Tuesday, September 22, 2009

At the paper

I am soooooooooooooooo bored today. Tuesday is my least favourite day here. It goes very slowly. It's also the day I sub a lot of the columns, and they suck. The Courier-Mail is a very rightwing paper and it's what you could call a "knocking" paper. It just relentlessly bashes everything and everybody. It appeals to the miserable middle classes, who spend their entire lives worried about being robbed, mostly by people at the margins: blacks, teens, foreigners. It's not fond of the government (which is currently formed by the centre-right Labor party at both national and state level) and it spends a lot of its time inventing scandals to be outraged about.
Not that the politicians here aren't corrupt, but the Mail insists on endlessly blathering about minor rorts that no one in their right mind would care about (much like the "expenses scandal" in the UK, which was just a way to express public rage at politicians). Yesterday's front-page story, I shit you not, was about coppers using a police van to go to a drinks party, and running nude through a suburban street -- presumably as some kind of weird pig ritual, I don't know (at least it made a change from endless stories about rugby league). No one sane could read the Courier-Mail without going "don't give a fuck about that" on every page.
The columnists are the worst of it though. The humourists are relentlessly unfunny and the wowsers moralise sternly while considering facts as bothersome, and as useful, as mosquitoes. I am subbing a column at the moment by Julie Novak, a rightard from the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne, which is generously dubbed a thinktank -- although Ms Novak shows no sign of thinking in her incoherent screeching about how we're all going to be taxed to pay for the stimulus, which has allowed Australia to avoid recession, a triumph for Prime Minister Rudd that the right resents so much it's choking on it. I have read the column three times and I still don't see the "argument" she is making. Like so many rightists, all she has to say is "taxes are bad". Yeah, we know, and the more you earn, the worse you think they are. We all think that, Julie, but some of us are glad to have schools, hospitals and roads, and we don't even mind the occasional handout to the indolent and darkskinned. Fuck it, we're all in it together, hey?
That sentiment is lost on Ms Novak and her like, of course. They see themselves as islands, and others are entirely separate entities from them, who just want to suck the dollars from their wallets. Ms Novak ignores that without the despised masses, the corporations that fund her salary would not have the income she resents Rudd taxing. They are not "creating wealth" in a vacuum. They are making it because they exploit us. We are, despite what Ms Novak thinks, in it together. Without us, they are nothing. We, on the other hand, probably could live without them. And her. Because I may only be helping produce a newspaper, but I'm good for something, whereas all she's producing is hot air.

UPDATE: Actually, I say the columnists are the worst, but I don't think they actually are. I think the executives are worse. I understand the bind they are in though, truly. They probably agree with most of what I say above (although of course it was a bit strongly worded -- however, how should I know that they would ever read it? my blog literally has five readers and they all know I go off a bit when the wind is in my sails: it's fun! It's not a serious critique of their goddamned paper, which is just what it is: a rightleaning provincial paper that does what papers of that type do. But they are stuck with it. If you want to progress, you have to pursue a party line. And grovelling to advertisers (and columnists) is part of the game -- I have to be honest, if they had asked me to withdraw my post and apologise to Ms Novak, as decent people would have done, I would have done it: as I say, I write to amuse myself and my few readers, not to upset Anna Reynolds. But my idea of decency and theirs, like mine and Ms Novak's, differ. I would also have apologised for writing it in work time. I was feeling bored and I actually emailed it in. I'm sure that they never use office resources for anything but company business, hey?


At 2:15 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And more power to you - hope you find a better outlet for your talent than the CM

At 3:07 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So someone was googling themselves again ... stop it or you'll go blind!!

As for you sir, good luck finding a better place to work.

At 3:29 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this sums up why people aren't buying newspapers anymore - it has nothing to do with paradigm shifting or everyone getting iphones - it is all about good (bad) content.

At 4:32 pm, Blogger Ian said...

You now have a sixth reader.

At 4:33 pm, Blogger Dr Zen said...

Nice one ;-)

At 5:16 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this post; why is it that newspapers like CM can't just accept that what they do is what they do. Or some columnists can't just accept that some people actually don't like reading (or subbing) them.

I wish you all the best finding a better place to work.

At 6:49 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was one of the frankest things I have seen written about the CM. Sadly, the corporate press simply does not tolerate this level of honesty. This is what Anna Reynolds was referring to when she explained "it's not a good fit".

If you were allowed to stay at the paper it would simply send the wrong message. The editors of the medialens site refer to this as "intellectual cleansing": http://www.medialens.org/alerts/08/081002_intellectual_cleansing_part1.php

At 12:56 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good God! Had the CM printed your blog on the front page instead of sacking you, it may have actually garnered a little credibility and respect! Neith of which it has at the moment.
Rex Callahan,


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