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It's never been easier to have you say, but how easy is it to be heard?

Talking about strange bedfellows, this article (in Norwegian) deals with the many and intricate liaisons among the country's online newspapers aimed at driving online traffic (even if you can't make head or tail of the language, try replacing the big names in the map with the biggest media groups or competing newspapers in you own country to get an idea).

According to Arne H. Krumsvik, a media academic and former online news executive, this web of partnerships had made it more challenging to launch a new, commercially viable, independent news site in Norway:

'It has never been easier to have your say, but to be heard is a challenge. The big players use their distribution power to start niche products. Because they use this power to occupy the most interesting niches, it will be difficult to start a successful new news site in Norway.'

Personally I'd like to think that - with say Wordpress or Drupal, great content and the skills and willingness to use the web to its full potential (no established site is quite there yet, hey, many haven't even started linking out) - it would be possible (oh, and better add a healthy sum of money in the bank to keep you afloat until you get established ++)...

Trends: The strange tales of consolidation...

....the unlikely bedfellows you get when online traffic is the new mammon, and national media organisations want to be your new (hyper)local news provider.

Ideology no obstacle
This brave new media world of ours creates the strangest bedfellows, a recent example being the sales negotiations between Mecom's Norwegian arm, Edda Media, and Dagsavisen. The very fact that this left-leaning newspaper with strong ties to the Labour Union – whose editorial writers have labelled Mecom-boss David Montgomery a predatory capitalist – was even considering a takeover approach from Mecom raised many eyebrows.

Trying to find the similarities between David Montgomery and George Soros
But Dagavisen was in need of a rich benefactor, and seemed more than willing to consider that Montgomey might be their knight in shining armour, their George Soros if you like, while Edda Media, made up of local and regional papers, is in need of a national online traffic engine, and don't seem to have been able to get anywhere with Dagbladet, a more obvious candidate for that role (Dagsavisen is a bit like The Independent if you imagine it as a regional newspaper catering for Greater London, in which case we might, to be generous, call it 'a regional newspaper with national penetration').

Big is beneficial, small is sad
Now, in the end these negotiations were abandoned, but Carsten Bleness, Dagsavisen's editor-in-chief, put it all into context in this thought provoking op-ed (in Norwegian), where he said he thought the real cause for concern in today's media landscape was not Mecom, but the fact that so few see growth opportunities for independent newspapers, adding: "I'm not so sure Mecom and Edda Media constitute the biggest threat to media diversity [in this country]. While the debate rages about Montgomery's entry on the Norwegian area, Schibsted continues to strengthen its very dominant position."

The backdrop is this merger Schibsted is trying to forge between its broadsheet-turned-tabloid-format, Aftenposten, and three of Norway's biggest regional papers. It would create great synergies online in terms of traffic and content sharing, and many fear it will give Schibsted a stranglehold on the nation's advertisement markets by offering advertisers the best national and regional exposure (the merger is still awaiting regulatory approval). It would also exacerbate Schibsted's dominant position as an online news provider: the company already owns Norway's most-, fourth most- and ninth most visited websites (VG, Finn, Aftenposten), which is why the country's prime minister has proposed a law to limit media ownership online.

When online traffic is God
Now, you may fault me for focusing so much on ownership when writing about online journalism, but let's face it: the ownership structure and advertisement revenues make up the framework that enables news organisations to invest in journalism and innovation.

And traffic, it seems, is the key for successful online ventures – you may think smart advertisers would jump at the opportunities the web offers to target niche audiences, but there's not a lot of evidence of that happening in this county yet (part of the explanation is probably that a narrow niche in the UK or US may still make up 200,000+ readers, in a small country like Norway, with its 4,6m inhabitants, that niche may be more akin to 200 or 2000 readers).

What happens when everyone wants a piece of the local market?
In the current environment, you get challenging scenarios such as the one an editor of a small independent local newspaper described to me for this article: "When many national newspapers now are working hard to make regional editions of their news sites, small independent newspapers will have to fight harder for advertisement revenue. In most local districts it's not the local newspaper who has most online readers, but VG or Dagbladet [the country's two biggest tabloids]. This also means that small newspapers will face a major challenge in trying to convert their newsrooms to multimedia [to compete with nationals players]"

Trying to challenge strength of national players like has also created other unlikely bedfellows, such as A-pressen and TV2 (admittedly the Labour Union owns about half of each news organisation, but the ideologies of the two - the former a left-leaning local and regional newspaper group, the latter the country's first commercial TV channel, are quite at odds). In either case, their new 'partnership', mostly centred around sharing local, regional and national content and the 'hyperlocal' search engine, (whereyoulive), which promises advertisers the ability to target ads down to specific postcodes, seems like yet another effort to get a piece of the 'lucrative' local markets.

David vs. Goliath
The obvious parallel here is BBC's much debated plans to roll out a range of 'hyperlocal sites': it's great for news organisations to be able to give added value to their readers/viewers/listeners by offering hyperlocal content, but, simply put, small independent titles fear they're being put at disadvantage when competing with big guys with deep pockets.

For many of the small news organisations it seems like a classic David vs Goliath scenario, and their fears are exacerbated by what I guess you could call 'uneven distribution of multimedia skills': it's easier both to attract journalists with multimedia skills, and to provide training in multimedia, if you're a big, well-to-do newspaper, or part of a well-heeled chain of newspapers.

Room for small independent start-ups to make more than a dime?
Now, of course, I'm not saying that independent online start-ups have no chance, one would think that they do with today's technology, but there's no sign of someone using this to its full advantage in Norway as of yet. You may also feel that these fears I describe here are overstated, or that these desperate marriages are ill-founded: I'm just trying to describe the current fears and hopes, but I'd love to hear you perspectives on this in the comment section....

Current trends in Norwegian online journalism

Last year the talk of Norway's online media town centred on consolidation, Web TV and hyperlocal coverage, all issues likely to be on the agenda in 2008 as well. Other issues we might be discussing more are citizen journalism, the quality aspect and the social web:

The strange tales of consolidation: unlikely bedfellows, mammon and why everyone now wants to become hyperlocal

Citizen journalism: how to get your readers to do part of your reporting

The quality discussion

The social web

Web TV, digital switch-over and mobile phone journalism

Now, you have to bear with me a bit here: the links will go live one by one (I'll publish them as separate posts and link them all up in this post), as I get the time to pull all the bits and pieces together...

For more context on the media organisations I write about here, check my post on Online Journalism in Norway for the Online Journalism Atlas.

The state of online journalism and other media in 2007 and beyond

While writing this post on online journalism in Norway for Paul Bradshaw's Online Journalism Atlas, it occurred to me that everything is in such a flux at the moment, that if I were to write about the current trends in Norway's online journalism, everything might have to be changed the next year, so I ended up writing a general map of the structure of the online media landscape.

However, Norway's online media industry is quite mature: the trends we're currently seeing here are very relevant to what's happening in other countries, perhaps even more interesting than the atlas itself, so I've also put together a few posts on the current trends in Norway's online journalism landscape. January 2007 marked the end of Scandinavian media year that was so tumultuous that I felt a need to isolate myself for a few days and just take some time to sum it up (which I did in the category called 'highlights 2006').

I haven't had time to do this quite the same way this year, so my posts on trends in online journalism will be my main way of summing up the past year this year, but I will make it part of a slightly broader category called 'headlines 2007'.

Is it just "the fear factor", or has the market lost faith in media's business model?

Talking of the mood in Davos, I bet the mood has been pretty grim in many media boardrooms these last few weeks as well.

Of course, since media shares are cyclical and vulnerable to the minute mood swings in the advertisement market, the executives should perhaps expect their companies' stock market value to be down in times of financial turmoil. Still, media shares in Scandinavia and elsewhere took such a massive beating when the global stock market plunged, that one media analyst I talked to called it an "overreaction".

Henrik Schultz, an analyst with Kaupthing in Oslo, said there was no concrete reason why media shares were down as much as they were at the start of this week, other than the market being jittery. However, Nick Ward, an analyst with Panmure Gordon & Co in London, said media shares were challenged in two ways: they were both cyclical AND the media's business model was challenged.

Now, I'm not trying to lead up to one of those journalistic excercises in objectivity here (like in the 2nd rule of journalism: no matter what anybody says, find somebody to say the opposite). I'm just genuinely curious as to what we are seeing: for several of the media companies I follow, the share price started its downward spiral before 2008, though several of those companies saw their share price close up when the markets closed Friday.

One of the sharpest risers in my somewhat random sample this Sunday evening is Mecom (which admittedly is more vulnerable than the other shares I mention here, as it's higher risk being highly geared), who saw its share price more than halved recently (because I've put on my lazy blogging hat today, and my internet connection is too slow, I won't bother trying to find out exactly how low the share price has been, but I seem to remember having seen 21,75 pence or so, and yes I do keep an eye on it, but don't quote me on that number. However, Tuesday 22/1 (10:50) it stood at 23,25p and closed at 30,50p Friday 25/1), Metro, closed marginally up, perhaps on the news of US restructuring, but overall January has been a pretty gloomy month for the freesheet pioneer. Modern Times group (MTG) closed up, as did Schibsted, but I wonder how the market will react to the latter issuing a warning Q4 results will fall short of expectations after the Oslo stock market closed Friday.

Which brings me back to my original question: I know quite a bit about bonds, shares, commodity prices and those sort of things, but I won't pretend that I understand all the inns and out of what's happening to media shares at the moment (actually I didn't fully understand why the gold price fell with the rest of the stock market recently either, I thought gold always was a safe haven in times of trouble), so I'd be grateful for some input on this.

Besides, I found Nick Ward's notion that the market could be punishing the media industry because the industry's business model is screwed, or the investors are loosing faith in it, quite interesting as well - and no, I'm not too interested in what the market should or should not do, tell that to the next well-meaning Norwegian politician you run into, he or she might even make an effort to pass a law to amend the situation – just the dynamics playing out, please....

Update 28/1: Just saw this piece by Peter Wilby in The Guardian (via Greenslade) about how journalists dealt with the recent stockmarket plunge, worth a read. A line to reflect on: As the former Economist editor Bill Emmott observed in the Guardian on Friday, "stock market traders are wild, emotional creatures" - like journalists, he might have added - "and we risk going mad if we try to understand their every move".

Downcast in Davos

With the recent market gloom, it's no surprise to hear that the mood in Davos was a bit sombre this year. But no, Adrian, I can't imagine that the modesty of Davos is a coincidence, after all it's Switzerland: remember Calvin? I hear his thoughts on frugality and capitalism has had quite a major impact on Swiss mentality ... in fact, it's not so dissimilar to what you find in Norway (at least with the older guard), or any country where protestantism has had a major foothold....


Picture by Jean-Bernard Sieber (via Sambrook)

Mecom's Dutch redundancies: 'stop killing Limburg's word'

Dutch journalists threatened industrial action after 78 job-cost, of which 15 were editorial, were announced in the Dutch part of Mecom this week.

The redundancies in Media Groep Limburg (MGL) came due to "synergy effects" with the Mecom's other recent acquisition in Holland, Dutch newspaper group, Wegener, and MGL's main title switching to tabloid format. Pieter Janssen was the first blogger I saw blogging about the affair.

I was too busy chasing this and other stories as a journalist to blog it there and then, but here's a few tidbits from the story I wrote (in Norwegian). News of the redundancies were met with shock and disbelief because MGL has been through 4 – 5 reorganisations during the last 4 -5 years.

A spokesman for the spontaneous action committee formed by the journalists in Limburg, Jan Cuypers, said they would appeal to all Dutch journalists and to the people of Limburg to stand up against the redundancies, and unite under the banner "Stop Killing Limburg's Word" (my translation). However, Cuypers doubted Mecom-boss David Montgomery was behind the plan, and thought MGL's boss Johan Boermann was a more likely culprit.

"We can't make a newspaper for this region with fewer journalists. Fewer journalists means diminished quality, which again means less subscribers. We want to show people what will happen if we are forced to make a newspaper from Apeldoorn, he said (Apeldoorn is Wegener's headquarter in Holland and is situated outside of the Limburg region. Limburg is the lovely province where Maastricht is the capital, an area renown for the inhabitant's Souther tilt and hospitable and jovial character).

The Dutch Journalist Union said, with this being Montgomery's first move after the Wegener acquisition, they feared this was the first sign of what they could expect in Wegener, and pledged to appeal to MGL's leaders on behalf of all the people made redundant, also those from the IT- human resources- and administrative staff.

Somebody is using my email address to send spam, how?

Just received a spam email seemingly sent with my Yahoo email address, so if you get one from my Yahoo address called 'January 74% off', it's not me, don't open, but my question is how do they do that? The email address is identical. How can they possibly pull that off? I've got a number of other emails, and it's about time I ditched Yahoo since it's so painstakingly slow and erratic, regardless of which Yahoo version or which computer I use, but can I prevent this from happening to other email addresses? I'd be grateful for any advice...

Computer woes

It's my worst nightmare come true, well actually it could be a lot worse, but still: my laptop is ill, so I think I need to head for the gym to steady my nerves.

Yesterday I thought I'd have a major nervous breakdown when I was unable to turn on my laptop (it's an extension of my mind, not to mention instrumental to how I earn my living).

Luckily I'd already filed my first story that day, but unfortunately I had to go straight into an editorial meeting and postpone both the nervous breakdown and trying to fix the laptop. Turns out it was just the battery, it worked well when I first removed it and then put it back in, but the machine went black on me again just now as I was writing. Again it's the battery, but it acts funny in other ways too: often freezes if I have the wireless on when I turn on the laptop, or the icons on my screen won't show up, or programmes 'run down' the screen or only close partially when I turn them off. So I think I'd better take it to Toshiba hospital next week, which is a pain in the ass if you don't have a car, because it's located in nowhere land and only open during office hours (when I'm supposed to be at work)... My last visit did nothing to endear me to the place...

But first I'll get that workout to calm myself enough to finish all the other things I was going to write today.....

Must read of the day: All this online sharing has to stop

This piece is absolutely hillarious, so I couldn't help but share it with you. Here's an excerpt, but go read the whole thing. The author first deals with the woes of the music industry:

"You think you were the first to suffer from your content getting ripped off and spread to the four corners of the earth? Get to the back of the line, bud. There's a few people ahead of you"

Then the woes of the newspaper industry:

People "copy-and-paste entire articles from online newspapers to blog sites or to their own computer and they don't pay a thing. Then they read them or 'share' them with other people who they might not even have met."

Before he gives us this little gem:

"Next, pornography. You know, there used to be tons of top-shelf magazines, all earning a comfortable living. Then you know what? The damn internet came along and at a stroke destroyed their business model, in which shifty-gazed commuters had to go into insalubrious shops to get "content". Now there are loads of internet sites (Google reliably tells me) where you can get free amateur porn - exactly the same sort of stuff that people used to pay for! It's shocking (and what's more, there are no unsightly staples in the middle of the pictures)."

Before he tails it all off with a great two lines that puts the whole article in a new perspective....

Is Peter Hain's resignation UK's first blogging scalp?

Remember the Swedish blogger who brought down a trade minister? Well it seems the story is repeating itself in the UK. Iain Dale suggests it was blogger Guido Fawkes who through is relentless campaign forced Hain's resignation as Work and Pensions secretary, and Guido certainly thinks so himself (he details his 18-month stalking of Hain here).

According to Greenslade: Mick Fealty (aka Slugger O'Toole), also thinks Guido did well. In a Daily Telegraph blog posting, he says there is more to Guido's gossip than meets the eye.
"His supreme value as a blogger is that he knows how to follow a story", writes Fealty. "Undoubtedly he kept a lot of psychological pressure on the former secretary for works and pensions directly and vicariously through his readers/fans/detractors in the lobby."

This story reminded me of Arianna Huffington's brilliant line (via Sambrook) on the difference between bloggers and journalists: "Bloggers suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, journalists suffer from Attention deficit disorder." In other words, journalists report and move on and don't always follow up. Bloggers are obsessive, get hold of an issue and won't let go....

That must make a blogging journalist such as myself bipolar (or schizophrenic).

What's up with The Independent's website?

Did The Independent online have technical problems this morning? Some ten minutes ago I only got error messages like site not found, site unavailable or too many incoming HTTP requests if I tried to access articles from my newsreader or via bookmarks on my work PC, same thing earlier this morning when I was unable to access even the main site via my laptop. Too busy chasing other deadlines to investigate, but strange... The Indy is probably the site I most frequently get error messages from when I try accessing articles from my newsreader, usually site unavailable or site not found, but nothing on this scale....

Update 23/01: what a (not so) perfect time to finally blow off some steam about this, turns out we got a brand new Independent online as of today, at least a new layout with what looks like improved RSS-navigation. Don't like the brown banner much, but I'll stop being grumpy, even about the 75 old Indy media articles that showed up in my newsreader today, and try to find some time to test it over the wknd (long day, need some sleep, might be over the moon if I find a much improved site when I'm more rested).

Skype-investor takes control of bet noire Nyhedsavisen

Is it a marriage made in heaven or hell? A marriage of love, convenience or desperation? Last week news broke that Morten Lund, an early stage investor in Skype, had acquired a 51 per cent stake in Nyhedsavisen, the previously Icelandic-owned Danish freesheet.

Ten pence to foot the bill for running a newspaper?
He brought with him a motley crew of other investors, including David Trads, Svenn Dam and Morten Nissen Nielsen from Nyhedsavisen's management, Freeway, the internet company that owns major Danish online portals like and - even mysterious Chinese businessmen were said to have joined the new board of investors (but let's for the sake of the argument forget about the Chinese).

Rumours also abounded about some clever deal between Lund and Baugur (more about Baugur's involvement later in this post), which would have seen Lund acquire majority control in Nyhedsavisen for roughly 10 pence, in return for taking over the costs of running the lossmaking paper. The freesheet launched 6 October 2006 and Baugur/Dagsbrun expects it to break even in November 2008.

The paper pundits love to hate
Now, don't get me wrong: in terms of readership the irreverent freesheet, modelled on Icelandic Frettabladid, is doing very well. Nyhedsavisen is currently the second most read newspaper in Denmark (with 540,00 readers according to the lastest readership survey), so somebody's got to love it.

I call it bet noire because it's the paper pundits love to hate: according to Denmark's media clergy it's been close to folding since before it launched, and so plagued with money troubles and other troubles that you'd be surprised it hasn't closed months ago.

That is, if you were to believe Danish newspaper headlines... When I talked to Svenn Dam, CEO of 365Media Scandinavia, the Dagsbrun-owned company that publishes Nyhedsavisen, before Christmas, he accused Danish journalists of running a campaign against Nyhedsavisen, suggesting that some newspapers had allowed commercial interests (Nyhedsavisen labelled itself as a challenger to status quo from day one) to influence the way they covered the Danish freesheet war.

The Icelandic invasion
In either case, when the deal between Lund and Baugur/Dagsbrun was made public, some pundits were relieved to see Nyhedsavisen "become Danish", that's always a good thing in this part of the world; not being owned by foreigners.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but in all the time I lived in the UK, it didn't seem that foreign ownership was quite such a big deal there, unless of course it was American ownership.

Still, I've heard more than one UK city editor express incredulity over how Baugur, a company from a tiny, remote island, has managed to raid UK high street, scooping up top brands such as Hamleys and House of Fraser.

No wonder then the Danes felt uneasy about the Icelanders invading their newspaper industry with a freesheet specifically aimed at out-competing Denmark's paid-for newspapers (that would be the likes of The Times, The Guardian etc). Nor did it probably help that they supposedly schemed PR plots like these (what a scoop), or that it was a reverse invasion (Denmark ruled Iceland until the Second World War).

But Lund didn't get where he is today by playing it safe, nor by taking the traditional routes, so I think it's a safe bet to predict that Nyhedsavisen will continue upsetting the status quo under his influence. At least, if the media clergy gets it right, until the money runs out....

Jittery markets are risk averse
As for why Baugur has managed to conquer so many prestigious international brands, Lund gives his insight into why he thinks they are so successful on his blog: they've got big balls. Unfortunately, the biggest risk takers are also those who tend to get the worst beating in times of financial turmoil, so there could be rocky times ahead for the private company - now a minority owner in Nyhedsavisen.

The company structure used to work roughly like this: Baugur is the money behind Dagsbrun Media, who owns 365Media Scandinavia, who owned Nyhedsavisen, whose ownership structure will now grow even more complex. For Baugur we could be seeing a move out of cyclical shares in preparation for continued financial turbulence ahead, unless of course the rumours that its subsidiary Dagsbrun has shifted its interest to US media acquisitions is true...

Ten Years Ago: Drudge Ended the Reign of the Media Gate-keepers

On the night of January 17, 1998, Matt Drudge revealed that Newsweek editors had spiked a story about Bill Clinton and an intern named Monica Lewinsky. His story ended once and for all the gate-keeper ability, if not the mentality, of the mainstream media elite. He later said "We are all newsmen now"


...Technology means that any talented trouble maker with a modem can achieve Karl Marx's dream: ownership of the means of production and distribution. The internet requires no printing presses, delivery vans, distributors or news stands. No editorial restrictions, no proprietor, no once-a-day news cycle.

... Ironically Matt Drudge's ability to direct reader traffic means he is now probably the biggest gate-keeper to conventional journalism today... (Guido Fawkes via Martin Stabe, full story here)

Wake up and smell the internet

Not a lot of substance in this piece, other than that the brave new world of the world wide web/ Web 2.0/social media is changing mainstream media (though social media, I think that's essentially what's being referred to here, can't really be said to be all that brave, or new anymore), but I just loved the intro that appeared in my newsreader: Alexander McNabb on why traditional newspaper publishers and marketers need to wake up and smell the internet.

Cartoon courtesy of Hugh MacLeod

Anschutz not bidding for Metro US, but Metro International is considering divesting titles

Philip Anschutz's newspaper company is not bidding for Metro's US freesheets, despite published reports saying otherwise, an Anschutz's spokesman told Denver Business Journal.

However, Metro International's CEO Per Mikael Jensen recently told me the company currently is undergoing a strategic review where they are looking at what is core and non-core markets for the freesheet pioneer. – Our focus is on improving financial results, said Jensen. To illustrate what we can expect from this strategic review, he cited how the company recently closed a real estate supplement in Stockholm and sold 60 per cent of its Czech operation to a competitor (Mafra). Metro's Finnish operation was recently sold to Sanoma. Jensen confirmed that there was a lot of interest in the company these days and said "It's a bit like being at a ball and everybody wants to dance with you." (more here, in Norwegian). See Piet Bakker's interesting analysis of what might be going on in the company here.

Norwegian journalist killed in Afghanistan

A distressed Anne Aasheim, editor-in-chief of Dagbladet, stormed out of a meeting with the union, about redundancies packages of all things, when news broke that one of the tabloid's reporters had been injured in an attack in Afghanistan Monday evening.

The reporter, Carsten Thomassen, was covering Norway's foreign minister, Jonas Gahr Störe's, trip to Kabul, when insurgents attacked the hotel where the Norwegian delegation was staying. Other Norwegian journalists and photographers worked hard to save the journalist before he could be brought to a military hospital, but Thomassen died of the injuries he sustained later in the evening.

It is the first time since Soviet withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989 that a Norwegian journalist has been killed in the country. A memorial gathering will be held at Dagbladet Tuesday at 9.30am. Already the foreign department has come under fire for publishing the details of Störe's trip, including which hotel he was staying in, on its website, and the tragic incident is bound to reignite debates about training and safety precautions for Norwegian war reporters journalists dispatched to dangerous parts of the world.

Death stalks the evening press

I've previously criticised Manuel Ferrer for what I thought was a somewhat overtly dramatic and just a wee bit far-fetched conspiracy theory, but here his talent for melodrama really comes into its right, and the first few lines are beautifully written. So much so I forgot to contemplate if I really agree with him all the way (if it doesn't come across as well written, blame my hasty translation). I'm sure you could easily substitute Sweden with many other countries, and the account would still ring true, give or take a few minor details:

Death has walked side by side the evening press for a long time. Glided and waited for the right opportunity to sit down and talk business with the two major players... It is rumoured that they met in secret a few years ago. I wonder if Aftonbladet's editor-in-chief has told his successor Jan Helin of this meeting? But then of course: the circulation of the evening press has gone up and down during the entire 1900s, so why should the situation be radically different now?

The complicated answer is of course the structural change and the changing media landscape at large...

In twenty years, Sweden's evening newspapers have lost 60 per cent of their circulation on weekdays, and the imbalance between the ad- and circulation revenues remains. Hence there are only two courses to take: either continue selling already acquired rights within the media corporations - films, music, books and magazines - and hide a copy of the newspaper in the price. Or make the radical, and in the long term necessary, decision: ditch the paid paper edition and retreat to the web where the ad-revenues have moved already.

The evening newspaper that first makes the decision to close its paper edition, simultaneously realising that the journalism is not lost just because it changes platforms, will put itself in poll position for a long time to come....

Excerpt from an op-ed in Dagens Media by Manuel Ferrer (my translation)

Hurray, the guy who took out a mortgage on the newspaper we work for may default on his payments...

The Guardian's Organgrinder gave us an interesting glimpse into German mentality this week, when the blog revealed that German journalists were gleeful to see Mecom shares plunge.

The blog asserted German hacks couldn't help but feel "a tiny bit of Schadenfreud" that this should happen to the investment vehicle of a man who love to tell German media "how to maximize their profits".

Schadenfreud or not: seeing that several of Mecom's newspapers serve as guarantors for the company's mortgages, it's a bit like biting the hand that feeds you. I don't remember exactly which Mecom papers serve in this capacity here and now, but still: I can understand wary, jittery, fearful of what impact the current market turbulence will have on a highly geared company such as Mecom, but Schadenfreud? Must be the remnants of Kant's influence on German thinking (a perfect example of his metaphysics, courtesy of Monty Python/YouTube, here, well worth the 3-4 min watch)

But then, in my part of the world we haven't heard Montgomery lecture on how businesses, and specifically media businesses, can or should maximize their profits yet. In fact, that is a lecture we'd love to hear, it would be a very welcome antidote to the wariness that reigns about how exactly the Mecom boss plans to reach the golden 15 per cent profit margin for all his newspapers. I know I have several German/German-based readers, so would be very grateful if any of you could enlighten me on this point (though I have a nagging suspicion I'd be better off talking to one of the Guardian sub-editors)....

Norwegian media reprimanded for failing to give people the right to reply

Failing to offer people the right to reply when serious allegations are levelled against them, is something Norwegian media is faulted for again and again. In four of the six last years, this was the type of complaint where Norway's Press Complaints Commission (PFU) most frequently held in favour of the claimant – 2007 was no exception.

During the year now behind us, PFU considered 294 (of 314) complaints and made a statement in 164 of the cases. In 75 of the cases, PFU ruled that the code of ethics (which all Norwegian journalists and editors are required to be familiar with) had been violated – in 20 of these, the defendant was reprimanded for having failed to offer the claimant 'the right to simultaneous reply as regards factual information'. Per Edgar Kokkvold, PFU's general secretary, suggested that the fear of not being the first news outlet to carry the news, that the media organisation didn't dare to wait, was the main reason for this trespass.

Since I currently spend most of my professional life in the online world, I'm a big fan of breaking the story if people don't respond within a reasonable time frame, and then rather writing a separate story and interlinking the two if the person in question does get back to you later. But feel free to comment if you have other suggestions, here's what the code of ethics says:

4.14. Those who have been subjected to strong accusations shall, if possible, have the opportunity to simultaneous reply as regards factual information. Debates, criticism and dissemination of news must not be hampered by parties being unwilling to make comments or take part in the debate.