Monday, May 21, 2012

Fourth Estate and Real Estate

Inspired by the above graphic by Chris Glen, I thought I might revisit how my No Snake Oil Merchants signage is going.

After five months of operation, there have been only two instances of attempted trespass. The first occurred within a week of putting the sign up, with a godbotherer opening the gate as I leaned out of the window in my dressing gown. After being curtly reassured that no, I was sure I didn't want god in my life, they kindly buggered off.

Around a fortnight ago, a couple of young girls had a go at crossing the threshold. They might have been girl scouts, school fundraisers or Mormons. An emphatic waving of hands was enough for them to consider any sale futile.

However, I have had to amend the No Junk Mail sign, after the advertorial content of APN's competitor, Fairfax, became intolerable.

Fairfax's free local paper, the Kapiti Observer, is delivered twice weekly. The Monday edition is usually a thin 16 pages, but at least its advertorial level is somewhat balanced with the staple editorial diet of car accidents, homegrow busts, petty teen crime, sports and amateur dramatics (at the theatre and local council).

The Thursday edition is a much more offensive affront to local news. Fully half this edition is real estate alone. The car yard ads are on top of that. The Church Notices take up more space than the rest of the Classifieds combined.

This is worrisome on a number of levels. When a newspaper relies on only one or two sectors of business to pay its way, it may lose its editorial independence. Certainly its soul. This rot isn't just a worry for Fairfax and the Kapiti Observer, but also its local competition, the independently owned Kapiti News.

Reluctantly I have amended the No Junk Mail sign to exclude newspapers as well. There is nothing new to be found in them, and I'm tired of reading about NZ's reliance on property speculation for its income. My only hope now is that someone at the paper will teach the newspaper delivery guy to read: