Australia discovers the internet

There’s an Australian government body, the ACCC, that regulates commercial competition, ostensibly new behalf of the consumer but, as we will discover, perhaps not.

Firstly though, let’s crack that old joke, “why is there only one anti-monopoly agency?”.

The ACCC has recently discovered that people aren’t getting so many newspapers delivered to their houses these days.

No, really.

The ironically-named “competition tsar”, Rod Sims says;

“I was getting the response of people saying ‘isn’t this just creative destruction? You know, classic Schumpeter, the way the world works?” he said in an interview ahead of the speech. “Well… it isn’t. This isn’t just like the car taking over from the horse and buggy, or more recently, Uber taking over from the taxi”.

What is it then?

The internet has been accessible to the majority of Australians since the mid 1990s. Therefore the value destruction of print media and journalists’ careers has been one of the most signalled disruptive industry changes in several generations, yet somehow the media organisations failed to adapt.

The ACCC estimates that the number of journalists employed in the print sector fell by 20 per cent in the three years to 2017; while between 2006 and 2016 the number of journalists employed by traditional publishers fell 26 per cent.

Let’s remind ourselves what those employed in news media are supposed to do every day they come to work…

The harsh reality is their real job description was, “produce interesting content that captures an audience for advertising”.

Perhaps the journalists would prefer something more worthy like, “identify and investigate important changes in the status quo and inform their customers”.

Either way, they’ve failed spectacularly.

Bill’s Opinion

From the mid 1990s, traditional news media failed to spot the impact the internet, cheap mobile phone data and smart/camera phones would have on their profession.

Which is a bit of a problem if your job is called “the news“.

Please don’t make us pay to keep this rubbish alive any longer than it needs to be.

10 Replies to “Australia discovers the internet”

  1. To that subset of literate people who read the Guardian, their content is indeed interesting, is it not? After all, even you read it. Have you ever bought something that was advertised in their pages?

    The objective: run a website that earns more ad revenue than the cost of producing it. How? By getting lots and lots and lots of clicks. Bearing in mind that the typical clickbait website is infinitely more profitable than the Guardian. But wait, while we’re at it, because there is indeed a healthy amount of good content on the Guardian site, let’s do something noble while we’re at it, like expose Juncker as a megalomaniac alcoholic. Hmmnn…

    1. Well, running with that thought for a moment: the problem for a company like the Grauniad is that they maintain huge overheads (foreign, political, entertainment, etc. correspondents, buildings, printing equipment, etc.) to produce the content.

      In the meantime, their income is diluted by the Buzzfeeds and Huffington Posts who rely far more heavily on Google searches for their content but have the same advertising income opportunity.

      The irony is, of course, left wing media like the Grauniad, Australia’s Fairfax, the Washington Post, etc. are also competing against the publicly-funded “free” media so have little chance of charging for their content.

      1. I was recruited as FM by a company which I soon learned was a couple of months from going bankrupt. They were auto spares wholesalers importing chiefly from Taiwan and Japan. I turned them around by listening to their own managers who taught me how a wholesaler is supposed to work. You buy stuff to sell it again, not to use it yourself. Quality is not that important. Buy the stuff from China at half the price. Every time I read that a minibus taxi’s brakes had failed, killing seventeen passengers and the driver and a couple of bods in the other vehicle, I told myself, We’ve only got five per cent of the market so there’s only a five per cent chance it was our shit parts that were responsible. But that’s not the point I was making…

        News publishers are in a similar position. They don’t buy news for their own use. They are going to sell it on. They don’t need top-standard news-gathering networks. They can harvest news free of charge from the internet and employ a couple of hacks to rewrite it into shape. Or they can pay a lift fee which can be negotiated down to a miserly level because it’s a buyer’s market. News agencies — that’s last century. All their online content is click-through, which media buyers at ad agencies love. The online DM has a fantastic side-bar thingie which includes royal family, celebrities, human interest, tits and bums and sport. Something for everyone. (Guess which is my favourite.) Most of their bylines don’t appear to be in-house. They may not be vastly profitable, but they’re surviving.

        Overheads, as you said, are killing the Guardian. But that’s crazy. They are unnecessary overheads. The world today is teeming with rabid lefties and the Guardian click count must be in the zillions. We can only hope that they do not realise their mistake before they go down the tubes.

        1. The Grauniad has a fundamental hatred of profits so, instead, they are always sub-consciously searching for the funding unicorn of a public who really want their righteous writing for its own sake.

          Bless ‘em, the don’t let daily, weekly, monthly, yearly or decadely (is that a word?) reminders that the public don’t want to altruistically fund them as any kind of discouragement.

          Absent a correctly-thinking public, they’ll settle for a rich sugar daddy.

          1. I believe that their trust fund is down to £30m now. A couple of months ago they told their staff there would be no increases which caused great mirth and merriment among their victims.

    1. Jesus wept.

      Just Googled the author. Has only ever worked in newspapers or academia.

      Oh, and got into trouble in 1988 for writing a bunch of untruths.

  2. The internet not work round your way…
    Brain cramp – I thought you were referring to Jim Waterson – he doesn’t look old enough; my bet is he was writing with crayon in 1988.
    I’ll have a look at Dame Frances

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