Australia’s newspapers are right to have a strong political leaning in their editorial and if readers don’t like it then don’t read it. That’s the view of Mark Hollands, CEO of The Newspaper Works, the industry body that champions the views of Australia’s major newspaper publishers.
Hollands’ comments come on top of Monday’s announcement that The Newspaper Works, acting on behalf of the four major publishers it represents, had launched a PR campaign to reaffirm the value that quality journalism brings for both readers and advertisers.
Arguably another concern for newspapers is a reader perception that the editorial is drifting too far left or right in its political persuasion and, in doing so, sacrificing impartiality and independence. News’ perceived drift to the (pro-Abbott) right and Fairfax’s move to the (anti-Abbott) left a case in point.
However, Hollands argues a strong point of view has always been the trademark of newspapers. “All I’d say is if you don’t like the opinion that’s being expressed, if it’s something you don’t agree with, then maybe it’s time you moved on,” he argued.
Hollands said newspapers have had, and should have, a political standpoint and cited his own time in Britain’s press in the eighties as a case in point.
“Take The Guardian as an example, they’ve always had an opinion, they’re famous for it. They’d be pretty intellectually moribund if they didn’t.
“When I worked at the Sunday newspaper The Observer (in the UK) on the walls above the sub’s desk were pictures of Labor politicians and everybody knew where they stood; you worked at that paper because you were a God-fearing Labor voter and you believed in what they believed in and so forth. Newspapers don’t get a reputation for not having a point of view.
“You think The Australian didn’t take a strong view of The Dismissal in 1975? Newspapers throughout history have had strong points of view,” Hollands argued.
As for Monday’s “Influential By Nature” campaign, Hollands told B&T that it was initiative of the four publishers The Newspaper Works represents – APN News & Media, Fairfax Media, News Corp Australia and West Australian Newspapers (Seven West Media).
“It’s about making crystal clear what the industry stands for and what it’s about,” he said. “We are about the notion of influence and a lot of the influence (by newspapers) is for the good of society.
“Take (Sydney’s) Daily Telegraph campaign for western Sydney, it’s been very effective and it is for the good of those people who live in the west and that cascades down from The Tele to local newspapers too.
“It proves that newspaper media is influential, and that’s something to be proud of, and frankly the industry is proud of it and it shows it doesn’t step away from its influence,” Hollands said.