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.