Sunday, March 02, 2014

The Saturday Paper and my romantic heart.......

Despite my rock hard exterior, I’m really quite the romantic at heart. Well, at least when it comes to traditional forms of media. What can I say, newspapers really do it for me. So yesterday, when The Saturday Paper launched and The Age went to tabloid for it’s Saturday edition in the one day, you could say I was giddy with feelings of adulation towards a few pieces of paper and some ink. And you’d be right. Now, before this gets much creepier - if that’s even possible - let me tell you a little story called ‘What I Thought Of The Saturday Paper’s First Edition’. A title that looks a hell of a lot like click bait, and let’s face it probably is. I wonder how many pictures of cute dogs I can incorporate into this post?

I’ll start at the end, because that’s how I read all print, with the exception of real live books - although some could admittedly benefit from a backwards read. Killer advertisement for Tasmania on the back page. I’m seriously considering thinking about contemplating visiting. Skipped the cryptic crossword. Don’t judge me, they are notoriously difficult. 

Read Patty Huntington, because Frockwriter and fashion and me. Have been googling Miley Cyrus + DI$COUNT UNIVER$E obsessively since and now I want a tie-dye t-shirt with sequins on it. Also Huntington would have to be one of the best fashion writers in Australia, and in the inaugural edition of The Saturday Paper writes an interesting and informed piece on how the aforementioned Cyrus and the the design duo of Discount Universe have formed an interesting connection, and more broadly about the long-term success of small Australian fashion brands. 

Also read Christos Tsiolkas’s brilliantly descriptive review of the much acclaimed Blue is the Warmest Colour. I now fervently believe that all movie reviews, or perhaps all reviews in general, should be written by fiction writers that have a distinct way with words. Writers that have an ability to construct more than just a review, but a strange hybrid of review and narrative, and just a big mash up of lovely words like melancholy, doomed, mired, ferocious, startlingly, potency…you get the picture. 

If you didn’t already know, Malcolm Turnbull, Federal Minister for Communications, made a rousing speech at the official launch of The Saturday Paper in Sydney on Friday night. An extract of his speech can be found on page 14 and includes this gem - ‘sharing stories is the most human of habits and the long form of journalism is one of the most pure, most enduring examples of that’ - that’s good Malcolm, that’s very good. Of course right next to that was the first editorial of The Saturday Paper which took us back to 1803 when a transported convict started the first Australian newspaper, a story which warms my heart, if not anyone elses.

The closer I get to the front of The Saturday Paper the more news I find. Reports on federal Senator Nash and the take down of a website that provided health ratings for pre-packaged food, a glimpse of which you can see here. The contentious issue of the $600K donation to the $10 million Biennale Sydney by the Belgiorno-Nettis family who founded Transfield, who have just been awarded the billion dollar contract to operate the Manus Island detention centre. And George Pell’s new job, which takes him quite far from the Royal Commission he so deserves to play a very big part in. 

The Saturday Paper leads with Manus Island, the death of asylum seeker Reza Barati and the issue that is currently dividing Australia. And while the three page piece by Sophie Morris is well written, making it's point succinctly and deliberately, it’s the story on page three that sends shivers down my spine and warmth through my heart. Sentimental? Yes, absolutely, and I’m unapologetic. 

The death of Luke Batty was shocking, senseless, terrifying and just overwhelmingly sad. And while it’s a sequence of events ripe for sensationalising and ripping apart, Martin McKenzie-Murray delivers something else - a story. Not a news story with who, what, where and why. Not a tabloid write up with out of context quotes and unnamed sources. Not rubbish and innuendo - a story. A story with real people, real emotion, real complexity and the rawness that only comes from the human condition. Perhaps Malcolm had this story in mind when he remarked that the sharing of stories is the most human of habits, for surely McKenzie-Murray’s piece is a embodiment of the notion?

The Saturday Paper, published by Morry Schwartz the man behind The Monthly, The Quarterly Essay and publishing house Black Inc Books, has garnered attention for the simple reason that it bucks the notion that print is dead. It eschews the idea that people simply don't read newspapers anymore by publishing exactly that - a newspaper, but with a distinctly nontraditional feel. There are no classifieds, no pages of sports or small filler stories, in fact Schwartz says they will leave out anything extraneous. Which is exactly what they did with yesterdays first issue. 

I’ll be buying The Saturday Paper next week, for one very simple reason. I love stories. The kind of stories that require more than a cursory glance, the kind that deliver more than facts and quotes and aren’t afraid to do so. The kind, that even if just for a moment, open a window into another life, another place, another point of view. And if a publication - especially a newspaper with real newsprint and real ink - can deliver those stories then I’m in.

kb xx