Why I’m cancelling The Age

For years I have been a keen reader of The Age.

It’s light years ahead of the Herald Sun except when it comes to their fabulous photos but who would put up with Bolt just for some nice photos? The other offerings are The Australian, which is just a paper format for the Shock Jocks and Climate Change Deniers, and the Financial Review which is actually a good read but more focussed on financial matters. It ranked at 2nd simply because it has Laura Tingle covering Aussie Politics who is one of those rare journalists not trying to drive change in the political arena. Sadly, the Fin Rev is also behind a firewall too but the light cover of overseas news stops me getting it home delivered and paying for on-line news seems financially extravagant.

I have stuck with The Age even as the embittered Michelle Grattan declined into the depths of Abbott fan hood. As a Journalist, Michelle was one of the first to recognise that Ute gate was just so much BS. It did have the unfortunate consequence of costing the inexperienced new boy, Malcolm Turnbull, his job, ultimately to be replaced by Tony Abbott, but at least that was not the agenda, simply an unforseen tragedy.

Towards the end however, Michelle devolved into a political commentator which I assume came from her regular spot on RN Breaky. When the Slipper Affair came up and the dodgy Ashby claims hit the News, Michelle became a follower instead of the traditional leader, and due diligence went out the window. The deletion of Ashby’s FaceBook account and blog postings were missed or ignored. Something that would never have happened in her halcyon days. Suggestions of a falling out between the PM and Michelle arose some years back and I can’t vouch for the validity of that but if that is correct, perhaps her approach was less a decline in skill set and something more personal. Which is the case? I can’t tell but neither looks good to me.

With Michelle’s retirement, I looked forward to The Age resuming normal services but it seems the management team has embraced the Twitter mode on News gathering and now commentary takes precedence over news content. The final straw came in Wednesday’s edition with the spot headline near the masthead, “Gillard must go”. This turned out to be yet another attempt by the paper to bring back Kevin 07. A chap who simply does not have the numbers and whose management style is hated within the Party. He simply is not a team player.

What is most surprising about this constant campaign is that a newspaper with some understanding of Politics should be well aware that Leaders are not chosen by the Public but by the folk who have to work under the resulting regime. They need look no further than Tony Abbott on this one. The reliable and predictable Turnbull is streets ahead of the unstable Abbott in the Polls yet the Libs have decided to tough it out.

Perhaps we are looking at another case of Murdoch Syndrome. Proprietors who think it’s their job to change Politics rather than report it. Whatever it is, I won’t be making my meagre contribution to their coffers. Even though The Age is still streets ahead of the Herald Sun, I just can’t bring myself to support declining quality.

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16 Replies to “Why I’m cancelling The Age”

  1. Well said, Pete. You do wonder why they think that pandering to one side of politics is going to result in the followers of the other side giving them the flick, in these days of declining print media sales. We buy the local rag but that’s all. I’ve just discovered the Oz Guardian is now online. Looks good. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/australia

    1. Thanks for the link Snowy. I’m trying out a few different sources which is probably what I should be doing anyway.

      iGoogle is getting dumped and I haven’t found an alternative yet. I’m able to have a Home page with News headlines from a variety of sources. Might look again today.

  2. I take comfort in the fact that it is not just in the US that this is ongoing.
    I hope it is a swing of the pendulum and outrage at this CRAP will bring a return to reporting the news and only the news.
    Sigh. It’s painful to be an optimist.

    1. I agree that this is more than one country, Lauri, and I’m waiting to see how it shakes out. The common point of blame is the 24 hour news cycle but I only half agree with that reasoning. The bigger problem is News sourced from Press releases especially from political parties. The lazy option is to take it and print it and not question the content. This gives chaps like Tony Abbott a free ride when they should be pulled up for inconsistencies.

      At least in the US they jumped all over Mitt Romney’s problems but I suspect that mainly came about from such stupid comments from Republican Senators and he ended up coping the over spray helped by some similar material from his own mouth..

      The up side is that if folk seize the Net and use it to drive pollies, we get a better outcome. Of course that means those parties have to be a bit more selective in their choice of candidates. I’m expecting a power struggle between the Voters and the Pollies before we get through.

      1. I can see it coming right back to a real fight…revolution, if you will…but, here, our women’s rights are threatened and our workers’ rights are threatened. As if we hadn’t already fought these battles not all that long ago. But, I can foresee us having to fight for them again.

          1. The fact that President Obama got re-elected gives me great hope. The fact that the assholes on the right are still fighting him every step of the way makes me want to punch them all in the ….

            I love GC!! Thanks for the link! He was one of the best!

            1. They are certainly slow on the uptake in the Republican party. Instead of looking back and accepting the Voters want them to get on with it, they are still trying to clog up the financial system.

              Clearly they simply believe the Voters got it wrong and they want to continue the harassment. Sooner or later they need to accept that they should actually be listening to the Voters. It’s especially odd because their Tea Party element claim pollies don’t listen. Bizarre.

  3. Would it be possible to use the info in this letter to write a similar one to the Sydney Morning Herald? I would like to give them a similar view, and would acknowledge you as the source.

  4. I have not bought a newspaper for over four years.
    I am presently experimenting with using only ABC online and The Guardian and as my initial go-to-sites in the morning. I do not intend to read Fairfax or Murdoch papers any more.

    I will not read opinion pieces, I am sure you understand why.

    I am compiling a list of trusted, informed blog sites like IA AFHP for information and opinion on politics. I would like the Govt to tweet links to policy info – perhaps they do?
    Finance, Technology, Health infos are easily accessible.

    I use Twitter, which is awash with interesting links and sites I have never heard of and to which I often venture.

    As part of my experiment, I read The Ages’ news items this morning. Of the thirteen I followed up, the only one I would have missed regarded Assange & Carr (it was a letter source by Fairfax, turned out to be of little interest to me, maybe not to others). Two other items were sourced through AAP (one a Vic Coroner’s finding about toddler deaths in driveways – I would not have read it anyway).Otherwise, The Age was just a news aggregator site with items of questionable interest to me.
    With the newspapers demise in the near future, we may have an online level
    playing field. That leaves radio and FTA TV….. bring on the NBN.

    1. I certainly understand why, Laurie. I tried to watch the TV news for Bush fire info this past week because there is a big one near by but I just couldn’t stand it. Didn’t even make it to the first add break.

      We have about a 2 year wait for the NBN and that is assuming Tony doesn’t kill it off if he wins. Sadly I live in a solid National party seat where they automatically vote without considering if it is in their interests.

  5. All our reliable news sources have gone to the dogs Pete. I’m disappointed that Radio National is now distracted by so much ‘live’ twitter and FB feedback from unqualified twits who have got nothing better to do with their time, instead of sticking to the original aim of the project.

    1. You are dead right GOF. The Twittersphere is (or should be) the antithesis of Radio National. It’s a station built on ideas and experts having an outlet for considered thoughts.

      The chatterers have their own stations in ABC Local radio where they can throw their thought bubbles and play endless quizzes. ABC FM is the hangout for Classical buffs and I’m happy with that but I would like to know how they have insulated themselves from popularism.

      Think I’ll write another letter to the Doogue-ster.. She actually replies and has a think about things. The RN programs themselves don’t even acknowledge email receipts these days. It’s Twitter or its nothing.

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