So, what do we think of today’s new sized Age? Personally, I like it. The Australian Financial Review has been tabloid- oops- COMPACT- for years and both the Guardian (whose advent in Australia I’m looking forward to) and the Independent in the UK are small newspapers.
Mr Judge and I divide up the paper each morning over breakfast, and I’ve got to say that sometimes, particularly early in the week, we were ending up with virtually one sheet of paper each. Not a lot of paper for $2.00. Thursday and Friday’s papers looked meatier, but much of the bulk comprised full-page alcohol and vitamin supplement advertisements. Saturday’s Age has always been good value with longer articles and a more international approach . I often whinged that some of the Saturday content that took almost all day to read could surely have been distributed across the other days of the week instead. The Sunday Age is rubbish. Today’s new edition, at least, had longer and better quality articles and more pages – but let’s see how long that lasts. I must admit that for the first time in nearly 40 years, I hesitated before renewing my subscription this time (I am philosophically opposed to direct debit so I had to decide whether I wanted to have a full year subscription again). I splashed out and bought a tablet on the weekend, so I may well be tempted by the Guardian when it arrives.
I was rather amused by the holier-than-thou, lofty statements of the editorial:
The Age’s unparallelled coverage of the social, political, intellectual and cultural life of this city, this state, this nation and beyond will continue in abundance. So will our commitment to independent journalist, free of corporate, commercial and political influences, robust in argument and fair in analysis. The Age’s much-envied reputation for reporting and scrutinising without fear or favour has been hard won, but deservedly so. It is what generations of readers have come to expect, and it will continue to underscore what we do best.
I was amused because, thinking about the three newspapers in Judge Willis’ Melbourne, all three of them (The Port Phillip Gazette, the Port Phillip Herald and the Port Phillip Patriot) each made similar claims. Each paper published twice a week in turn, so it meant that there was daily newspaper available for each of the six days of the week. Visually, they were very similar, even though they preened themselves on the superiority of their type and typesetting. Each was four pages in length; each had the first page entirely devoted to advertisements; each had an editorial blatantly reflecting the politics of its editor; and each had a letters column stuffed with letters often written by that self-same editor under pseudonym.
I was even more interested this morning to see the response of the Herald Sun, skanky little tabloid that it is. They led with an exclusive on tape recordings made of conversations between staffers in Baillieu’s government and eyebrows are raised about Simon Overland, the OPI, Peter Ryan etc. etc. etc. Despite an overall leaning towards the Liberal party, I suspect that the Herald Sun had been sitting on these tapes for some time, and brought them out this morning quite intentionally.
So, fun times at the breakfast table.