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The Age

Jul 16, 2009

Old media vs new media: This time it's personal

We've had plenty of coverage in recent weeks of traditional media bosses and commentators criticising online "new media" sites, including Crikey as well as independent bloggers. Today,

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We’ve had plenty of coverage in recent weeks of traditional media bosses and commentators criticising online “new media” sites, including Crikey as well as independent bloggers. Today, it looks like a more specific stoush between traditional and new media outlets is brewing.

As I noted in today’s open thread, Richard Baker of The Age has alleged that the e-journal On Line Opinion pulled an article by NSW Greens MLC (and Senate candidate at the next federal election) Lee Rhiannon. The article was apparently about Malcolm Turnbull’s political fund-raising; Baker notes that Turnbull’s wife Lucy, along with several current and former Liberal Party members and employees are on the editorial panel for On Line Opinion.

Graham Young, On Line Opinion’s publisher and chief editor, has published two responses today. The first strongly disputes the implication of Baker’s article:

We declined the article because we publish op-ed material, and this was not an op-ed piece. If they have a different view The Age can easily publish the article on their own op-ed page. It is not uncommon for publishers to have differing views, but it is uncommon for these views to arise on the basis of a conspiracy.

We will also be seeking clarifcation from Age Editor Paul Ramedge as to his view on the affair, particularly as a number of matters call into question the integrity of one of his journalists and his editorial process. I would like to think that The Age will be concerned to uphold good journalistic practice and recognise this as an opportunity to lift their standards.

The second is an “open interview” with Rhiannon, which appears to be attempting to clarify her position and distinguish it from Baker’s own arguments.

Although it may have a number of conservatively-aligned people on board, On Line Opinion always appears to have published a broad range of articles and is read by a broad audience. An allegation of partisan editorial bias is serious business, so it will be important to monitor the situation and see what emerges. Graham Young has indicated that he will be posting updates as information comes to hand; I’ll be updating this post with any relevant links.

But aside from the specific allegations in Baker’s report, the publication of these claims makes me wonder where things are headed next in the newspaper vs “blog” wars (forgive me using that term to refer to all online media, but that seems to be how the traditional media describes things). There has been a broad and concerted effort by News Ltd outlets to discredit all bloggers and opinion sites (except, of course, their own blogs and The Punch, which are doing something radically new in “journalism”). The fact that a Fairfax paper has seen fit to publish a story about an e-journal demonstrates again the impact of new avenues for news and commentary, and perhaps is the latest example of the traditional media’s effort to damage the credibility of its new competition. What might they do next?

UPDATE: The Greensborough Growler has let me know that the article in question has been published at New Matilda.

UPDATE 2: Lee Rhiannon’s responses have been added to the open interview, and Graham Young has a follow-up post in response to Rhiannon’s answers. I won’t quote any of it here, because the whole thing is worth reading. Young notes that his next questions will be directed to The Age‘s Editor-in-Chief Paul Ramadge – I’ll continue to update this post.

UPDATE 3: Here at Crikey, Andrew Dodd has written a commentary on the way Young has initiated an open and public dialogue about the dispute.

UPDATE 4: Graham Young has posted his questions of Paul Ramadge.

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24 comments

24 thoughts on “Old media vs new media: This time it’s personal

  1. The Age and On Line Opinion redux - Pure Poison

    […] A couple of weeks ago I discussed The Age’s article suggesting that editorial decision-making by On Line Opinion was affected by partisan bias. The Age’s edior-in-chief Paul Ramadge has not responded to Graham Young’s questions, so Young has posted a final analysis at On Line Opinion. I won’t quote any of it here, because Young covers a lot of ground and I think it’s worth reading his coverage of the events as well as his arguments about the issues. He makes some interesting points about what might lead a major newspaper to write stories attacking an online (and much smaller, in terms of audience) competitor. Related PostsOld media vs new media: This time it’s personal Comments (0) | Permalink […]

  2. Anti-social Media | Agent-X Comics

    […] Sometimes, existing tradtional media outlet can get very upset and personal in their attacks. […]

  3. kedgie

    “you really don’t want hacks like that Green trog circulating on their site and ruin their great reputation “

    On what are you basing your judgement of Lee as a “trog”, Tee?

    And OLO published 14 other pieces co-authored by Lee. What damage had that done to their reputation?

  4. tee

    Daphon says
    I nearly choked with laughter on my lunchtime sandwich.

    Guy Rundle and nearly every other luvvie ratbag seems to get a spot in the op-ed. No self respecting middle of the road newspaper would even consider such a thing.

  5. Kevin Rennie

    Lots of us have had articles knocked back (and accepted ) by OLO and Matilda. All of us should get a life!

  6. confessions

    monkeywrench @ 17: Absolutely and totally agree. the blogosphere is surely a welcome addition to the information flow – only those with a vested interest in hording information to themselves would disagree. And I love how our resident trolls are trying to paint the interwebs as some kind of leftist conspiracy. LOL!!!

  7. Tobias Ziegler

    UPDATE 4: Graham Young has posted his questions of Paul Ramadge.

  8. monkeywrench

    Trust Tee to make the blogosphere look like a poor alternative to the MSM.

    How far things have changed! Can you imagine if Rhiannon’s piece concerned Howard’s election funding, and had been put to The Australian for publication, say, during Howard’s second term when the blogosphere wasn’t available? We’d never have known of its existence, much less had a blow-by-blow update on the discussion about it.

  9. Tobias Ziegler

    UPDATE 3: Here at Crikey, Andrew Dodd has written a commentary on the way Young has initiated an open and public dialogue about the dispute.

  10. skeptic

    tee

    At least I have the good manners to use the name you post under and how exactly am I lying or sticking your head in the sand?

    You will note that I didn’t say that the Age is not to the left of centre but rather take issue with it being “hard left”.

    But obviously your skin is so thin that the slightest criticism of your opinion raises your hackles.

  11. tee

    And you do yourself no favors by lying or sticking your head in the sand, Sceptic.

  12. Daphon

    Tee:

    Fairfax is targeting a hard leftwing base

    I nearly choked with laughter on my lunchtime sandwich.

    “None so blind as those who will not see.”

  13. confessions

    And I’ll be waging a guerrilla campaign against you until you grow up,

    what is it with the Right and violence?

    Reading Crikey is like dealing with a brilliant schizophrenic.

    and yet you just can’t stay away, you have to keep coming back. Seriously all the criticism you, pedro and tee throw at this blog, yet all three of you continue to post irrelevent crap here, as if anybody cares what you lot think. I’ll hazard a guess that you prefer to hang out here because it’s so terribly boring at those blogs inhabited by people who think just like you lot. At least here there is diversity of opinion that is well argued and without the highly partisan spin you find at bolt’s or ackerman’s.

    If the blog offends you so much that you can only throw about abusive trolling comments when you read it, just stay away! There’s certainly no need for you to have your sensibilities put out on such a regular basis.

  14. skeptic

    Fairfax is targeting a hard leftwing base

    You do yourself no favours tee by writing such over-the-top statements such as this.

  15. Tobias Ziegler

    UPDATE 2: Lee Rhiannon’s responses have been added to the open interview, and Graham Young has a follow-up post in response to Rhiannon’s answers. I won’t quote any of it here, because the whole thing is worth reading. Young notes that his next questions will be directed to The Age‘s Editor-in-Chief Paul Ramadge – I’ll continue to update this post.

  16. kym f durance

    Good Grief – On Line Opinion publishes my stuff for Christs sake- I have no idea what that means – however – looking at their track record of what they do publish – anyway, whingeing about not being published looks a bit like sour persimmons to me – they certainly so not have a track record of conservative by arse ( he hah ) – ;looks like much a brou hahah about fuck all –

  17. Joel B1

    Sorry, my mistake.

    I just read the fine print and it said “Crikey was independent”. NOT unbiased.

    So, maybe it the best PRC tradition you should just delete all posts by me…

  18. Joel B1

    “We’ve had plenty of coverage in recent weeks of traditional media bosses and commentators criticising online “new media” sites, including Crikey”

    Have you any idea of irony?

    That’s all Crikey does. Criticise other media, Bolt, Janet etc etc.

    {Name-calling removed – Toby}

  19. Joel B1

    OK time to ‘fess up

    I’ve only ever voted Liberal once. And that was when that anti-democracy c*nt Rudd refused to release policies until a week before the election. (Where were you Crikey on that, no doubt sucking his c*ck)

    Reading Crikey is like dealing with a brilliant schizophrenic.

    Seriously, what is wrong with you? I don’t think the Liberals are the best, I don’t think Labor’s the best, yet your totally biased viewpoint means Australian is not getting the analysis of political events that it deserves.

    So shame on you Crikey.

    And I’ll be waging a guerrilla campaign against you until you grow up, and use your undoubted talents to critique the Government that makes the legislation in Australia, not just the opposition.

    But let’s face it. You leftist pricks will never grow up.

  20. tee

    What might they do next?

    The old media start charging people every time people link to a story originating from their sites, as well as begin to charge their readership. The web ads plan obviously hasn’t worked, as they aren’t really making enough money out of it.

    They could also begin to charge more money for the tree edition. With the exception of Fairfax, which I think will fail, “old media” journalism will do well once they are able to figure it out. Fairfax is targeting a hard leftwing base and until that changes they will flounder and continue to lose money. Of course they won’t fail in the traditional sense but someone will buy up the mastheads or the firm itself, fire most of the leftwing hacks and reacquaint the mastheads with more middle of the road news and opinion.

    The action is still with the old media and will continue to be.

    Crikey may make it but it’s competing with all the lefty sites as well as Fairfax for leftwing eyeballs. When you have Guy Rundle as a regular contributor I would guess Crikey’s business plan has become confused, as their readership base is limited to the stupider end of that target audience and the challenge of course then makes its survival a far more difficult proposition.

    As far as ONO goes. ……..Well of course they are within their rights to reject plainly stupid and possibly slanderous opinion from a Green party hopeful and obvious ne’er-do-well. I’d lay odds the piece was basically an unsubstantiated attack Turnbull by a hard leftwing hack. He therefore did the right thing to “allow” Fairfax the opportunity in publishing that sort of junk and swill.

    In that way ONO continues to maintain its reputation while Fairfax/The Age damage their brand. I think Graham Young made an excellent decision, as you really don’t want hacks like that Green trog circulating on their site and ruin their great reputation unlike of course what Crikey does with having Rundle skulking about here…….. and The Age of course who have destroyed theirs.

  21. confessions

    The website will replace the opinion section on news sites including theage.com.au and will feature the best of Fairfax’s opinion writing, commentary and analysis, coupled with guest commentaries from politicians, academics and other public figures, the publisher said in a statement.

    In other words a less gossipy the Punch – disappointing. Thank goodness for bloggers!

    The stuff in the Lee Rihannon and Norman Thompson article is concerning, and reason why we need to reform electoral donations system. Obviously vested interest the liberal party has in not reforming the system, but alas Fielding strikes again in blocking a bill designed to bring greater transparency! Does that man have any credibility anymore??? And how is the article not op-ed material?

  22. Tobias Ziegler

    Next month. The announcement reads as though it’s largely going to republish the op-eds from the SMH, Age, etc. and just give a single site to access all of them. Hopefully there’s more to it than that.

  23. confessions

    when does Fairfax’s The PUnch equivalent come online (can’t remember what it’s to be called)? hopefully it will engage seriously with opinion material instead of just being like the Punch.

  24. Tobias Ziegler

    UPDATE: The Greensborough Growler has let me know that the article in question has been published at New Matilda.