Sydney Morning Herald – Yer Dreamin’

imageI received yet another email from the Sydney Morning Herald letting me know that they had now moved from a traditional news print way of selling the news (the news had always been paid by advertisers with the cost of the physical papers being a re-imbursement of the distribution cost) to digital subscriptions. Did I want one?

The Herald was pushing a package where for AU $15 a month I could read the Herald by accessing it through the website. That is $180 per year. OK, that may not seem so bad except that in real terms, the paper version did not cost me anything and came from a newspaper that had many more reporters and journalists than it now does (the Herald dumped so many journalists and reporters into the job market last year to cut costs). So now, in real terms, I am expected to pay more for less!

It gets more interesting however.

imageFor only an extra AU $10 a month (and therefore the princely sum of AU $300 per year) I can get the same Herald but with access from my tablet (iPad in my case, Android tablet in the case of others). So now the Herald expects me to pay AU $120 a year for an iPad app!

Now they are definitely dreaming!

The biggest problem with Fairfax (the owners of the Herald) and indeed News Corporation (Rupert Murdoch’s non-government surveillance organisation) is that they do not really understand the digital world. They have not got the necessary digital vision to see what is going to work for the digital future. For example, in the past, newspapers charged advertisers based on their audited circulations. They argued that this was an indication of the number of people reading the ads, which of course it was not. In a digital world, advertisers can see when the advertisement has piqued the interest of a reader by the reader clicking through so they will no longer pay for a blanket “oh, your ad will be seen by 500,000 people because that is our audited circulation”.

What is the secret to digital newspapers? Simply speaking, either charge $300 per year (and lose I would guess around 90% of your readership and therefore relevance) or adopt a better model – but really, $120 per year for an iPad app – is that the most expensive iPad app ever?

Wikileaks Strikes Thomo’s Hole

thomos_hole_stats Thomo’s Hole consistently gets around 130 to 200 hits per day and has done so for some time now (thanks folks).  There was a sharp decline the other day however. We dropped to 94 hits on 11 December 2010. This coincided with the Denial of Service attacks on Visa, Mastercard and Amazon amongst others.

Thomo’s Hole is hosted on Amazon and I guess this explains the negative result for the day.

Of course, the thing I can’t understand about the whole Wikileaks thing is that Wikileaks is not stealing these documents. All Wikileaks is doing is the same thing that the New York Times or the Sydney Morning Herald is doing and that is printing already leaked documents.

Pentagon computers attacked with USB flash drive

Knowing this, many militaries are developing offensive capabilities in cyberspace, and more than 100 foreign intelligence organisations are trying to break into US networks,

he [US Deputy Defence Secretary William Lynn] said via Pentagon computers attacked with USB flash drive.

Gee, it’s nice to have friends. There are what, 200-odd countries in the world? Allowing for some having multiple intelligence agencies, but also allowing for some to be so small or so poor as to not have any agencies or the abilities to mount this sort of attack, Lynn is suggesting that pretty much everybody with an intelligence agency and technical capability is attacking the US.

Anyway, if those foreign organisations really wanted to break into the US networks, all they need are a couple of 16 year old geeks with laptops, a carton of red bull and a couple of home delivered pizza supremes

Paranoia? Nah, couldn’t be … could it?

Gotta Love the Sydney Morning Herald … at times

Today there was a report in the Herald with the title Cables cut: CBD phone and internet services lost. This referred to fibre optic and copper cables being cut on the corner of York and Erskine Streets last night. This has caused loss of Internet and telephone communications to many people in the affected area. When there are local interest stories like this, the Herald calls for readers in or near the area to send SMS or email with additional pictures, news, comment etc. The request of this assistance today was priceless:

Have you been affected? If you can … text 0424 SMS SMH (+61 424 767 764), email us at or direct message on Twitter @smh_news or send a carrier pigeon!

Someone has a sense of humour at the Herald!

News Limited Fires at Bloggers

I was reading in the Sydney Morning Herald today that at a speech at the National Press Club John Hartigan, the chief executive of News Limited, launched yet one more attack on bloggers, news aggregators and others. The Herald reported:

His most scathing attack was reserved for bloggers, who, he said, lacked resources and access to key decision-makers.

“In return for their free content, we pretty much get what we’ve paid for – something of such limited intellectual value as to be barely discernible from massive ignorance,” he said.

He said blogs often gave a platform for “radical sweeping statements unsubstantiated with evidence”.

Now that last quote, “radical sweeping statements unsubstantiated with evidence” is a rich criticism coming from the head of a company such as News Limited which boasts such heavyweights of in depth journalism such as the Daily Telegraph in Australia and the Mirror and Sun in the U.K. Yep, there are some wonderful examples of publications famous for not making “sweeping statements unsubstantiated with evidence”.

I won’t even go near the “massive ignorance” that the Telegraph has managed to push in the last 12 months!

Yesterday’s News

So, yesterday was one of those days for news in the paper and a few articles caught my eye (including the MSE article I mentioned in the last post). Of course, the Moran family hit was something that if it had not involved the death of a man would have been truly funny in a black kind of way. Other news was:

Pensioner risks losing home over unpaid BigPond account – this was a classic piece of typical Telstra combined with what happens corporate-wide when you outsource everything. Seems that the pensioner ran up a bill of about $1000 and hadn’t paid. Telstra stopped chasing her, added some fees, sold the bill off to a collection agency who added some more fees, got the bill up to $2000 (how does a bill in Australia double?) and then took the pensioner to Bankruptcy Court where administrative fees are now added to it all and from a $1000 start, the pensioner now owes $23,000. Well done Telstra – seems you have retained the Sol what’s-‘is-name efficiency!

Tears as senator’s daughter expelled from chamber – this has received a lot of coverage lately with opinions kind of split about whether the Senate should change its regulations to permit a child being in the chamber with a parent. I have a problem with this (a couple actually). The first is that it is a workplace and as such, there are risks involved in having a child around. The fact that it is the senate chamber does not make it any safer and it is, in my opinion, irresponsible parenting to have a child there. Secondly, if the Senate permits senator’s children in the chamber, then this sets a precedent for all other workplaces or creates another inequity in Australian society. So, for example, would we permit a child in an Army Main Battle Tank because dad is the driver? Perhaps in the No 3 smelter at the BHP steelworks in Newcastle? Why should these places be treated differently to the Senate? The third issue is one of that of fellow workers. They do not come to work to have children running around the office which may effect their work output. Unfair on colleagues, unsafe for the child and inequitable for society as a whole.

He had her jailed for adultery, now she’s headed to Australia with him – this was a classic. Bloke rings the police in Dubai when his missus disappears into a hotel with another bloke for a bit of jiggery-pokery. Police then arrest her and the other bloke, they are sentenced for naughtiness and spend 6 weeks in gaol in Dubai. She gets out of gaol and heads off to Australia (as she has been deported from Dubai) with her husband – seems that they have kissed and made up. Why is this interesting? Well, I am wondering if the Australian immigration folks actually let her in as she has recently been incarcerated and has a criminal record overseas. After all, she did 6 weeks in the slammer, the woman who pinched the bar mat from the bar in Phuket and was subsequently denied a visa to the US, she was only fined $20!

Yep, it’s good news week!

SMH Late With The News – Ten-Year-Old Granted Divorce in Yemen

So today the Sydney Morning Herald ran a piece with the title of Ten-year-old granted divorce from abusive marriage which they had taken from the L A Times. Mostly the information seemed accurate (well, except for the age of the girl and one or two other things). The silliest was that this is old news. It was reported in the Arab News and the Yemen Times (and I think the Australian Press as well) back on the 18th of April 2008 – nearly two full months ago. I even mentioned it in Eight Year Old Girl’s Divorce Is Finalised

Well done SMH – take it from the L A Times … but two months late! Even the L A Times published the story back on 11 April 2008.