No winner. This we can say with confidence: Australia’s quality newspapers are not getting any better and are probably getting worse. For that reason, there is no Crikey Newspaper of the Year award for 2006. Last year’s winner, The Australian, came close to taking the award again, and in our view The Sydney Morning Herald on its good days is still a perfectly decent newspaper. But there it ends. The Age is no longer in the A league, The Financial Review is solid but largely uninspiring and that’s where quality journalism ends and editorial wallpaper takes over. As they continue to struggle for relevance, Australia’s broadsheet newspapers seem to be consciously setting out to attract readers of any kind, a process which often creates a kind of schizophrenic personality in which the serious and the utterly trivial coexist clumsily under one masthead. Because most newspapers today are led by marketing rather than purely editorial considerations, it is hard to find real convictions or consistency — with the notable exception of The Australian on the AWB issue. If only the “quality” newspapers were as good as they constantly tell their readers they are.
2005 Winner: The Australian