As the Vic government calls time on print advertising, CHRIS TAYLOR finds a reason to start buying papers again.
Excellent news for haters of government advertising this week: there’s going to be less of it. Well, less of it in Victoria at least, after the Dan Andrews government announced it would cease advertising in the state’s two biggest newspapers The Age and Herald Sun on the grounds that print media is a bit on the dead side.
The Herald Sun was apoplectic about the decision, which was an odd response from a paper that’s historically gone out of its way to never run any pro-Andrews messaging. You would have thought they’d be doing cartwheels at the news it no longer had to run Dictator Dan’s official propaganda. Isn’t this win-win for them? No government ads just frees up more room for the paper’s bread and butter: race-baiting columns and deranged letters to the editor. So why the big hissy fit?
What I expect we’re witnessing is a tantrum from a publication that’s unwilling to accept its own mortality. Nobody likes to receive a death knock, even an organisation that performs them on a daily basis. But there’s a delusion behind these particular tears: a newspaper unable to understand that the person they’ve been repeatedly slagging off for the past 8 years might not want to keep giving them his money. I’m sure that Andrews’ motivation is commercial, not personal, but the commercial decision may have been ever-so-lightly greased by the oil of retribution.
At any rate, he’s still promising to advertise on the digital assets of News Corp, so it’s not like they’ll be going without. The Vic government is simply moving their money to where the readers are, by which I assume they mean realestate.com.au.
The real winner in all of this, of course, is the handful of people who still read print newspapers. For their unwavering customer loyalty, they’ve been gifted with the greatest loyalty reward of all: no more fucking government ads. It’s almost a reason to start buying the paper again.
Naff, self-serving and successfully drained of a single imaginative impulse, government advertising is unlikely to be mourned by too many readers. On every level, they’re a black hole of creativity: paid for by the tax-payers, only to then appear in all our media where we’re usually asked to pay again for the privilege of viewing them. So my advice is: stop buying newspapers. The sooner our traditional media dies, the sooner we can hopefully all be spared the slurry of government word salads that somehow pass for ads.
And who knows? Maybe newspaper readership numbers will one day dip so low that even Harvey Norman will stop wanting to advertise in them.
All of us can but dream.
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