiment, he had carefully generated the quote so as not to distort or taint Jarre’s life, he said.

Fitzgerald was shocked by the result of his experiment.

“I didn’t expect it to go that far. I expected it to be in blogs and sites, but on mainstream quality papers? I was very surprised about,” he said.

However, the hoax remained undiscovered for weeks until Fitzgerald e-mailed offending newspapers to tell them that they had published an inaccurate quote.

“I don’t think it would have been found out unless I had told them so,” Fitzgerald said yesterday. In recent days the Guardian printed a correction and an article about the hoax.

Fitzgerald admits that he is not a sophisticated hacker or technology junkie. “I’m capable of using a computer but I’m not a whizz. Anyone can go in and edit anonymously,” he said.

While the quote is no longer part of the Wikipedia article, evidence of edits of the quote in the Maurice Jarre article from a Dublin-based computer at the end of March can be seen in the Wikipedia edit history.

Despite having been removed from Wikipedia, BBC Music Magazine and Daily Mail websites and corrected by the Guardian , the quote last night remained intact on dozens of blogs, websites and newspapers.

No social order is ever destroyed before all the productive forces for which it is sufficient have been developed, and new superior relations of production never replace older ones before the material conditions for their existence have matured within the framework of the old society.


Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind. -- Karl Marx

Times Newspapers losing a million pounds a week
6 May 2009
By Paul McNally

The Times and Sunday Times are making a combined loss of almost £1m a week, newly filed accounts at Companies House have revealed.

In the year to the end of June 2008 – the most up-to-date accounts available – Times Newspapers reported a loss of £51.3m, compared with £44m in the previous financial year.

Group revenues were down slightly from £447.2m to £444.9m over the same period.

In the notes accompanying the accounts, parent company News International said advertising revenues in the 2008 financial year were marginally down, but circulation revenue improved as a result of a cover price rise at The Times.

Editorial headcount fell slightly, according to the Companies House fiing, down from 675 in 2007 to 647 last year.

Sister company News Group Newspapers, which publishes The Sun and the News of the World, ended the 2008 financial year with an operating loss of £18.5m.

The company said this was largely the result of increased administrative expenses "due to higher technology development costs in relation to digital activities".

Costs also rose due to the increasing price of newsprint and ink, and the cost associated with decommissioning redundant printing presses following the titles' switch to full-colour.

Group revenues at News Group Newspapers were up slightly from £623.3m to £626.3m, a rise that the company said was due to an increase in circulation revenue from a News of the World cover price rise in September 2007.

But advertising revenues on the Sun and the News of the World, Britain's biggest-selling national daily and Sunday respectively, were marginally down.

"In common with other newspaper groups, the company faces challenging advertising markets in the short term, and a wider competitive set, particularly from the internet, in the longer term," the publisher said.

"The company is investing significant resources in the develpoment of its own internet presence in order to capitalise on the new opportunities that this impending market shift will present."

On a like-for-like basis, News Group reported a profit for the year of £55.2m, down from £61.9m in 2007.

Editorial headcount, according to the accounts, increased from 575 to 631 in the same period.

NI Free Newspapers, the publisher of thelondonpaper, was also due to publish accounts for the 2008 financial year, but these are overdue and have yet to be made public by Companies House.

News Corp: 97 per cent drop in newspaper profits
7 May 2009
By Paul McNally

News Corp has announced a 97 per cent slump in profits at its newspaper division, which publishes titles in the UK, Australia and the United States.

In its third quarter results, released this morning, the company said lower advertising revenues and a stronger US dollar had affected newspaper profitability.

The announcement coincides with news that Rupert Murdoch is looking to follow the example of the Wall Street Journal and charge for access to his newspapers' websites within the next 12 months.

Newspaper operating profits in the first three months of 2009 were $7m (£4.6m), down 96.8 per cent on the $216m (£143m) achieved in the same period last year.

In the nine months from July to the end of March, the newspaper division made a $320m (£212m) operating profit, a decline of 37 per cent on the previous year's figure of $505m (£335m).

News Corp said third-quarter advertising revenues at News International, which publishes The Sun, News of the World, The Times and the Sunday Times, were down 21 per cent on last year.

Marketing and production costs grew, although this was partly offset by an increase in circulation revenues due to cover price rises at all four UK titles.

Earlier this week, 2008 accounts filed at Companies House revealed growing losses at Times Newspapers and a decline in profitability at tabloid division News Group Newspapers.

Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, reported a similar increase in circulation revenues due to price increases, but a dip in advertising revenue.

Across all of News Corp, operating income in the first three months of 2009 fell 47 per cent year on year from $1.4bn (£927m) to $755m (£500m).

Murdoch said the company's third quarter results reflected the continuing weakness of the global economy.

"Despite this tough environment, we have proven resilient in several key areas this quarter," he said.

"Our cable network programming segment showed remarkable growth, led by the Fox News Channel which nearly doubled its operating income over the year ago quarter."

The solution? Post information revolution suicide:
News Corp will charge for newspaper websites, says Rupert Murdoch
Current days of free internet will soon be over, says media mogul

    * Andrew Clark in New York
    *, Thursday 7 May 2009 01.17 BST

user posted image
Rupert Murdoch says having free newspaper websites is a 'flawed' business model Photograph: Saul Loeb/Getty Images

Rupert ­Murdoch expects to start charging for access to News Corporation's newspaper websites within a year as he strives to fix a ­"malfunctioning" business model.

Encouraged by booming online subscription revenues at the Wall Street Journal, the billionaire media mogul last night said that papers were going through an "epochal" debate over whether to charge. "That it is possible to charge for content on the web is obvious from the Wall Street Journal's experience," he said.

Asked whether he envisaged fees at his British papers such as the Times, the Sunday Times, the Sun and the News of the World, he replied: "We're absolutely looking at that." Taking questions on a conference call with reporters and analysts, he said that moves could begin "within the next 12 months‚" adding: "The current days of the internet will soon be over."

Plunging earnings from newspapers led the way downwards as News Corporation's quarterly operating profits slumped by 47% to $755m, although exceptional gains on sale of assets boosted bottom-line pretax profits to $1.7bn, in line with last year's figure.

Dwindling advertising revenue across print and television divisions depressed the News Corp numbers despite box office receipts from Twentieth Century Fox movies such as Slumdog Millionaire and Marley and Me. But Murdoch said he believed signs of hope were appearing.

"I'm not an economist and we all know economists were created to make weather forecasters look good," he quipped. "But it is increasingly clear the worst is over."

He continued: "There are encouraging signs in some of our businesses that the days of precipitous declines are done, and things are beginning to look healthier."

News Corp's newspaper division barely broke even, with quarterly profits collapsing from $216m to $7m year-on-year. Advertising revenue in Britain fell by 21% and Murdoch revealed the Sunday Times is struggling: "It's still in profit, but only just so." The tabloids had fared better, aided by price battles at supermarkets which spend heavily on print promotions.

Television profits also shrank dramatically, falling from $419m to $4m due to a loss of Superbowl revenue and weaker advertising at the group's Fox channels in the US and its Star network in Asia.

News Corp has cut 3,000 jobs over the last year, although Murdoch said very few affected journalists or "creative" personnel. Its filmed entertainment division enjoyed an 8% rise in profits to $282m, while Fox News Channel in the US helped push profits from cable subscription networks up by 30% to $429m.

But News Corp revealed that its interactive media division, which includes the social networking site MySpace, had turned in a lower contribution. MySpace's management was recently replaced as News Corp struggles to build sustainable profitability but Murdoch dismissed competition from its larger rival, Facebook.

"We're not going for the Facebook model of getting hundreds and hundreds of million of people who don't bring any advertising with them at all," he said.

Meanwhile a threat to close the Boston Globe was averted today as its owner, the New York Times Company, struck a deal with the daily's largest union after a week of talks; the 137-year-old publication is the the 14th biggest-selling US paper.

In response, the Guardian poses the question, amending a Dylan line to fit:
The Times they are a-charging
Rupert ­Murdoch expects to start charging for access to News Corporation's newspaper websites within a year. 'The current days of the internet will soon be over,' he said, as the media strived to fix a ­'malfunctioning' business model. Would you pay to read papers online?

    *, Thursday 7 May 2009 09.49 BST

It's not looking good for those that would seek to maintain their rapdily crumbling empires in the face of revolutionary technological changes that surpass the revolutionary changes of the industrial revolution. And not a moment too soon.
The Antagonist
Posted: May 7 2009, 12:04 PM


Group: Admin
Posts: 9,970
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Joined: 25-November 05

user posted image

Is Rupert losing it?

I was stunned to read Andy Clark's dispatch this morning about Rupert Murdoch planning on charging for access to his properties on the interwebs.

Look, Rupe usually knows what he's doing. But this really flies in the face of common sense. He argues that the Wall St. Journal's experience proves that one can successfully charge readers for internet access to one's newspapers.

But does it? The WSJ, and the FT, are kind of sui generis. They're financial newspapers, read by a global financial elite. You can charge global financial elites to read a tailored product of financial news.

But regular readers, to read general-interest news? The universal experience has been that you can't. The NYT tried it and got hammered. It quit charging for "premium content" like the columnists. It was a disaster.

And now Rupert thinks general readers, who rose up refusing to pay for the New York Times, are gonna pay for the New York Post?? And the Sun and the News of the World? And for that matter the Times (your Times). If people didn't pay for our Times (NY--let's face it, an immeasurably better newspaper these days, such that there's utterly no comparison anymore between the two), why will they pay for yours? I just don't see it.

Maybe he's got something up his sleeve. Put the big knockers behind the pay wall?

Or maybe he's just losing his touch. I was surprised also to read in Andy's piece about the jaw-dropping decline in News Corp profits. The newspaper division collapsed and the television profits went up in smoke.

Well, maybe we're getting to the end of the Murdoch era. I wouldn't cry.
The Antagonist
Posted: May 8 2009, 01:19 AM


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Posts: 9,970
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Joined: 25-November 05

Journalists having problems with rolling out rolling, multi-sourced press releases news stories, it seems:
Wikipedia hoax points to limits of journalists' research
A sociology student placed a fake quote on Wikipedia, only to see it show up in prominent newspapers, revealing that a lot of the press doesn't go much further than most 'Net users when it comes to researching a story.

By John Timmer | Last updated May 7, 2009 8:03 PM CT

Wikipedia may be a fantastic resource, but any savvy Internet user is aware of its limits. Edit wars, entries made and modified for PR purposes, hoaxes, and basic inaccuracies all creep into (and back out of) the system, meaning that any use of the information there for purposes that might be considered significant should require some serious fact-checking. And, accordingly, many academics don't accept references to Wikipedia, and its entries have been rejected as evidence by US courts. So, it's a bit of a surprise to find out that one Wikipedia hoax, perpetrated by a sociology student, managed to appear in a variety of news reports, and has stayed there even after the hoax was revealed.

According to the AFP, the hoax traces back to Shane Fitzgerald, a student at Ireland's University College Dublin. Upon learning of the death of the Oscar-winning composer Maurice Jarre, the student modified his Wikipedia entry, adding a completely fictitious post that was nicely designed to fit perfectly into any obituary. "When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head, that only I can hear," the added material read in part.

Fitzgerald was apparently curious how far his hoax would spread, and expected it to appear on a variety of blogs and similar sites. Instead, to his surprise, a search picked it up in articles that appeared at a variety of newspapers. Fitzgerald eventually removed his own fabricated quote and notified a variety of news outlets that they had been tricked, but not all of them have apparently seen fit to publish corrections or to ensure that their original stories were accurate, even though fixing a webpage shouldn't be a challenging thing.

Of course, it shouldn't be a surprise that journalists use Wikipedia as part of their research—especially in this case, as Jarre's entry comes out on top of the heap in a Google search for his name. However, the discovery that so many of the writers apparently failed to find an additional source on that quote comes at a rather awkward time for journalists in traditional media, who are facing a struggle to stay above water as the newspaper industry is sinking and the line between traditional journalism and casual reporting gets ever blurrier.

A key part of the argument for maintaining traditional journalism is that its trained reporters can perform research and investigations that the untrained masses can't, and the content they produce is run by editors and fact-checkers. The revelation that their research is often no more sophisticated than an average Web surfer's, and that the fact checking can be nonexistent, really doesn't help that argument much.

Of course, it could easily be argued that this was a one-off instance, and the particular circumstances—an obituary—lessens the importance of the gaffe. No harm, no foul. If only that were the case. In what's an excellent piece of journalism, The Wall Street Journal's health blog has tracked the findings of a group of researchers that are exploring how press releases and journalism describe medical research to the public.

We've covered this issue via a couple of anecdotes in the past, but several studies have explored things in a systematic manner, and the results are pretty discouraging. Press releases, the raw material of a lot of journalism, don't always acknowledge the limitations of studies and, at least partially as a result, relevant information is missing from many press reports. "News stories about scientific meeting research presentations often omit basic study facts and cautions," the authors of one of these studies conclude. "Consequently, the public may be misled about the validity and relevance of the science presented."

And that's medicine.

If there are going to be arguments made for the persistence of journalism as a vital force in modern society, they will undoubtedly need to be based on the role of the press in conveying accurate information. Incidents like these, along with the hard numbers provided by more rigorous studies, will make it much harder to make those arguments.
The Antagonist
Posted: May 9 2009, 09:08 PM


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Can't even give 'em away. An article about newspapers, brought to you mostly by the word 'down'.
ABCs: London Evening Standard down 6% year on year

Alexander Lebedev's London Evening Standard suffers yearly and monthly falls, but paid-for sales remain flat

    * Mark Sweney
    *, Friday 8 May 2009 14.30 BST

The London Evening Standard recorded month-on-month and year-on-year falls in circulation in April, according to the latest Audit Bureau of Circulations figures published today.

Last month the Evening Standard, which has introduced with a range of new pay and distribution initiatives in the last two months under new owner Alexander Lebedev, reported a 6.36% year-on-year fall in circulation to 263,312 copies compared with April 2008. Sales fell 6.11% month on month.

Full price sales of the Evening Standard in April were 128,375 on average – 48.7% of total circulation – down from 143,673 in March.

The Evening Standard reported 14,384 sales at less than full-rate, the result of its new tiered pricing and distribution strategy, which means the paper's overall paid-for sales have remained flat month-on-month.

Bulks – copies that readers can pick up free from hotels, airlines and gyms, which pay a nominal fee to the publisher – were 120,553, down from 132,931 in March.

Distribution of the London freesheet City AM rose 2.68% month on month to a daily average of 107,294 in April.

Last month, News International's freesheet the London Paper distributed an average of 500,759 each weekday, down 0.04% month on month.

Rival freesheet London Lite, owned by Daily Mail & General Trust, distributed 400,387 copies in April, down 0.04% on March.

DMGT's free morning title, Metro, distributed 1,332,225 copies each weekday across the country in April – a decline of 0.25% on March.
The Antagonist
Posted: May 13 2009, 11:30 AM


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Out-of-work journalists up almost 150% in a year
13 May 2009
By Sally Griffith

The number of journalists claiming Jobseeker's Allowance has more than doubled since last year, new figures have revealed.

Data from the Office of National Statistics shows 770 journalists claimed Jobseeker's Allowance in April 2008. By April 2009 the figure had risen by 144 per cent to 1,880.

Figures released yesterday show total unemployment soared by almost a quarter of a million in the first three months of the year, the biggest rise since 1981, leaving the jobless total at more than 2.2 million.

Architects are among the worst hit with a 10-fold increase in the number of Jobseeker's Allowance claimants since 2008.

The Government has been urged to do more to tackle the jobs crisis after the figures showed the UK's unemployment total was now 2,215,000, the highest since 1996.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance increased by 57,100 last month to 1,513,000, while the number of people in work fell by 157,000 between January and March.

Job vacancies fell by 51,000 to 455,000, and the UK's unemployment rate is now 7.1 per cent, up by 0.8 per cent on the previous quarter.
Posted: May 13 2009, 03:32 PM

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Posts: 6,955
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Joined: 6-November 06

Obama: justifying a news media bailout?

Monday, 11 May, 2009

If you wondered about the US government and the news media, and the possibility - the hint, flicker, barest glimmer - of some kind of bailout, then listen to the last few humourless minutes of Barack Obama’s speech to the White House press corps (it’s from 2’50” in on the clip below).

Is he merely playing to the gallery? Or is he providing the intellectual justification for future action? Or am I simply indulging my journalistic passion for over-interpretation?


Adrian Monck
Posted: May 15 2009, 09:40 AM

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Joined: 26-November 05

Back in the day:

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This post has been edited by Bridget on May 15 2009, 09:41 AM
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