The Big Issue : Edition 447
THEBIGISSUE6--25DEC2013 51 Crikey: "While some in the industry have convinced themselves of terminal decline, I believe an audience exists for a new [print-based] player." Despite its popularity since launching in 2005, The Monthly has never turned a proft. But Schwartz Media CEO Rebecca Costello noted to Mumbrella that The Monthly's consistent and signifcant increased revenue and circulation means that they are in "the perfect position to launch a new title". The Saturday Paper's founding editor, Erik Jensen (formerly of the SMH) agreed that "print journalism can be vital and be proftable”. While 2014 seems sure to continue deeply entrenched downward trends for established print media, new alternatives -- in all their varying degrees of alternativeness -- suggest a decidedly bright outlook for Australian journalism. by Jen Breach (@jenbreach) THE PLUMMETING DECLINE of print media circulation and revenue is bad for Australian journalism, right? Well...no, actually, maybe not. Cost-cutting has left a glut of good investigators and commentators with only a blogging platform to call home. It's a publishers' market, and some have stepped up. The Monthly magazine and The Conversation website are established salons for long-form journalism, adding to an online space rich with reporting from The Guardian (Australian edition) and Crikey. And alternatives proliferate. In the same week that The New Daily website launched, The Monthly publisher Morry Schwartz announced The Saturday Paper (working title), a weekend tabloid- sized and broadsheet-hearted newspaper to focus on news-related long-form journalism. It will launch in 2014 with a target circulation of 80,000. MEDIA DESPITE PERFORMING POORLY on ABC1, Chris Lilley's show Ja'mie: Private Schoolgirl has broken online records at ABC's 'catch-up TV' site, iView. With catch-up TV booming and Australians downloading more television than anyone else in the world, the old model of free-to-air television is in crisis. Does this matter? If people are still watching a product made or distributed by a network, who cares if they're viewing it on a laptop or a fat screen? Well, let's put it this way: network television budgets are built around a free-to-air programming model, which will be a lot harder to justify if nobody actually watches free-to-air television. This is an interesting environment in which an enterprising media company could make a mint if it TELEVISION FREE TO LEAVE PRINT MEDIA A NEW LEAF played its cards right. Think of what Apple did during the boom in illegal music downloads. It introduced a thing called iTunes. Didn't do it altruistically. Just saw a market and catered for it. Maybe Australian TV networks are cleverly outfoxing us all in ways we can't even begin to imagine and a new way of catering to our TV needs is about to establish itself. In the meantime, though, free- to-air is just like it always has been, only there are more channels, so they play more repeats. Networks import truckloads of cheap overseas shows and play them over and over again. Now, back when there weren't any other options, repeating a TV show made more sense. Say the frst episode of a new show went really well for a network. A week later, the network could repeat the episode, sometimes with a voiceover about the "smash hit" that had "everyone talking", and it might even get more views than it did the frst time. The Australian pooh-poohed the idea: Mark Day wrote "I will be surprised if the new paper survives a year and I'll be utterly amazed if it reaches anywhere near the [target circulation]". This might be projection on Day's part since The Australian's parent company, News Corp, recently fled a $350 million fall in revenue for 2012 to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (three times bigger than Fairfax's losses for the same period). Most alternatives to mainstream media separate themselves by platform or by funding model: online publication is the standard and some don't rely on advertising revenue, subscriptions or paywalls. The Conversation is funded by grants and reader donations; The New Daily was initially bankrolled by three super funds. What's radical about The Saturday Paper is that it's neither an alternative platform nor a remarkably diferent funding model. Schwartz told Now, though, people buy boxed sets and watch replays and downloads and it seems ridiculous to run three episodes of The Big Bang Theory together on a Monday night, or back-to-back episodes of Friends, or any episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond. The ABC is guilty of repeating programs ad nauseam as well, especially if there's a cop with an English accent in it and the lighting has a blue tinge. There's probably not an easy solution for networks unwilling to splash the cash on an experiment, but some days the TV guide looks like this: repeated show, repeated show, repeated show, repeated show, news, repeated show, movie. It's no wonder people are turning of. Please let there be an entrepreneurial TV executive who sees the value in making free-to- air TV work for the iView generation. by Lorin Clarke (@lorinimus) NOT EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND PHOTOGRAPHS BY J SCIULLI/WIRE, IMAGE FOR SAFILO USA; STF/AFP/GETTY IMAGES "NEWSPAPERS DYING? THIS IS A BEAT UP!"