Wednesday, March 28, 2012

letter the age didn't print

On Monday evening, signal failure meant trains on the Craigieburn line ground to a complete standstill for more than an hour. On the train my wife was traveling in, which halted between Pascoe Vale and Oak Park between 6:30 and 7:30, disgruntled passengers were forcing the right-hand doors open and jumping onto the tracks to walk the few scant metres across the Melbourne-bound line to the Oak Park platform.

This morning, I read The Age hoping to find some explanation of the hold up, which affected thousands of Melbournians both directly and indirectly. The choice was made to not countenance this incident; the only mention of Craigieburn itself came in the form of short coverage of an (entirely unrelated) violent death. Once again, the message comes through to me: the north west is not a place where Age readers might get stuck on a train, trying to get home.

Yet the Age is a Melbourne newspaper; it’s Melbourne’s newspaper of record; it’s the ‘Newspaper of the Year’. Since the early seventies – in fact, about as long as I’ve been reading it – it has espoused a cosmopolitan and intelligent outlook through which national, international, and very local news has been presented through a very Melbourne perspective. I’m not entirely sure when this became a perspective of ‘us, the inner city’ versus ‘them, who know where zone 2 begins’ but it has most definitely happened.

A boutique (that is, divisive) approach to news coverage might sell advertising in the leafy east, but the choice to cease serving all Melbourne readers is the worst future-proofing strategy I can imagine for a newspaper in 2012.


Marshall Stacks said...

"to walk the few scant metres across the Melbourne-bound line" - I might have done that too, but how risky eh?

my pal Brod Smith was raised in Craigieburn ... that's Age-worthy.

and whyever did WhateverLinks caring sharing notice "that's the last thing you need at the end of your day" make me smirk and not in a good way.

Anthony said...

I had the following letter published in the Age on 12 January 2002:

The past week has seen two sets of overnight attacks on motor vehicles. The first consisted of arson attacks that destroyed several cars, leaving suburban workers stranded; the second saw several cars daubed with graffiti which, being removable, caused no lasting damage.

You chose to report the first attacks on the bottom of page six (10/1), whereas the second were reported, remarkably, on the top of page one (11/1). Surely this was not because the latter attacks were directed at residents of Armadale whereas the earlier ones were confined to Lalor?

Perhaps you could have just buried the first story under the headline: "Cars destroyed in northern suburbs: not many inconvenienced".

David Nichols said...

Anthony, your point is well taken. The more things change...