Friday, October 26, 2007

The Observer: A reader offers a critique

One of Arcati's new best friends, David, writes wonderfully on why the Observer has become such a terrible newspaper; one so untrue to itself. The staff and new editor of the paper should read David's comments and remember that without readers' trust you may as well start thinking of working for Richard Desmond:

Alton may have been an All-Round-Nice-Guy, but my response is as a reader. He has ushered in some of the most facile journalism the paper's ever seen. Sense of humour? Don't make me (not) laugh. Ever laughed at Barbara Ellen? Lucy Siegle raises a cackle, does she? Jasper has you rolling in the aisles? Nick Cohen creases you up, does he? Do you howl with joy at a women's magazine that has rolled by the notion of feminism by 30 years? Really?

Such a dreary, grinding lack of ambition and scope. Such a tiny demographic it purports to speak on behalf. Somewhere along the way it forgot to be honest and just became aspirational. And what pathetic aspirations ('10 Things to Look for in a Nanny' '20 reasons to be seen at the Ivy'. 'How you can save the planet AND wear a mini skirt in this not at all fatuous guide' 'Is plastic surgery the new football?'). It is a DIRE newspaper and as the standard bearer for liberal journalism on a Sunday, it is a perennial crushing disappointment.

Alton might have been nice to his staff but he was clearly intellectually barren.


Anonymous said...

Hated the way they called the Magazine ' a manual for living' Yuck... Polly Vernon is my biggest loathing figure 'you hate me cause I'm thin' etc. No I hate you because you write about yourself all the time and think we are interested!

Feeling very smug tho, was sitting waiting for a flight on Sunday, reading the papers with a couple of journo friends, one of whom exclaimed 'God I hate the Observer' Because of my regualar reading of your wonderful blog, was able to say knowledgeably 'But Alton will be gone soon, so they say'. And I was right!

Liz said...

I was interviewed by the Observer tonite so I'll be interested to see what Sunday brings. It had better be nice, or else.

The reporter laughed politely when I said she could put my rant down to being a Daily Mail reader.

I love being interviewed, it's so nice to pontificate with an audience hanging on your every soundbite.

Let's hope she recrafts it into something sensible.

Anonymous said...

But isn't Alton credited with improving the circulation ? If so, somebody must be reading the dismal rag.

Madame Arcati said...

There was the Rusbridger-driven Berliner relaunch of the Observer in tandem with the Guardian - that certainly led to a sales spike, rapidly lost. Selling copies is vital - that goes without saying - but what are you selling? If that question doesn't interest you then your spiritual home is sales.

Charles Lambert said...

Am I allowed to find Barbara Ellen quite funny? More to the point, am I alone?

Anonymous said...

Blame that great (?) newspaper man Rupert Murdoch who has reduced the quality of so many publications while increasing circulations-for now-that he is forcing others to catch up by adopting some of his methods.

David said...

Shucks. Glad to inspire an entry.

You know what's really depressing. I stopped getting The Observer during the invasion of Iraq because I couldn't stand its toadying. But what were the alternatives? The Indie on Sunday, it turns out, is the same as The Observer (save its war stance) but even worse. The Sunday Times? Puh-lease. Torygraph? Yikes. A good Sunday paper in Britain? It doesn't exist any more.

As for Polly Vernon, hag-o-frikkin-rama. 'Cocktail Girl' isn't even an acceptable nom de plume at the age of 25, let alone 49. Every time you read her, you can just see her drawn Botoxed face sat on her own at the bar, being shunned by every punter on Earth, and then re-writing her lonely evening as a hilarious series of near shags and polish martinis. Oh, and we haven't started on Kathryn Flett yet, who was allowed to turn her car crash of a divorce into a column and, who along with William Leith, started this slow, miserable decline into navel gazing as journalism.

Anonymous said...

Apart from Jason Burke and occasionally Rawnsley it is more or less unreadable these days. Those grisly weekly flightmags about girlies shagging (and shopping for clothes and makeup) and whomsoever the creepy Nigel Slater wants to suck up to or suck off. Aramando Ionucci who used to be so funny proving on weekly basis that unacknowledged self-satisfaction and humour are mutually exlusive...those terrible reactionary women columnists. I could go on. Holy Moly and yourgoodself are a million times better written and more entertaining. I hope they all follow their useless editor. it used to be a great paper and whats become of it takes some forgiving.