Monday, March 30, 2009


Eric Beecher writing today in the Oz notes that the bulk of journalists these days spend their time representing the material provided by various arms of the public relations establishment - or "churnalism".

It is his lead into comments about political writing in Australia (at a book launch), wherein he notes that half the works chosen for a book on the best political writing comes from The Australian and that only a small portion of that comes from the Press Gallery.

It actually offers an interesting perspective on the question of whether Fairfax should combine its SMH and Age Canberra galleries. It is common to refer to the combined coverage that can be found in the Fairfax broadsheets as The Smage, but you have to wonder why between them they don't even come close to the Australian.

The very short answer is that one news-story is likely to have a number of angles. The two Fairfax journalists will both write the same angle - the primary or leading one. If the two papers have the one coverage there is the ability for additional angles to be explored. If you read the Oz political coverage this is what often emerges.

I think the AFR stands outside this process as their reporting is slightly different, always more about the political angle. There does appear to be another option though which is that a merged Smage Business section also makes sense, but it shares some reporting with the AFR. I really don't understand the logic of heavy business sections in the Smage - especially if you want subscriptions can't they come up with a bundled subscription price (like $1 for the AFR if bought with a Smage?) which point I got bored.

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