“Some have labelled the newspaper’s approach as ideological. It is, in fact, egotistical.”

That’s Mark Latham writing about our national broadsheet in The Australian Financial Review in December. He hit the nail on the head.

Latham lambasted the paper not for any particular ideological bent, but for believing that people “…want to read newspapers batting on about themselves”.

When a paper resorts to tactics like interviewing its own editor, the reading experience is more like perusing an internal staff bulletin.

Latham marveled that this habit has “even seeped into its sports pages”.

Seeped is an apt term for the boast that made its way into a story by Hedley Thomas and David Uren in The Australian today, headlined: “Wivenhoe Dam in sights of flood inquiry”. The opening line?

“Premier Anna Bligh yesterday bowed to pressure to set up an inquiry with the powers of a Royal Commission, as the death toll from the flooding hit 20.”

Bowed? Was there really ever any doubt that Premier Bligh would rightly set up an inquiry over the Queensland floods, and ask all the relevant questions, including questions about the role of dams?

The article forges on:

“Central to the inquiry will be questions, raised by The Australian, of whether Wivenhoe Dam was mismanaged in the lead-up to the emergency that erupted last week with deadly flash flooding in Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley, and led to the worst flooding on record in Brisbane and neighbouring Ipswich.”

Questions raised by them and just about every Brisbanite with a sudden burning interest in their city’s flood management plan. Although locals may stop short at using the word “mismanaged” in the middle of an unfolding crisis.

The Australian‘s ego continues to distort its coverage.

Peter Fray

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