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Jacqueline Kent is… a writer of non-fiction and biography, fiction, general articles and literary journalism. Her working background includes radio interviewing, print journalism, radio and TV scriptwriting, editing books, ghostwriting, teaching editing and creative writing, and arts administration.
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Independent? Seriously?

It’s axiomatic that if anyone or anything has to insist on a particular quality, they no longer have it. (Stale biscuits are called fresh on the packet, adulterous spouses insist on their fidelity.) At the moment, nowhere is this truer than in the case of the Sydney Morning Herald. Having over the past few months joined a large part of the mainstream media in helping Tony Abbott run his election campaign, its masthead states in tasteful capitals: ‘Independent. Always’.

For me the last straw, almost, came on Monday 26 August. Kevin Rudd, reported to have abandoned a briefing on the situation in Syria so he could film an episode of the ABC-TV show Kitchen Cabinet, described this as ‘100 per cent false’ and said that if the Herald had bothered to contact his office, they would have confirmed this. The episode was reported under the headline ‘The dummy spit’.

Which is manifestly unfair, not to mention a bit on the trivial side. Not that I have any brief for Kevin Rudd: the events of the last three years have clearly shown the kind of man he is. If he’d given the focus and commitment to governing that he did to undermining his own party and Julia Gillard — aided and abetted by the media, including the SMH —  the ALP would never have needed to replace him as PM three years ago.

But saddest is the decline of the Herald, the paper that my Dad, and others of his generation, treated with the respect accorded Holy Writ. Now it follows the Murdoch press down the rabbit hole of inconsequentiality:  it gives few details of party policies, very little analysis. It’s all bells and whistles and photo opportunities. And if you should want to know how and why this has happened, I recommend Colleen Ryan’s splendid The Rise and Fall of Fairfax. Salutary reading.


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