Is Native Advertising destroying journalism?

Andrew Sullivan seems to think that native advertising most certainly is destroying journalism.

He comments on Ezra Klein’s Vox project raising $110 million over recent years and their stated business plans.

If the new media brands that have emerged over the last couple of years were described (accurately) as new advertising agencies, the stories might not have had as much traction (or contained as much hope for the future of journalism). But that, it is quite clear, is what most of these new entities are. Vox has now dropped any pretensions that it is not becoming an ad agency, creating “articles” that perpetuate and distribute the marketing strategies of major corporations.

The logic of this, from a business standpoint, is so powerful almost no one can resist it. Display or banner advertising is sinking into an after-thought, leaving journalism with a huge revenue crisis – especially when you have no subscription income from readers. And when you’re drowning in venture capital, the pressure to to find a way to pay it back eventually must, even now, be crushing. There’s no other explanation for the fullscale surrender of journalism to what would, only five years ago, have been universally understood as blatant corruption.

What always amazes me about the interviews with the various media professionals involved is their use of the English language. It’s close to impenetrable to anyone outside the industry – e.g. “publishers have to get better with understanding the product side of native” – which, of course, helps to disguise the wholesale surrender of journalism to public relations. What also amazes me is how silent the actual editors of these sites are on the core, and once-deemed-unethical, foundation of their entire business. So we’re unlikely to hear Ezra explain to his liberal readers how he’s now engaged in the corporate propaganda business. But if you scan the interview with Vox‘s new fake article guru, Lindsay Nelson, some truths slip out. To wit:

You’re going to need to be great storytellers and create things that help advertisers with the goals that they have for that quarter … We’re trying to become a consulting partner, where we help brands and guide them to develop a content marketing strategy that is 12-months long … If there’s something in the news that a brand wants to be close to you can get them up and running with the same type of polish that they would expect from advertising that takes much longer.

So even breaking news may well be advertising in the near future. And good luck telling the difference.

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Are NZ’s Political Commentators Morons?

One has to wonder about how stupid New Zealand’s political commentators are.

They seem totally immune from either common sense or numerical analysis.

The biggest moronic statement is that National in its third term is like Labour was in their third term.

Lets fact check this with some basic analysis that a monkey could probably put together in about 15 minutes unless they were working for Fairfax, when it would take them three days and they would still come up with the wrong conclusion.

Rough Monkey Analysis of 2005 election result v 2014 election result:

2005 v 2014 Elections  2005 2014 Difference
% Vote Seats % Vote Seats
Labour 41.1 50 25.13 32 -18
New Zealand First 5.72 7 8.66 11 4
Greens 5.3 6 10.7 14 8
United Future 2.67 3 0.22 1 -2
Jim Anderton 1.16 1 -1
National 39.1 48 47.04 60 12
Maori 2.12 4 1.32 2 -2
ACT 1.51 2 0.69 1 -1
Total 121 121 0

Some of the really obvious things that come out are:

  1. In 2005 National went very close to winning, losing by 2%.
  2. In 2014 Labour were only just over half of Nationals vote, losing by 22%.

So the Fairfax monkey doesn’t get too confused lets leave it with those two simple facts.

And ask the monkey to come back with an answer to the question why is a comparison between the 2005 and 2014 election results relevant?


Slowly strangling the golden goose

TradeMe is in the “Top 10″ worst performance New Zealand stocks.  And it’s gone all luke warm and sticky on the site itself

TradeMe will scrap the 55 cent fee it charges for photos on more of its gallery listings as it seeks to persuade people to buy and sell more often on its website.

The company has already scrapped the photo charge for some categories, such as clothing and “home and living”, and changed their format in an effort to make its auction site more visually appealing.

Chief executive Jon Macdonald said other categories, such as toys and sporting goods, were likely to be given the same treatment before Christmas.

“It is a change we are aiming to roll out progressively over the next few months, though it won’t be across the entire business by Christmas. We are aiming to provide a significantly better buying experience.”

TradeMe says it has been trading in line with expectations during the first few months of its new financial year, with annual revenue growth likely to be in the low single digits.

That is despite indications Kiwis’ obsession with the online powerhouse may be declining.

A Colmar Brunton poll out today said Trade Me had slipped nine places to be New Zealand’s “14th most-loved brand”. That pushed it behind Weet-Bix, Fisher & Paykel and Pak’nSave.


Greed and trying to use the golden goose to offset the rest of the Fairfax media empire’s dreadful balance sheets.   Read more »


Yesterday’s papers

Newspapers continue to decline.

Who wants yesterday’s papers?, the Rolling Stones asked in 1967, and the question is still valid.

It seems the answer is “nobody in the world”.

Clay Shirky writes about the ongoing demise.

Journalists have been infantilized throughout the last decade, kept in a state of relative ignorance about the firms that employ them. A friend tells a story of reporters being asked the paid print circulation of their own publication. Their guesses ranged from 150,000 to 300,000; the actual figure was 35,000. If a reporter was that uninformed about a business he was covering, he’d be taken off the story.

This cluelessness is not by accident; the people who understand the state of the business often hide that knowledge from the workers. My friend Jay Rosen writes about the media’s “production of innocence” — when covering a contentious issue, they must signal to the readers “We have no idea who’s right.” Among the small pool of journalists reporting on their own industry, there is a related task, the production of ignorance. When the press writes about the current dislocations, they must insist that no one knows what will happen. This pattern shows up whenever the media covers itself. When the Tribune Company recently got rid of their newspapers, the New York Timesran the story under a headline “The Tribune Company’s publishing unit is being spun off, as the future of print remains unclear.”

The future of print remains what? Try to imagine a world where the future of print is unclear: Maybe 25 year olds will start demanding news from yesterday, delivered in an unshareable format once a day. Perhaps advertisers will decide “Click to buy” is for wimps. Mobile phones: could be a fad. After all, anything could happen with print. Hard to tell, really.

Meanwhile, back in the treasurer’s office, have a look at this chart. Do you see anything unclear about the trend line?


Contrary to the contrived ignorance of media reporters, the future of the daily newspaper is one of the few certainties in the current landscape: Most of them are going away, in this decade. (If you work at a paper and you don’t know what’s happened to your own circulation or revenue in the last few years, now might be a good time to ask.) We’re late enough in the process that we can even predict the likely circumstance of its demise.

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Labour’s election campaign is slip, slidin’ away

The election is slip, slidin’ away from Labour.

They are approaching the territory of Bill English, expect a sudden collapse of their vote in this final week as people wake up to the fact that they can’t win.

Voters don’t vote for losers.For the same reason people leave early from a rugby match when their team is getting pasted the voters will abandon Labour.

National is urging its supporters not to split their vote as our latest poll confirms the minor parties are on the rise – and Labour continues to slump.

The stuff.co.nz/Ipsos poll signals a horror start to the final week of the campaign for Labour as its support slides to 22.4 per cent, putting it on track for an unprecedented trouncing.

It appears to have bled some support to the Greens, who are on 13 per cent. But most attention is around the seeming unstoppable rise of Winston Peters and NZ First.

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Native Advertising: Camouflaged ads that look like news stories

As you have seen, both the NZ Herald (APN) and Stuff (through their newspapers, and Fairfax) are trying to keep the ship afloat by hiding advertising inside stories.   This is a world-wide phenomenon.

Enjoy this primer on Native Advertising:  (If you don’t have time now, check it out later – it is worth your time)

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Labour is in trouble, Auckland hates them

The age old refrain in politics is “If you win Auckland, you win Wellington” has become a truism.

Political parties that ignore Auckland do so at their peril and are unlikely to make much inroads into gaining the treasury benches.

That is why the Greens put so much effort into Auckland’s leafy suburbs trying to convince voting mothers that the planet is in peril.

Labour traditionally had solid support in South Auckland and West Auckland. But that support is at risk.

North of the bridge is solid blue all the way to Cape Reinga, and Labour stranglehold in the south ends at Manurewa with Judith Collins rock solid in Papakura.

Fairfax has been polling in Auckland and Labour has problems.

With the leaders focusing on the vote-rich Auckland seats in the last two weeks of the campaign, the two most recent Stuff.co.nz-Ipsos polls showed 56 per cent of Aucklanders backed National against just over 50 per cent in the rest of the country.

There was very little variation among Labour voters, with about 25 per cent supporting the party inside and outside Auckland.

The only other major difference was for the Greens with just 10 per cent support in Auckland but 13.5 per cent across the rest of the country.    Read more »


Fairfax hypocrites enter native advertising scam as well

September seems to have been the month to launch the biggest scam in news yet.

Native advertising…the fancy word that editorial bosses use to describe advertising dressed up as articles to fool the punters.

Yesterday I blogged about the Herald hypocrites and today we can see Fairfax are at it too.

Ironically it is 2Degrees that is into this boots and all at Fairfax.

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This won’t end well for Fairfax

Fairfax is under the cosh in Australia for their blatant anti-semitic coverage of the current conflict in Gaza.

They ran this cartoon the other day:


It has caused outrage.

Fairfax obviously do not understand their market, such as it is these days. With falling revenues and a relentless left-wing slant they are suffering.

Annoying the largest population of Holocaust survivors in the world outside of Israel is just plain dumb. Especially in Melbourne.

The violence and attacks against Jews is increasing in Australia.

Times of Israel explains:

“Zionist scum” daubed on the wall of a Jewish school in Perth. A Jewish man in Melbourne beaten up in the street while wearing a T-shirt with Hebrew writing.

As shocking as these incidents are, they have been the only “attacks” on the Jewish community in Australia since the launch of Operation Protective Edge.

Yes, there have been the pro-Palestinian rallies through our major cities where thousands march decrying Israel, while brandishing banners and placards that equate the Jewish State’s actions with those of the Nazis.

But while the community remains on high alert and fearful of the worst, Australia so far has been spared the anti-Semitic violence and vandalism witnessed on the streets of Europe.

That said, there is a considerable air of disquiet and unease, resulting from relentless assaults on Israel in the media.

What many consider the worst examples emerged last weekend with a segment on Channel Nine’s current affairs program Sixty Minutes titled “Unholy War” presented by Allison Langdon, and a column by veteran journalist Mike Carlton published in The Sydney Morning Herald and on the website of its fellow Fairfax newspaper in Melbourne The Age.

To say they were unbalanced in their coverage of the conflict is an understatement.   Read more »

And in other news: The Standard to host Whaleoil web site… yeah right

If you think that’s absurd…



Fairfax Media has reached agreement with rival APN News & Media to have newspapers including The Waikato Times, Sunday Star-Times, Sunday News and some community titles printed at APN’s modernised print facility at Ellerslie in Auckland.

The deal would allow APN to use spare capacity at the printing facility and help the publisher of the New Zealand Herald wring out cost savings, APN chief executive Michael Miller said. The Australian company is on track to achieve a further A$20 million in cost savings across its publishing businesses this year, having trimmed A$40 million in 2013 from changes that included consolidating printing of a number of its own titles at Ellerslie, he said.

So Fairfax will make APN more profitable by taking up their spare printing capacity.   Yeah, that’s not odd at all.   Read more »