The luminaries of the Aus­tralian media scene swan in and out of the con­fer­ence. Eric Beecher, youngest editor of the SMH ever then founder of Text Media (and hence once my ex-big boss) and now of course owner of Crikey; Mike van Niekerk, online chief at Fairfax (and the man who head-hunted me for The Age); Karim Tem­samani, now Gen­eral Man­ager of Google Aus­tralia and New Zea­land, once group man­ager at Fairfax Magazines and hence my ex-big boss; now on stage, Mark Scott, now Man­aging Dir­ector of the ABC and once Deputy Editor of The Age and hence the man who hauled me over the coals for a freel­ance writer’s conflict-of-interest indis­cre­tion. I’ve met these men fleet­ingly, if at all (Karim was a voice on the phone, once). I want to speak to them in the breaks but apart from Eric Beecher, they flit in to present and then leave, far too important to stay and net­work.

I am fas­cin­ated to listen to their pearls of wisdom. I am inspired and yet wistful that I feel myself so strongly to be an out­sider again. Then in the break, I find myself chat­ting to Tiy Chung, com­mu­nic­a­tions dir­ector for Green­peace, or Jenny Farrar, from the MEAA who’s going to Switzer­land on Sat­urday to cover the nuc­lear non-proliferation treaty because she’s involved with Mayors for Peace. 

Back to listening to this ses­sion though. News­pa­pers are dead, appar­ently. And everything else is con­ver­ging. So far, old news.

Quote of the day, Roy Greenslade on Andrew Jaspan, editor of the Age: “I used to work with him at the Sunday Times in London. I’ve been fol­lowing his career and I’m aghast at a man of such lim­ited talent rising so high.”

Facts of interest: 

  • The Guardian has more readers in the US than in the UK
  • Aus­tralian online sites don’t care about being flooded with links from Boing Boing or Drudge because Nielsen only meas­ures Aus­tralian clicks and that’s what the advert­isers want.
  • The major sites are all redesigning their story/article pages and see them as more important than the home page because that’s the most likely point of site entry now, thanks to blogs, aggreg­a­tion sites, RSS feeds, news­let­ters.
  • There is no longer a national con­ver­sa­tion in the home, that the news­paper used to engender – Roy Greenslade again
  • Every minute of every day, 10 hours of video are uploaded to You­Tube.
  • Teens atti­tude: if news is important enough, it will find me.
  • 10–25% of the net has changed every time Google indexes it.
  • Google paid $4.5b in adsense rev­enue last year (? not sure of the time­frame)
  • Mark Scott believes that many viewers came to Summer Heights High through MySpace *because* they gave the char­ac­ters MySpace pages and referred to it in episode 1. But how can this apply to journ­alism?
  • Max Uechtritz makes a dis­tinc­tion between quality journ­alism and ‘good tabloid journ­alism’. He says growing the audi­ence is vital because pro­pri­etors will fund good journ­alism if the num­bers are there, so whether you get the num­bers through Face­book doesn’t matter because in the end you are still being able to fund the good quality journ­alism.
  • News­pa­pers have lost money over many periods but are sus­tained by being part of diverse groups such as the Fin­an­cian Times sur­viving because it was part of Pearson. – Roy Greenslade.
  • Wash­ington Post now only makes 10% of earn­ings for the WP organ­isa­tion. It now makes most of its money from edu­ca­tion but the Post is still the spir­itual core of the organ­isa­tion. – Mark Scott.
  • Five years ago, 75% of Fairfax earn­ings was from Herald/The Age. Now it’s around 25% but bulk is still from print.
  • Video is the next big thing.
  • Mark Scott is really on the ball and I’m very impressed with him. “As editor you know a little bit, the news­room knows a bit more, but the read­er­ship knows the whole story. We’ll always be broad­casting but increas­ingly we’re going to host the con­ver­sa­tion. We recog­nise that we are no longer the broad­caster as oracle, par­tic­u­larly with younger audi­ences who want to be par­ti­cipants.
    Still going to have reporters, but we’re also going to have space. People want to con­tribute and be part of the media exper­i­ence. If you can manage that and com­ple­ment it with the journ­alism you’re doing, it can add up to more than what you were as the oracle.”

Most hated word of the day: Mon­etise.