Here’s my thinking about news “paywalls”

Pick any mainstream news brand site – or – and take a look at the front page. Now, tell me – if you had to pay to read each of those articles, how many of them are SO RELEVANT to your life that would you pay to read them right now?

Here’s my quick analysis for today’s sites (click to zoom):

UK Radio Still In Decline Five Years AFTER Digital

I was doing an email interview with a journo this morning about the introduction of digital radio in Australia and I was asked if I thought, as the radio industry is apparently claiming, that the introduction of digital would lead to an increase in radio listenership. I explained that this certainly hasn’t been the experience in the UK, where radio listenership is STILL in decline five years after the introduction of digital.


I remember a few years ago when the radio industry in Australia wanted the Howard Govt to give them an exclusive license for “digital radio” in return for their investment in the infrastructure to roll out their digital stuff. This had some folks predicting podcasting would be outlawed. Telling the radio folks to go to hell was one of the Howard Govt’s better decisions.

Are you excited about ‘digital radio’?

I’m running a twtpoll today about the launch of ‘digital radio’ in Australia. Of course, as far as I’m concerned, ‘digital radio’ is a pretty silly concept. Podcasting has been around for five years and with iPhone and iPods and the like becoming pretty mainstream, podcasting already gives audiences a digital experience. Why would you want to go out and buy ANOTHER device?

Let’s see what exciting benefits digital radio offers, according to the industry’s own site, and compare that to podcasting:

  • Clearer sound and improved reception – Check. If you’ve downloaded a podcast onto your own device, you have PERFECT reception.
    • Extra features such as extra channels – Check. There are tens of thousands of podcasts.
      • pause and rewind radio – Check.
        • downloadable music – Check. It’s called “iTunes”, bitch.
          • more details about the advertised product – Hmmm. I’d say “Bonk” to think one as we don’t carry much advertised product.
            • slideshows – Check. Podcasts in Apple’s AAC format contain slides, if that kind of thing excites you.
              • scrolling text – Check. Ye old iPods scroll, but iPhones are far sexier.
                • Electronic Program Guides – Check. It’s called your iTunes playlist.
                  • updated news, sports and racing information – Check. It’s called “the web” and it comes fully-integrated into iPhones.
                    • Extra channels potentially doubles the number of commercial stations – Oooh “doubles”! That’s twice as much Kyle Sandilands! Podcasting has released tens of THOUSANDS of new ‘stations’.

                      What do you see in that list that is innovative? Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last five years, you already have most or all of these features on your iPhone, iPod or mobile phone. And, if you don’t, you will when you buy one. And you’ll have a far wider choice of options that digital radio will offer you.

                      So far on my poll, 87% of respondents say they are not interested in digital radio. What about you?

                      This Isn’t Terrorism

                      Reports today about the AFP arresting 4 men in Melbourne who were allegedly planning to attack a military base in Victoria is being called "terrorism" by the Prime Minister and the mainstream media. For example, claims the attack, if it had gone ahead, would have been "the worst terror attack on Australian soil".  However, if they were attacking a military target, does that qualify as terrorism? Wikipedia states that there isn’t an internationally agreed definition of terrorism, but I normally associate it with attacks on civilian targets outside of wartime. A small group of Somali and Lebanese labourers and taxi drivers attacking a military base doesn’t sound like the definition of terrorism to me. It sounds more like the definition of "stupid".

                      (UPDATE: in discussion with @napper, I said I think an attack by citizens of a country on its own army and inside the country’s own borders is more accurately defined as “revolution” or “insurrection”.)

                      So – why is it being referred to as terrorism by the Govt and the media? Are we back to the days where The Great Corporation feels the need to frighten the masses? What should we be watching out for? Is there a new law coming soon that will disappear more of our civil rights? Will Rudd use this to help push through his Internet censorship?

                      UPDATE: I also meant to add – as Terry did in the comments – that I hope the AFP have actually done their job this time, unlike in the Haneef debacle.