Thursday 1st of December 2022

only the NUZ

only the NUZ

Costello's camp followers

Ah yes. As much as I enjoy reading about Howard dumping another large one on Costello, I feel a bit of help for the gutless wonder is in order.

Costello would look pretty good with the python stuffed down his trousers AND doing the lambada with Kerrie (or Kerry, no difference really).

I'm enjoying Melbourne's sunshine, hoping for some decent rain soon, and another thrashing for the Pies.

Meanwhile, the tedious and energetic members of Costello's tribe are running about, all sweaty, sphincters puckered, trying to manage the Nuz cycle for the next few days.

Howard has the ball, kicking out from the goal square, to what? The whole team is lined up down the corridor, all behind Costello, who is standing at 16m with his arms and mouth open, waiting for a little girlie pass. Who is going to break out, and run like the devil for the big 55m torp? Howard won't kick it to someone who is standing still. Costello is just about done for, and if another contender doesn't flag interest soon, the Libs will be in bother.

Costello should have presented the Anzac medal to Andrew Lovett. He missed an opportunity there. Did he have a go, or would it have offended his leader, if he'd shaken the hand of a true Australian?

Sad but spot on

Sadly, you are so spot on with this one that it's not actually funny.

Costello's "camp" followers

T.G., you are quite correct about Costello. If he hasn't got the cujones to make a stand against Howard this time he might as well retire gracefully to the private sector. The public will have lost all respect for him as a man.

I hope the pies will get thrashed again too. Fancy those pied twits trying to poach Jonathon Brown from nothing sacred?

Is Johnnee planning the demise of proper public broadcasting?

From the ABC

Ads touted to fund ABC drama
A member of the Federal Government's backbench communications committee has called for advertising to be allowed on the ABC to pay for more drama production.
ACT Senator Gary Humphries has described the level of Australian drama on the national broadcaster as appalling.
He says there needs to be a decent injection of money which should come from increased funding and limited advertising.
Senator Humphries says the matter has already been informally raised with ministers.
"I think people will certainly be prepared to talk about these issues and I hope it'll get currency," he said.
"After all, I think everybody values the role played by our national broadcaster.
"We have a fantastic national asset in the ABC.
"We want to see it built up and strengthened, and producing a decent level of Australian drama is an essential part of its mission and it should be doing that better."

Gus asks: Is this the same government that, a couple of month ago, through the voice of a certain MR Abbott — paid as Health Minister and Overfed Kiddies — told a four corner program for people to watch the ABC if they did not want to see ads? Are they all living on the same planet?

No ads for the ABC... Advertising, as it has been mentioned on this site would compromise the integrity of public broadcasting. The government can afford to pay the ABC a bit more if it wants more out of the ABC

Balding at the barricades

ABC director Russell Balding wrote a good article for today's Financial Review ($2.50).

Here's a taste, sorry I can't find it at, to steal a chunk.

For all those who ask to see their housewives desperate, their brotehrs big and their planes and passengers lost,  Australian commercial television has the answers, and plenty of them.  For commercial television, that's exactly as it should be. But those who want more programs that reflect more about who we  are and where we came from - our "sense of national identity" as the ABC charter describes it - should be able to rely upon the ABC.

It doesn't sound like Russell is about to throw in the towel, even though they are under the pall of an efficiency review.

On stories, we haven't heard anything like enough about the DPs who left the wreckage of post-war Europe, to make good in Oz - for example.

Not relevant here, but this is great writing -
DC Confidential: Face to face with a furious John Major every morning

Stay tuned to the flicker

From the new york Times

The Evil Screen's Plot to Take Over the 2-and-Under World

Published: April 14, 2006
SELF-DOUBT stymies the television watcher. Go to the symphony, the opera, the theater or the ballet and you're rewarded with a feeling of cultural accomplishment; if you like the production, you feel improved, and if you dislike it, you feel superior. Either way, you've won.

But television is not for winners. Television is for low, exhausted potato people who slouch, and for their children, who are plopped in front of it. Slouchers and ploppers, that's us — and we tend to incur the wrath of more upright types. But, in spite of that generalized scorn and the self-doubt it induces, the loser in all of us plainly can't stop watching television, partly because it affords an opportunity, in our hard-driving world, to waste time and energy flagrantly, to live profligately, to forgo winning.

read more at The New York Times


Gus agrees... Yep, most TV, especially commercial TV, is perfect for politicians to "control" our mind... actually to "wipe" our mind if we end up having one, if we care to have one after years of exhaustive flicker viewing... Can we get up?... pass the remote... Go to the cartoon that leads this blog... cry and have another tinnie.

Feeding the media

From a reliable third party source:

August one, International Breast-feeding Day.

But in the meantime, there's also celebration of breast-feeding this weekend in some part of Australia...

One of the major Sunday paper is doing a story on the subject...

But media photographer says that the paper cannot show a picture of a woman breast-feeding... but it can show a picture of a baby being bottle fed. Nurse working on the project is puzzled. Photographer: we're a family newspaper... we cannot show a woman breast-feeding... Nurse is flabbergasted. Rings the paper's editors... Same answer. Nurse is appalled: the papers does not hesitate is showing the tits and bums of celebrities, scantily covered and in full bosoming display but can't show a baby being breast-fed, even if the head of the baby covers the breast...

Why bother living...

Gus thinks either the laws are crook or the powdered milk industry "controls" the perception of the most natural act in raising babies... Who knows...There is something not quite right...

Not the nuz..

COMMERCIAL television has abandoned its commitment to news and current affairs, with The Australian and the ABC among the few media outlets still investing in quality journalism, Ray Martin said last night.

The TV stalwart, in delivering the annual lecture in honour of the late ABC broadcaster Andrew Olle, said Channel 9, where he worked for 30 years, had made a "dopey" decision this year to dump its best news and current affairs programs.

"Business Sunday got the chop first. Given the state of the world right now, how prescient was that?" Martin said.
Related Coverage

"Then Nightline was flicked. Saddest of all, the Sunday program was ingloriously dumped, despite picking up five Walkley Award nominations last year.


Mind you the stalwarts might not last too long... and study toon at top carefully and note the date...

biting the dust...

October 29, 2008 The Media Equation

Mourning Old Media’s Decline


The news that Google settled two longstanding suits with book authors and publishers over its plans to digitize the world’s great libraries suggests that some level of détente could be reached between old media and new.

If true, it can’t come soon enough for the news business.

It’s been an especially rotten few days for people who type on deadline. On Tuesday, The Christian Science Monitor announced that, after a century, it would cease publishing a weekday paper. Time Inc., the Olympian home of Time magazine, Fortune, People and Sports Illustrated, announced that it was cutting 600 jobs and reorganizing its staff. And Gannett, the largest newspaper publisher in the country, compounded the grimness by announcing it was laying off 10 percent of its work force — up to 3,000 people.

Clearly, the sky is falling. The question now is how many people will be left to cover it.

It goes on. The day before, the Tribune Company had declared that it would reduce the newsroom of The Los Angeles Times by 75 more people, leaving it approximately half the size it was just seven years ago.

The Star-Ledger of Newark, the 15th-largest paper in the country, which was threatened with closing, will apparently survive, but only after it was announced that the editorial staff would be reduced by 40 percent.

And two weeks ago, TV Guide, one of the famous brand names in magazines, was sold for one dollar, less than the price of a single copy.


see toon at top and other relevant articles on this site...

more TV...

The BBC Trust, the corporation's governing body, has given a provisional go-ahead for a project which could kick-start demand for internet TV.

Project Canvas is a partnership between the BBC, ITV, BT, Five, Channel 4 and TalkTalk to develop a so-called Internet Protocol Television standard.

It would see a range of set-top boxes available to access on-demand TV services such as iPlayer and ITVplayer.

Set-top boxes, expected to cost around £200, could be available next year.

The Trust reached its provisional conclusions following more than 800 written responses.


Meanwhile in Aussie Land, one can go and watch one's favourite ABC show on the existing net by going to ABC iView... from anywhere in the world... Not HD quality though... and a bit rough at time too. Still better than mouldy cheese... See toon at top.

not nuz to us....

Researchers have found more than half of newspaper stories surveyed over five days were driven by the public relations industry.

More than 2,000 articles from 10 newspapers were analysed by the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism at the University of Technology in Sydney and online publication Crikey in September last year.

The results showed nearly 55 per cent of all stories were triggered by public relations firms.

The Daily Telegraph came out on top with 70 per cent of its stories sourced from the PR sector, with the Sydney Morning Herald at 42 per cent.

Crikey editor Sophie Black says it is not what most readers would expect.

"It's not to say there isn't a role for public relations," she said.

"But I think most readers would be very surprised to realise that a lot of the news they read has been generated by PR in some way."

Crikey says most journalists and editors refused to respond when asked about the public relations element in their stories, and some later withdrew comments out of fear they would be reprimanded or fired.


Definitely not news to us... See 2005 toon at top... But let us say news has been in the throws of propagada and PR since several centuries BC, although the PR of today is corse and the newspapers are lazy easy pushovers...

of moon face....

from Jim Schembri

If things were as they ought to be, Bert's legacy as host should be a fond memory, a reference point of excellence for the new generation of personalities. His annual contribution should be nothing more than a respectful cutaway and an affectionate gag from younger, fresher hosts eager to put their stamp on the event.


Gus: obviously, Jim is too young now and one day will be too old to understand the gamut of Bert's funny blurts. He can still run rings around the young ones, like you could not and they could not believe — all without smut (er...)... And when Bert saluted Don Lane at Don's tribute, Bert did far more than lift his toupee in honour of the lankee yank... But that was deliberately done for the cameras to pick up the "news" item as well as entertain many loyal folks... if moonface is picked for the logies, then so be it, much better than some pimply motor-mouths.


Meanwhile at entertainment central:

"In his own time Jim [Jim Schembri] loves to write, read, watch TV, catch mice, sing in the spa, talk on the phone and collect Star Wars toys.

... see toon at top...

paper cut...

In Britain, Family Buys 2nd Ailing Paper


When Alexander Lebedev and his son, Evgeny, took over The Evening Standard of London 14 months ago, the media coverage focused on the father’s status as a former K.G.B. agent and Russian oligarch, and on both men’s taste in beautiful women. Many news reports asked whether they would be an unhealthy influence on one of Britain’s major newspapers.

By last Thursday, when they struck a deal to buy another respected but failing British paper, The Independent, the question had become whether the Lebedevs had improbably emerged as among the best hopes for preserving serious journalism in Britain.

“I think it was too flattering for me,” Alexander Lebedev, 50, said wryly of the recent coverage, in an interview by telephone from Moscow, while on his way to meet a business partner, Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader. “I hope I don’t get spoiled.”

Reports in Britain on the Independent deal once again mentioned his K.G.B. past, his vast riches ($2 billion, according to Forbes) and his political aspirations. But this time around, much of it also credited the Lebedevs with keeping alive two money-losing daily papers that probably would have died without the new owners, and not interfering with The Standard’s news coverage.

“There was skepticism, but we have had as yet no evidence that Mr. Lebedev believes in anything other than financing a serious free press,” said Tim Luckhurst, head of the journalism center at the University of Kent. “He talks very passionately about this, and it seems as if he means it.”

Last October, the Lebedevs changed The Evening Standard, which serves the London region, into a free paper without paring back its content — this, in a nation where free papers have tended to be breezy digests. It also nearly tripled its circulation, to more than 600,000. Aided by the deaths of two free London dailies last year, The Standard claims that it has gained far more in advertising revenue than it has lost in reader payments.


The world needs the Independent... but does not need Murdoch's media...

top secret...

U.S. Is Said to Expand Secret Military Acts in Mideast Region


WASHINGTON — The top American commander in the Middle East has ordered a broad expansion of clandestine military activity in an effort to disrupt militant groups or counter threats in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and other countries in the region, according to defense officials and military documents.

The secret directive, signed in September by Gen. David H. Petraeus, authorizes the sending of American Special Operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces. Officials said the order also permits reconnaissance that could pave the way for possible military strikes in Iran if tensions over its nuclear ambitions escalate.

While the Bush administration had approved some clandestine military activities far from designated war zones, the new order is intended to make such efforts more systematic and long term, officials said. Its goals are to build networks that could “penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy” Al Qaeda and other militant groups, as well as to “prepare the environment” for future attacks by American or local military forces, the document said. The order, however, does not appear to authorize offensive strikes in any specific countries.

In broadening its secret activities, the United States military has also sought in recent years to break its dependence on the Central Intelligence Agency and other spy agencies for information in countries without a significant American troop presence.

media fun in the sun....

from the NYT

There were many familiar names. Barry Diller of IAC/InterActiveCorp, Rupert Murdoch of the News Corporation and Henry R. Kravis of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts all made it. So did the Google troika of Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Mr. Schmidt, as well as Mr. Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook.

But there were also fresher faces like Mark Pincus of the social game maker Zynga, and Jack Dorsey, the creator of Twitter.

Not everyone was from Hollywood or New York or Silicon Valley. Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister of Singapore, was present this year. Gen. David H. Petraeus is scheduled to appear on a panel on Saturday.

Yet other regular attendees, like Howard Stringer of Sony, Mel Karmazin of Sirius XM Radio and Sumner M. Redstone of Viacom, were no-shows this year. And one of the biggest names on the invitation list, Steven P. Jobs of Apple, had not arrived as of Thursday afternoon.

But many of the high-powered attendees did not come alone. As usual, many bring their spouses and children. The children were chaperoned by an army of local youths. Like their parents, they had plenty to do: rafting, miniature golf and, in light of the World Cup, soccer. As their parents clinked glasses on the lodge’s patio Wednesday night, the children queued up for ice cream, and for skates to use at the adjoining ice rink. After all, moguls can’t have all the fun.


see toon at top....


A US appeals court has struck down a government policy that banned the broadcasting of profanity, ruling that the rule is unconstitutional.

The policy was drawn up in 2004 and meant that broadcasters could be fined if indecent words went on air.

The court said the FCC's (Federal Communications Commission) policy had a "chilling effect" on broadcasters.

The many media outlets that challenged the rule said that they were satisfied with the ruling.

The court said banning all "patently offensive" references to sex, sexual organs and excretion without a clear definition of what is considered offensive, effectively chills speech and creates an atmosphere of fear among America's broadcasters.

FCC commissioner Michael Copps called the court's decision "anti-family" and said the commission would "clarify and strengthen its indecency framework".


from wikipedia

On November 14, 2008, Barack Obama appointed Susan P. Crawford and Kevin Werbach to lead the review of the FCC. The review team will review the commission to aid the new administration in its planning decisions.[4] The team "will ensure that senior appointees have the information necessary to complete the confirmation process, lead their departments, and begin implementing signature policy initiatives immediately after they are sworn in."[5]


Gus: swearing is a spice of life... too much of it can make annoying media, not enough would be unreal.

of nuz and news...

From the BBC

As people find new ways to access news in a post-print world, so the demands on those that deliver it is changing, says Andrew Marr, and this new media age could bring with it a better, more rigorous kind of journalism.

The winds of media revolution are gusting fiercely.

In the past few days we have the Guardian's estimate of a near 90% drop in the online readership of its rival, the Times, since the pay wall went up; and Amazon's announcement that sales of digital books for its e-reader Kindle are outstripping hardback books in the US, at the rate of 143 e-books for every 100 hardbacks over the past three months.

I just wanted to follow up my earlier "conversion confession" on this site.

These two whirling straws were given perfect context at a seminar on Tuesday by John Warnock, co-founder of Adobe and a fabled figure in the Silicon Valley story. Speaking at Nottingham University's computer science school, he predicted a cascade of new iPad-like tablets in many sizes arriving by the end of this year, producing turmoil for cinemas (which will mostly go), bookshops (ditto), and broadcasters.

Hollywood now gets just 15% of its revenue from cinema releases, while newspaper publishers find their traditional strengths - expensive printing plants and sophisticated distribution chains - have become merely costs.

Book publishers ask what they bring to the new party. A public has emerged which doesn't watch traditional sequential television, or even understands the notion of "channels".

I've just come back from Washington where I was doing interviews with grandee journalists and historians in the wood-panelled magnificence of the city's National Press Club.

But downstairs, in the coffee bar, everyone seemed to reading on iPads and phones. Getting into the lift and returning to street level felt like time-travelling, from the Age of the Press, to tablet-world.


Here, on Your Democracy, we try not some much at bringing the news, which we get from a variety of sources and our own deep throats, as to bring the reality behind the "news". Sure we twist it with a bit of crummy satire, but by and large our interpretation of the news and of events is far more accurate than, say, a Fox network. Yet an organisation like Fox reaches far more people who are bamboozled by the crap that is dished to them because it snuggly fits in their discriminatory, racist, petty and selfish brain — and it appears on the brainwashing box with hype. We cannot compete with this jam for dorks... We do not exist.

We try hard though to remove the gristle from the meat. Fox only serves the greasy bits and add transfat to these. Some people love it, especially when they get greasy fries with that. Huuum... Fox Nuz!... see toon at top...

review of the ABC's charter

The Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, has said he is prepared to consider a review of the ABC's charter if the government is re-elected, amid accusations the broadcaster has drifted beyond its core purpose.

The guiding document for the public broadcaster has not been changed since the ABC became a corporation in 1983. Some commercial rivals have complained that the ABC overstepped the charter by expanding into rolling television news, regional news websites and online opinion.

A review of the charter would renew debate over the broadcaster's role and whether it complies with its current obligations.

The charter requires the ABC to contribute to a sense of national identity, broadcast Australian content abroad and include educational programming.

It must also take account of ''the broadcasting services provided by the commercial and community sectors'', a clause Sky News says is breached by the new 24-hour current affairs channel ABC News 24.

Senator Conroy said a review of the charter was ''a reasonable suggestion … I'm not committing to it but I'm prepared to talk about it with my colleagues.''


Meanwhile at media watch on ABC News 24...

Review the Charter of the ABC AND their conservative Board.

I Quote: (Apologies for name spelling mistakes - I am a Jones & Smith person)

"The guiding document for the public broadcaster has not been changed since the ABC became a corporation in 1983. Some commercial rivals have complained that the ABC overstepped the charter by expanding into rolling television news, regional news websites and online opinion.

A review of the charter would renew debate over the broadcaster's role and whether it complies with its current obligations."

There were many years of “crocodile tears” by the Corporations about the supposed bias of the ABC which they called "Auntie" and lampooned its independence continuously. Likewise there have been, since the election of Labor these compulsive critics have been strangely silent.  

IMHO the ABC bias towards the Corporation’s Liberal Party was never more evident than when Murdoch and his ABC “opinionator” journalists including Chris Eurlman; Heather Hewitt; Fran Kelly; Barry Cassidy and some other “guests” like Board member Elbreckson who also writes for the Murdochracy.

“Fair crack of the sauce-bottle” - how can they even be considered as balanced in their “opinions” when they write for the Murdoch Empire? And I assume, are paid for it? If not, it is an act of hatred of the Labor Politicians and their supporters.

I would be very pleased IF these people, in fact every single member of the ABC, irrespective of whatever service they are employed in, were to honor the balanced and truthful news reports for all of the Australian people who, supposedly, are their contracted employers.

It is now well known - not often on the Corporation’s radar - that the Howard “New Order” seriously changed the controlling body and staff of the ABC (as he did with almost all of the Public Service) to the point where Quentin Dempster was the ONLY non-conservative on the Board which was arrogantly noted by Howard.

Another Howard “New Order” legacy of hollow US democracy – but as his history reveals, hiding behind the “bullies” in any society is the escape of a physical coward and sharpens the wish to be superior?

I consider the offer of Steven Conroy should be appreciated by those similar outlets who cannot compete for a slice of the Corporation’s cost-effected private enterprise with a Government funded Corporation that continually pushes the policies of the same side of parliament.

God Bless Australia and bring back the “Auntie” that I personally respected.  NE OUBLIE.



fox bling...

Fox-Cablevision Blackout Reaches a 2nd Day


What started as a routine contract dispute between Cablevision Systems and the News Corporation has become one of the longest and most talked about blackouts of television programming in years.

About three million households in the New York metropolitan area were left without Fox programming on Saturday and Sunday, preventing sports fans from watching a Phillies game on Saturday night and a Giants game on Sunday afternoon. After months of negotiations, the two companies cannot agree on a price for retransmission of the Fox network.

Cablevision and the News Corporation talked for only a few hours on Sunday, and Fox said they were still far apart. By Sunday evening, television analysts who had predicted a resolution by the kick-off of the Giants game wondered aloud whether the two media giants could drag out the fight until the start of the World Series, which Fox is to start broadcasting on Oct. 27.

Broadcasters view retransmission as an important new source of revenue and that is one reason the dispute is being closely watched by lawmakers; some have already proposed reforms to the station retransmission process.

The stakes are especially high for Fox because another potential blackout is looming. Some of Fox’s local station contracts with a bigger distributor — Dish Network — expire at the end of the month. The network is already running advertisements warning customers that the World Series could be interrupted.

More than three million of Dish’s 14 million subscribers could be affected, depending on where they live.

see toon at top...

Hi Ernest

I believe you mean Julia Gillard not Julia Bishop in your excellent post re Good One Gus (keeping up with the joneses)... Julie Bishop is placed on a pedestal by the Murdochracy though she, like her leader (Tony Abbott), does not seem to understand much and say a lot of crap...

Nothing could be further from the truth


Wise, effective climate policy flows from a sound scientific foundation and a clear understanding of what science does and does not tell us about human influence and about courses of action to manage risk. Many of the temperature data and computer models used to predict climate change are themselves uncertain. Reducing these many uncertainties requires a significant shift in the way climate change research is carried out in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Are calls about the uncertainty in the state of scientific knowledge a call for no action? Nothing could be further from the truth. The message to policy makers is not to delay actions until uncertainties are reduced. Rather, actions should flow from the state of knowledge, should be related to a long-term strategy and objectives and should be capable of being adjusted"one way or the other" as the understanding of human influence improves. There is a sufficient basis for action because the climate change risk is real. Yet it is equally true that actions must not be predicated on speculative images of an apocalyptic vision of life in the near future.


Gus: what does this mean?... Well not much. The George C. Marshall Institute was founded by scientists opposed to tobacco regulations and anything else that could also regulate the spread of nuclear weapons. The founders were physicists involved in the invention of H-bombs and such...

Yes, we "all" know there is uncertainty in the knowledge of climate change but one can never prove that a bus has hit you down until a bus has actually hit you down. Before this, it would be a conjecture to say the bus is on a trajectory to hit you but you are not hit until you are. But if you have your back turned away from an incoming bus, you won't see it coming. Your chance to survive is for someone else telling you'd better take evasive action or you're going to be hit by a bus. Either you trust the someone or you don't. In climate change theory, like in smoking cigarette theory, like in the ozone layer depletion theory, there are strong correlations that can never be proven exclusively. Too many factors are at play but there are strong trends in steps that suggest a strong relationship and there are repeatable experiments that "prove" that CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

It would be stupid to sugest that the extra carbon we have added in the atmosphere and in the sea is not affecting the climate. Say, if we pour some petrol in a creek, it will pollute that creek and possibly kill the fish. But we can say the fish would have died anyway the next day when the creek became dry for example, which it could. 

Climate change is a more accurate science than those monkeys at the George C. Marshall institute are letting us have. They expect us to wait for the bus to be closer, before taking the minimum evasive action. Or that the bus will stop right there before hitting us. It's a gamble that we should not take mostly because there is a strong chance it will be too little, too late.

The ramblings from the institute could not be further than the truth... see toon at top...


The climate change risk is a long-term challenge that will be best addressed by technology--faster deployment of current technology and incentives to speed the development of new technology. Congress should focus on actions that bring about those two objectives cost-effectively in concert with actions to promote strong economic growth.

The best and most honest action that Congress can take is a simple, straightforward carbon tax with the proceeds returned to taxpayers through the reduction in a more distorting tax like the payroll tax.

William O'Keefe is CEO at the George C. Marshall Institute, a think tank that promotes better use of science in public policy. He is a former COO at the American Petroleum Institute


Gus: it all sound so simple... But I would suggest that Mr O'Keefe is disingenuous.. He would have to know that no congress would pass a "straightforward" carbon tax... He would have to know too that strong economic growth would work against curbing CO2 emissions... He would have to know too that at present there are very few weapons against our emissions of CO2 and rising energy demand. The more we can produce renewable, the more we're going to increase our consumption, thus doing very little to reduce emissions at large. There is also the spectre of nuclear energy looming on the horizon — the cost of which is always a contentious issue in the operation and disposal of wastes...

the fox and the crow(d)...

From a friend of a friend...

Does Fox News make you dumb? Some would argue Fox News devotees aren’t the sharpest tools in the American news shed -- and now we have the empirical data to prove it. A survey conducted by World Public Opinion, a project initiated by the University of Maryland, has found Fox News viewers are "significantly more misinformed than consumers of news from other sources". So Glenn Beck isn’t a wellspring of informed enlightenment?

Participants were quizzed on several leading US news items, with their responses measured against the facts. Here are just a few choice misnomers, as propagated by the Fox News crew:

60% believe climate change is not occurring
63% believe Obama was not born in the US (or that it is unclear)
72% believe the economy is getting worse
91% believe the stimulus legislation lost jobs
72% believe the health reform law will increase the deficit.
Interestingly, the study also found that regular exposure to Fox News doesn’t just erode your intelligence, but also threatens the public’s collective IQ by giving misinformed views greater momentum. So, what are our treatment options? High doses of hummus and Omega-3 fatty acids, as part of a strictly Palin-free diet plan. -- Crikey intern Alexandra Patrikios

The fox and the crow

The title of this piece is related to an ancient fable where the fox is flattering a crow, a crow full of himself — who opens its beak to sing under the flattery of the fox who tells the crow its song is the best the world. The crow of course lets loose of the tasty morsel it held in its beak — tasty morsel the fox was after... Add a d and the crow is a crowd... see toon at top..

meet the depressing press...

In his usual Sunday stupid column, David Penberthy, today excelled himself...:



If Julia Gillard is looking for a shoulder to cry on about the torrid media coverage she has been receiving she could always pick up the phone to another recent prime minister in John Howard.

If she were to do so she would find that, far from getting a sympathetic ear, she'd be politely advised to stop whining, harden up and get on with governing.



Or is Labor getting negative media coverage because it's got a primary vote of 27 per cent and that is because its leadership has been so haphazard and its policies so poorly sold that the media is simply reflecting, not creating, public disquiet at its performance?



A majority of voters - this sounds funny now - were alarmed at the prospect of global warming and wanted the government to act.



I was editor of The Daily Telegraph at the time of Howard's demise and the job fell to the paper to record and analyse the strife he was in. It wasn't a case of creating public opinion but chronicling it.



The amnesia part is the deadliest. It goes not just to the valid news coverage Howard received as he trudged towards his execution, but the chief policy reason he was making that doomed march.

That reason was WorkChoices. Simply, he had no mandate. Gillard has her own WorkChoices and it's the carbon tax.






see toon at top...

good nuz...

At the beginning of BBC radio, if the time rolled around for a news bulletin, and there was no news, the newsreader would simply say "there is no news". Sooner or later, the idea of a news agenda developed, and if there was no news, they would just find some news. But you can imagine today, just waking up to hear that there was no news: what a comfort that would be.

I have some news for you, Zoe Williams, there is "more news" on the way... see toon at top...

paying for titil...


IN April 1912, the surviving operator of the Titanic’s wireless communications system was paid a handsome sum for his account of narrowly escaping death aboard the sinking ship.   

It will probably surprise some journalistic purists to learn that the news outlet that forked over $1,000 for Harold Bride’s harrowing tale — multiple times his annual salary — was not some sensationalist purveyor of yellow journalism,  but The New York Times.   

Evolving standards or no, checkbook journalism has been a persistent and problematic feature of news coverage at even the most powerful and reputable news organizations, long predating the hyper-competitive 24-hour cable news cycle and the celebrity gossip boom.  

And the issue is not likely to disappear anytime soon, even with ABC News’s contriteacknowledgment last month that to protect its reputation, it would have to cut back on the kinds of payments that have helped the network score a string of major exclusives in recent years. In Britain, public tolerance seems to have reached its limit with revelations that journalists working for Rupert Murdoch’s recently closed News of the World routinely paid the police for information as well as hacked the phones of crime victims.

see toon at top...


apologies from the press...

In an article that appeared in the print edition and online version of the Mail on Sunday on 7 August 2011, it was suggested that according to Mail on Sunday sources Société Générale, one of Europe's largest banks, was in a 'perilous' state and possibly on the 'brink of disaster'.

We now accept that this was not true and we unreservedly apologise to Société Générale for any embarrassment caused.

Read more:

Gus: the nuzpapers have told porkies... Due to the article on Sunday 7 the stock of the bank had tanked more than 30 per cent and since the retraction and denial from the bank the stock has gone back up bonkers... but the fall had also been helped a bit by The Wall Street Journal as well (Now a Murdoch publication)... Who know who's behind the journalistic crap...
See toon at top...

high tackle...

Fairfax Media breaks ranks with rugby's top body to cover World Cup

Fairfax Media in Australia has announced today that it refuses to sign accreditation for the Rugby World Cup to protect its editorial freedom.

The publisher, whose assets include The Sydney Morning Herald, this website and RugbyHeaven, will send journalists to cover the event but will be denied access to official World Cup venues by tournament organisers..Fairfax Media has been joined in its stance by News Ltd.

Australian media coverage of the 2011 Rugby World Cup is in jeopardy because of an impasse over accreditation terms.

The Newspaper Publishers Association (NPA) says that, after extensive discussions, the two organisations and tournament organiser, the International Rugby Board (IRB), disagree over two issues.

The IRB believes newspaper publishers should be restricted in the quantity of video they may use for reporting news on digital platforms.

The IRB also demands newspaper publishers should not be able to place any video-based advertisements to accompany news coverage with clips of match highlights.

Newspaper publishers believe they will be at a commercial disadvantage to non-accredited media organisations, which would not be bound by the time restrictions on video footage and would be free to place advertising with their journalism.

NPA chief executive Mark Hollands said it was a "regrettable" situation that he hoped would be resolved before the tournament began.

Publishers' rights to use video to report news was permitted under the fair dealing exemption of the Australian Copyright Act and the publishers were not prepared to sign away these rights.

Read more:


see toon at top....

at YD, we've been on the case for yonks...

JAY ROSEN: I think we've reached the point where politics as entertainment, the 24-hour news cycle, the fascination with media manipulation and spin doctors, the cult of the insider in political coverage - have gone on for so long they've all come together to the point where I think they're not only distorting politics, but they're actually beginning to substitute for it.

This is the sense in which I think political coverage is broken.

TONY JONES: Take it back to a golden age of political coverage, if such a thing ever existed. What was it like when it was better? I can't really remember a time when it was much better than this?

JAY ROSEN: Well, I think there was a time when the political system decided what policy was, what their stance was going to be, and then of course consulted their advisers about how to present it.

Today, as I think Lindsay Tanner suggested in his book Sideshow, which I have read, it's almost the reverse of that. It is, what's going to work in the media is presented first and then figuring out policies that you can announce that correspond to that comes after.

It is that sense that this crazy sort of mix of politics and news and manipulation and media and journalism has overtaken the political system that I think we need to register and start dealing with.

TONY JONES: What if I said that political coverage is not broken, not the coverage at least - there's just a hell of a lot more of it than there was before. You have to be very careful what you read, what you watch and what you listen to.

JAY ROSEN: Well, one could certainly make that point, and it is true there's more information than ever. There are more choices than ever. But political actors respond to the intensive systems that are before them. I think what we have now is a situation where journalism isn't just representing what political actors do, it is actually changing what they do. And there isn't really an exit from that system no matter what channel you're watching or what news source you're consulting.


see toon at top...

a media piss up coming up...



It's as though the findings of the Finkelstein inquiry into the media, proposed statutory enforcement of journalistic standards and the agitation for an Australian law of privacy are all fantasies.


Tonight [4 may 2012] the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance hosts the annual press freedom dinner - a worthy occasion to bring to the fore many of the threats to reporters and reporting.

What should not be forgotten is that the media here is not free of certain dark arts. Significant bits of Australian journalism have been drinking at the last-chance saloon well beyond closing time.

The self-regulated, industry-funded regime for newspapers and the partially self-regulated system for broadcasters have failed to deliver a decently accountable standard for a free media.


Read more:

See toon at top...

another beat up by the dung beetles of the terrorgraph...

The Chief of the Defence Force has condemned News Limited papers for publishing stories about the alleged mishandling of Australian soldiers' remains.

The newspapers are reporting that the bodies of three soldiers killed in Afghanistan were mistakenly placed in upside down caskets for their return.

The reports claim there has been a "litany of errors" in the handling of Australia's war dead.

This morning the claims drew an angry response from ADF Chief General David Hurley.

He told a Senate estimates committee that all bodies have been treated with the utmost dignity and respect, and the newspaper reports are "un-Australian".

"This is not an issue about the reputation of the ADF," he said.

"This is 32 families and extended families and the members of the ADF - soldiers and airmen - who accompanied those men on the way back and the enormous distress that this story could cause."

But he admitted that "on three occasions, once in 2008 and twice in 2011, caskets were used incorrectly during the initial part of the return journey from Afghanistan".


The Washington National Guard has criticised two servicewomen for being photographed in military uniform while breast-feeding their babies.

The photos were posted on the Facebook website by a support group at Fairchild Air Force Base called Mom2Mom.

The group's leader, Trysta Chavez, said the photos were meant to promote World Breast-Feeding Week in August.

Military officials said it was a breach of the rules to use the uniform to promote non-military causes.

National Guard spokesman Captain Keith Kosik told the BBC that there was no regulation against breast-feeding in uniform.

But he said the National Guard took issue with the uniform being used "by an outside entity for a cause", regardless if it was a positive one.

Capt Kosik said the women were unlikely to face disciplinary action.

the money or the news...


Simons: the bottom line … news or profitability?

by Margaret Simons

There is a respectable point of view among those who analyse media businesses that the smartest thing serious news journalism could do is move to the political right.

Why? Because most of those with the willingness and capacity to pay for news content are comparatively wealthy individuals in business — business news being one of the things they are willing to pay for. Also, that these are the individuals premium advertisers most wish to reach.

Among this school of analysts are those who see The Australian’s conservative bent as being not only about the personal views of the proprietor and editor, but also about business good sense. It follows from this that Fairfax Media, with its more liberal leanings, is not being so smart.

Which brings us to Gina Rinehart, and the views expressed on Wednesday by Hungry Jack’s founder,  Ten Network board member and Rinehart adviser Jack Cowin, who is quoted as saying the Fairfax board should have the power to change the editorial direction of the company. He said newspapers were a business and that ”the purpose of the newspaper … is probably to portray the facts in a manner that is going to attract readership”. And: ”The purpose of a company is to try to make a profits and if the editorial policy … is not optimising the opportunity then it’s the role of the directors to try to change the direction.”

All of which raises that old chestnut of whether journalism is just a business, like any other, or whether it is a public trust. Nothing new about that debate...

Read more


See toon (2005) at top...

murdoch on steroid....

For decades Televisa's logo – a golden human eye gazing at the world through a television screen – captured the company's success at controlling and dominating what Mexicans watched.

The media firm, the biggest in Latin America, produced soap operas, quiz shows, films and news bulletins that reflected and reinforced the country's concentration of economic and political power.

Televisa's eye, with the pupil in the form of a globe, remained an unblinking stare during authoritarian one-party rule and Mexico's transition to multiparty democracy, a change that only increased the company's wealth and influence.

"You could say it's like Murdoch on steroids in the sense Televisa has operated under far fewer constraints than Murdoch," said Andrew Paxman, a historian and co-author of El Tigre, a biography of Emilio Azcárraga Milmo, the mogul whose father founded the company and the dynasty that still controls it.

balon, que hará historia...

Euro 2012: Cesc Fabregas reveals Spain penalty secret

By Ben SmithBBC SportCesc Fabregas has revealed he spoke to the ball and told it to "make history" before striking the penalty that took Spain into Sunday's Euro 2012 final. talk to my tomatoes as well, in English and German... doesn't work... I should change to Spanish..."tomates, hacer historia!".... 

freedom of the blogs...


IT'S a peculiar situation. This writer is subject to regular tirades on HotCopper, slandered with all sorts of nasty epithets and nefarious claims. We last unleashed the fury of the chat forum's faithful back in March, in the wake of a story on Energy World Corp, which preceded a halving in the share price.
Market manipulation, they cried. Attacking a stock for personal gain! Abusing his role as a reporter! There has been worse.
As if a newspaper report, untrue or unfair, could do lasting damage to a share price or a reputation, anyway.
On a more critical note, Australia's preposterous defamation laws, the strictest in the world and based on a 100-year-old British statute, are now more arcane than ever, with the advent of new media. The internet is global and instantaneous.
Yet websites are being shut down and censored at an alarming rate. There are few resources in new media to stop corporations suppressing their critics. And this at a time when mainstream media budgets are under severe pressure. You can see where things are headed. If free speech is not protected and the influence of vested interests over government stays on the creep, it will not be merely shareholder democracy under threat.
At least in the US, whose Washington plutocracy is held in the sway of Wall Street donations, freedom of speech remains firmly enshrined in the constitution.

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"As if a newspaper report, untrue or unfair, could do lasting damage to a share price or a reputation, anyway"?... Newspaper reports, untrue and unfair, are used by the merde-och press, to bash the Labor government, with some success... So the same caper can happen in regard to business.... If you say it loud and often enough, it can change the perception of reality...


more gruen for some...

In a move long anticipated in the industry, Network Ten has appointed the advertising boss and Gruen regular Russel Howcroft to a senior executive role.
Howcroft, the chief executive of the Australian and New Zealand arm of global agency Young & Rubicam Brands, will take up the role of executive general manager at Ten in February 2013. He will be based in Melbourne and have responsibility for the network's operations in all mainland capital cities except Sydney.
Capping months of rumours, the appointment was announced by the network boss, James Warburton, this morning.
"Russel is a great leader and one of the most outstanding advertising executives in Australia. We are very pleased he is joining Network Ten," Mr Warburton said.

Read more:

See toon at top...

pain for the pen...

Key Fairfax players have told the ABC that the company's board ignored repeated advice that its newspaper business was in danger of being destroyed by the rise of the internet.

Fairfax has recently seen its share price collapse and has been forced to radically alter its business model.

Background Briefing has been told the media company ignored warnings against buying printing presses, and failed to recognise the rising significance of online classified ads.

Former Fairfax editor and now online publisher Eric Beecher says he tried to convince the board to take notice of the internet.

"I outlined to the Fairfax board what I described as a catastrophe scenario which involved losing a decent chunk of their classified advertising, and they chose to totally ignore that," he said.

Among the sweeping changes announced by Fairfax earlier this year were the sale of the printing presses, changing the newspapers' format to tabloid, and changing the focus of the mastheads to "digital first".

Chief executive Greg Hywood likened the changes to last century's transformation of the transport industry.

"This is really moving from the horse and buggy to a motor vehicle," he said.




12 years ago, Beecher was the guest speaker for one of the Andrew Olle lectures:

To be absolutely blunt about it: the horse has bolted. The idea that owners of media organisations regard the practice of journalism as a public service is as outdated as the idea that businesses operate in the interests of a better world. To quote the words of a cover story in The Economist two years ago: "The news business used to be a craft, but now it has turned into a manufacturing operation." Or the words of an Australian who has the rare distinction of being someone within the system who is prepared to air his strong views in public - the Financial Review and ABC journalist Alan Kohler, and I quote: "From being seen as a service in the public good, subject to powerful overriding ethical considerations, journalism is coming to be viewed as just another part of the spectrum of media content, along with sport, movies, sitcoms, music and so on."

These are uncomfortable and often unpleasant days for our industry and our profession. But as a breed of people who are trained to deal in facts, I think it's time that we in journalism and the media confronted the reality of what is going on, rather than continued to somehow pretend that the good old days still exist or may miraculously return. To paraphrase Sam Goldwyn, the old days are gone forever.


when the beeb mucks up...


The BBC must undergo a radical overhaul in the wake of "shoddy" journalism which led to the resignation of its chief or its future will be in doubt, the head of the state-funded broadcaster's governing body said on Sunday.

Chris Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, said opponents of the BBC, especially Rupert Murdoch's media empire, would take advantage of the turmoil to up the pressure on its long-term rival.

"If you're saying, does the BBC need a thorough structural radical overhaul, then absolutely it does and that is what we will have to do," Mr Patten, a one-time senior figure in British prime minister David Cameron's Conservative Party and the last British governor of Hong Kong, told BBC TV.

BBC director-general George Entwistle resigned late on Saturday just two months into the job, after the corporation's flagship news program aired mistaken allegations of child sex abuse against a former leading politician.


The BBC should have been more "careful"... and one does not know how this type of misinformation came through the system, including sabotage. Sabotage?... Hum... The world flew out of my mind without any connection to any known reality... The known reality is when one has solid evidence versus the rumours or simply the made-up story... When the Beeb deals with millions of information pieces per day, some is doubled-checked, most is quadruply checked or relied upon according to the bone fide of the professional News Agencies... When information comes in raw, then the process needs to filter out the weeds... National broadcasters are often circumspect in regard to commercially touted news...

Journalism is under constant attack from government porkies and PR press releases... and of course national outfits such as the BBC are under attack (sabotage? finance? Relevance?) from the commercial networks (and disgrunted "talents")... And of course the commercial news outfit can get subtle hints from their masters as to which stories can be beneficial to their advertisers... 

See toon at top... and dumb and dumber...


one giant hammer to crack a rotten hazel nut...


Newsnight item was cleared at ‘every damned level’ and yet still made a horrendous error, says chairman

LAST UPDATED AT 10:53 ON Sun 11 Nov 2012

THE BBC management needs a thorough and radical "structural overhaul" to ensure that the Newsnight fiasco which caused Lord McAlpine to be wrongly identified as a sex abuser is not repeated, the chairman of the BBC Trust, Lord (Chris) Patten, said this morning.

"We now know that the Newsnight programme went up through every damned layer of bureaucracy and still emerged," he said of the item broadcast on Friday 2 November in which Steve Messham, a one-time resident of a north Wales care home, claimed he had been abused as a boy by a senior Tory figure from the Thatcher era.Newsnight did not broadcast Lord McAlpine's name, but a rash of speculation on Twitter quickly led to the former Tory party treasurer being wrongly identified as the perpetrator.

Patten was appearing on The Andrew Marr Show the morning after Director General George Entwistle announced his resignation over the Newsnight error for which, as the BBC's editor-in-chief, he felt bound to take responsibility.

Asked by Andrew Marr whether Entwistle had jumped or been pushed, Patten insisted Entwistle had offered his resignation without being asked to do so.

Questioned about calls in the Sunday papers for his own head, Patten dismissed these as coming predictably from "the Murdoch press".


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There has been a few mistakes made by the BBC and these are paralleled within the ABC, in Australia... What happens usually is senior management wants the National Broadcaster do more with less — more channels, more internet, more Iview, BUT less intellectualism (such as slowly demolishing Radio National) — and senior journalists are being replaced with junior staff "who know everything" since they went to school (university). These kids of course cost much less than old jounos who have been trained to smell a rat in a sewer from 10 miles away — from day one of their cadetship (cadetship is no more)... The new kids would not be able to write a press release to save their lives, but, there you are, they can surf the net and make puns like no other.

I don't know how the mistake was made at the BBC and I strongly suspect "sabotage"... A well orchestrated double-cross to embarrass the Beeb... and this would not be the only one try... Others might have been stopped by discerning old journos... Unless it was sheer stupidity.

Now to redress this problem would simply be to find the culprits and investgate where the story originated and fire the collector of the information for failing to double check the facts, something that which can be done with rigour — including asking the person accused in the story.

Rather than "firing" the chef for the fly in the soup, fire the kitchen hand for spoiling the broth.

Anything else will be overkill that Murdoch will love and watch with glee... Actually he will provide the bullets to kill off the BBC... Your turn fellows...

ten, nine, seven, three, two, one...


Ten's steeply discounted $225 million capital raising shows the financial predicament the network finds itself in due to an ever sliding share of the audience and a generally weak advertising market.
For the second time this year, Ten’s high-profile list of star shareholders, including Gina Rinehart, James Packer, Lachlan Murdoch and Bruce Gordon will need to open their wallets to save Australia’s third ranked commercial television network from a knock at its door from its bankers.
The commercial success for any television network rests with its ability to produce programs that capture the attention of viewers. The other critical success factor is doing it within well managed cost bounds.
Tragically for Ten, its new billionaire masters either underestimated or have been unable to meet the first priority. In October, Ten’s market share fell to a perilously low 21 per cent.

James Packer, Lachlan Murdoch and Gina Rinehart have lost at least $360 million on their combined investments in little over a year. Their plan to buy into Ten, seize control of operations, cut costs and tweak programming has badly backfired

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Dear James and Gina...

I am not a programming expert nor a TV mogul but — call it intuitive, studied or having a foot in it (I have made TV productions for the US market) — I "know" what works... ( though in this industry, it's difficult to know anything before the facts)... I could be wrong of course so may be I should not tell you this...

I will anyway. For example, the target of Channel Seven is the mums and dads from around 35 to 55 of age... That's where real money is... One of the main target of Channel Ten has been the "younger audience"...: The funky, the cool, the groovy, the savvy, the fancy free, the outgoing... Sorry? the out going?  Gosh!  Channel Ten is aiming its programming at an audience who's out there frolicking and dancing in the night clubs!!!... Okay... You know what I'm telling you?... 

See, despite ALL commercial TV networks having twisted the mind of the youth in the morning with kiddies shows — some stupider than others and many loaded with commercial interests like toys and fast food, many of the young growing people have left the teat of TV to concentrate on more important things like twits, going out, girls and boys and fun... these days at least till they are 30 or more...

Most of the audience that watches TV these days will do it on its own terms... Most of ye old foggies will want to watch the ABC, though the ABC is starting to try to trawl lower — like Channel Ten — to the dumbdumb under 25, on its main channel, which is a bit dumb from the ABC, isn't it? The ABC also plans to dumb down (or destroy, whichever comes first) its RN radio National network, all in the aim to shift moneys from reasonably paid experienced journalists and specialists in their field experts — who cater for educated older audiiences — towards the fuzzywuzzy world of youth who would not care less since they have their own iPod glued to their ears... 

Most of the disposable income from the youth is going to be dispensed with, impulsively, while the 35 to 55 audience will be more aware of the value of purchases... I know, nothing is as clear cut as this but I would bet my debts against your loaded bank accounts that I'm not far off... The "demographics" of audiences should tell a story... Call me if you need more advice and/or good programming experience... 




See toon at top...

nothing new in the news-of-the-day....


Audiences are bombarded 24 hours a day with pressure to make quick decisions about who is right or wrong on issues of the day.
In competing for eyeballs or ears, the media can allude to who the bad guy is before the public gets a chance to hear all sides and examine the context.
Some media present extreme or entrenched world-views as a commercial point of difference.
In this ''rush to judgment'' environment, the public relations industry prospers, most recently in the Ashby-Brough plot to damage Peter Slipper and help the Liberal National Party.
For $550 an hour plus GST on a no-win no-fee basis, PR spinners flood media with one side of an argument. Lawyers play, too, knowing public opinion can force a rapid payout.
Politicians employ teams of spinners on taxpayer-funded salaries to massage the facts in a self-serving way as well.
The role of the media should be to strip away the PR, legal and political spin. Much of the time it succeeds in this crucial democratic role.
But with fewer resources and less time, the media can fall short.
We have seen rushes to judgment this year on Julia Gillard, Craig Thomson, Peter Slipper, Tony Abbott and more.

Read more:
Rush judgments?... Sure. The media is full of opinionators rather than journalists...

It's much easier to have an opinion rather than painstakingly do a forensic investigation that would come as close as possible to the truth... We know that in most cases, culprits fudge the truth and hide evidence beyond reach as not to be caught. I know people who have been shot at for coming too close to finding out.  Or run over by a car. 

But the media so far has been unwilling to challenge Tony Abbott. Come on, media, when was the last time you really really pulled his pants down — without trying to lift Julia's skirt for "balance"? For the Australian media Tony Abbott is a sure thing. Though one can sense the media being slightly frightened by this... For the media, Tony is inevitable, unlike global warming... For the Australian media, global warming is an unreal idea that has its pluses and minuses in the "future" somewhere else... Fuzzy....
For the media, Tony is a sure bet. 

I do not call Tony Abbott "Detritus" lightly. It's tongue-in-cheek, sure, but it's the name given to a character in popular French "literachur" that is hell-bent on destroying the place and the peace by "innocently" manipulating perceptions of people, while not lifting a glove — just by saying things — in a specific way. It's a clever way to use people insecurities and deep prejudices — and it is the people themselves who are destroying the place.  This is why Tony Abbott is a dangerous iddiott. He is the master of negativity and destruction. His tactics may not be that of punching walls anymore, but of punching the psyche of people, using most of the media as a platform. The media, especially the merde-och press has been the biggest offender... Should Tony get his hands on the levers of this nation, would be the greatest disaster ever.  It is an experiment we cannot afford. Time for the media to wake up and not be scared of the bully anymore. Tony Abbott is not a Till Eulenspeigel character who does funny pranks for a laugh... Tony is a Detritus character who has dark über ideas about thrashing the place for control.

He may not know this himself about himself — that would be his only saving grace... But Tony, please leave Australia alone...

See toon at top and read articles below it...


for example...


Negative politics 'damages economy'


This is the title of a story on the front page of you've guess it "The Un-Australian" — a Murdoch driven rag. Now pay attention. Who has been NEGATIVE for the last three year? Tony Abbott, of course... More negative than negative. Utterly discracefully negative. 

As I have written above: "Come on, media, when was the last time you really really pulled his [Anthony John "Tony" Abbott] pants down — without trying to lift Julia's skirt for "balance"?"


One cannot expect anything more from the Murdoch press... Sure, "business" may have slammed BOTH leaders, but the fact is that the M press by its slanted reports has made sure that Tony and Julia were tarred with the same brush — in order to debase Julia exclusively — when the reality is that TONY is doing all the negative dirties...


And on top of this rather than blame the money traders who are doing most of the damage to the economy (which is reasonably healthy by international standards) by keeping the dollar value too high, business is blaming the government... mostly for having been successful in staying afloat in a sea of overseas crap. Even the reserve bank is at a loss about the way the Aussie dollar is staying stratospheric.

advertorial for mutually-assured profits...

The slippery slope of sponsored content

Tim Dunlop

As media organisations struggle to stay afloat the temptation of the advertorial becomes harder to resist. The question becomes how to do that while keeping their journalistic integrity intact? Tim Dunlop says the answer is radical transparency.

Back in the early 1980s, my partners and I opened one of the first video libraries in Melbourne.

This was when I was introduced to the shady world of the advertorial, the power of a well-placed bit of "journalism", and the willingness of the media to compromise their integrity in the name of revenue.

What happened was that we rang the local newspaper and expressed an interest in running some ads. They duly dispatched a representative to the store who told us how much various approaches would cost. They also made clear that if we purchased display ads of a certain size they would send a reporter to do a story on us. We were told that this would be good exposure for our new shop.

In other words, pay up and we'll give you some bonus publicity in the form of a feature story. Their "journalism" was being specifically traded, not just as a lure to get us to buy advertising space, but as a form of advertising in itself.

read more:



At YD, we've been exposing this caper since day one (see toon at top)...


For example, the war in Iraq was run by press releases accompanied with analysis that hardly strayed from these... Someone would point out here that the US government did not pay for the content to be published, but I would argue that the sheer fact that the official governmental news became embedded (they had no shame) with journalists, this sold more papers "due to the war" circumstances... There was a quantifiable pay-off for news organisations to go with the war: profit.

the world is Fukt...

The Australian Financial Review editor-in-chief, Michael Stutchbury, has apologised to Western Australian readers of the national paper for a set of front-page headlines which read in part: “World is Fukt”.

The headline ran in error in the WA edition of the special Anzac Day weekend edition of the AFR. The edition is a four-day special on sale for the Anzac Day long weekend.

To make matters worse, “Arms Buildup/Buys Planes/World is Fukt” wasn’t the only eyebrow-raising mistake on the front page. It joined “Japan headline”; “Gallipolli” (sic); “Joe Hockey headline tk here”; as well as unexplained empty space.

Stutchbury told Mumbrella that the embarrassing mistakes were the result of “a simple error that got through normal quality control”. He apologised to WA readers for the “obviously unacceptable state of the front page of their paper this morning”.


This gives a little of on insight into the way newspaper editions progress on the brain of their editors and writers... At News Limited the headlines roughs would be of one kind: "Labor is Fukt"... "Labor is Fukt"   "Labor is Fukt" — like wall paper motifs...

babble on... and turn the volume off...



From Sam de Brito


Doug Walters, the legendary Australian attacking batsman, was asked earlier this week if he thought it prudent for injured Test cricket captain, Michael Clarke, to be part of the Channel Nine commentary team.

"I don't know what he's been saying. I've been watching the game but haven't had the sound on," said Walters, unintendedly offering the nation a prescription for enhancing our enjoyment of this time of year: Turn the volume down on everything.

Breakfast television, radio shock jocks, politicians, Twitter gibberers, drunken uncles, valetudinarian nanas, summer sales advertisements and media columnists can all be safely ignored during the lethargic time warp that settles on this country in the hazy days between December and January.

The reason is simple: We've got nothing to say, save "Jeez, I'm full", "How hot is it?" and pondering the freezing temperature of beer.

Granted, some of you might be reading Marcus Aurelius and reflecting on the "fragment of divinity" that resides in us all or, knocking over the six volumes of Churchill's The Second World War you got for Chrissie.

Most of us, however, especially those of us still working are practising the art of sleeping with our eyes open.

While Michael Clarke has impressed with his cricket knowledge and commentary over the last five days - I challenge anyone to mute the television coverage and instead play the entire London Calling album, The Goon Show or whale sounds and not have their viewing experience and Tranquility deepened.

Cricket commentary - the consistent, insistent need to articulate the unnecessary - is emblematic of pretty much everything that issues from an electronic device at this time of the year, when it's vastly more important to know if it's Day Four of the Test than if it's a Monday.


read on:



See toon at top...


a long time coming but getting there...


Independent media sources are vital to democracy, crucial to Australia and essential if we expect to live in an informed society.

Those of you who are social media users will be familiar with the Twitter accounts of mainstream media journalists and reporters, with the profile page disclaimer:

“Views expressed here are mine, and not necessarily those of my employers."

or words to that effect.

Independent media is the warts and all approach to reporting or providing political commentary.

It is the only source of political commentary that does not have any concerns over the opinions of its publisher or its shareholders. Independent media has been at the forefront of news all over the world leaving the mainstream lagging behind on many occasions.

In Australia, we saw the controversies of Ashbygate and Jacksonville be virtually ignored by the mainstream, despite the events that surrounded these controversies being two of the biggest stories in Australian political news for a decade. It is only now, years later, that the mainstream is finally catching up.


Note: for five years since 2005, yourdemocracy (this site) was basically the only "hard-on" "news" outlet (well, not news but a commentariat exposing the rorts of governments — though Gus has his own sources of real news). There was also Crikey (slightly to the right) and a plethora of fair-minded individuals on the internet pushing the ideals of a better humanity, especially through the left. 

Then came news outlet like the Guardian and Independent Australia. Welcome... Together we can defeat the bastards, because let's face it, only by being rude, by being satirical and by being on the ball in regard to the greater information, be it political or scientific, we can push for change... Of course our reach is very very limited compared to that of all Murdoch enterprises. But contrarily to this murdoch machine, in the end we are truthful to to the cause of this planet's future — humanly, environmentally and biotically. 

The present government of Australia is a disgrace, an environmental embarrassment and a human catastrophe in regard to improving the lives of the citizens of Australia and that of the planet... The gamut of thoughts is narrow and limited to political machinations of little consequences for us to survive or live well, and they are impediment to fairness and understanding. 

This government led by Turdy Tony is full to the brim of yes men (and a couple of sheilas) who could not care less about you. They care about themselves and their mates, the rich who sponsor the porkie fiefdom of Mr Murdoch... and they do not believe for one second that they are damaging the planet, mostly BECAUSE THEY DON'T WANT TO KNOW...


See toon at top... 


on the news tonight: less shit-wars, more dancing girls...


SBS management has urged its staff to chase ratings for SBS World News by avoiding “turn-off” stories about the Middle East, refugees, Indigenous Australians and Ebola.

They have been told to look for “quirky” or colourful stories to tempt viewers to stay tuned into the second half of the program.

“Tonight it could be Katrina Yu’s rent a partner story or Naomi’s sex blackmail yarn,” the executive producer of SBS World News, Andrew Clark, wrote to staff.

Focus group research had shown that older viewers preferred stories about fish oil to stories about Ukraine, Clark said.

The populist directive appears to fly in the face of the SBS charter, which says the multicultural broadcaster should contribute to the “overall diversity of Australian TV” and “to meeting the communications needs of Australia’s multicultural society, including ethnic, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities”.

SBS is under pressure to increase its advertising revenue and ratings after the Coalition cut its budget. Last week the communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull, introduced changes to the Special Broadcasting Service Act 1991 to allow SBS to show up to 10 minutes of advertising an hour – double what it presently shows – but no more than 120 minutes a day. It would give the station flexibility to show more ads in prime time and in popular shows such as sport.

The cost of knowing less, by being less informed, is complacency. Lovely. That's what your master of the turd wants. Be comfortably ignorant. Bring on the entertainment...

And I nearly forgot: see


phone-hacking nuz...

The publisher of the Daily and Sunday Mirror has been ordered to pay £1.2m in compensation to eight phone-hacking victims, including the actor Sadie Frost and the former footballer Paul Gascoigne.

Frost was awarded £260,250 in what is believed to be the single biggest privacy damages payout since the phone-hacking scandal broke in 2010.

Gascoigne is to receive £188,250 in compensation from Trinity Mirror after the former England footballer told the high court he was driven to alcoholism and severe paranoia when journalists snooped on his voicemails from 2000 to 2010.

The newspaper group, which also publishes the People, was accused at a high court trial in March of industrial-scale phone hacking that made the News of the World look “like a small cottage industry”.

see old toon at top...

the power of gravity...


Destruction by gravity has been a cornerstone in Australian entertainment for generations and people around the country are now taking to clifftops, roofs and quarry faces in order to destroy their television sets.

The rekindling of the nation’s love affair with throwing electronics off high places is said to be a result of the controversial new cat video show rating so well, which many feel is a powerful insight into the Australian people.

Of course this is a spoof by that very entertaining Betoota Advocate. But not too far off the truth. One of my dad's dream before the war (WWII) was to launch a piano from the top floor of a building and listen to the crash symphony. I believe this has been performed since.


our lying democratic news channels...



There was even a case in which a soaring news-reporting star at CNN, who had already won three Emmy Awards, was fired and blacklisted for having reported that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia were sending tanks and troops into Bahrain slaughtering peaceful Shiites who were demonstrating for equal rights with Bahrain’s Sunni minority, in that nation where a sectarian fundamentalist-Sunni royal family rule the country. Unlike in Syria, where a non-sectarian and anti-fundamentalist Shiite leader, Bashar al-Assad, rules (and enjoys majority support from his nation’s majority-Sunni public), and where the U.S. President, Barack Obama had been planning his overthrow from the moment when Obama had become President in 2009, these demonstrators against Bahrain’s royal family were actually spontaneous, and the United States and its Saudi royal family ally were determined to crush it.

But this CNN reporter simply refused to cover up and sugar-coat the ugly reality, that the U.S. were working with the Sauds to crush incipient democracy in Bahrain. So, she was fired and blacklisted for that. No matter how terrific a reporter she was, and even despite her being also the prettiest news reporter on television, and the one that her professional colleagues expected to have a stellar future, she couldn’t even get a job in the field afterwards, because she had refused to deceive when and as required to, and that’s the cardinal sin in ‘journalism,’ in what American PR calls ‘the Free World’ — as if, after the end of communism in Russia, any basic sense still remains to that now-lying phrase, other than to serve as a basis for the secret war that the United States has continued against Russia after the end of communism there.

Could it really be that the ‘reporters’ for Bild don’t know the score, as they were pretending?

To judge by their ‘reporting’ (so biased there as to ignore the reality to which the facts that they were reporting were responses, reacting to — especially Putin’s reacting against Obama’s overthrow of the Russia-friendly democratically elected President of Ukraine in February 2014 and against Obama’s ethnic-cleansing to get rid of the people in the area of Ukraine that had voted more than 90% for him), they know it all too well.

They know the reality; only their readers don’t — and, apparently, won’t.

Obama’s entire case against Russia, and especially his cases regarding Ukraine and regarding Syria, are lies, but they’re ceaselessly spread throughout the West. On January 17th, at the final Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Debate before voting starts in the Presidential primaries, even the least-hostile-to-Russia candidate in both of America’s political parties, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, started from the assumption of Obama’s lies as being truths. For example, he said, “And we all know, no argument, the secretary [former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the leading candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination] is absolutely right, Assad is a butcher of his own people, man using chemical weapons against his own people. This is beyond disgusting.” 

But actually, Obama, and his then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the Saudi King, and President Erdogan of Turkey, and Emir Thani of Qatar, had organized that sarin gas attack so as to make it seem to have come from Assad’s forces, in order to provide an excuse for the U.S. to bomb Syria to remove Assad from power. An MIT study of the evidence concluded “The US Government’s Interpretation of the Technical Intelligence It Gathered Prior to and After the August 21 Attack CANNOT POSSIBLY BE CORRECT.” (Their emphasis.) Is it possible that even Senator Sanders didn’t know that? Or was even he lying?

Anyone who doubts that the claim to be ‘democratic’ ‘news’ media in a ‘democracy,’ is such a hoax, needs to see this (and especially its pie-chart at 18:20 on that video), from the brilliant Sibel Edmonds, explaining how profoundly corrupt it actually is, so that one can understand how the current reality really works.

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See toon at top...


not even holding the truth to ransom...



It's a frustrating time to be in the business of holding truth to power. Newspapers have been in decline for the past decade, but now the digital business is also beginning to tank, and even the big international players are feeling the pinch. Antony Funnell investigates.

Celebrated This American Life presenter Ira Glass recently bemoaned the lack of influence journalism now has on the public discourse.

'When reporters come out and say "that thing that the candidate said, that's not true"—nobody cares! Factual reporting doesn't seem to have the power to influence events in any way,' he said.

He was speaking about the parlous state of his own country's politics, but his assertion holds sway at a far more universal level.

For those in the serious news business, it's a frustrating time. But the greatest threat to civic journalism isn't from the ignorant, it's from the failure of the business models that have long underpinned the sector.

'Commercial journalism and the media industry in the western world is in the middle of a tsunami,' says digital media proprietor Eric Beecher, 'and there's no weather forecast that suggests that that tsunami is going to end any time soon. It may never end.'

In the mid-1980s, says Beecher, The Sydney Morning Herald and its sister publication The Age each earned around $100 million a year. Today they struggle to stay afloat.

Did you know Future Tense is also a podcast? Subscribe on iTunes, the ABC Radio app or your favourite podcasting app and listen later.

Newspapers, we all know, have been in decline for the past decade. The difference now, according to the former newspaper executive, is that the digital side of the business is also beginning to tank. And even the big international players are feeling the pinch.

Just last week The Guardian Media Group announced an operating loss for the last financial year of £69 million ($121 million). After asset write-downs their total loss was closer to £173 million ($305 million). In an attempt to stem their losses the company has shed more than 260 jobs this year and more are expected to go.

Digital revenues continue downward slide

In Australia, newsroom numbers have also been in serious ongoing decline. Beecher now predicts that the SMH and The Age, two of the country's largest employers, will soon be forced to cut up to half of their remaining reporting staff because of a continuing slump in digital revenues.

Driving the decline in profits has been a sharp drop in the value of online advertising. The online measurement is called CPM—cost per thousand—meaning the amount of money paid for an online advertisement is calculated on that ad being viewed by 1,000 people. 

'Five, six, eight years ago the cost per thousand was $40 or $50 per 1,000,'says Beecher, 'It's now down as low as 50c.'

And that's the rub: in the digital world large numbers of hits no longer necessarily equate to large profits. The Guardian is a case in point. Despite its financial troubles, the company's websites in the UK, Australia and the United States continue to grow in popularity, by some estimates garnering around 42 million visits a month. But that's still not enough.

The fall in the return on advertising is in large part explained by the phenomenal and ongoing growth in online platforms. The more sites there are, the lower the rate companies are prepared to pay for advertising.

'This is the first advertising medium in history that has unlimited advertising inventory,' says Beecher. 'All other media before the internet came along ... had a finite amount of inventory. Therefore advertisers had to pay for scarcity, whereas now there is the opposite of scarcity.'

Social media platforms crowding publishers out

The other major problem facing serious commercial media outlets is that two major tech firms—Google and Facebook—are increasingly swallowing up the lion's share of online advertising revenue.

According to Britain's Financial Times, around 85c in every new dollar spent on digital in the United States in the first quarter of this year went straight to those two companies. They're getting the profits because they dominate mobile, and increasingly mobile platforms are where people are looking for news.

Dr David Levy, the director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, says social media is rapidly becoming the main way people access information. The Institute produces an annual report on digital news trends. This year's study surveyed more than 50,000 news consumers across 26 countries.

According to Levy, around 51 per cent of respondents said they used social media to access news content, with around 12 per cent claiming they use social media as their main source of news. Importantly, among the young—those aged 18 to 24 years of age—the number was 28 per cent.

For traditional news producers this causes a dilemma. Social media platforms offer an opportunity to reach more people, but they also mean a loss of control over distribution. When consumers no longer go directly to a news sites in order to access information, it makes it harder for those news organisation to build customer loyalty.

'Facebook is the biggest game in town for content in this way. It's vastly bigger than Google+ or Twitter or any other social networks globally,' says Professor Richard Sambrook, an academic at Cardiff University and a former head of global news for the BBC.

'It really counts. That's why most media organisations are throwing their lot in with Facebook because they want to reach those users and reach those numbers.

'The terms under which they are doing it, I'm a little bit wary of. I'm not sure that Facebook necessarily offers the best commercial split for advertising online.'

A strategic loss of control

In addition, Sambrook sees traditional media organisations missing out on valuable customer data, such as online user behaviour. His own research indicates television newsrooms are also vulnerable as changing consumer habits see more and more young people accessing video content from aggregation sites on their smartphones.

'Going in with Facebook does mean you cede all control over the distribution of your content, which strategically is a big shift and long term I think will be a major problem,' he says.

There are also issues around recognition and acknowledgement. Levy says many people who access news from a social media site or a news aggregation site like Inkl or Google News fail to recognise the original news provider.

'Across our 26 countries, less than half the people say they notice the news brand routinely when they consume it via social media or an aggregator. There are some countries, like Japan and Korea, where around a quarter of people say they recognise the news brand when they consume via social media or an aggregator.'

Levy says there are few options left for major news outlets but to accept the new reality, as unfair as that might seem, given that they, not the distributors or the aggregators, are the ones who create and fund news.

'There are not many news organisations that can be confident that their own website is going to be a major destination for large numbers of their readers,' he says.

'They will have their loyal readers who will go there, but if you want to reach a larger audience, then you need to think about other ways of distributing your content.

'That involves some loss of control, potentially some loss of brand recognition of the kind I've referred to. But then you need to think about how you can increase loyalty within that and how you ensure you get some credit for the brand.'

Civic society at risk

Beecher is far more pessimistic. He says those who hold out hope that relatively new entrants into the news industry will be able to build the revenue base needed to invest in quality journalism are kidding themselves.

'There is no business model anywhere in the world, online, that could support a journalistic staff of 30 or 40, let alone 300 and be viable,' he says.

'You could put the entire editorial staffs in Australia of BuzzFeed and the Guardian and the Mail Online and Crikey, which we own, and various others, you could put a dozen of them together and you wouldn't get to one newsroom of one of those newspapers at their peak.'

Until only a few years ago, the newsrooms of major news organisations—essentially newspapers—employed between 200 to 400 journalists each. That scale was required, Beecher says, in order to cover the quality journalism essential for a functioning and transparent democracy: reporting on politics, business, culture, the law, crime and education, for example.

For Beecher, the endless shrinking of newsrooms and the crisis in media generally represents more than just a commercial disaster. In Australia, he argues, with a small population and a media base that is already highly centralised, it represents a risk to civic society.

'In a democracy like ours, civic journalism that scrutinises power and politics and business and holds power to account, really is the most important of the three pillars: the government pillar, the judiciary, and then the media or journalism,' he says.

'There is no public debate about this. If this was a story about the court system failing or something like that, it would be on the front page of newspapers and news websites all the time, but because it is about their own pillar, not someone else's pillar, they don't talk about it.'

Could public broadcasters fill the gaps?

That higher democratic responsibility isn't likely to be embraced by the big tech firms anytime soon, Sambrook says.

'Those tech companies really aren't all that interested, particularly in content or in journalism. All they are interested in is user behaviour and clicks and being able to advertise to them,' he says.

'They don't have the same kinds of editorial values ... and they say "we're just platforms, we are just the pipes, we're not publishers".'

One possible solution, Beecher suggests, is for a widening of the public broadcasting remit. Where there's a clear case of 'market failure', he argues, an organisation like the ABC could be given more resources to fill the important journalistic gaps left behind by commercial players.

'There are probably half as many court reporters in Australia now than there were five or 10 years ago,' he says.

'An area like Newcastle, for example, lost half its journalists a few months ago because The Newcastle Herald cut its editorial staff in half.

'We have lots of government funded independent agencies and organisations like the court system, like the Reserve Bank, that operate entirely independently and autonomously and are core components of our democratic system. To me, this is actually a societal and therefore a government problem.'

Maybe so, but convincing governments could prove an impossible task. When Beecher first suggested his solution several years back, he was immediately accused by some on the political right of trying to establish an Australian version of Pravda, the infamous Soviet propaganda machine.

And in a global environment where so-called elites are increasingly disparaged and distrusted by voters, winning over a hostile and increasingly self-interested public may also have its challenges.


Long live the ABC... and SBS.... see toon at top...


the nuz roadshow...


When skating over the day’s political events some friends of mine sometimes like to pretend they’re playing a TV gameshow – and it’s shocking a commercial station hasn’t picked this up yet – called Is It News?!! While never entirely fleshed out, my sense is that the show would function a little like Antiques Roadshow. Contestants would bring their news stories of the day to the host, who would then, after a few minutes of tedious yet amiable banter, pass judgment on whether or not the story qualifies as news.

Senate estimates, in its endless ability to raise tiny issues, would be a goldmine for the show. Every day, as senators cross-examine public servants, little bagatelles arise. Most get headlines. Only a few turn out to be of much worth. For whatever reasons, today seems to have brought a flood of such items, though not all of them are from estimates.

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See old too at top... in ten and a half years nothing has changed. It was crap then, still is crap.


when the nuz is challenged by the news...

For decades, the United States, together with its allies, has enjoyed almost absolute control of the media narrative in the English-speaking world, both at home and abroad. Recently, however, the success of RT, and some other outlets, in attracting an international audience, has punched a few holes in the establishment’s complete command of the news space.

Audiences have welcomed this, embracing diversity in news, because they gained access to a range of stories and opinions that often reflected the reality around them, yet were inexplicably absent in the bulletins of their local broadcasters. 

It is just that reality, and reporting thereof, with which the chief of American intelligence is now taking an issue. 

For some time now, the media-political establishment has been growing increasingly uncomfortable with the new media landscape. Indeed, a cursory google search of scare stories centering around RT confirms it. The less said about the Washington Post's "fake news" smearing of hundreds of outlets as Kremlin patsies last Thanksgiving, the better for that newspaper's reputation. There have been congressional hearings galore into the influence of RT and repeated calls from America’s equivalent, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) - which oversees Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and Voice of America (VoA) - for extra money. This despite the BBG already receiving around three times the funding of RT. 

Read more:


See toon at top...

when news is getting in the way of a business model...


Fairfax Media has announced plans to cut 125 editorial jobs — roughly a quarter of its newsroom — as part of $30-million restructure plan.

Key points:
  • As well as cutting editorial jobs, Fairfax will cap rates for freelance contributors and casuals
  • Key mastheads will publish fewer state-based stories
  • MEAA "appalled" by decision, saying cuts to editorial are bad for business


Staff were informed of the cuts this morning by email and in a meeting with editorial director Sean Aylmer.

Staff have been given a deadline of next Tuesday, May 9, to nominate for a voluntary redundancy.

"While we will be looking across all parts of the newsroom, at the end of the redundancy program we expect there will be significantly fewer editorial management, video, presentation and section-writer roles," Mr Aylmer said.

Fairfax will also cap rates offered to freelance contributors and slash payments to casuals, aimed at cutting $3 million from the budget.

Mr Aylmer also signalled a change in editorial focus with the key mastheads — The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Brisbane Times and WA Today — publishing fewer state-based stories.

The decision drew a furious response from the journalists union, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance.

MEAA chief executive Paul Murphy said the union was appalled by the decision.

"The decision indicates that, yet again, Fairfax is opting for savage cuts that will only weaken its business further rather than investing in its products and working to achieve smarter outcomes," Mr Murphy said

"None of the other parts of the Fairfax business are worth anything without the journalism and yet it is the journalism that Fairfax always cuts.

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The "Independent, Always" news has long been replaced by "profits in a tough media market". All the traditional news outlets in the world are struggling to make a buck. The business model has finally died last year, and few saw it coming in advance though it was predictable. The internet connects people and various new "news" outlets that run on the smell of an oil rag, on subsidies from governments and from government directly. The news you get gets affected by the cash and the origin of the cash. It has always been so but the model was profitable with newspapers and then TV...

For example the "Independent -- Always" network is not going to bite the hand that feeds it (advertising from businesses) without consequences. Meanwhile the "other new business model" of advertising on the net is attracting the cash despite being quite feeble in its impact and reach. This profit is due to many factors including the ability of spruikers to sell advertising space on the new "exciting" platforms. 

With our general attention span reduced to about 1.5 seconds from about 3 seconds ten years ago, the methods to massage your brain has had to evolve. Most people now don't look at news on their little phones, but they spool through and will stop at the next picture of Kim Kardashian's bum OF THE DAY. Meanwhile, their brain would have registered, without SEEING, a few "advertising messages" -- including some already faked and manipulated news to suit the capitalist system -- on the side column. 

The world could be on fire, the important and urgent matter for about 70 per cent users of this spooling (about 90 per cent of women) is that fleshy backside part of a woman who is now the self-created female equivalent of Truman Burbank in the "Truman Show".

(insert pic here)


another lie from the BBC...

BBC lie

With this heading, the BBC lies. These militants are not "Syrian Forces". They are rebels (read "terrorists") sponsored by the West (aka the USA) to prevent Assad's army, THE ONLY SYRIAN FORCES, from retaking Raqqa from ISIS. Why? Because the West doesn't want Assad to win in "his" country. Assad will have to negotiate with the Americans in order for Raqqa to become part of Syria again and this includes Assad's removal and let the Saudis rape Syria. The BBC is twisting the war in Syria. Nothing new.

bill o'bolt with no hair and make-up...


Poor Andrew Bolt. Not long ago the right-wing blogger and News Corp columnist was in line to become the Bill O’Reilly of Australian television, leading the way into a Foxified future, assisted by changes to Australia’s media laws.

But not anymore.

The scenario would have gone like this: Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp buys control of Sky News, stacks it with a squad of right-wing opinion-mongers, led by Bolt. Then Australia’s media laws, which have locked Murdoch out of free-to-air television for more than 25 years, are changed by the Turnbull government. Then Lachlan Murdoch and friends buy the struggling Ten Network. Then Sky takes over news production for the network. Then Ten’s news division becomes increasingly like Sky’s, which is to say, more about opinion than fact, like Fox News is in America.

This is not baseless speculation. In December last year, News Corp did take over Sky News, through its parent company, Australian News Channel. And Sky News has indeed been stacked with a long roster of right wing tub-thumpers – many of them with previous Murdoch connections. In May, the foundering Ten Network was reported to be considering drastic changes under project “Blue Horizon”, which involved outsourcing news to Sky.

And Lachlan Murdoch and his elderly partner, Bruce Gordon, did indeed try to gain control of Ten. They drove it into administration in June. Their plan would have seen the network rid of a lot of its pesky debt and also put the weights on the Turnbull government to hasten the passage of regulatory changes advantageous to big players such as them. Then they would have bought it back from the administrators.

But they screwed it up. The government took longer than they planned to get the media law changes through the senate. They underestimated the hostility of creditors, staff and some minor shareholders. And they were gazumped by the American media giant CBS.

And so Bolt is left on the eighth floor of a Melbourne office building, holed up in a makeshift studio, broadcasting to an audience of almost no one. Guests ring a number to be let in and find their own way in the lift. There is no hair and make-up to speak of, none of the usual trappings of a television studio. This is as close as you can get to pirate radio without being on Mark Latham’s show.


Sure, there’s talk of further legal action by Gordon to try to stop the CBS takeover, and the Ten shareholders have not yet given final approval. But as Allan Goldin, a director of the Australian Shareholders’ Association and media specialist, says, while the deal is “still up in the air in theory; in practice it’s highly unlikely that CBS won’t take over the company”.

“Highly unlikely” is really an understatement. The prospect of a Murdoch owning the network now looks remote. And that, says Rodney Tiffen, emeritus professor of government and international relations at Sydney University, “is unequivocally good news”.

“It’s good news, first because it increases media competition, and second because CBS know what they’re doing and they’ve got deep pockets. Whereas Lachlan and Bruce Gordon have had a long time running Ten and they’ve not done a lot of good for it.”

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See 2005 toon at top...


sleeping with big brother and P. Ress-Relise...

On May 15, 2017 Next Revelation Press, an imprint of US-Canadian-based publisher Tayen Lane, released the English version of Bought Journalists, under the title, Journalists for Hire: How the CIA Buys the News.

Tayen Lane has since removed any reference to the title from its website. Correspondingly indicates the title is “currently unavailable,” with opportunities to purchase from independent sellers offering used copies for no less than $1309.09.[note from OffG- we also checked on Amazon UK, as of January 7 2018 the book is unavailable there too]

The book’s subject matter and unexplained disappearance from the marketplace suggest how powerful forces are seeking to prevent its circulation.

Gekaufte Journalisten was almost completely ignored by mainstream German news media following its release in 2014. “No German mainstream journalist is allowed to report about [my] book,” Ulfkotte observed:

Otherwise he or she will be sacked. So we have a bestseller now that no German journalist is allowed to write or talk about.{1]

Along these lines, publication of the English translation was repeatedly delayed. When this author contacted Ulfkotte in early December 2015 to inquire on the book’s pending translation, he responded,

Please find the link to the English edition here

The above address, once providing the book’s description and anticipated publication date, now leads to an empty page.[2] Tayen Lane has not responded to emails or telephone calls requesting an explanation for the title’s disappearance.

When a book publisher determines that it has acquired a politically volatile or otherwise “troublesome” title it may embark on a process recognized in the industry as “privishing.” “Privishing is a portmanteau meaning to privately publish, as opposed to true publishing that is open to the public,” writes investigative journalist Gerald Colby.

It is usually employed in the following context: “We privished the book so that it sank without a trace.” The mechanism used is simple: cut off the book’s life-support system by reducing the initial print run so that the book “cannot price profitably according to any conceivable formula,” refuse to do reprints, drastically slash the book’s advertising budget, and all but cancel the promotional tour.”[3]

Privishing often takes place without the author knowing, simply because it involves breach of contract and potential liability.

Tayen Lane will likely not face any legal challenge in this instance, however. Ulfkotte died of a heart attack on January 13, 2017, at age 56.[4]

Udo Ulfkotte was a prominent European journalist, social scientist, and immigration reform activist. Upon writing Gekaufte Journalisten and becoming one of the most significant media industry and deep state whistleblowers in recent history, Ulfkotte complained of repeated home searches by German state police and expressed fear for his own life. He also admitted previous health complications stemming from witnessing a 1988 poisoned gas attack in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Ulfkotte’s testimony of how intelligence agencies figure centrally in Western journalism is especially compelling because he for many years functioned in the higher echelons of mainstream newsworkers.

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read from top...

unfair and unbalanced...

What the Greatest, Silent, and Boomer generations always regarded as the ideal of “objective journalism” was actually the exception, not the rule. That was true from the time of Gutenberg until that of Franklin Roosevelt. 

The great Joseph Pulitzer largely founded his namesake prize for the same motives as Alfred Nobel, when the latter tried to make up for the incalculable injuries and deaths caused by the explosives he invented by endowing a Peace Prize. Pulitzer was attempting to atone for the “yellow journalism” sins of his own papers—and even more, those of his arch rival, William Randolph “Citizen Kane” Hearst—when he launched the prize that bears his name. 

And if Pulitzer repented of his past, Hearst never did—he went full speed ahead well into the 1920s and beyond, normalizing Nazi science, openly endorsing eugenics and white superiority, and promoting “Birth of a Nation”-like racism against African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans. His dehumanizing attacks against so-called sneaking and treacherous “Japs” and “Chinks”—well before Pearl Harbor, the Korean War, and communist China—were even uglier. 

To put it bluntly, as Frances McDormand’s professor-mother in Almost Famousmight have said, “Objective Journalism” was as much a marketing tool as anything else. It took off not because news neutrality was always enshrined in American journalistic ethics, but because of how rare it actually was. High-minded notions of “fairness” and “objective journalism” came to the print media largely because the visionary first families of the papers that finally succeeded the Hearsts and Pulitzers in clout and cache—the Ochs-Sulzbergers of New York, the Meyer-Grahams of Washington, and the Chandlers of Los Angeles—made a conscious decision to brand their newspapers as being truly fair and balanced to differentiate them from the competition.

Meanwhile, the broadcast media (which didn’t exist until the rise of radio and “talking pictures” in the late 1920s, followed by TV after World War II) labored under the New Deal’s famed Fairness Doctrine.

And even then, “objectivity” only went as far as the eyes and ears of the beholder. The fairness flag was fraying when Spiro Agnew and Pat Buchanan took “liberal media elites” to task a generation ago during the Vietnam and civil rights era, while Tom Wolfe made good, unclean fun out of the “radical chic” conceits of Manhattan and Hollywood limousine liberals. 

What today’s controversies illustrate is that a so-called “Fairness Doctrine” and “objective” newspaper reporting could only have existed in a conformist Mad Men world where societal norms of what was (and wasn’t) acceptable in the postwar Great Society operated by consensus. That is to say, an America where moderate, respectable, white male centrist Republicans like Thomas Dewey, Dwight Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller, and Gerald Ford “debated” moderate, respectable, white male centrist Democrats like Harry Truman, Adlai Stevenson, Hubert Humphrey, and Jimmy Carter. 

Now contrast that with today. On November 25, the New York Times made a now-notorious attempt to understand the Nazi next door, running a profile of young suburban white supremacist, Tony Hovater. Transgender social media superstar Charlotte Clymer spoke for her fellow liberals when she savagely satirized the Times with a tweet-storm that included things like:   

Bob is a vegan. He believes we should protect the environment. He likes “Big Bang Theory”. He pays taxes. He served in the military.

He’s a serial killer who has tortured and murdered 14 people. He dissolved their bodies in acid at a remote site. He made them beg for their lives as he tortured them.

He attends PTA meetings. He DVR’s episodes of his wife’s fave shows when she’s late at work. 

The moral of the fable being (as Miss Clymer put it): “Bob is a mass-murdering f***head. STOP GIVING BOB NUANCE!”


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the russians glow in the "spectral evidence"...

and :

pushing a barrow of shit...




the mediocre manufactured media narrative...




And what about the humanitarian aid and blocked bridge story featured prominently over this last week? You have surely seen it across all the networks worldwide. The metal fencing and lorry containers strategically placed on the bridge leading from Colombia to Venezuela denying American sent humanitarian aid to the poor Venezuelans. Nicolas Maduro is a heartless and brutal tyrant to deny his people this aid is the uniform media narrative.


Yet that story has also now been exposed as another manufactured pack of lies parroted by the Western media intent on trying to undermine the democratically elected President of Venezuela. The bridge in all the news bulletins is the Tienditas Bridge. It was not blockaded and closed the other day to prevent humanitarian aid entering Venezuela from Colombia it was blockaded and closed 18 months ago in response to rising security tensions between Colombia and Venezuela.

And the Tienditas bridge was NOT blockaded and closed by Venezuela it was blockaded and closed by COLOMBIA…..

There are many more examples of media lies and disinformation which I hope to bring to your attention in future columns but hopefully the evidence and examples provided thus far are enough to convince you to reject the constant bias, distortions and lies pedalled by the mainstream media. Until there is greater plurality in ownership, stricter regulations to ensure accuracy and fundamental democratisation to widen access the mainstream media deserves to be treated with utter disdain and suspicion at all times.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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tweaking the arse of digital technology..


How Tech Utopia Fostered Tyranny 

Authoritarians’ love for digital technology is no fluke — it’s a product of Silicon Valley’s “smart” paternalism

Jon Askonas

The rumors spread like wildfire: Muslims were secretly lacing a Sri Lankan village’s food with sterilization drugs. Soon, a video circulated that appeared to show a Muslim shopkeeper admitting to drugging his customers — he had misunderstood the question that was angrily put to him. Then all hell broke loose. Over a several-day span, dozens of mosques and Muslim-owned shops and homes were burned down across multiple towns. In one home, a young journalist was trapped, and perished.

Mob violence is an old phenomenon, but the tools encouraging it, in this case, were not. As the New York Times reported in April, the rumors were spread via Facebook, whose newsfeed algorithm prioritized high-engagement content, especially videos. “Designed to maximize user time on site,” as the Times article describes, the newsfeed algorithm “promotes whatever wins the most attention. Posts that tap into negative, primal emotions like anger or fear, studies have found, produce the highest engagement, and so proliferate.” On Facebook in Sri Lanka, posts with incendiary rumors had among the highest engagement rates, and so were among the most highly promoted content on the platform. Similar cases of mob violence have taken place in India, Myanmar, Mexico, and elsewhere, with misinformation spread mainly through Facebook and the messaging tool WhatsApp.

This is in spite of Facebook’s decision in January 2018 to tweak its algorithm, apparently to prevent the kind of manipulation we saw in the 2016 U.S. election, when posts and election ads originating from Russia reportedly showed up in newsfeeds of up to 126 million American Facebook users. The company explained that the changes to its algorithm will mean that newsfeeds will be “showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation,” and “less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.” But these changes, which Facebook had tested out in countries like Sri Lanka in the previous year, may actually have exacerbated the problem — which is that incendiary content, when posted by friends and family, is guaranteed to “spark conversation” and therefore to be prioritized in newsfeeds. This is because “misinformation is almost always more interesting than the truth,” as Mathew Ingram provocatively put it in the Columbia Journalism Review.

How did we get here, from Facebook’s mission to “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together”? Riot-inducing “fake news” and election meddling are obviously far from what its founders intended for the platform. Likewise, Google’s founders surely did not build their search engine with the intention of its being censored in China to suppress free speech, and yet, after years of refusing this demand from Chinese leadership, Google has recently relented rather than pull their search engine from China entirely. And YouTube’s creators surely did not intend their feature that promotes “trending” content to help clickbait conspiracy-theory videos go viral.

These outcomes — not merely unanticipated by the companies’ founders but outright opposed to their intentions — are not limited to social media. So far, Big Tech companies have presented issues of incitement, algorithmic radicalization, and “fake news” as merely bumps on the road of progress, glitches and bugs to be patched over. In fact, the problem goes deeper, to fundamental questions of human nature. Tools based on the premise that access to information will only enlighten us and social connectivity will only make us more humane have instead fanned conspiracy theories, information bubbles, and social fracture. A tech movement spurred by visions of libertarian empowerment and progressive uplift has instead fanned a global resurgence of populism and authoritarianism.

Despite the storm of criticism, Silicon Valley has still failed to recognize in these abuses a sharp rebuke of its sunny view of human nature. It remains naïvely blind to how its own aspirations for social engineering are on a spectrum with the tools’ “unintended” uses by authoritarian regimes and nefarious actors.

AI Persuasion

The digital utopian dream of our age looks something like the 2016 concept video created by a Google R&D lab for a never-released product called the Selfish Ledger. The video was obtained in May by The Verge, which described it as “an unsettling vision of Silicon Valley social engineering.” Borrowing from Richard Dawkins’s notion of the “selfish gene,” the Selfish Ledger would be a self-help product on steroids, combining Google’s cornucopia of personal data with artificial-intelligence tools whose sole aim was to help you meet your goals.

Want to lose weight? Google Maps might prioritize smoothie shops or salad places when you search for “fast food.” Want to reduce your carbon footprint? Google might help you find vacation options closer to home or prioritize locally grown foods in the groceries that Google Express delivers to your doorstep. When the program needs more information than Google’s data banks can provide, it might suggest you buy a sensor, such as an Internet-connected scale or Google’s new AI-powered wearable camera. Or, if the needed product is not on the market, it might even suggest a design and 3D-print it.

The program is “selfish” in that it stubbornly pursues the self-identified goal the user gives it. But, the video explains, further down the road “suggestions may be converted not by the user but by the ledger itself.” And beyond individual self-help, by surveilling users over space and time Google would develop a “species-level understanding of complex issues such as depression, health, and poverty.”

The idea, according to a lab spokesperson, was meant only as a “thought-experiment ... to explore uncomfortable ideas and concepts in order to provoke discussion and debate.” But the slope from Google’s original product — the seemingly value-neutral search engine — to the social engine of the Selfish Ledger is slipperier than one might think. The video’s vision of a smart Big Brother follows quite naturally from the company’s founding mission “to organize the world’s information, making it universally accessible and useful.” As Adam White recently wrote in these pages (“,” Spring 2018), “Google has always understood its ultimate project not as one of rote descriptive recall but of informativeness in the fullest sense.”

After plucking the low-hanging fruit of web search, Google’s engineers began creating predictive search technologies like “autocomplete” and search results tailored to individual users based on their search histories. But what we are searching for — what we desire — is often shaped by what we are exposed to and what we believe others desire. And so predicting what is useful, however value-neutral this may sound, can shade into deciding what is useful, both to individual users and to groups, and thereby shaping what kinds of people we become, for both better and worse.

The moral nature of usefulness becomes even clearer when we consider that our own desires are often in conflict. Someone may say he wants to have a decent sleep schedule, and yet his desire to watch another YouTube video about “deep state” conspiracy theories may get the better of him. Which of these two conflicting desires is the truer one? What is useful in this case, and what is good for him? Is he searching for conspiracy theories to find the facts of the matter, or to get the informational equivalent of a hit of cocaine? Which is more useful? What we wish for ourselves is often not what we do; the problem, it seemed to Walker Percy, is that modern man above all wants to know who he is and should be.

YouTube’s recommendation feature has helped to radicalize users through feedback loops — not only, again, by helping clickbait conspiracy videos go viral, but also by enticing users to view more videos like the ones they’ve already looked at, thus encouraging the user merely intrigued by extremist ideas to become a true diehard. Yet this result is not a curious fluke of the preference-maximizing vision, but its inevitable fruition. As long as our desires are unsettled and malleable — as long as we are human — the engineering choices of Google and the rest must be as much acts of persuasion as of prediction.

California Streamin’

The digital mindset of precisely measuring, analyzing, and ever more efficiently fulfilling our individual desires is of course not unique to Google. It pervades all of the Big Tech companies whose products give them access to massive amounts of user data, including also Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, and to some extent Apple. Each company was founded on a variation of the premise that providing more people with more information and better tools, and helping them connect with each other, would help them lead better, freer, richer lives.

This vision is best understood as a descendant of the California counterculture, another way of extending decentralized, bottom-up power to the people. The story is told in Fred Turner’s 2006 book From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism. Turner writes that Stewart Brand, erstwhile editor of the counterculture magazine Whole Earth Catalog, “suggested that computers might become a new LSD, a new small technology that could be used to open minds and reform society.” Indeed, Steve Jobs came up with the name “Apple Computing” from living in an acid-infused commune at an Oregon apple orchard.

Not coincidentally, the tech giants are now investing heavily in using artificial intelligence to provide customized user experiences — not the information that is most useful to people in general, but to individual users.* The AI assistant is the culmination of utopian aspiration and shareholder value, a kind of techno-savvy guardian angel that perfectly and mysteriously knows how to meet your requests and sort your infinitely scrollable feed of search results, products, and friend updates, just for you. In the process, these companies run headfirst into the impossibility of separating the supposedly value-neutral criterion of usefulness from the moral aims of personal and social transformation.

For at the foundation of the digital revolution there was a hidden tension. First through personal computing and then through the Internet, the revolutionaries offered, as Brand’s Whole Earth Catalogput it, “access to tools.” A precious few users today grasp and take advantage of the full promise of networked computers to build ever more useful applications and tools. Instead, the vast majority spend their time and resources on only a few functions on a few platforms, consuming entertainment, searching for information, connecting with friends, and buying products or services.

And while in theory there are more “choices” and “flexibility” available than ever, in practice these are winner-take-all platforms, with the default choices and settings dominating user behavior. Google can return tens of millions of results for a search, but most users won’t leave the first page. Essentially random suggestions to users can become self-fulfilling prophesies, as Wired reported of the obscure 1988 climbing memoir Touching the Void, which by 2004 had become a hit due to Amazon’s recommendation algorithm.

Moreover, because algorithms are subject to strategic manipulation and because they are attempting to provide results unique to you, the choices shaping these powerful defaults are necessarily hidden away by platforms demanding you simply trust them. Ever since its founding, Google has had to keep its search algorithm’s specific preferences secret and constantly re-adjust them to foil enterprising marketers trying to boost their profits at the expense of what users actually want. Every other Big Tech company has followed suit. As results have become more personalized, it becomes increasingly difficult to specify why, exactly, your newsfeed might differ from a friend’s; the complex math behind it creates a black box that is “optimized” for some indiscernible set of metrics. Tech companies demand you simply trust the choices they make about how they manipulate results.

Much of the politics of Silicon Valley is explained by this Promethean exchange: gifts of enlightenment and ease in exchange for some measure of awe, gratitude, and deference to the technocratic elite that manufactures them. Algorithmic utopianism is at once optimistic about human motives and desires and paternalistic about humans’ cognitive ability to achieve their stated preferences in a maximally rational way. Humans, in other words, are mostly good and well-intentioned but dumb and ignorant. We rely on poor intuitions and bad heuristics, but we can overcome them through tech-supplied information and cognitive adjustment. Silicon Valley wants to debug humanity, one default choice at a time.

We can see the shift from “access to tools” to algorithmic utopianism in the unheralded, inexorable replacement of the “page” by the “feed.” The web in its earliest days was “surfed.” Users actively explored what was interesting to them, shifting from page to page via links and URLs. While certain homepages — such as AOL or Yahoo! — were important, they were curated by actual people and communities. Most devoted “webizens” spent comparatively little time on them, instead exploring the web based on memory, bookmarks, and interests. Each blog, news source, store, and forum had its own site. Where life on the Internet didn’t follow traditional editorial curation, it was mostly a do-it-yourself affair: Creating tools that might show you what your friends were up to, gathering all the information you cared about in one place, or finding new sites were rudimentary and tedious activities.

The feed was the solution to the tedium of surfing the web, of always having to decide for yourself what to do next. Information would now come to you. Gradually, the number of sites involved in one’s life online dwindled, and the “platform” emerged, characterized by an infinite display of relevant information — the feed. The first feeds used fairly simple algorithms, but the algorithms have grown vastly more complex and personalized over time. These satisfaction-fulfillment machines are designed to bring you the most “relevant” content, where relevancy is ultimately based on an elaborate and opaque model of who you are and what you want. But the opacity of these models, indeed the very personalization of them, means that a strong element of faith is required. By consuming what the algorithm says I want, I trust the algorithm to make me ever more who it thinks I already am.

In this process, users have gone from active surfers to sheep feeding at the algorithmic trough. Over time, platforms have come up with ever more sophisticated means of inducing behavior, both online and in real life, using AI-fueled notifications, messages, and default choices to nudge you in the right direction, ostensibly toward your own maximum satisfaction. Yet now, in order to rein in the bad behaviors the feeds themselves have encouraged — fake news, trolling, and so on — these algorithms have increasingly become the sites of stealthy intervention, using tweaks like “shadowbanning,” “down-ranking,” and simple erasure or blocking of users to help determine what information people do and don’t access, and thereby to subtly shape their minds.

Facebook in the Wild

Big Tech companies have thus married a fundamentally expansionary approach to information-gathering to a woeful naïveté about the likely uses of that technology. Motivated by left-liberal utopian beliefs about human progress, they are building technologies that are easily, naturally put to authoritarian and dystopian ends. While the Mark Zuckerbergs and Sergey Brins of the world claim to be shocked by the “abuse” of their platforms, the softly progressive ambitions of Silicon Valley and the more expansive visions of would-be dictators exist on the same spectrum of invasiveness and manipulation. There’s a sense in which the authoritarians have a better idea of what this technology is for.

Wasn’t it rosy to assume that the main uses of the most comprehensive, pervasive, automated surveillance and behavioral-modification technology in human history would be reducing people’s carbon footprints and helping them make better-informed choices in city council races? It ought to have been obvious that the new panopticon would be as liable to cut with the grain as against it, to become in the wrong hands a tool not for ameliorating but exploiting man’s natural capacity for error. Of the two sides, cheer for Dr. Jekyll, but bet on Mr. Hyde.

In recent years, two related problems have been shattering Silicon Valley’s dreams of progress. The first problem is that people have stubbornly refused to be debugged and empowered. Google hoped to provide users with more “useful” information, but if you already know what you want to believe, Google exaggerates confirmation bias by feeding you more of what you want to hear. Facebook wanted to help people connect with their friends, share experiences, and learn from each other, but it turns out that people often pick the friends they want to engage with based on whether they care about the same things, leading the newsfeed algorithm to produce a custom-built echo chamber. Amazon stocks a wider selection of books than any store in history, but suggests them to you based on your search history and previous purchases, eliminating the cultivated, mind-broadening randomness of the bookstore browse.

In a sense, people often use these technologies backwards from how they were intended. In each case, what at first blush seems like a great tool for building what sociologists call “bridging capital” — connections to our neighbors or people in different interest groups — has in fact done far more to build “bonding capital” — tighter interconnections with people who are already like us in important ways.

This gap between what these systems are for and how they are actually used is amplified by globalization. Big Tech, to use a term from psychological research, is “WEIRD” — Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic. These products were initially built by and for college-educated, Western, urban users. Facebook, for example, helped earn its early cachet by being exclusively for Harvard students (before it was expanded to Stanford, Columbia, and Yale). This means that the design choices product engineers make, and the behaviors those choices are designed to elicit, are often intended for a much more limited set of users than the technology will encounter “in the wild.”

A London economist, an underemployed Brazilian, and a Pakistani shepherd might each respond to the same algorithmic design choices with vastly different behaviors — in both the digital and the real world. Each of these big systems is designed, in its own way, to maximize user engagement, but what content users engage with, and how, depends in large part on culture, class, and psychology.

For a WEIRD user working in journalism or politics, “user engagement” might mean an addiction to Twitter. For a teenage girl on Instagram, it might lead to anorexia and depression. Among Sri Lankan villagers, it was a recipe for “fake news,” overheated rhetoric, and riotous violence. As the New York Times article on the story explained, “Online outrage mobs will be familiar to any social media user. But in places with histories of vigilantism, they can work themselves up to real-world attacks.”

These technologies were based on a model in which users’ desires were crafted outside the system, and the purpose of the algorithms was to measure and meet those desires with ever greater efficiency. The designers did not imagine the algorithms themselves shaping users by feeding their basest impulses, turning the high of a notification ping into whatever behaviors result in more pings — snarkier tweets, sexier pictures, or more feverish posts. The engineering choices that have made these technologies so compelling and addictive have also made it completely implausible that they would fulfill their founders’ noble ambitions. Like Dr. Frankenstein, Big Tech’s creators in no way control their creations.

Surveillance State, Made in U.S.A.

Thus we arrive at the second problem besetting Big Tech: Malicious actors, authoritarian regimes chief among them, are sophisticated adopters and promoters of the information revolution. How long ago were the halcyon days of the Arab Spring, when commentators could argue that Facebook and Twitter presented an existential threat to dictatorships everywhere. In reality, authoritarian regimes the world over quickly learned to love technologies that enticed their subjects into carrying around listening devices and putting their innermost thoughts online.

Big Brother can read tweets too, which is why China’s massive surveillance system includes monitoring social media. Slowing down Internet traffic, as Iran has apparently done, turns out to be an even more effective source of censorship than outright blocking of websites — accessing information becomes a matter of great frustration instead of forbidden allure. Before Russian troll farms were aimed at American Facebook users, they were found to be useful at home for stirring up anti-American sentiments and defending Russia’s aggressions in Ukraine.

By pulling so much of social life into cyberspace, the information revolution has made dissent more visible, manageable, and manipulable than ever before. Hidden public anger, the ultimate bête noire of many a dictator, becomes more legible to the regime. Activating one’s own supporters, and manipulating the national conversation, become easier as well. Indeed, the information revolution has been a boon to the police state. It used to be incredibly manpower-intensive to monitor videos, accurately take and categorize images, analyze opposition magazines, track the locations of dissidents, and appropriately penalize enemies of the regime. But now, tools that were perfected for tagging your friends in beach photos, categorizing new stories, and ranking products by user reviews are the technological building blocks of efficient surveillance systems. Moreover, with big data and AI, regimes can now engage in especially “smart” forms of what is sometimes called “smart repression” — exerting just the right amount of force and nudging, at the lowest possible cost, to pull subjects into line. The computational counterculture’s promise of “access to tools” and “people power” has, paradoxically, contributed to mass surveillance and oppression.

What’s shocking isn’t that technological development is a two-edged sword. It’s that the power of these technologies is paired with a stunning apathy among their creators about who might use them and how. Google employees have recently declared that helping the Pentagon with a military AI program is a bridge too far, convincing the company to cancel a $10 billion contract. But at the same time, Google, Apple, and Microsoft, committed to the ideals of open-source software and collaboration toward technological progress, have published machine-learning tools for anyone to use, including agents provocateur and revenge pornographers.

In 2017 researchers from the tech company Nvidia published an algorithm for realistically modifying video, for example to turn a winter scene into a summer scene. Within months, as Motherboardreported, an anonymous Internet hobbyist had developed a similar technology to create and release software for swapping faces in videos with high fidelity. While the intent was (inevitably) pornographic, the political implications of the technology were immediately recognized, as in a BuzzFeed video of a fake announcement by former President Obama. Recently, IBM announced the creation of a free database of over one million racially diverse facial images to help train facial recognition algorithms and reduce bias. One wonders whether the Uighur people arrested by the Chinese government with the help of facial recognition technology are grateful that they weren’t discriminated against.

Silicon Valley’s tech founders envisioned a world where information technology directly contributed to an increasingly democratic society, characterized by decentralization, a do-it-yourself attitude, and an independence of thought associated with both their brand of Sixties counterculture and a deeper American tradition. They and their successors, based on optimistic assumptions about human nature, built machines to maximize those naturally good human desires. But, to use a line from Bruno Latour, “technology is society made durable.” That is, to extend Latour’s point, technology stabilizes in concrete form what societies already find desirable.

The counterculture’s humanism has long been overthrown by dreams of maximizing satisfaction, metrics, profits, “knowledge,” and connection, a task now to be given over to the machines. The emerging soft authoritarianism in Silicon Valley’s designs to stoke our desires will go hand in hand with a hard authoritarianism that pushes these technologies toward their true ends.

* One must qualify that much of what is today called “artificial intelligence” is little more than traditional regression analysis, the basic technique taught in introductory statistics courses, but on an unprecedented scale and presence in daily life. None of this technology approaches the conscious, adaptive, reflective capacities often associated with the term, the kind we would find in 2001: A Space Odyssey’s HAL 9000 or Star Trek’s Mr. Data. The labeling of these techniques as “artificial intelligence” arises in part from the ideological aspirations of Silicon Valley and in part from its overhyped marketing, and so ought to be resisted. But for the sake of critique we will adopt it here. 


Jon Askonas is assistant professor of politics and a Fellow at the Center for the Study of Statesmanship at the Catholic University of America.



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Note: consciousness in Artificial Intelligence is not far off. AI is already making many decisions on our behalf and autonomous AI can "learn" behaviours such as improving its chances at winning games or doing "self-improvement" at speeds we can't imagine.

Note: New Atlantis authors and bioethicists publishing in other journals have also similarly referred to The New Atlantis as being written from a social conservative stance which utilizes religion.

one of the villains in the local news collapse...

Facebook, which has been blamed for killing local newspapers, is now confirming that there aren’t enough of them to supply its users with the local news they want to read.

Last year, the giant social network headed by Mark Zuckerberg launched a service called “Today In”that’s now available in 400 cities across the US.

But Facebook admitted Monday that 40 percent of Americans live in places where there aren’t enough local news stories to support it. The tech giant deems a community unsuitable for “Today In” if it cannot find a single day in a month with at least five news items available to share.

“Facebook, after demolishing local news, they’re now worried that they don’t have enough of it on Facebook,” noted one news veteran.

About 100 publishers, academics, investors and technologists are being brought together in Denver Tuesday to wrestle with problems that have dogged the local news industry and what can be done to save it.

Facebook, often criticized as one of the villains in the local news collapse, is joining with the Knight Foundation and the Online News Association to convene the two-day conference.

It’s part of Facebook’s three-year, $300 million effort unveiled in January to help support local news, although Facebook is quick to point out that it is not the sole sponsor.


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See also:

three little wishes for the master...

the horribole knewz...

It’s almost certainly the ugliest website to go live in decades, immediately eliciting cries of “It’s making my eyes bleed” on social media in response to the endless black and white headlines, cluttered links and yellow highlighter scrawl.

Comments on the Australian’s own news report were similarly unflattering: “Visually appalling, terrible to navigate”; “The formatting hurts my eyes!”

Thomson has lofty plans for; claiming it will be “transformative for the global publisher” and will provide an antidote to the “fake news and clickbait” of the social media giants and competitors Facebook and Google.


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the "commercial" nuz...

Project Veritas, headed by James O’Keefe, records “undercover” footage of mainstream journalists to bolster its accusations of media bias.



ABC News suspended one of its veteran correspondents late Tuesday for unguarded remarks he made in a video by operatives of Project Veritas, the conservative group that records "undercover" footage of mainstream journalists to bolster its accusations of media bias.

The network disciplined David Wright, who reports for ABC's signature news programs, including "World News Tonight," "Good Morning America" and "Nightline," several people confirmed late Tuesday.

The choppy, poorly shot video, released Wednesday morning by Project Veritas, captured Wright on what appeared to be a hidden camera, seeming to complain in general terms about political coverage.


"I don't think we're terribly interested in voters," he said, echoing gripes about the superficiality of some aspects of White House and campaign coverage that have been raised by journalists for decades. Also: "Commercial imperative is incompatible with news."


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Will the "free and democratic" commercial nuz support Julian Assange? I'm afraid not...


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press release makes the nuz...

Nine local TV stations broadcast an almost identical report praising the precautions taken by Amazon to protect its employees during the health crisis.

The images like the script had been provided ... by the multinational. The line between journalism and public relations can sometimes seem blurred. When it is not inexistent.

According to American online media Courier, at least nine local TV stations have broadcast a strangely identical story about the Amazon business. And for good reason, according to Courier, they would all have followed to the letter a script written by a certain Todd Walker ... an employee of the public relations department of the online sales giant.

In a montage produced by Courier, we can hear journalists practically literally regurgitating the script in question, in which they explain how Jeff Bezos' company “ensures the safety and health of its employees” during the Covid pandemic -19 and spent $ 800 million on "salary increases and overtime".


Find out more on RT France:



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