Friday, May 13, 2011

Newspaper Moose, er, Muse

YOU find gems in the strangest places, sometimes even in the words that follow Jonathan Green's byline. Give the man his due -- his analysis of the Fairfax papers' woes and his suggested remedy are spot on. There is certainly wisdom in this observation:

[Fairfax] may well be a media business that continues to publish newspapers. But they cannot be papers of the kind we see today. They will need to be papers that publish information of sufficient value to readers that their cover price goes a long way to recovering the costs of their production.
The key, as Green sees it,

The Age must move away boldly from a day-to-day news agenda - news that was being delivered better and more quickly elsewhere - and focus on the paper's strengths of intelligent contextualisation, analysis, and investigation. It must remake and re-imagine itself: a new kind of daily paper, one that was all about breadth rather than immediacy.
Easily said, but almost certainly impossible to implement with the current management and reporters. The Phage and Silly, remember, each neglected to make any mention whatsoever of Larissa Behrendt's notorious tweet until, finally, they published an opinion piece insisting that the affair was no big deal. Three weeks is quite a spell, enough time for even a skeletal news operation to scrape together a few words. But that didn't happen, presumably because editors did not want to burden one of their favourite people with more grief. Behrendt no doubt appreciated the kindness; readers (and Fairfax shareholders) have no reason to be grateful.

And there is one ingredient Green neglects to mention, possibly because he has never noticed its absence at The Drum: the need for decent, lively, compelling writing.


  1. At the heart of the matter is "staff capture". The ABC, Age and SMH have been captured by the "luvvies". The ABC doesn't have to turn a profit. It gets to mooch of our taxes. The Fairfax press does. And there aren't enough luvvies to support the Age and SMH.

  2. Or girls, semi- or not dressed. Then the lack of "decent, lively, compelling writing" might be given a parole.


  3. I'm still trying to make sense of "intelligent contextualisation". That's a serious wtf moment.