The 'Sinking Sunday Star-Times' is an issue I have covered many times before. But yesterday's editorial attacking 'the right' raises the matter once more.
My argument is that the paper is so left-leaning that its stance causes the paper to lose many readers, particularly the better off readers that its advertisers will love.
I'm not arguing that the paper should become a cheerleader for ACT/National, but such a stance would probably be more in line with the middle New Zealand that tends to favour broadsheets, just as the 'working class' tend to go for tabloids.
In recent years, under its current editor Cate Brett, sales and readership of the broadsheet have been lost by the ten thousand.
True, papers the world over have been losing sales by the bucketload as readers and advertisers flee to the web, and perhaps we don't have the time any more to sit and read the paper like we used to.
But the Sunday Star-Times has done pretty badly, with John Drinnan at the NZ Herald last year describing the sales plunge early last year as 'severe.'
Now, this weekend, the paper lost ACT supporting Lindsay Mitchell after an editorial over a smacking referedum doubted ACT supporters and others could be decent.
The views of 300,000 seeking a referedm can hardly be so contemptuously and I recall there were huge majorities that opposed the smacking bill. Can the paper be so out of tune with , what was it, 80% or more of New Zealand, who opposed the act?
I am sure Cate Brett and Fairfax executives will not tremble over the loss of one reader but under Brett the Star-Times has lost so many more readers like her.
Rather than be representative of a broad cross-section of New Zealand, is the SST just an echo for the Grey Lynn left?
In competitive markets, being in touch with your readers is seen as the pre-requisite for success as well as survival.
Something is amiss here and for the sake of the paper's own survival and profitability the paper needs to assess its editorial stance, especially when its 'liberalism' seems so out of touch with New Zealand and the paper's beloved Labour Party and Clark are lagging so well behind in the polls.
I would hope that the paper's Wellington-based bosses are aware of the problem.
But what about those at Fairfax HQ in Darling Harbour, Sydney?
Shouldn't they be told? Are you listening Captain Kirk?
In the meantime, I expect fresh sales/circulation figures will be due out next month.
I await them with interest.
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