Axe hovers over Sydney Morrison Herald


“Oh, oh!” was my first impression when I picked up our home-delivered copy of Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald.

Still wrapped, the paper clearly had ‘Shorten’ in its front-page heading. Was Shorten in the paper’s sights? Would it be fair to him over border protection and refugees? Or give him both barrels a la #newscorpse?

smh wrapped

I normally unwrap the paper as I make our morning cuppa but I left it in its plastic wrap. I wanted to show it to the missus that way to see if she also feared the worst. She did.

For, you see, our weekend Heralds have been giving off a bit of a bad smell since being bought by Nine. It’s why we have pondered cancelling our weekend sub a few times of late.

Our decision is much, much closer after the weekend. I suspect we could soon be saying good riddance to the Nine SMH. Or to be a little more coarse: Fuck off, Nine! Fuck off, Peter Costello!

Of course, the missus and I quickly realised that the SMH had gotten its front-page splash (above) completely wrong. “We’ll be overrun if Shorten wins” seemed to two old hack retired subs to be a far punchier and more direct heading that had the added advantage of not even hinting at the possibility of a Labor win come what May.

“We’ll be overrun if Shorten wins” is the perfect summary of the crap written by Michael Bachelard and James Massola. I don’t even want to detail how quickly the piece goes downhill after what a “former people smuggler has revealed”.

And that’s just the front-page write-off for the full-treatment on pages 12 and 13.

So what else was on the front-page of the SMH weekend edition that might influence our pending vote on whether to cancel our sub?

“Don’t take us back to the trauma of the boats” is the pointer to foreign editor Michael Bachelard’s separate opinion piece on those inside pages. “I’ve seen the trauma of the boats. Let’s not do that again” the heading of his opinion piece on page 13 pleads.

Once again, to two old hack subs the better heading was: “Vote LNP or the mass drownings will resume!” Could Bachelard possibly deny that’s exactly what he’s saying?

Other pointers on the front page were:
The science behind scare campaign – for a strange Peter Hartcher piece confusing science with sophistry and spin; and
Could this be Morrison’s Tampa moment? – a two-page piece in News Review.

“Look,” I said to the missus. “This is disgraceful but let’s give it one more chance tomorrow.” We’ve always been fair and decent people. Well, I like to think so.

And then along came the untalented Claire Kimball who “joins the Sun-Herald”. She was promoted with a tease on Page 1 – “Finally Morrison has a chance to be authentic” – and a second tease on Jacqueline Maley’s column page – “Voters know PM is fair dinkum about one thing”.

The only fair-dinkum and authentic thing we really learnt from Ms Kimball’s column on Page 37 – “Voters know PM is fair-dinkum about boats” and the stand-first “Morrison displays authenticity that may be crucial for the election, writes Claire Kimball” is that, apart from being a fairly average writer with little creative flair of her own, this journalist’s definition of “authenticity” is a PM and his senior ministers telling one outright porky after another about what the #medevac amendments mean.

And that this former long-term press secretary to Tony Abbott has sadly listened to bullshit for so long that she no longer recognises it when she hears it – or writes it.

Don Gordon-Brown

PS: Being softies, we’re going to give the two weekend Heralds one more chance next weekend. But it didn’t stop me sinking to my knees and crying for the future of these two once-respected and professional newspapers.