Sunday, 16 January 2011

What The Papers Say About You

Exclusive: Sunday newspapers are weird.

A few years back Wife Features and I decided not to bother getting Sunday papers any more. Our old jobs required reading all of them - and I mean all of them, from the charming olde worlde of the Sunday Post to the celebrity shenanigans-fest that is the News of the World. But as we discovered a lot of what appeared, when you looked into it, was pretty flimsy.

Today while taking TWMBO for a walk I saw so many people coming out of shops clutching unwieldy piles of newspapers, obviously set for a day of lounging.

The old adage about today’s headlines becoming tomorrow’s chip wrappers never seemed so apt. Does anyone ever remember what they read in a Sunday paper? Some of it gets rehashed by the Monday papers but it rarely sticks.

As a form of leisurely entertainment I guess they have their place. And it’s interesting to see the Sunday Herald attempt to revive its flagging sales by re-inventing itself as a magazine. No more ‘sections’ to share round the house. I took a quick look today but it appears to be the same as before, just easier to carry.

Saturday newspapers are completely different. Usually made by the same crew who do weekdays but made in the knowledge hardly anyone reads news on a Saturday. A Guardian from cover to cover has been my weekend treat for some time, with the FT becoming a recent addition.

The P&J is a must on a Saturday with its hilarious pet portrait double page spread. What’s not to like about readers’ photos of Labrador puppies chasing sticks on North-east beaches, Cairn terriers wearing tartan coats and evil-eyed cats looking, well, evil-eyed?

But the recycling… You’d think the age of the internet would put an end to newsprint. But I love the tactile enjoyment of a newspaper; being able to settle back and slowly leaf through printed pages is much more comfortable than hunching over a laptop and scrolling, clicking and scrolling. I do enough of that Monday to Friday nine to five.

One of the bastions of the “dead tree media” is the Nairnshire Telegraph. Tabloid sized but venerable in tone and in glorious black and white. Sometimes it’s as big as twelve pages. And there is no on-line version. At all. To find out where the grit bins of Fishertown are being located, how the synchronised swimming team did at the big meet, and whether Clark’s Butchers is having a special on brisket or lamb’s liver, you have to physically go into a newsagents and part with 40p.

It’s a business model that obviously works. Maybe Murdoch should follow The Nairnshire’s lead and just ignore the internet rather than putting up pay walls and trying to tame the information superhighway.

Speaking of Murdoch I do realise my purchase of FT Weekend helps line his pockets but it’s actually a good read. Tim Harford the Undercover Economist and presenter of Radio 4’s More of Less is a regular contributor. And how else would I have known Andrew Lloyd Webber’s wine collection is up for auction in Hong Kong? Tempted? He’s expected to get £2.6m for it. I am getting squiffy just trying to imagine how £2.6m worth of wine might taste.

And the Home section is hilarious. Adverts for apartments in Manhattan with floor to ceiling windows and views of Central Park are going for $3m these days. I reckon if I keep an eye out the bubble will burst and one weekend there’ll be an ad for a house swap: New York studio flat offered for ramshackle Victorian terraced house in Scottish Highlands.

Of course I’m kidding. How could I part with a property that is within waddling distance of a chippy? Maybe I'd get a discount on a fish supper if I took my old newspapers... 


  1. Good news for your weekend reading conscience Green Dad. The Dirty Digger doesna own the FT, Pearson do.
    It doesn't light as many stoves during the week as the Sunday Times right enough, but there's something very satisfying making the fire with the pink paper!

  2. Thanks Nairnac. Right enough it's Pearson, the same people who make Ladybird books. If only some of their share price stories were as easy to read...

  3. Yes even in this digital age the Nairnshire remains the main information portal for the town and County beyond.
    Iain Bain has absolutely nothing to gain from giving away his content free online and the paywall model probably wouldn't access much cash anyway.
    Interesting that the bigger players locally, Scottish Provincial Press and the P&J, continue to put up material for free. Obviously they feel they have to but if you want quick local news then the likes of Moray Firth Live will have you updated on all major local stories in a flash.
    It's hard to see where the bigger papers go. Maybe our community is just the right size for a local paper to still thrive and not big enough to allow anyone to make any serious money out of a web presence?