The Daily Telegraph has delivered a great piece of old fashioned campaigning journalism, argues Mumbrella’s Tim Burrowes
Back when I worked in newspapers, I was taught that if a newspaper is going to embark on a campaign, it has to pass three tests.
First, and most important: Is it in tune with the readers?
Second: Does it have a clearly defined goal?
Third: Is it winnable?
On that basis, The Daily Telegraph’s campaign for a second airport for Sydney is a textbook example of a great newspaper campaign.
Later today, the Federal cabinet is set to endorse an infrastructure plan which will see the airport built in the newspapers Western Sydney heartland.
While it’s impossible to know for sure, speaking as a reader of the newspaper, it feels like The Tele’s campaigning on the issue has been decisive.
By getting readers on side, it cleared political blockages both at state and federal level. Local MPs worried about local opposition to increased noise and congestion were nudged in the direction of supporting the economic boost, thanks in large part to the cover provided by The Tele.
How The Tele rounded up its campaign in today’s edition
Perhaps the airport would have been built anyway. But given the fact that politicians have dithered for half a century, that seems unlikely.
Best of all for the paper, it is a campaign right in the heartland of its most important readership – Western Sydney. It ties in with the newspaper’s wider #FairGoWest campaign.
And it’s a great example where the product lives up to the position – in this case the “We’re for Sydney” slogan the paper launched two years ago.
Back then, I interviewed editor Paul Whittaker and he set out his campaigning stall around improving transport and infrastructure in the city.
His job, he said, would be “Identifying the problem, looking at possible solutions, and then pushing governments at all levels to try to get outcomes for the benefit of the people of Sydney.”
That’s exactly what happened with story after story prosecuting the case and chivvying the politicians to get on with it.
Clearly the airport’s not built yet. And Sydney has plenty more infrastructure issues for the newspaper to get its teeth into.
Regardless, these sort of campaigns are what tabloid newspapers, at their best, are all about.
Tim Burrowes is content director of Mumbrella