You probably missed this story, on page 15 of today’s Australian Financial Review, overshadowed by all the big media moves and staff cuts:

“The parliamentary bureau of the 86-year-old Canberra Times will close as part of the restructure of Fairfax Media … Journalists were told The Canberra Times’ ‘focus in future would be on more local news’.”

Let’s parse that news. The only daily newspaper in Australia’s capital city, where politics and government is the main industry, will no longer have its own bureau or its own dedicated journalists covering federal parliament and all its entrails.

Of all the white flags raised by Fairfax this week — closing printing plants, removing 1900 staff, hinting at fewer printed newspapers in the future — the decision to close the parliamentary bureau of the national capital’s proud newspaper is, in symbolic terms, one of the most depressing.

This is newspaper that, in its heyday, attempted to model itself on the Washington Post as a serious broadsheet that covered the capital’s local news and national affairs for a unique audience in the company town of politics. The newspaper that has as its motto: “To Serve the National City and Through it The Nation”.

The unravelling of quality journalism doesn’t get much closer to home for federal politicians than this.

Peter Fray

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