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Name: Antony Loewenstein
Home: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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Monday, October 17, 2005

Our fading democracy

Newspaper circulation is diving across the world. Some institutions may deliver occasional highs, but the trend overall is in decline. The latest figures released by the Australian Audit Bureau of Circulation are revealing.

The Sydney Morning Herald is in trouble and the Age is little better. The Murdoch stable received slightly better news with minor increases. The Australian informed its readers of the news on October 14 and included this curious paragraph:

"News Limited expanded its share of the major newspaper market to 68.5 per cent, up from 68.2 per cent, selling 13.3 million papers a week."

What other Western democracies can boast nearly 70% of newspapers being owned by one company? Not many.

News Ltd chief executive John Hartigan believes the Murdoch juggernaut is just beginning:

"...There is still a lot to achieve and our faith in being able to significantly grow newspapers as a category is demonstrated in the investments we continue to make in upgrading technology and launching new products for readers and advertisers."

The Howard government is considering modifying the cross-media laws, the inevitable result giving the Murdoch and Packer groups much greater power and influence. Only a dependent or desperate leader - virtually every Australian Prime Minister in the last decades has been keen to shower love over Packer and Murdoch - would give the media moguls even more power.

4 Comments:

Blogger Pete's Blog said...

Oh Antony

Whaddaya want?

Blogging and reading ("official")news on the internet is likely to be one reason that people are buying fewer (hardcopy) newspapers.

Rubbish like "Mary has a Baby" is probably the type of story that boosts newspaper circulation. That is a story and medium for oldies that CAN'T use the internet.

So much of the media serves our baser instincts and intellects. Nothing new in that.

Public executions and bear baiting were once big to.

Anyway war has always been a big story for all media and politicians use it.

Monday, October 17, 2005 9:35:00 pm  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Furthermore if the likes of Andrew "oh, don't dare call terrorists arseholes! how rude!" Jaspan keep producing lousy product, no wonder the punters aren't buying.

Celeb news is a desperate bid to move copies, but considering old-school broadsheets get it so damn wrong all the time, no wonder people are turning off.

Look: Howard won by ten points in the last election. Now you may not be happy about that, but all the big political journos called it for Latham and were totally in the tank for him. The disconnect between the election results and the 'experts' who are supposed to have their finger on the pulse of the electorate was a big knock to the credibility of the MSM in Oz.

Monday, October 17, 2005 9:46:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Yes, isn't it funny how when the other team is in the political ascendancy, those that are fading call out that "democracy's fading". Hilarious.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005 7:14:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

Seems to be standard practice for either team. Teh right only hear it when it's the sad lefties doing it and visa versa.

Don't you just love how the Right in the US talk about Freedom and Democracy, but are so threatened by it when it actually takes off?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005 12:49:00 am  

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