Once upon a time, the Sydney Morning Herald
was something of a paper of record and was respected as such. If something
reasonably important happened in Granny’s bailiwick, it would be reported.

That’s not the case anymore. The
Hilmer/Westfield/Walker/Kirk regime has put an end to that as the steady
reduction in journalistic resources has resulted in the SMH becoming a grab-bag
of stories and campaigns. It’s a bit like the Daily Telegraph really, only a
broadsheet and not commercially compromised by the proprietor’s interests the
way Murdoch organs are.

There are still good journalists working
there writing good stories, but the scarcity of hacks means important stories
regularly slip. Don’t blame the hacks, blame the management for believing there
is no correlation between the number of journalists and the quality of the
paper.

The latest example seems to be the Souths
Juniors tax case. In a state where the licensed clubs are an important
political force with a rich history that includes illegal casinos and a
powerful war chest capable and willing to run multi-million dollar political
campaigns, their tax status matters.

The AFR broke the Souths story on Monday.
The Terror followed today. The SMH had the AAP version online yesterday, but I can’t find anything in the actual fishwrapper this morning. There’s
a nice page two yarn
backgrounding how the clubs rolled back the state pokie tax, but zilch on a
court case that ends the tax-free status of the gambling palaces.

As a reader, it’s just a bit of a bugger
that you can’t rely on the SMH to keep you informed any more.

I suppose one shouldn’t be surprised when
the company has a chairman prepared to gratuitously insult the Prime Minister
of a country which seems to contain all his growth prospects. It’s not very
bright.

Peter Fray

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