The juxtaposition on Page 2 of the Sydney Snoring Herald said it all this morning.

A one paragraph news in brief said the SMH had been nominated “as a finalist in the annual newspaper of the year” competition. The other finalists were the Melbourne Age, Herald Sun and Brisbane Courier Mail.

In the next column under Your Herald a single paragraph explained that journalists in Sydney, Melbourne, Newcastle and Wollongong (but not Canberra!) had gone on strike for three days after rejecting the latest offer from the company over an enterprise bargaining agreement.

“This industrial action by editorial staff is disappointing,” cackled Brian ‘Boner’ McCarthy, the company’s deputy CEO and architect of this week’s 550 job cuts, which is what the strike is really about.

Brian is leading the great dumbing down of Fairfax. He’s just sacked the company’s in-house legal team in Sydney, so will pay millions to outside lawyers for defamation work. But staff say don’t expect it to be much at all because Brian doesn’t want any controversial stories. He must have learned his craft from John Alexander, the unseen ghost at the implosion of the SMH, where he boosted salaries and took expenses to a new Olympian level.

And then this press release was passed on to me from someone in the real estate game. Talking about dumbing down, it’s really getting into bed with the real estate industry and taking readers for a ride, without any disclosure of the conflict of interests revealed in this release:

Domain.com.au announces partnership with LJ Hooker

29 August 2008: As LJ Hooker celebrates 80 years of real estate excellence at its international conference in Sydney this week, Fairfax Digital has announced a strategic partnership between Domain.com.au and the LJ Hooker Group.

The partnership aims to mutually benefit both parties by driving more property buyers to LJ Hooker’s real estate listings online at Domain.com.au. As part of the alliance, Domain.com.au representatives will also provide online marketing training and support to LJ Hooker staff.

Graham Perry, Managing Director – Classifieds for Fairfax Digital, comments, “Fairfax Digital is one of our country’s most successful digital enterprises and we see a great deal of synergies between ourselves and the LJ Hooker Group.”

“We are committed to this partnership and look forward to a collaborative and long term relationship that is both rewarding and builds on our collective success.”

Warren McCarthy, CEO, LJ Hooker Group adds, “The LJ Hooker Group and Domain have a healthy relationship, with many of our franchises strong and active in Domain. We look forward to working closely with Domain.com.au to further strengthen the reach of the LJ Hooker brand online.”

Peter Fray

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