Saturday, December 12, 2009

What is wrong with playing hardball on the round ball?

Gather 'round children, for the gospel of the great sphere. I, like other great historical figures and heralds of new dawns, have a dream. I have a dream of watching scores of men who are paid obscene amounts of money run around a field chasing a ball with all the desire jingoism inspires. I dream of uniting this country through the greatest game ever played, the synthesis of artistic endeavour. I dream of the round ball revolution that will grip the hearts of all across this red land.

Okay, enough of that bullshit.

The way advocates of a World Cup in Australia talk about the prospect of the event being held down here, you'd think they were trying to push of the recalling of Jesus...or Johnny Warren. I'm a fan of the world game and will stay up until 2AM to watch games but I'm not going to push that old bull.

Instead, I want to talk from a practical standpoint on a few of the issues surrounding our bid for the World Cup in either 2018 or 2022. For all of our foreign listeners, you may or may not be aware that Australia may actually be in the mix to host one of these events. That's right, the gospel will come to the dark land of egg-ball heathens. That's if we can actually stop our squawking and squabbling and get our codes to play nicely.

You see, if we were to win an event rival codes such as Rugby League and Australian Rules Football may be put out for a whole eight weeks while the World Cup bandwagon comes to a rest. Their stadiums would be co-opted to be football destinations, and FIFA insist that no other rival codes operate during the World Cup as to focus the sporting attention of the country on their event.

That looks to be in danger as the CEO of the AFL Andrew Demetriou has grave reservations and misconceptions about exactly what the event would do to their code and has even gone as far as deny access to the Etihad Stadium (for which the AFL has a contract with during the event) which would be a key stadium for any potential World Cup bid. It holds more than the minimum 40 000 FIFA needs and can be transformed into a rectangular stadium which would improve viewing and atmosphere for fans.

To say the least, it's a pretty dick move. But the guy has a point, and has to look after the best interests of his code and being put out of action for eight weeks in the middle of a season may prove to be an insurmountable. Can you imagine what would happen to the clubs without a full eight weeks of gate takings? The way Demetriou describes it, it could very well spell the death of financially unstable clubs.


The fact of the matter is that some of the poorer performing AFL clubs such as North Melbourne and Melbourne have been getting assistance from the AFL for quite some time and here's the dirty little secret. They haven't been getting the numbers to their home games to make a profit from the gate anyhow. That's why you get teams playing home games in Darwin, Perth and Canberra. The AFL tries to put a happy face on it by saying they're spreading the AFL word, but it's largely an exercise in financial survival. The AFL pays the clubs to play in the outposts and the clubs take the gate.

To turn around and say that the AFL would not be able to absorb the costs of being out of action for eight weeks is fooling only the most ardent supporters of the egg-ball game. The fact of the matter is, in the long run, the money coming into the country from the World Cup via increases in tourism may actually help rival codes.

Huh? How is that possible? Well, you see, when people go to a major event such as the Sydney 2000 Olympics, tourists have this crazy little idea that they've enjoyed themselves so much that they want to come back after all the tourists have left. There was a major lift in tourism after the Olympics, and there would be one after a possible World Cup.

Post-2000, tourists visiting for leisure increased from about 1.8 million to 2.9 million in 2005. That's 900 000 people coming to our shores and spending their money, which in turn greases the wheels of business and distributes a lot more wealth across this great land. Let me ask this then - What would happen if we had a lot more people with more money in this country due to increased tourism?

Perhaps the most apt question is the one the AFL clubs ask when conducting ticketing surveys. How is the cost?

That's right folks, for a lot of people the price of match tickets is a great consideration. If a lot more people are going to have a lot more money for years after the event, then hosting a World Cup should be a no-brainer to rival codes.

It's a short term loss for a long-term cumulative gain in crowd numbers. Herein lies the true nature of the opposition from rival codes to a football World Cup in Australia.

What if these cashed-up people decide to take in an A-League game instead?

'Till next time

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What is wrong with a violation and a strip search?

The rags over the past few days have been screaming about the turmoil in the Liberal Party, and why not? It's a damned good yarn, with all the shock revelations of a lame version of the Jerry Springer show. First Turnbull decided to take a decisive party room vote on an amended ETS when the Nationals were out of the room and unilaterally declared victory for himself and the concessionists. Then came the leadership showdown, with Turnbull barely surviving a leadership vote and three of the his front bench up and quitting on him.

Meanwhile, the environment's taking another one for the team.

Not surprisingly, the Greens Party are overwhelmingly against what the Labour Party calls a 'good deal for the environment', which has been watered down to the point that the most polluting industries are being given the largest concessions by the government.


It seems to the sane rational person that the point of an ETS is to try and reduce the environmental impact of heavily polluting industires by forcing a cap-and-trade system, thus giving the whip to said industries to curb their CO2 output. Of course, the fundamental mechanics of the thing become a bit skewed when you substitute the whip for a gentle nudge. The time when industry surrenders to a gentle nudge is the day I eat my own shoes, followed by my shoes and then most humiliatingly, my words.

It's all part of trying to reduce the economic impact of this type of system upon industry and subsequently, on the economy. You see, we happen to rely quite a bit on the export of coal (and not that 'clean' coal the kids have been banging on about either), and with a rising aussie dollar and perhaps even a greener aproach from major trading partners, our exports could take quite a hit if we're forced to pass on the costs of an ETS to customers.

So instead of our trading partners having to pay a bit extra for our coal, the Rudd government has seen fit to use our taxpayer dollars to pay off major polluters toward a bill which has a lessened economic impact, but barely adresses the problem of climate change in our hot and dry country.

It also signals to investor in new sources of energy that we are not ready to be weened off the coal-tit quite yet. Imagine sinking millions into geothermal technology when the government is giving money to heavy polluters. Almost wants to make you change your investment plan, don't it?

Ladies and gentlemen, this move by one of the economically well-off countries in the world in the shadow of Copenhagen should not be taken as a sign that we are indeed taking a green future seriously, but instead are paying token respect for our generation's largest problem and worshiping the almighty dollar.

I love capitalism as much as the next guy who doesn't know how to make his own shoes, but I'd like to take my kid down to the creek one day instead of showing them a nature doco on my ridiculously expensive TV.

Meanwhile closer to the mighty state of WA, police are getting new powers to stop people and frisk them for no particular reason. Good to see my tax going toward molesting both the environment and potentially molesting random people.

To be fair, they're only getting the powers in crime hotspots but giving any arm of society extra power without a counter-balance makes me feel uneasy. Makes a heck of a lot of other people uneasy as well, such as civil libertarians and almost everybody connected with the CCC being concerened they're about to be inundated with complaints. Then there's old chestnut about people being concerened that police officers could just target anyone who looked at 'em funny, like minorities (who are kind of wary around police for some reason).

Personally, I'd like to see the police force become sancrosant. I think when somebody attacks a police officer they should go straight to jail and not collect 200 dollars. Unchecked power though, is a dangerous thing, so what I would put in place are harder punishments for police officers hauled up on corruption and misconduct causes.

Just a thought to mull over in the old brainbox the next time you're frisked in public.

'Till next time

Monday, November 16, 2009

What is wrong with an Indonesian solution?

Over the last month in the oh-so tolerant land of Australia, talking about asylum seekers has been all the rage. More than that, chins have been furiously wagging about our fearless PM's response to the 'boat people' who have been holed up in the Oceanic Viking off the Indonesian coast.

The Oceanic Viking has been a blight on the PM's seeming cruise to the next election while providing much needed respite for an opposition under the harsh light of the ETS issue (which isn't getting hotter according to certain factions in the Liberal Party). Whereas our previous PM, John Howard, had a consistent line on the dealing of asylum seekers (wrong or otherwise), the issue has made Kevin Rudd look like a man with his pants down.

During the three week stand-off which ensued, his government has tried to broker deals with several pacific nations including New Zealand to try and find a home for those aboard the ship. But, oddly enough, nobody wants to handle the political hot potato which has fallen into Rudd's lap. While 22 asylum seekers accepted an initial offer for what the government calls 'rapid resettlement', 50-odd seekers still remained on the boat, wary of what the government is was peddling (rumour has it with good reason too).

It was a month of high drama off the Indonesian coast and we still have 70-odd people in an Indonesian asylum detention centre uncertain of their future. For all the politics, all the testing of international protocol we're still NO CLOSER to finding a solution to what is already a humanitarian crisis.

The million dollar question is though: what's the solution?

Of course, all of the politicians know the answer to the question but afraid of the time and effort that it would take to implement. It's 'simply' about improving conditions in the countries from which the people are seeking asylum from. This goes for our European friends as well dealing with an influx of immigration from Northern Africa. While governments around the world spend billions 'protecting' our borders from the 'immigrants/boat people' (like they're invading, wtf?) foreign aid has not increased in any significant manner since the mid-90's, and meanwhile Bob Geldoff keeps on yelling at the top of his lungs.

It seems to me, that if you were trying to stop the supply of something you'd try and stop it at the source. That is to say, if asylum seekers had little reason to leave their country and risk a dangerous journey across open water to a country on the other side of the world, they probably wouldn't. If that's a simple matter of logic, then why has their been increased funding for border protection but no significant amount of money going to the UN to help speed up the resettlement of political refugees?

Perhaps it's time we stared ourselves in the mirror and asked that question.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What is wrong with Rupert's plan?

You know, watching Media Watch tonight and being reminded of the great News Corp free content bitchfight, I started to have some sort of activity in my brain-box. It would seem my mind grapes were filling up with juiciness, and my inner light bulb was starting to resemble somthing that was alight.

I think most observers note that it will be a cold day in hell before people pay online for general news when there are a plethora of alternative news sites and a history of being able to get the news for free. Again, most people concede that consumers will eventually pay for content which is not available now. The question on everybody's lips is though : what form would this never-seen before content take?

That's the question I grappled with for five minutes, and this being the internet, I shall now tell you with a great deal of personal conviction about the idea which I formulated for five minutes.

Already in this country, Crickey have had some success actually selling content which differed from the main news stories of the day, and this content usually takes the form of opinion and in-depth analysis of the day's events. This content is delivered straight to the inboxes to subscribers but at the moment, exactly what is delivered to their inboxes is entirely up the content creators.

With more and more sources for news and opinion cropping up, the power has shifted squarely to the consumer. What is what was delivered to these inboxes was entirely up to the consumer? Now, this already exists in some forms, but what I propose is a much more comprehensive form of consumer control.

What if people were to choose exactly what type of news was delievered? For instance, people could to have political news delivered, but not business news. Let's break that down further. What if a consumer wanted news about state politics, and news about mining business news? What if people wanted news about their sport, with a focus on football and cricket?

Consumers would have control of what they read, but this is no basis for getting money from people. This is just eliminating a certain amount of clickwork, and should in my opinion should be offered for free.

What I propose is that extra content be not the ablility of people to select and choose what they are fed for a main course, but the dessert of opinion from the consumers' favourite authors. Do people like reading Miranda Devine for some reason? They can pay to have her columns exlusively delivered to them on a daily basis. Do people love Philip Adams with their breakfast? They can pay to stream a podcast.

Couple this with the mingling of all mediums that the internet represents and we're starting to have kind of idea here. I think the old moguls really love the Citizen Kane scene where he starts to assemble a crack team of writers from publications around the country to write for his newspapers.

Let's re-cap. People get to select and choose what they want for free as a basic news service. They get the writing of their favourite authors for a small cost, maybe to be deducted monthly from the consumers bank accounts (perhaps the phone companies can get involved somehow?). What happens when this model becomes popular?

All of a sudden, we become present at the creation of a new type of media competition. All the major players will be scrambling to provide the best service to capture the market which is now dictating to the creators. When these conditions are present, a great deal of competition is also present. When the news outlets compete on a somewhat level-playing field, there's going to be a great deal of investment of what's driving their profits.

That extra content, provided by the fantastic writers, video journalists and podcasters out there. Hey, does this healthy competition sound appealing or what? The core principles of journalism will be what will set these individuals apart, and when market forces dictate competition the focus will be on investment rather than cost-cutting.

You know all that doom and gloom about journalists' working conditions? Thanks to this new playing field, they'll actually be in demand. The focus will be on providing the best product, not the same product for less.

There's a bit of brain-food for a Monday night.

'Till Next Time

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What is wrong with a mixed media diet? (part two)

This post contains allusions I made during my previous post, and I'm mostly writing this because I'm feeling guilty about leaving it short. You see, I alluded to two separate consequences of the mixed media diet in today's society.

Doesn't that sentence just feel like it belongs in undergraduate media studies? Anyhow, alongside the consequence that people have less time and inclination to read print media, the increasing number of hours spent per day on broadcast mediums has led somewhat to a decrease in literacy.

I'm not talking a major slump. I'm talking about just little things that lead me to believe the people taking care of us in the nursing homes may not be able to read the prescription on our medicine bottles properly. Don't worry, I'm not about to engage in a teen-bashing blog posting as there's already enough of those around the place. Instead, I'm going to attempt to offer some kind of insight into the media habits of the young'uns.

Oh god, I've become a social commentator.

I'd like to think that I'm not so different from teenagers today, being 22 and all, but I find these new creatures vastly different to myself. I wrote in my last post about the customer who spoke in Internet terms in the real world. Who actually said 'OMG' instead of 'my goodness gracious' or something less wanker-y.

Of course, this is starting to sound like just another blogger trying to comprehend an entire generations using analogies and broad generalisations and I fully accept that. I know there are those who express themselves quite well and are well read, in fact, that's one of the benefits of the mixed media diet.

You see, the new generation are viewing a heck of a lot of broadcast medium, and a heck of a lot of embedded media. These are the kids cooped up on a Saturday watching Skins on DVD and youtube clips of people failing. While those habits don't exactly broaden the horizons as much as reading a book the size of your head might, it is making young people more confident with the spoken word.

Granted, sometimes the words aren't correct but is it my imagination but are the new kids on the block a lot more confident? Of course, many would begrudge these traditionally uneducated kids the right to confidence these kids are a far cry from the stoic gen X'ers. Whereas the media may portray them as shut-ins attached to a screen, while they're out of the house they're not shy about their ambitions and about speaking.

Speaking, is our primary form of communication and taught before the written word. How we learn to speak is largely by listening to those who know how to speak. These kids have been given a DVD as a babysitter and are spending their time predominately listening to other people speak on their screens. They are learning and adapting to the new forms of speech, and they are now more than ever equipped to express their views. Of course the massive downside to this is that their opinions are generally ill-informed.

I wrote in my earlier post about the advantages of print media being able to offer informed and in-depth debate and fact to flesh out said debate. Whereas TV and radio try to do this, they just don't have time to, and online news don't want their readers to get eye-strain from reading too many words and following a stream of logic.

Of course, the question now is: Where are the next generation of decision makers getting their facts from?

They certainly aren't getting their informed opinion from print media. While I'm not here to bash other mediums, I think the best broadcast mediums can do in terms of news delivery is whack on a couple of opposing voices to have a bitchfight (On the topic, did anyone see Caroline Wilson and Roy Masters on Offsiders?) without ever answering the all important 'why' question. Broadcast is caught up in the politics of the day woven into a grand narrative, whereas I see print as the wise-man able to ponder, reflect and analyse before offering an opinion (at its best anyhow).

Our kids are being drawn to these mediums, and policy makers eager to get their mugs where the people can see them will be more than happy to offer up an inflamatory opinion in the hopes of being invited back next week and ultimately being re-elected.

In short, other mediums in comparisson to print media offer a lack of insight which those who want to be seen are all to happy to pander to. Welcome to Spin City.

'Till Next Time

Saturday, September 26, 2009

What is wrong with a mixed media diet?

Today, I may have gained some sort of insight into the state of literacy in our nation today. You see, today I watched the AFL Grand Final on the television, played the FIFA 10 demo on the XBOX360, read the news on my computer as well as reading Girls with Slingshots (Mad Props).

At no point during this day did I have time or the inclination to read a newspaper or try to get back into Ulysses. As such, not only did I figure out why literacy rates are dropping but gained a frightening insight into my chosen career. Those of you who read this blog would know I have ambitions of working for print media, but how are my words going to be read when people are too busy utilising other mediums?

All the talk of people not liking the product that newspapers are putting out in the new millennium is missing the point entirely. People are somewhat digging what print journos are doing, it's just that they have absolutely no time to read it. I...want to go into an industry that's becoming redundant through no fault of its own? Am I insane!? Probably.

Forgive me if I'm musing over an old chestnut, but I find myself scared by the voracious media appetite I've developed and the decreasing amount of time I have to satiate that appetite. When an increased appetite combines with a lack of time people will naturally gravitate toward the medium which can get the message to the recipient at rapid speed.

Does print do this? God no. You need a good half hour to digest the daily rag, but you need about five minutes to hear the daily news bulletin. By the same logic though, online media shouldn't be so popular as it takes as much time to read an online story than a print story.

It's a good argument, but it fails to take into account the modern penchant for multi-tasking. You can't check your emails and see what people have written on your wall while you have your nose buried in newsprint, whereas the online arena allows people to multi-task like some sort of mad German (why are they always German?) timemaster.

Of course, if people are attracted to broadcast and online mediums they're missing out on the most important question journalists can ask: why.

It's my humble opinion that print media answers this question with far more regularity than other mediums. I don't begrudge other mediums or demonise them as the 'enemy', but they're concerned with playing to their strengths. Namely, that it can be consumed quickly. The funny thing is though, the truth is never a simple thing which can be answered with a couple of soundbites and talking heads. Truth isn't simple, and requires analysis to bring out.

So why is it then, that newspapers haven't yet significantly changed? Why aren't they obsessed with answering 'why'? Why are they still merely reporting the facts and engaging in tabloid journalism instead of playing to the medium's strengths?

In some respects, the war between the mediums are the imaginings of journos wanting something to gabble on about (and for bloggers to spew over). If all mediums play to their strengths instead of playing follow the leader, all mediums will achieve their niche. Of course, the news has become a business, and businesses will always compete for a bigger market share. The best way to do that, as they see it, is to follow the leader.

It's going to take guts for someone to innovate when jobs are on the line and outlets are shutting down left right and centre, but an informed democracy is at stake. A literate one too.

You see, as part of my job which I'm working in an effort to fund my job search (huh?), I converse with a lot of teenagers. I listen as they play social pop-media commentator, using garbled English and trite catch-phrases in an efforty to impress their equally vaccous friends. I swear to the various deities I once heard someone used the phrase "OMG, that show is so fail".

The OMG in that sentence isn't abbreviated for the ease of the reader, it's a direct quote.

'Till next time

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What is wrong with prerecognition?

I've been thinking about the role social media is playing in our daily lives (to borrow a tried and true cliche) lately. It's not like I have a job of susbstance to think about...or a relationship...or a social life....Okay, I'll stop now before this becomes a whiny 13 year old's blog.

I've had the astounding thought that social networking is making forming true interpersoanl relationships evcen harder than it was during the days of dial-up and blocky porn. Why is that while we're always on, we're perpetually disconnected?

This is just my crazy theory, but I think it's becuase we've started to know too much about eachother. Do me a favour, go to your Facebook account and click on a few friend's accounts. There, you're more than likely find profile information ranging from favourite books to the minutae of their daily lives on Twitter.

So, if we already have this information before we meet a person, aren't we better equipped to make a lasting connection with someone? In my humble opinion, no.

You see, we've basically given over the process of getting to know someone to the intersplice of our digital lives and that experience is what makes the connection. You can know all you want about a person and what they like, but it's the mutual shared experience of getting to know someone which will build the interpersonal relationship.

It's about sitting down, and talking (le gasp!) face-to-face about eachother's likes and dislikes which will enivitably build that relationship. Or am I completely wrong? Is knowing all this surface information about a person helping forge relationships more quickly?