Downfall of the SMH. How a once quality newspaper has lost its way.

Downfall of the SMH. How a once quality newspaper has lost its way.

Editorial and quality control standards at the Sydney Morning Herald have dropped dramatically, and it’s really annoying me.

Do you remember about two months ago the big brouhaha of how Fairfax were going outsource all subediting work for its flagship Sydney and Melbourne newspapers, losing 82 jobs in the process. And then about a month ago Greg Hywood, CEO and Managing Director of Fairfax Media Limited, further announced a plan to cut 1900 jobs, which included about 20% of editorial staff – and that it will happen over “two to three months”, and that they’d also start erecting paywalls for its content (ie. you’d have to start paying to read the online version of the newspaper – which has been free for as long as I can remember) ; well I think the job cuts have already happened.

I am an avid SMH reader. I read the paper constantly throughout the day to keep myself current on new and breaking technology stories. I use either a traditional web browser, or my smartphone (Windows Phone 7). The thing that has become very apparent over the past 6 or so weeks is the quality of the content (the actual story copy), and the quality of the grammar (the words, grammar, layout, etc) has really deteriorated over this time – to the point that it’s now really pissing me off on a daily basis – and to the point of me making an effort to write a post on the subject.

I don’t know the inner workings of what changes have been made at the paper, but the actual quality of the content seems to have been reduced to that of a poor schoolboy newsletter – the articles lack substance, lack any real deep analysis, lack insight, and appear to be a hobbled together jumble of words so as to fill up the required “word count”. Equally, the actual article structure and the grammar and language have deteriorated to that of someone whose first language is not English – with missing or wrong words, missing or wrong grammar, poor spelling, and sentence structure that at times is not logical or coherent, and overall just downright amateurish.

I’m not a journalist, nor am I a trained writer or editor, but I do know how to string a few words together that make sense and that are written with the most basic levels of grammar and structure. I’m not seeing this anymore with the Sydney Morning Herald. And it’s annoyed me enough to write this post. I fear for when they introduce the Paywalls – as they are going to try and force me to pay for crap journalism and crap writing, and why would I pay for that.

Have you found the same thing? Are you as outraged as me?

I think the end is nigh for the SMH.

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