Monday, August 10, 2009
Not saving The Observer posted by Richard Seymour
People trying to save this sunday slab for the left are missing the point. Look at its own representation of its readership profile: for the purposes of the advertisers who supply 70% of the revenue, the readers are far richer than most, more likely to have savings, more likely to own shares (53% own some stocks or bonds, more than double the average), and of course spend a fortune on clothes, technology, good food etc. This accounts for the vast amount of space dedicated to reviewing technology, fashion, holidays, investment and savings accounts etc. By the usual marketers' definition of 'social class', 62% of readers are AB, which means there's a lot of managers and professionals in there. I am not saying that middle class Observer readers are especially bad people who should have their newspaper taken away from them - by no means. But, some liberal social attitudes notwithstanding, there is nothing necessarily left-wing either about the newspaper or the majority of its readers.
Of course, all of the Observer's creepy bag-carrying for New Labour and sickly moralising would be ignorable if there was anything worth saving. Even the Mail, despite its ignorant and bigoted commentary, quite often has a reasonable quotient of interesting stories. (Even then, I wouldn't join a 'Save the Mail' campaign). Is this really true of The Observer? I have had occasion to thumb through its profuse foliage, and always ended up with the same '?' dangling over my head. What is the point of this paper? Is there anything it actually does well? Obviously, put like that, someone is bound to reply "well, Chris McGreal actually had this really good report on Gaza" or something similar - but that's not good enough. The ratio of serious news reporting to sub-advertising drivel is too low. The Observer's regular, loyal readers obviously aren't that interested in the news. I don't blame them - who the fuck can make sense of it all? Bombs here, a new war there, scary looking 'extremists' challenging 'Western values' from Rome to Rochdale... far better to leave such musings to those whom the Observer's wags have acidly described as the "bruschetta brigade", and get yourself one of those new Smart cars!
I'm not saving The Observer. Someone should save my broke ass.