WHY ARE BROADSHEET NEWSPAPER READERS SUCH GODDAMNED FILTHY SNOBS? My friend Miranda Devine, a wonderful columnist, this year took her act from the tabloid Daily Telegraph to the broadsheet Sydney Morning Herald. Yesterday she reflected on how the SMH’s readers reacted to her move.
It wasn’t pretty.
"Go back to the Telegraph," wrote one despiser of the tabloid press. "I've just put myself through another one of your columns and it was again up to your usual standards." Oddly, this champion of the workers loathed working-class tabloid buyers: "Your right-wing, biased, unintelligent columns might have impressed the readers of that tabloid but they are out of place in this paper."
Another wrote to applaud an "excellent" Devine column, but ended with this: "However, are you not the same Miranda Devine that wrote for that rag The Daily Telegraph? Shame!"
Size obviously matters to certain people. If you read a small-format paper, you must be stupid. Read a big paper, you must be intelligent.
By this logic, anyone who reads a novel must be retarded. And the wisest of us all read journals printed across acres of countryside, in the manner of crop circles.
Do broadsheet readers buy supersized computer screens so their online news is similarly huge and, therefore, brainy? Do they mock laptop users as idiots? Do they judge films by the size of the screen they’re shown on? Is an SUV cleverer than a scooter?
People, listen to me – it’s just ink on paper. Size matters not. The SMH readers who thrill to articles by John Pilger would probably be dismayed to discover they were first run in tabloid form in London’s Daily Mirror. (Of course, Pilger is stupid in both papers.)
These snobbish folk would also be upset to learn of the journalistic truism that it’s easier to go up than it is to go down. That is, it’s no big deal for a tabloid writer to adapt to broadsheet ways, but a broadsheeter usually struggles to adapt to a tabloid.
The broadsheet London Guardian once attempted to disprove this by producing its own version of the tabloid London Sun. The result – named The Fun – was a wretched, screaming debacle. Wordy, worthy Guardianistas simply couldn’t replicate the tabloid form. Lead paragraphs went on forever. Headlines stank. Staff argued about sexism.
One of the paper’s editors, according to Chris Horrie’s tabloid history Stick It Up Your Punter, took copies of The Fun to a housing estate to gauge working-class appreciation of the first edition. "Take it, it’s a collector’s item," the editor told one resident. "You collect it then," the fellow sullenly replied.
Another attempt at a tabloid-by-broadsheeters, London’s News On Sunday, was founded on £6.5 million donated by lefty unions and councils. It went broke after three editions.
It should’ve been a broadsheet. The snobs would’ve bought it by the bushel. They’re stupid.