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Readers want broad and balanced coverage
letters (a selection) published in The Australian, 21 June 2012

THE diminished role played by the Fairfax press does not simply reflect the decline in usage of broadsheet newspapers but, as your editorial postulates, its printing of news and issues focused increasingly on a limited audience ("Fairfax papers must speak to mainstream Australia", 20/6).

My experience as a promoter of economic policies most likely to lift living standards is relevant. From about two years ago, my opinion pieces were dropped in The Age and, although I remained a subscriber, many friends switched to reading only The Australian because of its wider coverage.

The possible acquisition of Fairfax by Gina Rinehart opens up the possibility of a return to a paper with a wider and less one-sided coverage. Australia needs more than one such paper and the Fairfax board must be held responsible for allowing editorial mismanagement to continue. Indeed, the board has largely ignored the requirement of its own charter to "record the affairs of the city, state, nation and the world fairly, fully and regardless of any commercial, political or personal interests".

Des Moore, South Yarra, Vic

ANY newspaper, ink-based or otherwise, is inevitably going to be biased by the beliefs and interests of the editor and of its journalists.

In the same way in which we develop our circles of friends, I like The Australian because it generally presents a view that is consistent with my own. But none of that is to say I don't gain something from reading different views. This is the critical thing for me: that the information provided is generally broad of spectrum and balanced.

What I do object to is when reporting is poorly researched, ignores the facts or is inaccurate, something that the Fairfax "expose" on pay-TV seemed to do rather well recently.

As for the move to digital, I once held the hope that the web would allow us all to get genuinely independent views on things. How wrong was I on that? Within about five minutes it became choc-a-block full of paid, biased and self-interested opinion, making it no easier to get unbiased opinion than any other medium.

Which means that the only thing that newspapers can hold themselves to is their integrity and independence. Anything else is not worth paying for.

Simon Lewis, Bronte, NSW

THANK you for reporting the origin and purpose of the Fairfax editorial independence charter, on which so many have staked their futures ("Editorial meddling too risky for Gina", 20/6). We now understand how over two decades the Fairfax newsrooms became a journalists' collective, filtering, censoring or ignoring certain uncongenial news stories. A mystery remains however: how did the ABC achieve the same state without such a document?

Geoffrey Luck, Killara, NSW

WITH Fairfax journalist David Marr's leading role in the gratuitous slurring of Gina Rinehart in that recent edition of the ABC's Q&A, who thought it a good idea to have him lead a public clamour for Rinehart to submit to the Fairfax media charter of editorial independence?

If Marr is doing this for laughs, well and good. But if he, and those for whom he presumes to speak, believes he is likely to be listened to, it may be asked if this is just a further example of the same self-importance that has confounded good editorial judgment and driven so-called progressive media to the edge of relevance and of commercial survival.

James Miller, Woolloomooloo, NSW

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