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8:59am on Monday, 24th September, 2007:
It is, I'm not
Today sees the end of an era in the Bartle household: I went to the newsagent this morning and switched papers. As of tomorrow, we'll be getting The Guardian rather than The Independent. Given that I've been taking The Independent continuously since its launch 21 years ago, even through the dark days of Rosie Boycott's reign as editor, this is quite a change. It'll even affect QBlog, given the rich source of mockery that the newpaper had become.
I didn't make the change because of any particular event, I just noticed that all too often reading The Independent meant reading the headlines. When I did read an article, rarely did I find it carried anything of substance.
Because the editor of The Independent, being a luminary, will doubtless be a reader of QBlog, here are my reasons for going off it after two decades of being a loyal reader:
- It's anti-technology. It revels in its ignorance. It oozes the opinion that not understanding technology makes you superior to people who do understand technology. Even when it does mention technology, it's always spun in some way, either to hold it responsible for melting polar bears or to prove women are superior to men.
- The front page only has a headline and pictures. It doesn't have any detail. You have to go inside for detail, which when you get there you find it doesn't have, it merely repeats the headline in 600 words. The change from broadsheet to tabloid format finally bit.
- It accompanies every story with a side panel rushed off by a resident expert. This is supposed to give you a different point of view, but most of the time it's just filler. They had Tracy Emin writing incoherently about Van Gogh the other day.
- The columnists are too single-issue, and their issues are not ones that I remotely care about to their degree of commitment. I don't need to be told the same thing about Gays in Britain (twice), Jews in Britain, Moslems in Britain and vegetarians for a better planet week in, week out.
- It's thin. You only have to pick up a copy of The Times and compare the two, you can see it's lacking in both content (less to read) and advertisements (less money to spend on more content). Even if it had articles worth reading, it wouldn't take long to read.
- It's smug. It used to be that The Guardian was far, far smugger, which gave The Independent a distinct advantage. However, it's now lost that advantage. It's one thing being a public-school educated resident who writes for a newspaper, but it's another thing entirely to treat your readers as if they were, too.
- It's packed full of articles about fashion, food, household goods and alternative therapies. The fashion is unwearable, the food uses unsourceable ingredients, the household goods assume a willingness to pay £500 for a lampshade and the alternative therapies are alternatives to ones that work. In other words, they direct their content at "the female reader". Fair enough, but I'm not female.
- They have "campaigns", in which they raise an issue to a level far beyond its significance. Yes, soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistant are indeed disillusioned by the way they are treated by the government, but harping on about if over the course of several weeks in order to get the government to say "we care" is taking things too far. I don't want narrative in my news, I want news!
- Its politics are those of the permanent critic. Nothing that any political party does is ever right. Everything is viewed through a lens of complacent, unyielding self-righteousness that uses freedom and independence as arguments to assault the freedom and independence of anyone with a spark of imagination. Oh, except its own people, they can write what they like, obviously...
- It's biased towards the home counties. The only time the north and west of England get coverage is in the weekly house price section, or if there's a good murder. Scotland features every time there's an article on bad health. As for Wales, there's more about Ireland than there is Wales — it must be that more Irish people live in London than Welsh people.
Anti-science, superficial, patronising, self-satisfied, middle class, politically incoherent, London-centric, vacuous: it is, are you?
No, I'm not.
Let's see what The Guardian is like...
Referenced by You Read it Here First.
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Copyright © 2007 Richard Bartle (firstname.lastname@example.org).