The Age’s website – that millions of Australians see in the course of a month – doesn’t give much insight into what the people of Melbourne see in the print edition.
We’re growing tired of picking them apart as we once did but, for old times’ sake, we’ll draw your attention to their front page today.
Aside from the story sticking it to their now triumphant competitor at News Corp over their Steve Lewis’s undoubtedly excessive enthusiasm to “get” Speaker Peter Slipper, they prominently display the words next to an unflattering pic of Tony Abbott: “Pride, Arrogance, Opportunism. Why Abbott must bend on the boats.”
The online headline for Michael Gordon’s opinion piece was the more measured “Sound-bite diplomacy is no solution” and the headline on their oped page was “Sound-bite diplomacy no solution to asylum seeker quandary.”
Michael Gordon’s argument is an opinion and like fundamental orifices, we all have them. VEX has more than most. He offers no solutions, of course, but too few opinion writers do or can. They prefer to snipe from the cheap seats without offering solutions.
He, like the irresponsible, conflicted by their zeal for population-control, Anglo-dominated Greens party, seems to think that maintaining a system where some of the world’s most desperate asylum seekers willing to risk drowning at sea will be rewarded by a favourable immigration outcome to one of the world’s richest nations. It’s untenable position for anyone with a conscience.
We think the government’s Malaysian Solution was/is worth a try. We think the Coalition are missing a huge political opportunity to share the blame should a bi-partisan package of policy compromise not work if and when they are elected late next year. The Coalition’s argument is that they cannot be expected to govern from Opposition and the privately expressed view that if the boats are in the headlines, the government will continue to bleed to death.
What the Coalition ought to worry about is that the situation in Afghanistan is worse than it was when they were in office. And it will be worse in five years time than it is now. If we were advising Abbott, we’d urge him to lock Labor in now to a bi-partisan position about offshore processing they won’t be able to back away from later when it’s convenient in Opposition.
The most pessimistic view among Immigration experts who have discussed it with VEXNEWS is that there may no longer be a solution other than repudiating our Treaty obligations, which would be a very ugly look and almost certainly a bridge too far for Abbott, an Establishment figure who is much more cautious on policy questions than most of his opponents will accept. Many Liberals complain to us about it/him on this all the time, especially on labour market reform.
We think that’s a reasonably politically independent, well-informed pragmatic view of the situation the Liberals are in. These are not the views you often see in The Age’s opinion pieces.
Their lack of genuine editorial independence isn’t actually the reason they’re dying. It’s because the business was always dependent on viciously exploited monopolies in classifieds ads markets, in real estate, cars and employment. Those profits were able to support sometimes stridently left-wing, often very boring, a preachy version of journalism that is appealing to many fewer people than the more moderate – and we think genuinely and demonstrably editorially independent – opposition at the Herald Sun. We think the Herald Sun is equally mean to both sides, when the occasion calls for it. Exactly as it should be. Many Labor nuff nuffs have convinced themselves otherwise, perhaps with bad memories of Piers Akerman. They should perhaps speak with state Liberal MP Geoff Shaw. Or even Ted Baillieu. The Herald Sun calls it as it sees it, influenced perhaps by how they perceive the community to see it. As the Communications Minister Steve Conroy said yesterday, there will be one newspaper left standing in Melbourne in five years. No prizes for guessing which one he was talking about.
And when The Age attack a political leader, whose party has soared under his charge, in such a spiteful way on its front page, while professing how “editorially independent” they are, which means much more than being independent of what shareholders and board members want, many are left shaking their heads in astonishment at their deep and abiding lack of self-awareness.
The theory of The Age’s collapse always had a certain appeal. The practice of 1900 jobs being cut disturbs us. We don’t like it. And it is taking away a lot of the fun we thought we’d be having at this point.
But when you look at how their print edition actually appears, its commitment to fairness, impartiality, lack of bias, truth, ensuring both sides of arguments get a go, is clearly just not there.
And soon enough, as soon as next year in terms of its print edition many believe, nor will The Age be.
Salt water won’t well in our eyes.