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.