Read All About It - Transcript



Two friends talk about the newspapers in their local area.

Right click here for the mp3 listening file.


Ben: Have you seen this story in The Herald? It says The Times is closing down in three months' time.

Gemma: Ben, that's good news, that newspaper is terrible. I won't miss it.

Ben: What do you mean? The Times is the best newspaper in the city. If that closes, we'll only have The Herald and that City Journal which is too awful for words.

Gemma: You only like The Times because it takes up to 20 pages every day with sports. This is a newspaper which puts the horoscopes on the bottom of the front page. I think that tells you how serious it is.

Ben: Come on. That's hardly fair now, is it? Remember the campaign they did last year to save the children's hospital. You can't tell me you didn't think that was a worthwhile thing to do.

Gemma: They only did that because they knew it would strike a nerve with the average guy in the street. You know, saving a children's hospital. It's like the ultimate in populist journalism. Do you remember reading their article a couple of months before criticizing the local authorities wasting money on out-of-date healthcare facilities, including the very same children's hospital? They have only ever written what they think will sell more newspapers.

Ben: Well, it obviously didn't work if they're closing, did it?

Gemma: No, and thank heavens for that. The City Journal is a great paper and you don't like it because it doesn't devote 5 pages every day to baseball stats.

Ben: This is a baseball city. We've got a great team. Why shouldn't we read about it? Where are we going to get the results now? The Journal puts all the results in one tiny box on the back page and The Herald gives them maybe a half page. It's almost as if they feel ashamed at having a successful team here. I just don't see why people buy The Journal.

Gemma:: Err, maybe because it has authentic journalists working there, journalists who know something about what is going on in the rest of the country and the rest of the world. I think a newspaper needs to meet all the needs of its readers, not just those who like sports. The Journal did a great piece on famine in Africa last week, did you read it?

Ben: No, I can't say I did. I think they should leave that stuff for the national papers or the TV news. If I buy a local newspaper, I don't WANT to read about the famine in Africa. Those articles are only written by the ambitious journalists who are fishing for jobs in the national press.

Gemma:: Oh, you're so cynical.

Ben: And another thing. What about the jobs section in The Times? That was one of the most useful parts of it. Three or four pages of good quality jobs and always local. The Herald has one too....look, here on page 17....one page....and look, half of these
jobs are on the other side of the state. Every business, every store in this city knows, if they want to employ someone, get someone to work for them, they have to place an ad in The Times. How are all these people going to get work now? This will absolutely wreck the local economy.

Gemma:: You certainly know how to exaggerate Ben. Destroy the local economy, will it? I admit the jobs section was pretty good in The Times but one of the other two newspapers will just get the ads instead. That's how things work. This city just isn't big enough for three local newspapers and you know it. People only get them to see what's on in town and to see who's died.

Ben: That's so morbid!

Gemma:: It's true. People use the TV or the internet for everything else. It's not like it used to be 10 years ago.

Ben: The Times was the cheapest of them all too. You can bet all the prices are going to go up.

Gemma:: Hmm, you could be right. I think The Times' low price was the only thing keeping The Journal and The Herald from increasing their prices. I don't buy a local paper that often to be honest. If I do get one, I find myself reading no more than a few pages anyway.

Ben: Well, if The Times really does close down, that's my newspaper buying days finished. I think, in ten years' time, nobody in this city will even buy a local paper. It's a shame really, don't you think?

Gemma:: My dad told me when he was a kid, there used to be 5 local newspapers in the city and two others serving only this corner of the state. But you know how it is, companies merge, everyone is looking for savings, efficiency and so on. Now we'll only have two. It's survival of the fittest.




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