This is a seriously excellent read from beginning to end about the demise of The Age and The SMH.
An extract below..
“…Melbourne’s former broadsheet, once a splendid newspaper, now delivers interminable, paint-by-number epistles about racism, refugees, multiculturalism, climate change, victmised Aborigines, male chauvinism and, of course. the loathsomeness of conservatives. Trees die for this. How sad.
After almost a lifetime of reading the Age, Melbourne’s 162-year-old morning newspaper, I am debating whether to cancel my subscription. This is not so much about digital technology as, in the words of a veteran ex-subscriber friend, because the paper is “biased and boring”.
A lot of people around Melbourne are saying the same thing and, in a way they would not have a few years ago, dismiss the Age with disdain. They agree with the description of the late Peter Ryan, in one of his last Quadrant columns, that it has become a “feeble and foolish newspaper”.
How could a once very good newspaper fall so low? The financial squeeze of recent years has affected it severely, but there is much more at work. In a few words, it is over-managed and under-edited, puts process before product—a common complaint about management everywhere—and, worst of all, it is bizarrely politically correct. Politically correct in this context means censoring the news at the expense of reader interest and thus circulation and accurate public debate.
Similar complaints are made about its 185-year-old Fairfax Media stable-mate the Sydney Morning Herald, but this is more specifically about the Age newspaper version and excludes specialist pages such as sport and finance.
The circulation of both has been falling at 7 to 8 per cent a year, twice the rate of their tabloid competitors and is now, at 96,000 for the Age and 102,000 for the SMH, around half that of earlier in the century. The rival tabloid circulations have declined only about half as much. Digital versions partly explain the falls but in my observation widespread reader dissatisfaction is also part.
Political correctness also goes back a long way. I am tempted to use a lot of adjectives here, but weird will do to cover the whole subject. Back around 1970, Victoria introduced massive changes in education, including radically reordering the curriculum and weakening school discipline. Everybody was talking about it, but although the Age prided itself as a pro-education paper and on getting behind the news, it reported this upheaval as nothing more than interesting administrative changes. I and others had the impression that it was doing public relations for the left-wing teachers’ unions and others behind the changes, wanting to avoid any adverse public reaction. It was not the only time the Age has run dead…” An Age of Decrepitude