There was a bit of a public thrash this week about the future of newspapers, after CTV aired stories questioning the future of the Vancouver Sun and The Province.
It was prompted partly by dismal financial numbers from Postmedia, the company that owns those papers and used to own this one. It started a Twitter exchange among various news colleagues. Mainstream media’s dilemma is being put down variously to mismanagement, the Internet, demographics, the Internet, price resistance and the Internet.
A Sun man took offence at the pessimism and predicted a better future. He was alone in that stance. (He could have been alone in the newsroom at the time, too, since they just bought out 100 employees.)
Others expressed general gloom at the current business model, which is transitioning to a more firmly monetized synergistic digital presence, if I understood the last briefing right.
During this time of flux, new readers are becoming more and more valuable. So what’s needed is a primer for people on how to actually read a newspaper. You represent an elite market segment. It’s important that you reflect that.
Here are some very useful tips:
• To prepare for reading a newspaper, always dress your best. Aim for casual elegance. You want to look as if you’re killing some time while your private jet is being vacuumed. Wear a really expensive watch, so it shows while you’re holding up the news-paper. I have a counterfeit Patek Philippe ($60 in Hong Kong) that goes over well.
• Always read it in a public place, preferably a nice bistro. Everybody else is going to be gazing into their phones or laptops, reading made-up crap on the Internet, with their junk strewn all over the place. Newspaper readers stand out. Because you’re smart, attractive, elite leaders. Walk confidently into the shop with the newspaper under your arm.
Sit down and open it with a snap. Flick your wrists while doing that, so it sounds like a small firecracker. People will look up and realize something special is going on. A person is reading a newspaper.
A murmur may pass through the room, but you’ll ignore it.
• Work on your eyebrow cocking. Always read a newspaper with a cocked eyebrow. You’re one smart cookie. You know about everything the newspaper says is happening. Hell, you made some of it happen yourself. You’re just checking to make sure we got it right.
• Always go to an inside page first. Find a really obscure story buried in the back. “IMF to collateralize Lichtenstein debt swaps.” Something like that. Hold the paper so everyone can see what you are reading. The more boring the story, the smarter you look reading it.
• It’s OK to talk to yourself when reading the paper, but it has to be done properly. For example, you may be reading Bank of England Governor Mark Carney’s thoughts on a stimulus package.
Stop partway through, shake your head and sigh: “Marky, Marky, Mark ...” This not only puts you on a first-name basis with the governor of the Bank of England, it denotes that you argue with him regularly.
• Newspapers can be helpful in meeting people. If you’re a single woman, go to the sports section. Murmur something like: “Starting a right-hander against the Red Sox. Yeah, right.”
Men will definitely take notice.
If you’re a single man, go to the home section. Remark to no one in particular: “That aubergine moulding really makes the wainscotting pop.”
This will go over very well.
• Call a friend while reading your newspaper. Just bark: “No, I said Flaherty to health, and Baird to finance. Got it? Bye.”
That gives you street cred. You’re a newsmaker who’s reading the newspaper.
• Victoria newspaper readers are the smartest newspaper readers in the country. So if you see someone else reading the newspaper, be careful. Take it from me, they can spot a phoney a mile away.
Just So You Know: Plagiarism is just a quaint old notion these days, given that everything ends up posted everywhere.
But to be safe, the above is informed by a vaguely similar piece I read years ago, and have been unable to locate to credit properly.