Regardless of what he is writing about — the nuances of government policy, Labor’s existential turmoil or the policy pratfalls of a new government — our politics editor, Bernard Keane, brings his penetrating insight and peerless authority.

Crikey is blessed with writers such as Guy Rundle and Jane Caro on the state of the world, Margot Saville and Cathy Alexander, Matthew Knott on media, Paddy Manning on business, Raymond Gill on arts and culture, and many others in the top rank, who have lived through the big moments in the nation’s history and are able to provide readers with a sense of perspective, knowledge and balance on the issues of the day. Along with experienced editors, they allow us to cut through the noise and tumult of a frenetic news cycle to explain events.

Yet that can’t be said of all media outlets, especially when seasoned journalists are being traded for ones unable to see beyond the dazzle of the instantaneous fix of Twitter or web-first publishing. These callow reporters and trainee talking heads are setting the pace at News Corporation, with their “thoughtful” views and inane analysis five minutes after something has happened.

We can see the crude results in the way the ABC is being portrayed as bad, mad and chaotic by the baby faces in the Murdoch stable. To date, the low-point of juvenilia was struck by Greg Sheridan and Janet Albrechtsen in The Australian. For the sin of publishing the scoop about Australian phone surveillance of the Indonesian president, Sheridan accuses the ABC of being “driven by a specific, narrow ideological worldview” and by “the obsessions which emanate from that ideology”. And Albrechtsen goes further, claiming ABC managing director Mark Scott “chose to fuel tensions and nationalist sentiments in a fledgling democracy” and “to undermine an immigration policy aimed at preventing deaths at sea”.

This twaddle would be harmless if these ill-informed innocents were on the fringes of new media, learning their craft in the minor leagues. Alarmingly, these infantile musings reflect the priorities of their organisation: it’s a reverse-publishing model, the manic frothing of a conservative cult setting the agenda for a once-venerable newspaper, which traditionally served older, educated, middle-income readers in Sydney and Melbourne.

No wonder News Corp editors have lost touch with loyal readers and the respect of the old hands still in the newsroom. At The Australian, Ayn Rand alumni have wrested cultural and editorial control in the face of insipid leadership from editor Chris Mitchell and his acolytes. You wonder if anyone’s really in charge at Holt Street and how long this idiocy can last.

*For another version of this editorial, visit The Australian

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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