Fairfax Fails The Arts Again

14/09/2009 at 10:24 am 1 comment

A quick tour of the ‘new’ Fairfax site The National Times and it appears no great changes have been made from their regular sites. With a promising pitch by David Marr over the weekend declaring a nostalgia for a paper which was ‘short on columns, long on research’. This reader had their interest piqued.

Alas. Nothing of any revolutionary nature. Just an amalgam of articles we can already access, only badly organised. A column on the left allows us to sort through by topic. A quick scan of the heading ‘Arts’ gives us 133 results, including the following at the top of the list:

1) an article by Malcolm Turnbull about Rupert Murdoch’s comments on the digital revolution.

2) a rant about one man’s struggle against the ATO.

3) a piece about the influence of public vs private education.

4) something by Ross Gittins about the economy.

5) a column about the Rudd Government’s Health policy.

6) something about the cost of prams and motherhood.

7) finally something closely resembling the arts: an unintelligible thesis titled “Making Peace With Fashion”. I never made it past the Sex & the City allusions and references to ‘spray-tan’.

You get the idea? Not much in the way of actual arts conversation. There is one interesting piece by filmmaker Rachel Ward buried, as she discusses the fractious nature of our local distribution industry. A hot topic for the thousands of struggling independent film producers left stranded by a lack of local TV content (subject for another day perhaps). But you can’t comment on that one. No engagement, no conversation, no reason to come back. New Media? Missed the point again.

Fairfax, a tip, if you’re going to rebrand yourself with a new site offering hard-hitting investigative articles in the brave new digital world – get with the program, and offer the readership a chance to participate. Put a proper arts ed in place so you can build the conversation beyond token gestures. We have a thriving, intelligent arts community in this country and we are crying out for a place to publicly debate.

Don’t say you’re going to do something new, and then just give us more of the same. It only makes you look shabby.

Approximately 45 minutes after this post went live, an interesting commentary by Neil Pigot from Melbourne about the state of Australian Performing Arts industries went up on the National Times site here. I recommend you give it a read.

Unfortunately by the time I noticed it (a mere six hours later) the ability to comment had been closed with just one derisory statement allowed. Not much in the way of conversation for the rest of us. However, point made, and 5thwall will be posting a more considered reply in the coming days. Stay tuned.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Marcus  |  29/09/2009 at 10:42 pm

    As a felllow TINA veteran and also now weekly arts columnist for the other fairfax paper down south, i’m a bit surprised that even the things that are actually running in the paper — in this case The Age — never get a run online. Seems the potential is somewhat underdeveloped there.

    I’ve taken to posting my stuff on my own site a week later should you wanst to catch up with any of it!



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VICTOR SANCZ vassanc [AT] gmail.com

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