Journalists at The Sydney Morning Herald, one of the former Fairfax mastheads acquired by Nine Entertainment Co late last year, are threatening strike action over a name change recommended by senior management.
The Bug has been told by company insiders that Nine executives want to change what SMH stands for to widen the masthead’s appeal outside Sydney and to improve its chances of snaring federal and state government advertising.
Two new names were shown to Prime Minister Scott Morrison when Nine hosted a Liberal Party fundraiser at the company’s Channel 9 Today show studios in Sydney recently.
“The PM was naturally delighted,” one company source told The Bug. “But we had to explain to him that his own suggestion of The Scott Morrison Heroworshippers was just too long for across the top of a quality compact.”
The Bug understands staff reacted angrily last night when they discovered that two dummy front pages using the new names were being prepared in a secret art room by outside designers for possible use as today’s edition. This paper was sent copies of those dummies and they are reprinted below.
A senior scribe at the SMH and a member of the paper’s MEAA house committee told us late last night: “Both titles demean our work as professional, objective and fair journalists.
“We’ll be meeting at noon tomorrow and there’s every chance we’re going to walk.
“I’ve never seen them so angry. We know times are tough in the print-media world but why didn’t management go with something we would have accepted, such as The Scott Morrison Handouts?”
A spokesperson for Nine Entertainment chairman Peter Costello told The Bug: “These journos have got to understand this paper has no future in printed form unless it moves much more to the right and challenges the Daily Telegraph for every remaining advertising cent that’s out there.
“Our week-day papers have fuck-all ads in them and even the Saturday rag would be shit without the ads for company executives and private school principals and headmasters and all those duplicated full-page travel ads that we give away if they pay for ads in the real travel section.
“So the journos can get on their high horses and blah-blah-on about ethics and fucking principles but unless we suck up big time to Morrison in Canberra and Berejiklian here in Sydney, we’re well and truly rooted. But don’t quote me on that.”