Journalism standards protected

MEDIA:

The existing standard of metropolitan daily journalism in Brisbane has been assured despite this week’s announcement by The Courier-Mail that it has sacked almost its entire sub-editing workforce.

Only 10 layout subs’ positions will remain at the Bowen Hills headquarters of News Queensland when all other sub-editors finish up on May 7, right as the federal election campaign is expected to be reaching its climax.

To ensure standards do not slip after that time – or indeed any time from now on – the federal Liberal Party, the federal National Party, and the merged Liberal National Party in Queensland have all committed to submit “perfect, print-ready” copy to the Courier and its sister masthead, the Sunday Mail.

For its part The Courier-Mail has agreed to use a standard template for its front-page stories on federal politics (main picture) and all other news pages to make it easier for the LNP to submit copy of the right length.

An LNP Queensland spokesperson: “Our new slogan from now on is write once, right write and write very right often.

“Although to be fair, we must have been doing a pretty good job to date anyway because our releases often get a very prominent run virtually unchanged.

“Only once or twice, so far, did the Courier forget to take the LNP’s contact phone number at the end of our statements out of the copy it published almost verbatim.

“But we know we must do things better now that Queensland News has let all its subs go.

“I know we can’t promise to be factual – we do have an election to win – but from now on, to help out we’ll be double checking our releases for silly little mistakes in speling and grammer. But we’ll also be adding to the top of each release bylines that say EXCLUSIVE by Renee Viellaris, EXCLUSIVE by Steve Wardill, EXCLUSIVE by Des Houghton, etc.

“We’ve normally left that up to editors at the two papers but seeing they are going to be working their arses off virtually from now, we think it’s the least we could do.”

A Courier-Mail associate editor  Tory Pharr-Wright thanked the political parties for “their understanding and support in this difficult time for the wonderful craft of journalism”.

An expert in Australian journalism and noted academic, Professor Henny Johningham from the Ybotherschool  of journalism, told The Bug: “It just goes to show you the commercial fragility of daily print-media throughout the nation that a Brisbane newspaper that enjoys an absolute monopoly is struggling so badly financially that they have to shed practically all their sub-editors.

“So spare a thought for the News Corp Australia papers like the Daily Torygraph (sic) in Sydney and the Herald Sun in Melbourne that have to compete for advertising with Nine competing mastheads.

“And by that I don’t mean nine in number, I mean the papers owned by Nine – the Sydney Morrison (sic) Herald in Sydney and The Age in Melbourne.”

Professor Johningham said the latest developments in News Corp’s Brisbane operations showed yet again that changes in technology and consumer behaviour continued to place traditional media under pressure.

“It’s a case of good news and bad news,” he said.

“The good news is that the existing standard of metropolitan daily journalism in Brisbane has been assured.

“But the bad news is that the existing standard of metropolitan daily journalism in Brisbane has been assured.”