I’ve thought for a while that the News Ltd stable of papers in Australia were stuck between two seperate models in the News Ltd empire when it came to political reporting. The old Murdoch model of cultivating the image of influence by backing winners, frequently supporting unprofitable mastheads to do so, and the newer Roger Ailes Fox News model which runs wholeheartedly partisan coverage to capture both a party and a tribal following that makes the model very profitable.
The Australian papers are stuck betwixt these worlds. They are entrenched in one camp like Ailes is, which reduces your status as a player to be courted since one party will write you off and the other will take you for granted. But they also have to be cross subsidised by profitable parts of the empire, such as right wing populism in Foxnews or left wing populism in Avatar.
With the Labor apparatchiks who believe most heavily in “the narrative” seemingly on the way out the illusion may swiftly disappear just as Alan Jones’ influence in NSW evaporated when Bob Carr’s departure meant no-one in power was treating him as if he had it.
But this election has produced something even crueler. A bunch of independents who care not a whit for what the headline of the day is, how things are playing, the flow of “the narrative” or winning the horse race. it’s no wonder that the News Ltd papers are strikingly unanimous in calling for a new election. A new election gives them a chance to look like players. The independents make them look impotent.
I don’t think the image of potency can easily be regained, nor a reputation for quality journalism that would make the paywall pay. Perhaps they’ll simply continue the Maoist fervour against elites who claim they have expertise (climatologists, economists etc.) that is superior to the gut knowledge of right thinking folk. I don’t think they can be entertaining enough to make it pay though.