Monday, October 31, 2005

It's All Over, Isn't It

As if there weren't enough to get depressed about. The Listener, NZ's only remotely half-hearted gesture at an occasionally serious magazine, continues its inexorable drive to morph into the Women's Weekly.

This week's feature story is a six-page infomercial titled "House of Gain: Best ways to renovate without breaking the bank". Delivered by--you guessed it--that doyen of incisive and analytic journalism, Joanne Black.

Some things we learn include:
-Gold window treatments give the impression of a sunny day
-Warm creams or soft, muted peach and coral walls are the most flattering to skin tones

So now you won't need to hire a colour consultant.

Plus, some good advice (thanks to "Claire Drake, managing director, Limited Editions"):
1. Be honest with yourself about how you like to live, and who you need to consider. Just you or a family plus several animals? Formal or informal? Uncluttered or busy?

The week's other top story is a fawning, three-page interview with Mike Hosking by Diana Wichtel. An excerpt:

"However Hosking votes, an image rethink of this magnitude, as lovingly captured in women's mag spreads, does have you wondering about the real Mike Hosking. 'Probably the reality is that everybody's complex', he muses ".

Within the next few months, The Listener will run a cover story featuring at least one of Brad, Jen, or Angelina. You heard it here first.

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Kevin H said...

Simon, no need to be depressed, summer's coming, long balmy evenings drinking cold beer, Xmas parties, etc, best time of year really. And be glad you're not yet old enough to hang out with the over-40's (like me)at Boogie Wonderland.
People who produce magazines have to sell them, which leads inexorably towards lowest common denominator mass appeal. You just need to consider, if you were a magazine editor charged with increasing your circulation, would you put some pointy-head intellectual story on the cover or go for some instant-recognition pop culture icon?
It's the same reason that there is such absolute trash on TV, cos that's what the masses want. And the advertisers want the masses. It's a self-fulfilling indictment of humanity.
Intelligence, like wealth, is relative. Most people would agree that Stephen Hawking is a pretty clever guy. But if everyone else in the world was 10% more clever than him, he would be the dumbest person on earth.
So just be glad Simon that the mediocre masses know their place and allow you to occupy your position in the upper echelons of intellect.
Personally, I celebrate with breathtaking snobbery and arrogance the fact that I am one of the smartest people I know and that the vast majority of neanderthals I have the misfortune to have to interact with in my life are the rock-snot of cerebral activity.
I suggest you celebrate likewise.

Susan said...

O dear, how depressing... Are we incapable of producing a decent publication with some kind of high quality content?

Perhaps we can take heart from the recently publicised review of the Christchurch Press. The editor of the Press commissioned an independent review of the standard of journalism in the paper recently and has been brave enough to publish the results.

Although basically giving them a big tick (don't reviews always find what the person paying them wants them to find) the reviewer noted poor standards of sentence construction, grammar, and spelling; lazy journalism just reproducing company handouts; failure to correct glaring mistakes in the first edition and letting them go through all editions; poor headline writing and so on. I thought this was a promising development especially the comment about reproducing handouts.

sophia said...

I saw that cover and thought it was some kind of mistake, joke or otherwise. I was disappointed too as I often get the Listener and I'm just really not interested in reading about home renovations (and I'm stuck at home with a baby in an old house, so I probably should be). My money's on Angelina as I think the Listener thinks it is a bit better than Jen.

Cecilia said...

Kevin H. your comment just made me laugh out loud in the law school library. May you feel the glare of many uptight, anxiety-ridden students!

Simon Bidwell said...

Kev, I have no objection to 90% of the market being dominated by lowest-common denominator trash (ok, so I do, but I recognise I'm being unreasonable). What makes me despair is there being *not one* consistently non-LCD publication. Is there not a single editor who will look around and them and think: rather than trying to compete with the infomercial drivel circulated by *every other* publication, I will sell magazines by appealing to the underserved niche market of *people who are utterly sick of that crap*.

But no. Apparently that market is just too small.

Btw, I have actually been to Boogie Wonderland. We should have a drink there sometime.

Jack Yan said...

Susan’s comments are interesting. As a publisher, which I am occasionally, I insist on proofreading, not spellchecks—and a copy of Hart’s Rules never goes amiss. Pity most folks don’t think that way—even if the public actually desires that accuracy and sure as heck notices it when it’s not present. And as for the Listener, I stopped buying it the week it hit 50¢. I have bought the odd one since then—Prince Charles’ visit that year (1981) was worth the cover so we could put it on a piece of card and hold it up during his visit; and there was a good, large issue the week TV3 launched.
   Ah, Phillip Sherry and Mickey Mouse, where are you both on our screens now? Oh yes, I forgot—hiding from the noise of So You Wanna Be a Popstar and Sing Like a Superstar. The decline continues.

Susan said...

I guess that leaves us all reading Arts & Letters Daily - presumably started for the very reason that there is no NZ publication filling the gap. Unless someone wants to have a go at starting a publication called The Pointy Head Intellectual" - how about you, Keven H? BTW, notice how some papers have started a "Best of A&L Daily" section? Must be a faily cheap and easy way of filling some space.

Susan said...

Sorry Kevin H for the typo in your name - clear failure of proof reading on my part! Mea culpa