It hasn’t happened for a long time for me, but last weekend I went to the newsagent and I bought some real life newspapers.
Newspapers have trimmed down. Like anyone who slims down, their identity has changed. They are a savvier, more confident, skinnier version of who and what they were before.
The kind of thing that happens when one is upstaged and usurped by a faster, more calculating, more discerning and smoother model – aka, the digital beast. You have to step up, or step aside, and step up they have.
There are more personal stories, and not so many smash and grab news headlines. And thankfully many of the same, fabulous writers and writing is still there. It does feel different to read the news in print rather than on a screen.
There are advertisements – huge, full page blazing messages including political messages from politicians talking about the upcoming election. I had forgotten advertisements that big even existed.
The travel advertisements are also big, bold and plentiful in newspapers, and imagery in the editorial is minimal now. It’s more about telling the story with big headlines rather than imagery.
I guess it is bizarre that after more than a decade working as a journalist in mainstream newspapers and magazines, I couldn’t remember the last time I read one, let alone bought something in print. I don’t even buy books anymore as I listen to them on audible.
But reading and holding a hard copy of the news made me feel a combination of factors and even emotions – including a bit of nostalgia for the weekend newspaper quiz that I have missed for so long.
Buying hard copies of newspapers from credible news outlets I read online on a daily basis was a way to really mix things up within my weekend routine.
The disappointing thing was that when I went to buy it, the man in the newsagency had no idea which newspaper was which and couldn’t tell me which ones had magazine inserts or not, but moving on from that, I am still glad I did it.
My favourite paper in the world is the Financial Times. One of my great pleasures of my frequent time in London pre-covid was sitting in a cafe reading it daily over a long, slow coffee. So what a joy to discover it is still available here, albeit the Asia edition, but it arrives here within about 24 hours of being printed there.
And it includes the elegant, cutely titled “How To Spend It”, which this week was about the value of the arts in the UK – how timely. I hope Tina Arena also read it (given her revealing spate of interviews revealing her concerns about the arts in this country).
There were editorials about theatre, art shows, musical theatre, even an artist whose main focus is beadwork as well as abstract work. What a joy to read – slowly.
Articles in print go on for pages, and in the FT lift-out, as well as the Aussie ones, the glossy photos are stunning.It reminded me of how much I enjoyed cutting “important” articles out with scissors many moons ago. Hell it reminded me of how much talent we have in our industry, in our newspapers.
It is hard to pinpoint exactly when we lost the art of the Saturday newspaper, but during these times, changing our routines, and even our attitudes towards the small and big things around us can be a positive step outside of the constraints and rigidity, within which we all now find ourselves.
At least now I know a new way to spend it – a bit of my weekends that is, reading print and taking some down time to connect with the global and local worlds in a different way.