If you could design your own domestic news service, what would it look like?
Taking off my News Limited hat and speaking as a general reader, mine would involve a few things - plenty of hard news, mostly politics, stacks of AFL, provocative and entertaining opinion pieces, heaps of food, music and cinema journalism.
I’d never read celebrity gossip, clubby or dull business journalism (that is, almost all of it) or another impenetrable word of motoring writing about the latest unaffordable car with a 28 kilowatt, 6.2 litre engine and variable-valve timing control.
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Earlier this month I spoke at a social media conference in Melbourne. When you wear a badge that says you work for Rupert Murdoch at these events, it’s like sitting in the middle of the Collingwood cheer squad in a Carlton jumper. With some people the best you can hope for is that their initial horror will eventually subside to a mild hostility.
I was there to speak about strategy for social media, including Twitter, which The Punch has engaged to a fair degree of success. It is second only to the mighty Google in terms of the number of readers it helps the site reach. My presentation was on using social networks to connect with people.
The Social Media Summit 2009 came just days after the announcement that News Corporation planned to charge for access to its websites. It was the hottest topic of conversation in the wings and with the exception of one or two people, the view among the delegates was that it wasn’t going to work.
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For an open, organic, freedom-loving Utopia, there are a great many wannabe digital dictators on the Internet, vomiting forth mandates on how we must behave, speak, and do business. The Ethos of the Web, they call it; they know what is right, what is wrong, what will work, and what will fail.
So in May, when Rupert Murdoch tabled the idea of paywalling his newspapers, the Glorious Leaders of Twitterstan took to their keyboards, and registered their disdain with an all-caps “FAIL!”
“You can’t charge for content! Information wants to be free! Show your support by donating to my PayPal account!” Every Social Media Expert and Futurist hustling for speaking fees and fat consultancies knows, unequivocally, that newspapers are dinosuars; one edition short of extinction.
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What will journalism look like in twenty years? Will newspapers still exist? Punch research journalist Kelly Simpson and four of her fellow students from the University of Technology Sydney gaze into the crystal ball…
Kelly Simpson – Postgraduate journalism student, UTS: How did you hear that Michael Jackson had died? That we’d lost the Ashes?
Print is dead, I’ve been assured. I’ve missed the glory days. There’ll be no ink smudged copy for me, no physical front page, no morning AND evening editions of the newspapers.
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With the current kerfuffle about binge drinking, you might be inclined to think that drinking copious amounts of alcohol is a fairly recent phenomenon. The truth is that the history of Western civilisation is soaked in alcohol.
In the spirit of informing the current debate — and helping policy makers and public health officials to see what they’re up against — The Punch presents the following comprehensive* history, spanning over 2500 years of drunkeness.
360 BC — Plato. The history of binge drinking in the West begins in Ancient Greece with the philosopher Plato who compared drinking parties to going to the gym. Just as going to the gym temporarily weakens you but makes you stronger in the long-run, drinking parties, he argued, can make you stronger.
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Virgin Blue has posted a $ 160m loss. I should feel sorry for Dicky Branson. But instead I just want to slap him around a bit and say “boo hoo”.
Here’s the scenario.
I’m sitting at Sydney airport experiencing two emotions that are gratingly familiar – outraged and helpless. My flight (do I really have to add “as usual”?) has been delayed. First by 10 minutes, then by another five, then by an extra 20. That’s the official line, but there’s no sense we’ll be heading skyward any time soon.
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My first brush with politics was in local government. I think I was eight.
My father was an independent ‘alderman’ on our local municipal council. A significant part of my youth was spent standing on polling booths, pounding the pavement to deliver Dad’s election newsletters and fielding constituent calls after school before Dad got home from work, as my older brother refused to answer the phone.
I remember one year standing on a polling booth for Dad where the big issue was council amalgamations. Dad was strongly opposed. So there I was, arguing the case for grass roots democracy against the monolith of big council bureaucracy.
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As the climate change debate held centre stage in Parliament last week, I found myself at a nearby primary school wrestling a chicken for the cameras. With kids milling around, my task was to casually hold this hen (the kids had named “Roast”), while the photographer from the local paper took pictures.
As we struck our pose with beaming smiles, Roast pooed over my new suit confirming the old piece of advice to never work with kids or animals. But of course to take that advice in politics would deprive pollies of 90 per cent of our photo-ops.
In this case, the kids were central to the event at hand: the launching of CarbonKids at Forrest Primary School, Canberra. In equal measure, even though they may not yet realise it, these kids are also central to the debate raging on the Hill.
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It’s Monday at The Punch
Fact: today is Malaysian Independance Day. It marks the anniversary of their independance from Britain in 1957. The Portugese and the Dutch had invaded the country before the British gained hegemony with the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824.
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Look into the faces of those dozens of people glassed in violent incidents in our pubs and clubs in recent years and you’ll know that we have a problem. Those faces are worth more than any of the words I’m writing on this topic at the invitation of The Punch.
The images of our young people fighting on our streets with total strangers whose paths have they have crossed by chance, makes you wonder if we’ve got it right as a society. We shouldn’t live in a wowser state. I am clear on that.
Equally, we shouldn’t live in a state where our very human pursuit of enjoyment takes us down a darker path where alcohol becomes the end in itself.
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