The $25 million dollar losers: why the News Corp break-up may see the end of The Australian’s “War on science”

The reshaping of the media landscape continues to throw up surprises as rumors of News Corp splitting off its underperforming newspaper divisions prove to be true.

This development has sent chills throughout the far flung Murdoch Empire, as the “Sun King” is about to throw them to the wolves of market forces. Many News Corporation papers wont’ survive when directly exposed to “the market” (the very thing they extol over all other human institutions).

Make no mistake; Murdoch is about to spin off his company’s newspaper divisions to sooth the concerns of investors worried about their profitability. It is also an attempt to quarantine the more profitable arms of his media empire from the unfolding scandals in the UK:

WORRIED editors from Rupert Murdoch’s global newspaper empire are meeting in New York this morning as News Corp weighs the possibility of splitting its media and entertainment divisions.

The media conglomerate will look to separate its publishing assets – including the scandal-rocked British newspaper division – from its film and TV businesses.

The move to create two listed companies has been applauded by shareholders but it could throw into doubt the future of loss-making newspapers, including The Australian.

Reports indicate The Australian loses $25 million a year:

”But one suspects more restructuring would be required if [they are] separated, like closure of more marginal or unprofitable magazines and newspapers.”

Industry sources said yesterday that The Australian was losing more than $25 million a year.

Yes, you read correctly: the Australian loses $25m a year.

The champion of all things free-market, small government and friend to anti-science cranks only exists because it is subsidised by the rivers of gold coming from News’s entertainment divisions. You’re Foxtel subscription has been underwriting the pay cheques of the editors and journalists at that paper for years and all that is about to end.

As I “tweeted” yesterday: “Buh-bai Australian”.

Gosh, there are days when I really love capitalism.

Go creative destruction go!

For international readers “The Australian” is a News Corp national daily renowned for being the most partisan media outlet on the climate debate. On a daily basis it calls into question climate science. The Australian is no more than mouthpiece for Murdoch’s quixotic views on climate, the role of government and other conservative agendas. Think of it as “Fox News” in print.

Now that Chairman Murdoch has discovered Twitter I think he’s worked out it’s easier to send out a few “tweets” to get his views across than subsidise a $25 million money loser like The Australian.

Excuse me if I indulge in just a little schadenfreude.

Australian leading newspaper? Errr….

Of course The Australian is madly spinning its circulation statistics in order survive, claiming it “leads the pack in circulation” down under. One would think it means “The Oz” is Australia’s leading selling newspaper based on that headline!

Acutally The Oz is spinning facts: it’s only “leading” when they compared its circulation figures to rival publisher Fairfax’s Australian Financial Review:

In the three months to December 31, the newspaper’s Monday-to-Friday sales increased by 3.5 per cent compared with the same period in 2010, rising from an average of 129,166 copies a day to 133,701.

Average sales of The Weekend Australian rose by 1.6 per cent year-on-year from 290,286 copies to 295,066.

The paper’s performance drove an overall increase of 1.3 per cent in Monday-to-Saturday sales of national mastheads, which was the only category to post a rise.

Gosh, that does sound so…. impressive!

The other national paper, Fairfax Media’s The Australian Financial Review, experienced a weekday sales drop of 3.3 per cent from an average of 74,733 copies sold each day to 72,282. Its Saturday sales rose 3.7 per cent from 78,783 copies to 81,667.

The AFR is a business daily; a niche paper that appeals to a much narrower audience than the one The Australian aspires. Once more we have the spectacle of The Australian selectively using data to reframe the actual truth.

Doesn’t that sound familiar?

The end of “The war on science”

As Tim Lambert “War on science” has demonstrated over the years The Australian has a pathological relationship with the truth, whether that is science or in this case even its own circulation figures and viability.

The Australian is very much in the habit of reframing facts to tell it and readers the things it/they want to hear:

“Climate change is a hoax!”

“The Australian is a profitable newspaper!”

Neither statement is true.

The Australian exists only because Chairman Murdoch has had a sentimental attachment to broad sheets such as The Australian. The editors of The Australian can crow all they like about their circulation figures, but if you’re not a profitable business then you will either fold, be taken over or become something very different.

So what does this mean for the climate debate?

The breakup and demise of News Corporation titles such as The Australian is potentially good news for the debate on climate change and the scientific community. Given the partisan nature of The Australian and its campaign to distort the public understanding of climate change, its demise can only been seen as a positive.

As I said, there are days when I love capitalism.


2 thoughts on “The $25 million dollar losers: why the News Corp break-up may see the end of The Australian’s “War on science”

  1. It would be wonderful to see an advertiser boycott of the Australian to help increase the annual losses to, oh, say, a nice round 30 million per year.

  2. Gus says:

    The sad thing is, I would love to read a really good national daily, and would be willing to pay for it. The Australian’s battle with the SMH pushed it to the right and it sadly took on the views of the loony fringe of the US Republicans; it is now a national disgrace.

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