Newspapers driving their readers away
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Saturday, 16 July 2011

In the years leading up to the 1999 referendum most of the mainstream media ordered Australians to vote Yes to the Turnbull- Keating republic and get on with it. 

 So did about two thirds of the  politicians.

To the surprise of both, the majority of Australians didn't obey their masters, with the exception of the inner-city elites.  The vote was higher than it would have been if there had not been such an unprecedented attempt to brainwash the nation. Held today the Yes vote would be significantly lower, and certainly less than 40%. Again, no state would support it.

Most of the media and the politicians understand this. it is not that they have become constitutional monarchists; they have just put the Republic on the never-never.

Image

The spin is that out of respect for Her Majesty this is not to be done during her reign. 

The real reason for putting a republic on the never-never is that the republican politicians  have done their polling and focus groups and found that Australians don't want them to touch it with a barge pole.

Only two of the nation’s capital city newspapers still demand republican change - The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. There are still telling the people and the politicians to do what they clearly don't want to do.

The results are dire. In this column on 7 July we referred to a highly respected financial analyst on the media who predicts  that both newspapers  will cease to exist  physically  within the next decade.  Two thirds of metropolitan journalists will need to go just to keep their employer alive.




...how to lose readers...
 


 Now Ben Jellis in The Spectator Australia (16/7) concludes that the two news papers have become “‘niche publications”. But, he warns, “they are still managing to lose readers.”


He explains that both venerable publications have been captured by an out-of-touch elite.

 (Continued below)  

He says that the “groupthink” and “received wisdom” that dominate at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald would be funny if they weren't slowly eroding the readership and prospects of both newspapers.

 

“In recent years,” he says, ”both Fairfax mastheads have had rolling off the presses and increasingly niche publication catering to the political views of a small section of the population.


 “How have a pair of great newspapers been so humbled?”  The answer he believes is that the two papers “have aimed them themselves editorially towards a section of the population that is far to the left of the mainstream.”

 

“The views expressed on their opinion pages and in their news features map nicely onto those of the Greens, the political party that typically receives around 10% of the vote.… The effect on the readership figures of both papers is hardly surprising.”

 

“To succeed newspapers must both inform and entertain. Failing of the first is bad, but messing up the second is fatal....Such is the predictability of The Age that there is little point reading it even for those who are in ideological agreement.”