A tale of two shitty papers

The question on everyone’s lips – everyone’s chapped lips – is simply this: Why does Nine Entertainment bother? Or put another way: do they give a flying Fairfax?

The Glass House examined this past Sunday’s editions of the Nine owned Sun-Herald and the Newscorp masthead The Sunday Telegraph.

Both were country editions. The Sun-Herald was picked up off a front lawn in northern NSW before a stiff breeze could blow it away; the Sunday Tele at the Eltham Hotel in an historic railway village a short haul down the sadly disused rail line from Lismore.

First, the weight in: The Sun-Herald 170 grams; the Torygraph – sorry, cheap shot – the Telegraph 520 grams.

Cover price: Herald $4.10; Sunday Tele $3.

The main book (section) of the paper: Herald 44 pages (including eight-pages of sport); Sunday Tele 96 pages.

Advertising content in main book: Herald: just under six pages or around 14%; Sunday Tele: surprising for its size, just under 12 or a tad over 13%. (We’ve included full-page ads for Binge and Kayo, assuming these Newscorp platforms pay their way, which seems sensible. We haven’t included an eight-page TAB-sponsored race guide, for the simple reason we don’t know how much TAB kicks in for it).

Additional sections: The Herald had a 24-page Sundaylife magazine with some four-and-a-half pages of ads; The Sunday Tele had: a 40-page The House of Wellness magazine, which despite the misleading cover about some Liptember campaign for women’s mental health, looks very much like a Chemist Warehouse price catalogue. Let’s call it an insert but even then, it wouldn’t have come cheap (you can support Liptember, by the way, with some gorgeous lippy from you-know-who for only $4.99!) ; a 24-page tabloid Escape travel magazine, with six pages of obvious advertising and who knows how much of the rest of it was paid content; a 28-page Binge guide for Murdoch’s streaming service, with three pages of outside advertising, and an eight-page FundayTele liftout for the kids.

The Glass House’s verdict: on Sundays, Newscorp is having Nine for breakfast, brunch lunch and dinner. Our best guess is every other day of the week too; both in profitability and sales.

While the ad content of both main books was poor, the Tele has the option of sloughing off any number of pages and still look meaty. The Sunday Herald has nowhere to move.

So overall, we’d probably even prefer the Sunday Telegraph ourselves if it wasn’t owned by a far-right-wing Yank prick who gave us this cover (right) seven years ago.

So, is anything going to change? Probably not.

The Sydney Morning Herald and the Sun-Herald will continue to look serious and believable, with those big ads up the front for vacant corporate executive and mining positions and senior academic vacancies at prestigious private schools, and the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraphs will keep pumping out bright and breezy publications that seem to find favour with the very demographic its owners hate – the working class.

And continue a decades-long tradition of employoing ad reps who can sell well.

So why did we use the heading: A tale of two shitty papers?

The Nine mastheads seem incapable of making a bob and appear on the way out. That’s shitty.

And Murdoch’s rags are way out on the right pushing a political agenda that totally opposes the concept of a fairer and more equitable Australian society – something you’d think the great bulk of its readers would wholeheartedly endorse.

And that’s extra, extra shitty.