12 Jul. 2007

What A Difference A Day Makes

UPDATE:Well, I was right (again) - Tim is back posting at News Ltd:
Apologies for the recent absence and lack of response, not to mention lack of posts. Yep, the editor here pulled a post yesterday, which I ain’t happy about, though of course, in the greater scheme of things editors pulling copy is hardly unusual. Nonetheless, it is something we are discussing.
Nice to see him follow that up with a link to a the much-maligned Mr Mumble, plus the missing post at LP.

If Darryl Mason is right, and this is the opening salvo of an election cycle war with the rightwing Praetorian Guard of the MSM, I'd call this one a victory for the bloggers. Let's hope the tossers at News Ltd have learned a lesson about real Democracy that they wont forget in a hurry. And now let's see if Tim Blair and his rabid, frothing-mouthed readers are going to learn a lesson too.
So where's Tim Dunlop today? Not blogging at News Ltd, although his blog is still there. Not blogging at Surfdom, or even commenting. My guess is he is fighting to keep his Murdoch media job, getting his blog post reinstated, and securing a promise from whoever gave him the job that such censorship will never happen again. But that’s just a guess. I'd much prefer if he turns up back at Surfdom after telling Rupert where to stick his money, and I think he would earn more credibility by doing so.

And where's Dennis Sham-I-am? Dutifully reporting the latest Newspoll figures in Teh Oz, which perfectly illustrate that everything his blog critics (including Tim) said was 100% right:
Home state disowns the PM

Dennis Shanahan, Political editor
July 13, 2007

LABOR holds an election-winning lead in almost every state, but NSW has emerged as the party's new stronghold as its voters turn to Kevin Rudd.

Older voters are also turning against John Howard, with Newspoll analysis showing support among those over 50 going Labor's way for the first time since the last election in 2004.

In the past three months, Labor support in NSW has jumped to 51 per cent in primary votes, giving Labor a 17-point lead over the Coalition in the Prime Minister's home state.

After the calculation of second preferences, Labor's lead is a record 61 per cent to the Coalition's 39 per cent.

Dissatisfaction with the Prime Minister in NSW has lifted to a high of 49 per cent since the 2004 election and Mr Rudd has opened his lead to 12 points over Mr Howard as preferred prime minister in the state with the most seats.
The GG editorial, meanwhile, has moved on to other things, including Keating-bashing (old habits die hard) and continued global warming scepticism (old habits die very hard):
It is somewhat surprising that discussing natural climate variability is viewed by some as not just deeply controversial but downright dangerous.
Don't expect an apology from Dennis, either, although his latest blog post does sound like the petulant whine of a dog that's been kicked:
Everyone thinks Kevin cares.
Of course, nobody is stupid enough to still believe that Howard cares about anything but the luxury fittings in his fleet of private jets. But that's another blog post.

The discussion of this shameful little episode has also raised a few interesting issues. I have pulled together my thoughts from various comments yesterday.

Firstly, this desperation from News Ltd is another clear sign of panic in the ranks. The panic is spreading all the way from the White House to Wall Street, from No. 10 to the PM’s Kirribilli Lodge. It’s a doomsday scenario: the collapse of conservatism across the Western political spectrum.

And all that is part of a much bigger global battle between bloggers and the mainstream media and political elites, who have had a monopoly on interpreting the news to the electorate for many decades.

Blogs don’t really represent a threat to true journalists: we still need REAL news stories to “feed off” (as the Oz editorial puts it). But we do provide an interpretation of those news stories which represents a threat to the editorial teams, the rabid columnists, and the politicians whose favour they curry.

Murdoch is well aware of this threat, and I think that’s why he allowed his son (Lachlan, I assume) to bring Tim Dunlop into News HQ. It's all about power and control of public opinion - that's where the money is. I’m sure Murdoch would not give a flying $%&* about this embarrassing censorship episode unless it has an impact on the sales and/or longer-term prestige of his original organ.

OTOH, I can’t help wondering what certain members of the Bancroft family might think of this undignified mess, given that they are reportedly within a whisker of a deal that would hand the Dow Jones and Wall Street Journal over to Fox News’ new business channel. Wouldn’t it be lovely if this public display of heavy-handed censorship was what finally scuppered that deal? Indeed, I can't help wondering if the sensitivities of the moment are the reason why the Oz editorial has crawled back into it's hole today.

The Aussie blogosphere still boasts pretty “thin ranks” (as Darryl Mason rightly put it), but the Murdoch media know exactly what’s coming. Look at what happened in the US 2006 mid-term elections. Or go read a bit of E&P. The global newspaper industry is in a state of crisis, and there are plenty of high-falutin’, self-deluding old media News Ltd hacks who see the global blogging community as Public Enemy #1.

We Aussie bloggers are still a few years behind the USA, we lack the population and the organisation, but the momentum is certainly there, and it is building. Sure, sites like Crikey are a bigger threat just now than more independent voices, but as somebody recently said, what is Crikey if not a group blog which constantly hassles you for money? Things in Ozblogistan will finally be getting interesting when there are Aussies sites like Crikey that can be open to all readers and sustained purely on advertising revenue (a la Huffo or TPM).