NEWS WORTH IT?
By Mattie Lennon
“ The man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them: inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehood and errors.”
So said Thomas Jefferson. I don’t agree with that but now I’m going to go on a bit of a tangent.
You know when you need two screws but you are obliged to buy a packet of twelve? Or when the sitting-room clock battery needs replacing and you have to purchase a brace of them? Annoying isn’t it? Well, market forces do that kind of thing to me every day but especially on Sundays.
You see, newspaper magnates are biased against people like me. We have no interest in sport and lack the finances necessary for an interest in the Travel, Property and Finance sections of newspapers. Yet we are forced to purchase the complete newspaper while reading, maybe, only 25% of it. I weighted last Sunday’s Sunday Times. The total weight was 641 grammes. While the parts that I read or wanted to read weighted only 139 grammes.
The price of that particular paper is three euro but . . if I were allowed to buy only the sections that I wanted, according to my I would be paying only 65 cents.
In a restaurant if you don’t take the side-salad you don’t have to pay for it. When purchasing a loaf of bread in a Supermarket you are not compelled the buy a pound of butter as well. Although I will admit there is no refund when I leave the Yorkshire Pudding behind on the plate or refrain from using the shoddy Rawlplugs that come with flat-pack furniture.
In one of these supplements there is an ad which offers me a residence in Glenageary at 4.5 million Euros or a house to let near Laragh for a meagre 40,000 Euro a month.
Do I look like a potential customer for either of those? My little dog usually sleeps on predictions of the outcome at Landsdowne Road, Croke Park or Dalymount Park and I am obliged to bin, unopened, financial advice by Eddie Hobbs (A friend of mine pointed out that anybody who needs Eddie’s Advice doesn’t deserve to have money in the first place.) How many beautiful trees gave their lives so that me, and my likes, could fill the recycle bin with pictures of swimming pools in Barbados, Estate agent’s descriptions of Ailsbury Road, a full page account or a row at the match between Rathnew and Tinahaley and the latest figures from Dow Jones?
And another thing. I’m sure you have noticed that you seldom see a witty headline in the financial, business or sports section of a newspaper. The best headline writers seem to avoid or be steered away from those sections. But you will find some very clever headlines in the main section of even Provisional papers.
A couple of years ago there was a little bridge swept away during a storm at Ballinastockan. Because of formalities and regulations it took the local Authority a long time to replace it. The headline in the Wicklow People? “ New Bridge held up by red tape.” You wouldn’t find anything like that in a report about Denis O Brien in the Financial Times.
When there was an industrial dispute at Arigna mines the Leitrim Observer had the headline, “If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile.”
And the health supplement of the Irish Times told us, “New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group.”
The long gone Evening Press was reporting on a bit of a situation pertaining to reproduction at Dublin Zoo. The headline read, “ Pandas refuse to mate; vet takes over.”
The Irish Voice in America revealed in a headline that ,” Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft.”
What gave me this idea about only paying for what I am going to use? I think it may be genetic memory. My grandfather was about to appear in court . . . something about trespass of livestock. He went to a local solicitor for advice. The solicitor did his best, told him what to say in court . . .and more importantly what NOT to say. When the session was finished the grandfather took his hat up off the floor and headed for the door. The solicitor called him back and reminded the grandfather that he owed him twenty guineas. “For what” said the grandfather. “For my advice” replied the solicitor. “At” says the grandfather, “sure I’m not taking it.”
All newspapers, Sunday, Daily and Provincial, have a section or sections in which I, and many more like me, do not have any interest. So I am suggesting to the Media magnates of the world that you introduce a pay-as-you-read system. That way those who only need the salacious accounts of the carryon of celebrity society will not have to pay for accounts of how a club footballer in Manorhamilton missed a free.
Charles Lamb said of newspapers that no one ever lays down one without a feeling of disappointment. I haven’t that statement but maybe he had a point..
You know, I think I’m wasting my time. Nobody will pay any attention to me. I’ll have to go on buying a, largely, unwanted Wicklow People where last week we were informed that., “ The Cold Wave is Linked to Temperatures.”