Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dear Age.....

WHEN THE Irish Lion* declined a subscription to the Age, he left the circulation department in no doubt about his reasons. He has copied his missive to the Billabong and it is reproduced below.

Any readers with an email address for Fairfax Chairman Roger Corbbett or CEO Greg Hywood might care to pass along a link to this post. It could help those at the top to understand why their company is in so much trouble.

To whom it may concern,
You can imagine my excitement when I received the attached flyer promising 100% independent journalism at 60% off the newsstand price. “You beauty” I thought, “a chance to subscribe to The Australian(1)”.

My sense of elation quickly soured when I found that the offer emanated from your august journal. Let me be frank. It will be a cold day in hell before I part with my hard-earned cash to help finance the third-rate tripe served up by your publication. And, according to your jaundiced Environmental correspondent, Ben Cubby, there will be no cold days in hell (or anywhere) anytime soon, so don’t hold your breath. Incidentally, it is unhealthy to hold your breath so I wouldn’t heed Ben’s warnings about exhaling CO2 - it is OK to let go.

Now, it hasn’t always been this way. I subscribed to the Age for about 25 years but ceased my subscription last year and, judging by the latest circulation figures, I am not alone. Whilst I am sure Mr Cubby must be ecstatic at the ever-decreasing numbers of pinus-radiata being felled to feed the presses at Fewfacts Media, it must be of concern to those of you in the Circulation Department as you dust the cob-webs off those silent telephones. Let me articulate some of the reasons for me dropping my Age subscription:-

* The back half General News is filled with reviews of avant-garde theatre productions whose run is over before the ink dries on the review, and increasing numbers of obituaries for recently deceased people of little consequence (cheap stocking-filler ‘citizen’s journalism’ best consigned to a dim corner of your on-line edition).

*  A fair proportion of the rest of the back section is filled with bleating letters and op-ed pieces penned by the usual suspects which are so predictable one only has to read the author’s name on the by-line to know what is being said (repeated) in the ensuing paragraphs.

*  And it doesn’t improve in the front half of the paper.  Michelle Grattan and Tony Wright lazily top-and-tailing the latest ALP press releases along with a revolving montage of Fairfax hobby-horse subjects - climate change, the evil (but, sadly, ever-expanding) Murdoch empire, the need for a tax on carbon/mining/forestry, Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Hamburger, whatever.

*  Those looking for relief in the Age Business Section will also be disappointed. Seriously, can you please send a news-flash to Ross Gittins and Kenneth Davidson, telling them the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. It’s over. If these guys lose their back catalogue of Pravda, which seems to be the inspiration for their scribblings, they will be stuffed.

*  And it is a mistake to think the sports section or Epicure would provide any respite from the narrow view of the world expressed in the rest of the paper. It seems that Larrissa Dubecki suffers nose-bleeds if she ventures anywhere outside a 5 Km radius of Fitzroy Town Hall. And, please, if I see another article by either of the Flanagans either berating ‘oafish racist/sexist white sports players or administrators’ or lauding the latest ‘noble savage/poor refugee’ to make the big time I will have to increase my reflux medication.

In summary, if it wasn’t for the (alleged) illegal hacking into the Victorian ALP data-base, one could be forgiven for thinking the Age was completely bereft of imagination and initiative. The only comfort I can offer is that you are not the worst newspaper in the country. The Sydney Morning Herald is in the Gold Medal position there.

I am enjoying two small pleasures at the moment. Firstly, my recently acquired subscription to the on-line edition of The Australian. Check it out …. you could do worse (and, in fact, you do). Secondly, is the thought that the echoing coffers of Fewfacts Media are paying for the Reply Paid envelope carrying this missive

Perhaps I slightly overstated the case when I indicated that Satan would be issuing the parkas in Hades before I purchased another copy of your sad, narrowly focussed rag again. There is still hope. I may renew the subscription if Gina gets a seat on the board and runs the chainsaw(2) through the copious amounts of dead-wood within Spencer St.

Until then …… au revoir.
1 :- The Australian. The last remaining quality Australian newspaper. True value for money. I recently signed up for their on-line edition after a three month free trial. 
2 :-  The reference to chainsaws is purely rhetorical. I mean, I don’t think I want any ‘journalists’ actually dismembered. OK …. maybe you can lop off Ben’s typing finger …. but that’s it.


*Not related, so far as is known, to the Irish Ape who has placed himself between the Professor and commenter Lizzie.

50 comments:

  1. The Irish Lion might have added that Fairfax chiefs do not even have to look outside the company to find a good newspaper. The AFR is becoming very good. Jock

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  2. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.February 21, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    Oh, the luck of the Irish, eh Prof?

    I too have availed myself of the on-line edition of the Oz after the three month trial, figuring it was a deal indeed when the hard-copy Weekend Oz, ideal for the leisurely breakfast table, was included, delivered - and all for under five bucks. That evil Murdoch must be raking it in.

    Why can't Fairfax see that so many are out there with dollars in their hands looking for what used to be the 'other' paper everyone read; having another good paper would sure beat the weekend squabbles over who gets the News Section first and who has to have the Sports (or go online). Guess who gives way and turns to the footie? Not me. Life with Lizzie can be very demanding.

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  3. Can you imagine what it's like living in a city WITHOUT the Silly or the Phage? Golly, we are just ignorant, uninformed rednecks. So come on Gina, expand the mighty Fairfax empire to the provinces and hire some more of those juvenile journos. There are in fact plenty at the Oz who are surplus to requirements, and some were filched from Fairfax anyway.

    -Carl

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  4. We're all "Australian" subscribers now. Right Lizzie?

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  5. When the Tout was a lad, I was sent to one of the GPS boarding schools in Melbourne. The weather was similar to the farm from whence I came, but the rest was a shock to the system. By the time I reached Matric, the fagging system had been abolished: but we were allowed the privilege of a newspaper sub., and reading it at breakfast. The young gentlemen from the Western District, the Riverina, and Alps read the Age - a good, steady, sensible and conservative paper. Young Tout was a bit of a bolshie, so I read Mr Murdoch's recent experiment, the Australian.
    Times have changed, and I am somewhere to the Right. If I am handed a copy of the Age when visiting the Art Gallery, I accept it. But I will pay for the Australian

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    1. Tout, your veracity is brought into question by your use of the acronym 'GPS,' which is not known or used in Victoria. It would have been an APS school. No-one who attended an APS school would not use that acronym.

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    2. James - I left Grimstone Grammar in 1968. I may be wrong, or age may trick my memory, but I have a belief that way back then the collection was known as GPS.
      For a boy from the bush that always seemed a pretentious title, so if it has faded away then well and good.
      Moving sideways, people in my S.A. hometown referred to this educational foray as "going to college" (e.g. St Peter's College; P.A.C.; Scotch College) - but then, Victorians have a way a mangling the English language, and refer to a 'private' school as a 'public' school!

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  6. The irish Lion neglected to mention The Green Guide. All of his reasons for bidding adieu to the main paper apply equally to this weekly dose of Green/Left scripture. Credit to the Lion though, he gave up after 25 years. Masochist me! It took me nearly 30, to forsake The Age's descent into drivel.

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  7. Just because New ltd is better than Fairfax doesn't make it any good. One is cultural Marxist Drivel, the other Neoconservative crap. One wants to force immigrants on us because they hate Whites, the other so they can drive down wages.

    Praising News Ltd does us no bloody good whatsoever. Welcome to modern day Australia, what's not to like?

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    1. I have been a journalist for a long time, currently work for Fairfax and have worked for many titles in both camps. I buy the Australian (and the AFR since Michael Sutchbury took over) six days a week from my local shop. I generally only skim the Fairfax website once a day for work purposes. Murdoch is the best hands-off owner of print media in the world. The Oz is the best thinkers' paper in Australia by far because it has allowed its staff autonomy to exploit a neglected market for balanced news coverage as well as conservative and liberal opinion. To brand the Oz "neoconservative crap" is to ignore the spaceship ride that Australian journalism has taken in the past 5-10 years since Fairfax decided to reposition itself as a proliferator of radical left opinion as a cheap substitute for news, which became too expensive for the Fairfax low-cost model - one of the great unwritten stories about the Australian media.

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    2. Neoconservative? You're talking about a newspaper that editorialised in favour of electing the psychopath Rudd...The Australian's stance was indeed crap but it wasn't neoconservative.

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  8. The Irish Lion has the Sydney Morning Herald in the Gold Medal position, and presumably The Age in second place. ACT residents might wish to promote the (Fairfax) Canberra Times as a worthy competitor. In the quarter to December, the circulation of the Saturday edition fell 6.6%, the Monday to Friday one 6.5%, and the Sunday Times 4.7%. Is all this a record?

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    1. So far as I am aware, the Canberra Times is the only Australian daily where the 'letters to the editor' page regularly publishes entries from people who are also its employees or paid contibutors. Bruce Haigh is one example.

      I assume that this is because the CT doesn't get enough letters from ordinary punters, and has to rope in mates and mate-esses.

      Like 'The Drum', the CT promiscously and undiscerningly publishes any old rubbish from obscure Trots, the sort of stuff that even the SMH and the Age wouldn't touch. If you can stand it, check out Jenna Price's Tuesday columns, classic sub-cerebral 'progressive' wallpaper!

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    2. Rafiki,Fairfax would have you believe that circulation figures are not important,what you need to focus on are the READERSHIP figures and would further have you believe that READERSHIP figures for all of their rubbish are astronomical.The real beauty of their position is that while circulation figures are audited and bear some relationship to reality(even allowing for give-aways),READERSHIP figures can be anything they say they are.

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  9. PhillipGeorge(c)2012February 21, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    Terry McCrann of the Herald Sun seems to be able to maintain a vision of what economics is all about. Stuff like eating, drinking, moving, working, having a disposable shred of discretionary spending income left to do anything at all with.
    In rubber meets the road economics health is an appendage and petrol tanker drivers are an essential service.
    As minister for everything I'd promise Australians about a dozen new dams, and as many big efficient next generation coal fired electricity power stations.
    I'd also insist the bigger miners spend an actual percentage in devoloping permanent towns/ livable accommodation in remote areas of Australia to end some of the FIFO trauma.

    If a politician or economist cannot deliver a 30 minute lecture to any physicist on how base loads works in an electricity supply grid they aren't worth listening to.

    Full f..........g stop.

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    1. Oh Phillip, if it were only as easy as making mining companies develop towns. You could spend billions of dollars developing the nicest, plushest, 5 star resorts in a bid to keep local businesses in these small places, but FIFO workers will always want to be FIFO workers for one simple reason that everyone seems to forget: we're human beings with lives and families of our own off the job, social circles, mortgages and our kids in schools where they have their friends and we just don't want to uproot our families and reset to zero every other year to follow a dollar. We bust our guts and endure the separation and heartache and the missed moments to provide a better life for our families as it is. Its hard, you know?

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    2. hear f........g hear!

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    3. trust me FIFO would be most peoples choice, who the hell wants to live in or rather on those shitty mine site, get a bloody life mate

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    4. Of course the mining companies dropped spending in local towns when Keating wanted to include that spending into the FBT. The mining companies quickly worked out that FIFO was cheaper and classed as a necessary business expense and so that was the end of many local mining towns.

      Ah the ALP and unintended consequences.

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    5. Actually the township of Weipa is a fairly good example of what Phillip seems to have in mind. It began as an entity completely owned by the company, but eventually they allowed people to buy the houses and those who have elected to live there, can continue to do so.

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  10. I used to pick up the odd Age (Sunday) or SMH (Saturday) for a balanced overall read up here in Bris., or pinch a weekday copy from the Qantas Club if travelling, but I don't bother with any of that now - even teh free ones; I just find them unreadable.

    When my 3-month free Oz subscription expires I'll start paying for that. Don't even bother looking at Fairfax websites any more - are they still free?

    (Oh - I buy the AFR on Fridays but still shake my head that it's basically an anti-business paper masquerading as something else.)

    Where did they go wrong? Catering better and better to a smaller and smaller sub-group. A marketer would say that's a reasonable strategy if you can command premium pricing for your product. That sort of works for the AFR but in a commodity environment (daily broad news offering), not a chance.

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  11. First off we reduced our Age paper delivery to Thursdays and Saturdays. Then the Thursday edition was given the flick. Two years ago we replaced the Saturday version with the Australian and we’ve never looked back. More than enough reading to last until last cuppa on Sunday night and now we’ve taken the digital subscription as well. The daily tabloid provides the testosterone fuelled co-inhabitants of the household with their daily sporting news. I won’t even read the free copy of the Age provided in the lunch room at work.

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  12. Being a Sydney-sider, I have the SMH delivered every day and the Herald-Sun on Sundays. I think I'll stop the latter as I look forward to viewing Insiders with my fabourite commentators, Lenore Taylor, David Marr, Fran Kelly and Annabel Crabb. If I see Gerald Henderson Henderson on the panel I reach for the Mute button on my remote - he's such a condescending know-all bore. Thank heavens Bolt was expelled last year, after his disgraceful racist columns. Of course Insiders was graceful enough to allow him to use his Ch10 show as an excuse, but he had to go anyway. I'm also disappointed with Stuchbury of the AFR. I'm afraid Fairfax let themselves down badly here - should have let him continue to decay at The Australian.

    No other paper can match the quality jounalism of Philip Coorey, Peter Hartcher and Ross Gittins. I wouldn't pay fifty cents for The Australian online. Sheer fascistic garbage.

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    1. Much better than the real thing...

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    2. Is that a confession, ar, that you are hammygar? Obviously hammygar isn't real, nobody could be that silly.

      Except numbers. I find numbers almost convincing.

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    3. Hammygar,I think you've neglected to append (sarc.)to your amusing contribution.It's useful for deluded souls who might otherwise think they've stumbled across a fellow true believing fool.

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    4. No, it wasn't me. But I suspect someone is imitating the real hammygar, and doing it all too well. May it continue!

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  13. Actually, I find the Age useful both to show my kids what the mindset of the left can be like and also when the lavatory paper runs out. Gather round children....

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  14. Well said that Paddy Lion.

    But I must disagree about the rankings given to the silly and the yaged.

    Reverse them and you're spot on. The yaged truly is the most abominable accretion of leftist lunacy to have cursed this formerly mighty land.

    P.S. Rafiki, I've been living in the Nations Crapital for over a year now and I can't even hazard a guess at how chunder worthy the Canberra Times is because I've never bothered to even pick it up, much less read it. To say I don't feel deprived is an understatement.

    Keep plummeting, fauxfacts!

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  15. Greg Hywood's reaction would be one of simple bewilderment, followed quickly by contempt. You see, for him and the rest of the people in charge at Fairfax - I'm not sure about Roger Corbett, but he's not allowed to interfere - it's simple: quality journalism necessarily proceeds from the soft left perspective. There is no such thing as conservative quality journalism, by definition, because conservative positions are intellectually indefensible.

    They will simply see this as an attack on quality journalism - because to expose alternative, conservative viewpoints necessarily involves publishing populist rubbish.

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  16. Phillip,
    The mining companies were quite happy to develop the remote townships and encourage a local workforce. They have been unable to do so though due to the Fringe Benefit Tax. The mining companies would have to subsidies the rental costs to grow the remote township populations, but that would attract the ire of the ATO.
    Therefore, as the Minister for Everything, please review the provisions of the FBT which prevent remote township growth.

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  17. The Old and Unimproved DaveFebruary 22, 2012 at 2:48 AM

    Penglaz, the Mazey Eve hobby horse of Penzance, Cornwall, is more fleshed-out than most of his Fairfax counterparts.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/ee/Penglaz2.JPG

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  18. The Australian is the biggest load of tripe imaginable. It's simply too biased and unscientific in its approach to reason. It's going down the gurgler and good riddance to it.
    I stopped subscribing to the Age not long after they began to publish their top news stories online. Upon reading (for free) their main news online it always came as a letdown to scan their print edition and be bored. Seen it already.
    The Herald Sun is enjoyable. The Football coverage and comics are entertaining and there seems more country Victoria news. Andrew Bolt and Terry McCrann's columns are in there to provide us with evidence that climate change denier cranks exist and that extreme right wing fascists can get paid work to preach nonsense to the public.

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    1. Not as good as fake Hammy...

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    2. I am interested in your unbacked up assertion that the Australian is "unscientific". Perhaps you can provide some examples, with some evidence of why they are "unscientific". You can then give us your "scientific" opinion, backed up with some more good quality empirical data.

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    3. This pretty much sums it up for more efficiently that I could http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/the_war_on_science/

      Random guys opinions about sea levels on a beach being used as a counterpoint to the CSIRO researched efforts?

      Promotions of Plimer's nonsense (Volcanos emitting more than humans??), Monckton's nonsense... the list goes on.

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  19. My family and I have never seen the need to buy "The Aged".

    We have always found the size of the average sheet of Sorbent PERFECTLY adequate for our requirements.

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  20. There is a newspaper worse than the SMH and that's the Newcastle Herald. Having lost one major industry to comparative inefficiencies, the Herald seems bent on making enemies with the Hunter Valley's White Knight, the (evil) coal industry. Nothing good can ever be said about such evil as the Herald sets out on its pious mission to financially destroy the Hunter Valley once and for all (NB - wine good, coal bad). And heaven help us if there are any more fig trees growing in the city.

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  21. However, The Age still has it's uses. We pick it up some Fridays from the local fish 'n' chip shoppe. A wave to days gone bye for a few select customers and it keeps the fare nice and warm.

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  22. Good catch by James on GPS v APS, but I'm not sure it clinches the case. Speaking as an Old Xav the GPS reference didn't jar with me until you mentioned it. It's a long time since my career counseling sessions with Father Stephenson but I think I can recall GPS being used, perhaps unofficially back, in the 1970s. In fact I think I have used it myself.

    I'm almost reluctant to mention Xavier these days because another old boy, Bill Shorten, doesn't do anything for its reputation. - Hoorick Hoorah

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    1. Shorten was educated?

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    2. GPS was the common term in Sydney for private schools way back in the medieval days I was "creeping like snail unwillingly" to class. Now the media just refer to them as Private Schools, usually in the context of trying to knock some stuffing out of them.

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  23. And so say all of us

    But if you want to see just why the Fauxfax stable has sunk to sea level and losing treading water,read the idiots in the comments section after any op ed piece.

    They are farther left than Lea Rhiannon, and truly rip to shreds like mindless banshees any who dare to write one word that even smells "conservative"

    Think of any daily leftist spin line and it regurgitates over and over ad infinitum in their "thinking"

    Do NOT rest in peace ,O Fauxfax!

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  24. PhillipGeorge, You would not need to insist. The main reason that the fly in fly method of labour delivery has developed is that the Federal Government, in their wisdom, decided that money that the company spent providing accommodation and housing ect was a "fringe benefit" on which tax was to be paid. This makes the fly in fly out actually cheaper for the companies. All you would need to do is to get rid of the fringe benefits and other bolshie taxes.

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  25. I see we have a few trolls misusing the f word here. They seem to think that the somehow right wingers can be fascists. How odd. Surely, the more right wing you are, the more you abhor government interference in the lives of the citizen. An extreme right winger would thus be a an anarchist, not a fascist. Fascism is just another strain of collectivism/statism so actually sits on the left of the political spectrum. That is why Communists and Fascists always hated each other so much; they were competing for the same adherents/voters. Communism and Fascism were the Pepsi and Coke of the political world, they both taste basically the same and aim at the same adolescent market. Conservatism and Libertarianism are for grown-ups, and are could be described as the Shiraz and Cabernet of the political world.

    Rococo Liberal

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    1. “The problem with most modern analyses of politics is that they are described as dichotomous and linear when they might be better depicted as trichotomous and three-dimensional. That is, instead of a linear left/right divide—with the good guys in the centre (or, as the mainstream media would insist, slightly left of centre) and extremists on either the far-left or the far-right, casting the extremists on both sides as most different from each other—a better picture of the political spectrum is a coloured, solid one (as a sphere or, even better, a dipyramidal hexahedron) of three main colours based mainly on the computer’s basic colours of red, blue and green, moving toward white at the top and black at the bottom.”
      See “The Trichotomy of politics”.

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  26. Bunyip, I salute the Irish Lion's forthright epistle to The Age; one can only hope they'll listen.

    I've had two recent epiphanies myself regarding that paper. The first was upon reading an Age article online comparing Melbourne north of the Yarra to Melbourne south of the Yarra - the sort of silly but inoffensive tosh they use as space-filler in some of their weekend issues.

    Well, according to the writer of that column, Melbourne's north, everyone agreed, ended at Bell Street. Beyond that... the wilds!

    It just so happens that I live and am paying off the mortgage for a house in Lalor, which is quite a way beyond Bell Street.

    Well, that wasn't offensive but it was clarifying - if The Age opinionistas could afford to ignore us in the 'burbs, well, we could pretty much ignore them. And indeed beyond Bell Street is pretty much all Herald Sun territory (with the exception of a few enclaves of Age readers in Preston).

    The second epiphany happened a few weeks ago, when I stopped in at a particular cafe in North Melbourne as I normally do, my last stop on the way to work. I noticed that they had five - FIVE! - copies of The Age, compared with one each of the Herald Sun and The Australian. On asking about this I was told they all came free; The Age were more interested in keeping the circulation figures up for the advertisers than in selling copies of the paper. Indeed there are more copies than they know what to do with at that cafe.

    So the management itself don't seem to have any confidence in the paper or the readership; it is literally, as well as figuratively, worthless.

    You've got to wonder how much longer The Age or the Fairfax papers can survive.

    I second Irish Lion, The Oz is a much better paper. And they, it seems, have confidence enough to set a price on their stories.

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  27. The Advertiser anyone? Well it does have lots of articles on the Murray.

    observa

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    1. The Advertiser . . ? It used to be a decent, if boring, plodding broadsheet. I grew up with it in the city of churches.

      Since the Murdoch incubus took it over, it has become a tabloid in every sense of the word - it is a contender for the worst paper in Australia, even worse than the Phage or the Silly, but for different reasons. It is practically indistinguishable from a throw-over-the-fence suburban giveaway, full of ads interspersed with rip-and-read news items, and an incoherent, ugly layout.

      God help us if the Murdoch press is all that's left, because frankly when the Murdoch press has no competition, like in Adelaide, it becomes everything that its detractors claim that it is.

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  28. I went to two Melbourne APS schools from 1967 to 1979. I always thought GPS was a Sydney thing.

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