Jan 28, 2013

Signs of failure at AFR grow

As a keen but increasingly troubled reader of the AFR this morning's contribution to the search for a 2nd Sydney Airport site saga suggests severe quality failures at the paper.

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

As a keen but increasingly troubled reader of the AFR this morning’s contribution to the search for a 2nd Sydney Airport site saga suggests severe quality failures at the paper.

The report says:

The federal government is set to receive the scoping study on Wilton as the site for Sydney’s second airport amid growing support for Badgerys Creek – land Labor already owns.

Labor doesn’t own the site at Badgerys Creek. The Commonwealth owns it.

To make an error like this in what claims to be the newspaper of authority and excellence in business and public administration reporting is an alarming indication of failure in the sub-editing of the story’s presentation.

It isn’t the type of error that is tolerable in a business newspaper which for a long time had built its brand on formidably well informed and sensible reporting. If it can’t get such fundamentals as to the ownership of the site right, even in the write-off to the story, and no longer has the sub-editing capabilities to maintain standards, it will suffer loss of brand value, and readers.

The AFR would be onto something if it were to ask what interests might covet the site at Badgerys Creek, and what if any links might exist between them and various branches of various parties.

The determination of Labor, and the coalition partners, to avoid doing the obvious at Badgerys Creek, is very, very peculiar.

Investigating such matters would of course require money, time, effort, and legal guidance, way beyond the resources of one person publishing on-line.

It’s what newspapers alone can do, and do well, and with respect, the AFR should do that.

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7 thoughts on “Signs of failure at AFR grow

  1. Geoff

    Ben – I think you are being a bit harsh. Commonwealth/Labor are the same thing when Labor has the majority in the Federal House of Reps. Surely the writer is trying to emphasise that Labor could start building an airport at Badgerys tomorrow if it had the political will, and Wilton is just a smoke screen so they can keep kicking the can ahead of them.

    Alabanese is currently playing the same game with the LNP Campbell Government in Queensland. Here the underground rail plans are the can being kicked. No doubt until Labor can see that all the cudos will go their way and none to the LNP. (The Qld name for the Liberal/National coalition)

  2. Ben Sandilands

    In terms of the AFR readership I don’t think such factual confusion is acceptable. Particularly when the real question is which mates of which party would like to own the land in question, and I do mean which of all parties.

  3. Steve777

    The AFR seems to have gone a long way backwards if that’s the sort of thing it prints now. That’s what the Daily Telegraph does, as in its headline on the recent sale of Cubbie Station – “Labor sells the farm to the Chinese” when of course neither the ALP nor the Australian Government owned Cubbie Station and the sale was approved by the FIRB. Of course the Tele was pushing a political agenda. I don’t know what the The AFR was doing – either the same or it’s just plain sloppy.

    And Geoff – if the AFR wanted to say that the ALP could decide start building an Airport at Badgery’s Creek tomorrow, they should say that. That is a very different proposition from the ALP owning billions of dollars worth of real estate in Western Sydney.

  4. ltfisher

    I guess that we are lucky that the AFR didn’t do a News approach and claim that the land was owned by someone a notch higher up the totem pole ie Gillard!

  5. Holden Back

    Change the editor and you change the newspaper?

    I saw a hard copy recently: in a story about the wine industry, the word “Australia” was mis-spelled. A typo, but it was an extra “j”!

  6. Bear

    Geoff… sorry, but just because Labor happens to have stitched up a voting majority (they do NOT have a majority in their own right) in the Reps, and hence they are currently the ruling party, they only have what you might call “stewardship” of Badgerys and all other Commonwealth property from land, through aircraft, submarines what-have-you, all the way down to their office paperclips … all of which belong to us all ( that being the meaning of the “COMMON” bit, in Commonwealth! Get it?)

  7. Geoff

    Ok Guys – I see some agendas emerging. I don’t have one except to play a little “devils advocate” with Ben’s opinion.

    Bear – I do understand how the parliament works and whether they have majority “in their own right” or have stitched one up, matters not – for the moment they control the House of Reps.

    I too think it is sloppy writing and it could be meant to be inflammatory. Occam’s Razor says it was the journalist using tabloid language in a professional news journal. Clearly the odd standards are slipping, but at my age you see that everywhere.

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