Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The Daily Column and Newspapers - RIP

The recently announced redundancies at News Corporation and Fairfax Newspapers have been exercising my mind.

Like many people over 30 years of age, the pleasure of taking the time to read a paper cover to cover is a memory we cherish and a luxury we crave.

We had morning and evening papers, paper boys delivering to our homes and “sellers” each evening on every corner in the City Centres spruiking their wares.

In Melbourne, we had two morning, and at times two evening Mast Heads, although the Herald was the one that endured. The Sun News Pictorial not only dominated the morning news market, but long held the honour of the most read paper in Australia. It was of tabloid format while it’s competitor, The Age claimed the quality mantle with its broadsheet layout. The Sun and the Herald merged and The Age has survived.

We also had The Sporting Globe delivered on Saturday Night with a further edition produced mid week, both on pink paper. My recollections as a sports crazed child was waiting for the delivery of the Globe each Saturday to read the real story of the VFL games of the day or the days play in Club, First Class and Test Cricket, across the Country and across the World.

When first living in Brisbane, there was The Sun and Courier Mail in the morning and the Telegraph in the evening. The Telegraph soon disappeared and The Sun followed suit a few years later.

The Australian and the Australian Financial Review were, and still are our National Daily Papers.

So, why the trip down memory lane?

Reduced readership attributable to a growing reliance on social media and on-line news sites for our information is leading many to predict the demise of “hard copy” Newspapers. Combine this with specialist  on-line sites where we can find a job, sell a car and buy just about anything has destroyed traditional classified advertising that essentially funded our Papers. Their time is limited.

This saddens me, but I am also to blame. I read the news each day, but rarely buy a paper. I access on-line free sites and while having taken advantage of various free trial offers from the New York Times and Financial Review, I have never been motivated to subscribe.

When I reflect on by childhood, I recall a daily paper reading routine from an early age.
Page 9 of the Melbourne Sun was home to “A Place in the Sun” written each weekday by the highly irreverent, superbly observational and always witty Keith Dunstan. Arguably, Keith Dunstan taught me to read and maybe even motivated me to write. I admired his style, his alternative view of the world and his prose.

Interestingly, or maybe not, the first large non fiction book I read for personal interest was at age eleven titled “The Paddock That Grew”. This book chronicled the history of the Melbourne Cricket Club and in reality, a history of Victoria. I read this book many times as a teenager and continue to read parts of it to this day. The Author is Keith Dunstan and his easy style is on display in the book and I am certain my familiarity with his writing in the Sun assisted this 11 year old to be able to read such a huge book.

I am not sure our on-line News sites have a need for daily columns, addressing local matters, at least not in the way they used to.

Daily columns created a following and there were several Journalists I would always read, whereas now, there is probably only one and even then, I don’t seek out all  work. The Journalist I refer to is Gideon Haigh.

I ponder this question, has the daily column been lost because of the demise in Newspapers, or is the demise in Newspapers attributable to the loss of the daily column?  The romantic in me wants to believe it is the latter.

Here is a little about Keith Dunstan







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