Given South Australia’s Germanic roots, maybe it’s time Adelaide’s all-powerful newspaper became known as “The Shizer” rather than the folksy description “The Tiser.”

The nickname could take off with locals who grumble about the state of the media in general and the mediocrity of their daily newspaper in particular.

After spending a week in this one-paper town, it’s apparent The Adelaide Advertiser is not on the same par as other News Limited tabloids like The Herald Sun, The Courier-Mail and The Daily Telegraph.

Locals talk about its poor news sense and obsession with entertainment stories. Others say it’s bloated with middle managers — as many as five chiefs of staff looking after the ranks of young reporters.

On Tuesday the paper branded its page one lead an “exclusive.” But readers who talked to Crikey wonder why “the only rag in town” gloats about exclusives, especially when they’re boring yarns.

Apparently exclusives are often just “drops” or kite-flying exercises from the government media unit – part of Premier Rann’s media strategy that favours soft interviews with the likes of 5AA’s Keith Conlon and the ABC’s Grant Cameron whilst bypassing tougher operators like Adelaide 891’s morning duo, Matt Abraham and David Bevan.

On Wednesday night Adelaide was knocked about by torrid storms and flooded with record tides. The historic Semaphore jetty was mangled. So on Thursday morning The Tiser led with stories about political donations and dangerous prams. The gripping photos of the preceding night were relegated to the inside pages.

If this is tardiness, it’s got more to do with the lack of daily competition than Murdoch’s almost complete monopoly on local newspapers. Other News Limited publications such as the Messenger group of weekly suburbans and the Sunday Mail produce real yarns and break stories. Observers say the Tiser is so slack that it’s even slow to follow up on the stories that its sister publications break.

As well as the Sunday Mail, there’s competition from police reporter, Jessica Adamson and political roundsman Mike Smithson on Seven News. ABC TV’s Stateline and The Independent are also valuable.

There’s a huge opening for Fairfax to introduce an online publication like its new outlet in Brisbane. But Fairfax seems to have forsaken the place. For example, after two months it still hasn’t replaced the Adelaide-based stringer for the Australian Financial Review.

If one week’s observation is worth anything, more daily competition is needed for the Tiser to lift its game and lose the “Shizer” tag.

Peter Fray

Inoculate yourself against the spin

Get Crikey for just $1 a week and protect yourself against news that goes viral.

If you haven’t joined us yet, subscribe today to get your first 12 weeks for $12 and get the journalism you need to navigate the spin.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW