Flat White

The day The Sydney Morning Herald turned into New Idea

8 January 2018

11:00 AM

8 January 2018

11:00 AM

This is it. The point of no return. There’s no going back. The once-mighty Sydney Morning Herald — and its Melbourne sister too — have turned into bimbo magazines.

Part of it’s accidental. They’re obsessed with identity politics, so they’re obsessed with victims.

They’ve deliberately cultivated a readership among insecure, inadequate young women who perversely gain validation, express their identities, find their sense of (I guess we have to call it this) self-worth by blaming all their fears and failures on deep-rooted societal structures that do them down, who identify as victims — not out of any sense of solidarity with the true victims of society, I hasten to add — but to absolve themselves of responsibility for their own failings.

Social media has weaponised the members of this mass of “victims” and like many other masses they have become a mob; a mob with all the sense of justice and due processes found among the hysterics who have presided over lynchings since ancient times.

But in this clickbait age — and this is the deliberate part — Fairfax is picking lowest common denominator targets for its mob. They have to maximise the eyeballs, after all. So the front page is given over to flinging accusations at a figure whose greatest public acclaim came as a second-string star to Kylie and Jason on Neighbours a generation ago — with their top investigative reporter Kate McClymont acting as their Betty Parris.

The titles are immediately cheapened by their descent into New Idea territory, trivialised. So is McClymont, and anything she may now write concerning corruption or nefarious goings-on at the top end on town, in politics and the bureaucracy.

Fairfax has deliberately turned itself into New Idea. It has told us that its “news” deserves to be treated with the same degree of seriousness as that weekly’s chronicles of Jennifer Anniston’s love life, the ups and downs of Tziporah Malkah (that’s Kate Fischer to you) and the watch for the first signs of a baby bump on Meghan Markle.

It’s trash, in other words.

As if in confirmation of Fairfax’s commitment to quality, today’s Age carries the following story:

It goes:

The credibility of Nelly Yoa, the South Sudanese-Australian man who said the recent violence perpetrated by youths of African appearance made him “ashamed and embarrassed to call (himself) Sudanese” has been questioned by leaders in his community.

Mr Yoa wrote for Fairfax Media on New Year’s Day that there was “a major issue among young South Sudanese people in Melbourne” and called on Victoria Police, Premier Daniel Andrews, the state government and South Sudanese community leaders in Melbourne to do more to prevent the violence…

The Australian, however, has the real yarn:

The “questions”, as The Age quaintly puts it, are largely to do with its due diligence, with its processes, its quality control. Why, it seems to be “Melbourne Man” — remember him — all over again.

So with a start to 2018 like this, will the print editions of either the SMH or Age make it to the end of the year?

It’s obvious what the kindest thing to do would be, but Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood isn’t noted for his charity.

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