Sunday, 25 July 2010

The subscription we had to have

Back in February, The Age newspaper made me an offer I couldn't resist: receive their newspaper from Thursday to Sunday each week for duration of the upcoming year at a cost of $52. When a midweek edition of The Age normally costs $1.50, and when I always buy Thursday's edition for the sake of the Green Guide, this was a deal I couldn't resist. Now, a good few months later, what effect did this subscription have?
The first effect of this subscription has been the infliction of further damage to my book reading habits, with a significant part of the weekend being spent on reading a newspaper I was well capable of ignoring before just because I didn't have it at my disposal. Thing is, I didn't really want it at my disposal; once it turned out at my doorstep, though, it felt bad to waste it.
The second effect was me noticing just how bad weekend newspapers are. The majority of these editions have nothing to do with news and all to do with trying to sell you stuff, usually by either scaring you or by establishing status symbols. As in, Mr So and So goes lives in a five bedroom penthouse because he's just so good at his work; why aren't you in a similar penthouse, sitting on a similar European designed sofa to his? And why aren't you shopping at the same shops he does? Yep, weekend newspapers are not for the rational amongst us.
The third effect was the obviously needed corrective one. As there is no point to the weekend newspapers, and as they just hurt my proper reading, I slowly got to the point where I mainly ignore them. I still read my favorite part of the paper, readers' letters and opinion articles (which I otherwise read over the Internet), but that is pretty much it.

It is therefore funny to observe the overall effect my subscription to The Age has had on me. From someone who would gobble up the Thursday edition from start to finish I have turned into someone that just skims the paper. Too much of something, even a good thing, is still too much.
There are other reasons for my newspaper fatigue, though, and these come down to one simple fact: there is not that much news going on in Australia's newspapers anyway. The problem is not the newspapers' fault entirely; it is to do with the ongoing debate in Aussie society, which is pretty much led by spin and is all about the less important things. The papers are only at fault for their conservatism in supporting the status-quo instead of trying to improve it.
Take, for example, today's televised election debate between the two leaders claiming for Australia's Prime Minister office: I listened to what the two had to say but I was unable to detect a debate there; what I did hear is two spineless clowns repeating the same slogans they've been stuffing down our throats for a while now. The so called "debate" proved to be a totally redundant way to spend one's Sunday night.
If you think that was bad, wait for the real horror coming in straight after the debate. The ABC interviewed a seemingly normal guy in his forties about the debate, and he said that the most important issue for these upcoming elections is - wait for it - asylum seekers. Yes, you heard it right: Average Joe thinks global warming and climate change are altogether insignificant when compared to the massive influx of some 1,500 refugees crowding up our shores each year. If these are the people I need to share this continent with, and if that is the debate we're having, then it's no wonder I'm losing interest. These elections are a joke!
Things come down to this: Australia's hope lies in the Greens getting enough votes to acquire the Senate's balance of power, because having things go the way of the bigger two parties would mean we'll be well on our way towards becoming a banana republic. Sorry, monarchy.

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