October 08, 2004 | Graham

Congratulations Sydney Morning Herald

It’s good to see the Sydney Morning Herald catching up with the times. In fact, it is doing more than that. With its decision not to recommend a vote for either party in today’s editorial, it is leading.
It says

We do not rely on the argument that our readers are clever enough to determine their own voting preferences, although that is our firm belief. Our rationale is one of self-interest and, for this, we do not apologise. We rank as our most valued asset our reputation for integrity with readers. Independence from the political contest is vital to that. Only by being truly nonpartisan can we be seen to be genuinely unshackled in our determination to pursue truth and to root out wrongdoing.

When I say that it is leading, it is still a follower. I don’t expect that the editor of the SMH has ever paid much, if any, attention to On Line Opinion, but when we set it up we decided not to have editorials at all. This was done because we believed that our readers were not only capable of making up their own minds, but that it was an insult to their dignity for us as an organisation to try to tell them how to think.
In eschewing this as the major reason for its change of policy, the SMH leaves open the issue of how newspapers can campaign for issues and against people and parties and still maintain their integrity, independence and impartiality.
I’d suggest in the light of this decision that they review their entire policy of having editorials altogether, but that they also need to address the issue of how they can both take sides and be impartial. On Line Opinion uses a system of internal competition to do this. Perhaps the SMH could use this as one possible model for revitalising their journalism. They could start by publishing more and saner Margo Kingstons; putting them in print as well as, or in preference to, on the web; and with a broad range of political views.

Posted by Graham at 9:14 am | Comments (4) |
Filed under: Media


  1. It’s a trick.
    The SMH has merely moved its political endorsements from the “opinion” section to the “news” section.

    Comment by Evil Pundit — October 8, 2004 @ 8:17 pm

  2. Interesting. Apparently this blog now regards my homepage as “questionable content”.

    Comment by Evil Pundit — October 8, 2004 @ 8:18 pm

  3. You’ve lost me Evil. Why do you think this blog regards your homepage as “questionable content”?

    Comment by Graham Young — October 9, 2004 @ 1:00 am

  4. Hi Graham.
    Apparently some anti-spam plugins for blogs mistakenly recognise my blog’s URL as a spam site. I can’t post a comment here with my current URL, though if I use my old one at Blogspot it works.

    Comment by Evil Pundit — October 10, 2004 @ 5:22 pm

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